The rom-com has been a much-battered genre in Bollywood off late. Devoid of chemistry or amusing moments, these films meander on hoping to cash in on the young actors’ fan base.
But this one’s different. For starters, it has one of the best casts (central and supporting) one has seen in the longest time.
Sidharth Malhotra who made his debut with Student of the Year plays Nikhil, the son of an IAS Officer. The proverbial black sheep of the family, the scene where his parents are arguing about what he’s doing behind his locked room door, only to discover he’s in another city altogether sums up his character best.
When he has escaped to Mumbai to attend a friend’s wedding, he discovers someone who’s nuttier than him. Carrying an impossibly heavy bag and scaling a wall, he meets Meeta (Parineeti Chopra).
Now with a fabulous actor as Parineeti, this character could have been so much more. We are told Meeta is addicted to popping pills, does a weird eye thing when she’s had too many of them, was a drug addict once, and is also her family’s black sheep.
But why does she pop pills? Is she an addict, does she do it because she has a medical condition, a mental one? The reason turns out to be crushingly unconvincing. So fine, you have to make peace with the fact that this character’s idiosyncrasies haven’t been explained convincingly in the film. (You half wonder whether the makers have turned her “too weird” because, heavens, a heroine with a brain cannot be normal, right?)
Once you’re past that, this is a supremely fun character. I mean, how many times have you seen a central character in a Hindi film have a sense of humour, wolf down food and even toothpaste. She’s smart, funny, very brave and unputdownable. It’s the kind of character you warm up to instantly.
Ditto Nikhil, except when he confuses self-respect with ego and claims to have conquered his ego when he begs people for money.
Both have shades of grey but at the core are utterly lovable, nice, lost people. And naturally when they find each other, almost a twin soul, love happens pretty quickly. Which is great except, one of them is, err, unavailable.
The romance is heartfelt and the central actors share a warm chemistry that’s an absolute treat.
Parineeti tiptoes carefully around this difficult character and makes us root for her unflinchingly. It’s a role that requires physical comedy, deep emotions, expressing inner conflict and also a sense of unadulterated child-like joy. Parineeti gives the role all this and more.
Sidharth Malhotra, whose good looks were a constant topic of discussion with the young people in my adjoining seat, matches step. His role is an equally conflicted one, though we don’t quite understand (nor care about) his professional worries.
Interestingly, both these actors have a common thread in that they can masterfully express the strength of their characters, while simultaneously relaying their vulnerability. Such bliss to watch them, really!
Adah Sharma is wonderful as the girl who’s never quite sure if she’s in love.
The supporting cast deserves special mention – Manoj Joshi and Sharat Saxena who play the girl and boy’s father respectively and a lean comedic actor who can really make you laugh.
The songs are fun and you don’t really mind them punctuating the story. Sadly, it’s the story that’s the biggest let-down in this melange of fab actors and crew. Improbable at times and convoluted at others, one wishes there was more substance in the story.
Nevertheless, heartfelt and technically sound, the film is a mean debut by advertising man Vinil Mathew. Go watch!
Rating: 3 stars