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If only they wouldn’t copy!

Half-an-hour into the movie, just when you begin to wonder why the Randeep-Shahana relationship is shaping up the way it does, two things happen. One, a car hits Shahana’s cab and she dies on the operating table; two, the next morning Randeep wakes up with Sahana in bed beside him.

This is not some horror-horror movie but one of those willing-suspension-of-disbelief ones you realise. And by then you have also guessed that there has to be a Hollywood connection. Yes, Ru-Ba-Ru is a straight lift from director Gil Junger’s If Only (2004) starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Paul Nicholls.

The plot is divided into two distinct days. Day-1 shows what the Randeep-Shahana live-in relationship is all about. How Randeep, a businessman in Bangkok, is always busy and always grumpy, always forgetting those little things that make relationships tick, and how Shahana, a stage actress, struggles to cope with the lack of attention from her boyfriend. Randeep does have a loving side to him too and he hopes to set things right between them, someday soon. That’s what he tells the enigmatic taxi-driver who shows him the mirror. But the moment of amendment never arrives. Or does it?

On Day-2 Randeep wakes up with a start and begins to relive the whole of Day-1, through a kind of deja-vu. Slowly he moves from the shock of seeing Shahana alive in bed with him, to reconciling that the previous day must have been a bad dream, to finally accepting that he has been granted a second chance in life. He goes into overdrive but one can’t change destiny and the inevitable happens, though very differently this time.

The story in the second half is quite engaging. Randeep looks his part of a suave bloke, a kind of complete man. Shahana is gorgeous and a complete natural when it comes to acting. After Rock On!! this should have got the audience into the theatre just to admire and applaud her. Kulbhushan Kharbanda, as the taxi-driver, is okay. Rati Agnihotri and Jayanth Kripalani do their bit.

Though the first half of the film is awkwardly handled, debutant director Arjun Bali manages a decent — though somewhat dreary — copy.

The subject matter of the film is suspect given the Indian context and like in any adaptation from Hollywood, the pace slackens in a bid to Bollywoodise things.

Watch it for Shahana (she pushes up the rating in our acting column to 6, ’coz she alone deserves an 8) or just get a DVD of the original.

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