I love a good film with a big cast, but it's often sad to admit that the bigger the gallery of characters, the tougher it is to keep the film solid in every aspect. I liked Salaam-e-Ishq but there were definitely problems with some of the characters not getting their story properly told, or some characters feeling a bit redundant. With Honeymoon Travels, you can see a lot of care was put into the script and the story, making all of the couples stand out in their own way, their stories told very neatly. Unfortunately, some of the performances are lacking.
Six couples travel to Goa for a group trip honeymoon. The couples are all young, with the exception of Naheed (Shabana Azmi) and Oscar (Boman Irani), who are in the "second inning" (wahey cricket terminology!) of their lives.
Not all couples are happily in love. Hitesh (Ranvir Shorey) and Shilpa (Diya Mirza) were arranged, and especially Shilpa has a tough time adjusting to married life.
Others couldn't be happier, like Partho (Kay Kay Menon) and Milly (Raima Sen), a more traditional couple, or...
..the absolute adorable Aspi (Abhay Deol) and Zara (Minissha Lamba), who are in harmony with one another to the point of the absurd.
It took me a long while to watch this movie. I always meant to, as it looked like a servicable little film, the cast was interesting enough (no huge favourites but people I always enjoy seeing more of), and Carla of FilmiGeek loved it. When I finally watched it, I was glad. It's definitely a lovely film, flaws and all. It has those edges of realism, and of fantasy, and overall it's a fluffy, yet grounded film about love. Sometimes I have a hard time pinning down what a director was attempting to do with a film - here, I think I completely understood director Reema Kagti's vision (yes, female director; not something you see every day).
The soundtrack is nothing too memorable but very nice all the same, and I really warmed toward some of the characters. They all get their story told, and I really appreciated that. In fact, I was disappointed when the film ended. I would've gladly watched about 30, 40 or even 50 minutes of their escapades in love and life.
So now the flaws. I've talked about gay representation in Bollywood before, and I have to say, Honeymoon Travels has a definite "close but not cigar" moment with this. The gay storyline is nothing amazing, but it's pretty believable and not all that badly written. The problem? The actors involved absolutely suck. I mean, goodness gracious. Okay, in a cast with Boman, Kay Kay and Shabana, it's not easy to come out on top, but when Ameesha Patel and even Diya Mirza out-act you, you're not cut out for the job.
Yes, Ameesha is actually good in this. She plays the bubbly, spoiled, oblivious Pinky to perfection, actually making the character very likable.
But watching this movie, and this dreadfully acted gay storyline, I couldn't help but wonder if it was a simple case of stigma being too great to get somebody of actual talent. Like the moment you mention that the role is not 100% heterosexual, the pool of talent slims down to almost nothing, you take your pick, and end up with nothing as good as you might've hoped.
And that? Is a real shame.
My favourite couple is without a doubt Partho and Milly, because their journey is interesting and heart-warming, and because I unabashedly girlcrush Raima Sen. The other stand-outs are Naheed and Oscar (with her teaching him Urdu, and their memorable backstory) and Aspi and Zara (with their cutesyness and secrets).
Would I recommend it? Absolutely. It's fluff, but it's also a bit more, and I'm willing to forgive its flaws for the sheer watchability. Sometimes the films you find yourself wanting to rewatch are far, far from perfect. This is one of those cases.