Continuing with my mini-series of films made beyond our shores – our next film is called London Paris New York. In fact this is the last in the series for a while. That doesn’t mean I won’t be doing film reviews on films made in countries other than the USA, or in exotic locations – of course I will – but just not as part of an on-purpose series.
This is a romantic comedy, and it is from India. While the story is as old as the hills, the production does veer away from the standard rom-com formulas. But before I discuss some of those factors, I’ll give you a very brief bare bones outline.
Boy Meets Girl at airport in London. They spend a day and a night together. She continues to New York – he stays in London. Promises are made but not kept.
More than a year later, she flies over from New York to London for the dreaded surprise pop in. A disaster.
Another year has passed. He sets out to find her and does in Paris. They spend a day and a night together. Sparks fly. But the fire goes out as quickly as it started.
He’s now a successful film producer. He tracks her down in New York. The timing is all wrong, as she is getting married the next day.
First of all, there’s just two main roles – Nikhil played by Ali Zafar, and Lalitha played by Aditi Rao Hydari. So we are unencumbered by annoying sidekicks, friends, and or relatives all of whom are usually on board as listening posts.
The film is made on location in London, Paris, and New York; and the locations clearly fit within the context of the story. This is not like a classic Bollywood romance where the lovers are suddenly transported to an alpine meadow, or find themselves in a wheat field in Punjab, or at a long-abandoned castle on a remote Scottish coastline.
The film screenplay and dialogue were written by Anu Menon, and she also directed the film. This is her first directorial effort. While her story breaks no new ground, and has some weak elements, Menon’s technique was certainly praise-worthy. She’s taken a hackneyed story and put a fresh spin on it. Not a perfect spin – but it is definitely different.
There are no teary-eyed moments. Simply – no one cries. While the relationship is stretched over nearly six years – all of the action of the film takes place with just a single day and a single night in each city.
With a female script writer and director, we have some clear inversions in play. It is not the female form divine that is objectified. Rather we see more of Nikhil than we do of Lalitha. Beyond that, Nikhil really is a good guy. Which is not to say that Lalitha isn’t, but she had more negativity about her than did Nikhil. Of course, this stemmed from misunderstanding and clearly not having all the facts at her disposal.
Finally, the guy isn’t out there on a bended knee professing his undying and eternal love. Neither is the girl, but the ending will surprise you.
Another thing that surprised me – was that at times, some of the verbal statements made in English by the characters were far more ‘saltier’ than the subtitles. If this were a live broadcast television production here in the states, there would have been some censoring of the audio. In this film, the audio went unchanged – instead, it was the subtitles that got scrubbed.
Finally a bit of downside. While billed as a romantic comedy – overall, there’s a distinct lack of comedy. They meet cute (London) and they’re decidedly playful. But the Paris segment has a far different tone – what’s missing is the humor. New York does have some funny moments but not nearly enough.
While the two leads were new to me – I thought that they worked well together. Ali Zafar was not only the male star of the film, but he also penned the music. Aditi as the female lead Lalitha basically played three roles in one – the innocent, the femme fatale, and the love-struck heroine.
I’m going to give the film a three-point five out of five rating. I think it is entertaining and fun. It might have better, but this was Anu Menon’s debutante effort as a director. I believe she will do much better in the future. Check out the trailer to get an idea of how good the film looks and for a sense of its energy.