Oh look! There’s that shiny happy couple sitting in a park, talking and laughing, against sparkling fairy lights. They’re discussing everything from corny break-up lines to past relationships asking for a ‘topic change’ when things get uncomfortable. They’ve only just met actually.
They met on the train. They shared small talk and a glass of wine. On reaching Paris where the girl Ishkq (Preity Zinta) lives, Akash (Rhehan Malliek) requested her to show him around. ‘Just one night of total fun and no judging each other, and then we won’t meet again,’ was his promise.
Commitment-phobic Ishkq loved the idea. And so the two strangers drank and partied only to land up at this park in the early morning. As decided, the two part and vow never to meet each other.
The way their romance develops is cute and you adore the at once alike and disparate couple. They’ve both been raised in single-parent homes. That has led them to hate marriage, if not fear it.
And this is the part where the film falters. It ODs on mush, with regressive dialogues against separation/ divorce. We don’t hear much of why Akash’s parents separated, but the reason and circumstances of Ishkq’s father leaving are laughable.
It makes a mockery of serious reasons that break up marriages, portraying divorce as a mistake that people, often ambitious women make. It's a lie many are desperate to believe and the film fails to nail the complexity of a divorce.
The other area where the film falls weak is the finale. The circumstances leading to the ending are not convincing. Hurtful words are hardly the way to make someone fight their personal demons. And Akash’s words hit below the belt, an absolutely unbecoming act. Why this behavior is lauded by the film is confusing.
But the rest of the film is great. Ishkq and Akash’s romance develops over time, not the Bollywood staple ‘dekhte hi pyaar ho gaya’ (love at first sight) variety. There’s lots of talking, fun, laughter and even sex, and yet both run away from commitment.
The film is interestingly woven and told from the point of view of a theatre director (played by the lovely French actress Isabelle Adjani).
The acting is superb. Writer-producer Preity Zinta is hugely likeable as the zesty Ishkq. Zinta looks positively striking (enhanced by superlative make-up and styling) and plays this interesting character with heart. A good actress, astute producer and even a writer. Who'd have thunk, right? Rhehan Malliek makes a formidable debut. Adjania looks a bit overwhelmed by the Bollywood atmosphere but is perfectly cast.
Dialogue crackles with wit and Manush Nandan’s cinematography brings Paris’s ethereal beauty alive in every frame. Whether it’s the Eiffel Tower laden with bright lights in the evening, the roadside cafes, to the cobbled streets, and the presence of art everywhere. There’s sprightly music too, and you have Salman Khan make a cameo appearance in one of the songs.
Writer-director Prem Soni earlier made Main Aur Mrs Khanna, a film this writer wholeheartedly disliked. But Soni proves himself in his sophomore attempt.
He whips up a frothy, fun rom-com that’s as desi as it is international. With a combo of a great cast, story, dialogue and music, this one’s irresistible, despite its flaws. Go for it!
Rating: Three and a half stars