SEEN THERE, HEARD THAT

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By Imran Khan's return to form is the best thing about this otherwise patchy pastiche of bolly romances PRATIM D. GUPTA
  • Published 3.07.10
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Chance meeting. Check. Initial dislike. Check. Dance song. Check. Silly fights. Check. Freak friendship. Check. Buddy song. Check. Girl love. Check. Happy song 1. Check. Boy rejection. Check. Sad song 1. Check. Boy love. Check. Happy song 2. Check. Girl rejection. Check. Sad song 2. Check. Airport chase. Check. Happy ending. Check.

Yes, I Hate Luv Storys has all the ingredients ever used to cook up a young Bollywood romance. But unlike Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na where all those cliched elements were employed to script an original love story, Punit Malhotra’s directorial debut plays out like an anthology of trailers cut from the most successful Bolly rom coms and rom dramas of the last 15 years. In spirit, it becomes like a Hollywood spoof movie with producer Karan Johar’s own filmography being the chief potshot victim.

But to start off proceedings it’s the Saif Ali Khan plot of Dil Chahta Hai. When Jay (Imran) first meets Simran (Sonam), she is engaged to Raj (Sameer Dattani) who is our good ol’ Subodh (the weird wooer of Sonali Kulkarni) of DCH. He celebrates mundane anniversaries, co-ordinates the colour of his shirt with her dress, gifts one white flower everyday and even when he nattily places the napkin on the restaurant table, you can’t miss Mr Perfect from the Farhan Akhtar debut.

Of course, Jay and Simran are not initially attracted to each other. It’s difficult to like her even if she looks as pretty as Sonam Kapoor does. As someone says in the film: Lagti hai koi film se kood ke baahar aayee hai. A sucker for anything that starts with ‘’ and ends with ‘e’ with ‘’ and ‘v’ in the middle, she almost lives inside a cake which has only one flavour — strawberry. Pink soft toys, pink bed sheets, pink wallpapers... and this one’s not even the Jane Austen adaptation.

Anyway, Simran is the art director of a film being made by the master of romance Veer (Sameer Soni, not mimicking KJo), with Jay working as an assistant director. So the worlds of the love story-lover and the love story-hater collide and some nok-jhonk later, they reach the same page and therafter stop the script from going anywhere. But we aren’t even through six of the 16 reels of the film.

The smartness of I Hate Luv Storys starts and almost ends with the title. For a film which is a derivative of every famous love story made in B-town, it needed the magic wand of a Farah Khan or a Farhan Akhtar masterstroke (remember Woh ladki hai kahaan?) to make this Pyaar Pyaar Pyaar (the title of the film within the film) pastiche work.

But what you get here are scrambled snatches of love stories you have loved over the years. So you have the dancing in the rain sequence from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (didn’t they already do a homage in Dostana?), the heads out from the back seat of the taxi moment from Love Aaj Kal, the sad-by-rejection phone call to mom from Wake Up Sid and on and on and on. And all this is besides the open references to KANK, KHNH, K3G and Mohabbatein which pop up in almost every song. Phew!

At times the borrowing is so in your face, they can’t help spelling out the source. “Yeh Dil Chahta Hai se hai!” — Jay screams in an almost Eureka moment when his friend asks him to close his eyes and check if he can see his girl. Not done, Punit, not done! When your entire film is sourced from a DVD collection, which finds pride of place in every home, you must serve up more than a mediocre mish mash of mushy memories.

There’s one high point, though. And quite a high one at that. The return to form of Imran Khan. When a star GeNext sparkles in his first film and dishes out two back-to-back duds, you fear the worst (read Kumar Gaurav, whom we see in a Love Story poster here). But Imran restores the faith with I Hate Luv Stories.

Is it because he is called Jay (though pronounced differently) again? Is it because fiancee Avantika puts in a lucky charm appearance here too (there, a barstool girl; here, one in a montage of girls he dates). Jaane tu... ya jaane na. But our calculated guess is Imran is most at home in this rom com space. He is charming, endearing and perfect take-home material. Girls, if you loved him in his first film, you will love him here.

Sonam looks stunning right through the film. You expect that from a Dharma production, especially where Manish Malhotra is the uncle of the director. And when she is having a good time, there’s nobody better than Sonam. Her infectious smile fills up the screen and makes your moment. It is the dramatic scenes, the heavy-duty abhimaan moments, where she is very weak. The dialogue delivery is flat and there’s hardly an iota of emotion in either the eyes or the voice.

Together, Imran and Sonam make quite a watchable pair. Bordering on buddyhood with the right doses of playful passion, they make sure that you do not shout out the title of the movie during its running time.

What can one say about Sameer Dattani? Well, if someone like Rahul Khanna never gets the girl, how do you expect this bhoole bisre Rajshri discovery to make any impact whatsoever? The other Sameer, Soni has some of the best lines in the film and is actually funny. Kavin Dave as the handy best friend is a knockout but not used enough.

I Hate Luv Storys needed a rocking soundtrack to take the film to the next level. But Vishal-Shekhar doesn’t deliver. Barring Jab mila tu, the songs sound noisy and repetitive and have hardly any recall factor. The background score (Salim-Sulaiman) is also extremely irritating with the hookline of Mahi ve used more than it was used in Kal Ho Naa Ho and Liar liar pants on fire ringing loud every time Jay lies.

No such worries on the cinematography front. After Dostana, Kites and now IHLS, it’s safe to say that Ayananka Bose is now one of the best bets for films trying to look rich and grand, stylish and sleek.

If you don’t start comparing IHLS with the ‘’ number of modernday hits it hires its moments from, go watch it for a resurgent Imran Khan. And every time you get bored, try and play the spot-the-reference game. Then mail us with the film sources you could identify at t2@abpmail.com. The one who gets the most, well, he/she sure doesn’t hate love stories!