Friday, April 6, 2012

London Paris New York: globe-trotting for the broken-hearted.

Two people meet, on three occasions, in three different cities, but always for merely one day.

Sound familiar? In some ways, it probably does. When Rum told me on Twitter that London Paris New York was accused of being a rip-off of Richard Linklater's classic Before Sunrise, I wasn't that surprised. The similarities are definitely there. But hopefully there's enough originality here for me to focus on.

LPNY actually reminded me a little of Hum Tum, which also has that whole "meeting in different cities on different occasions" going for it, and also the theme that both characters gradually maturing with each meeting. However, if Hum Tum was flawed in the random animation, it stood on firm ground when it came to characterisation; LPNY's biggest tragedy is perhaps that it quite doesn't.

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the characters - Ali Zafar plays Nikhil Chopra, a rich producer's kid who sees his future in films inevitable. He's as superficial and self-confident as you'd expect. Aditi Rao Hydari's Lalitha is from a different world - middle-class, feminist, book-worm, education-minded, with a clear plan in leaving a mark on the world. As filmi logic dictates, he must mock her for her seriousness and bookishness, and she must conclude he's kind of a sleaze, albeit an absolutely charming, adorable one.

Both leads have an easy chemistry with one another, and they chat to each other in a way that feels grounded in current reality. You feel as if you could actually meet these two people at an airport somewhere, and they'd be exactly as they are here.

The problem, however, is that I never felt like the characters actually mature enough. The complications to their relationship aren't all that well-written, and Nikhil is just kind of an ass in the way that he harps on Lalitha for her perceived flaws. Why does he like her so much if most aspects of her personality are so objectionable? How come her book of facts she's gathered about different cities of the world is not fascinating to him but makes her a bore? And for such a rational girl, Lalitha sure makes the most stupid mistakes to create conflict between the couple. The issues just feel so contrived that it removes the charm of the enjoyable dialogue between the two in each city. The script also makes the cardinal mistake of making Nikhil say he's matured, but failing to show it in his actions.

But as films go, despite these problems, it's not an altogether bad viewing experience. Ali Zafar is pretty close to making a fan out of me, and the songs are a delight (especially with Zafar's voice!). For a newcomer, Aditi Rao Hydari also does a good job - I look forward to seeing more of her.


Mette said...

I haven't yet decided if I want to watch this one, but I've been in love with Ali since Tere Bin Laden...

veracious said...

If you're a huge fan, it's probably worth a purchase. I liked it more than a lot of people did - tons of people really hated it - but even so I didn't like it all that much. Probably wouldn't rewatch or anything.

Rum said...

Great review here, and I find nothing super wrong with copying the easygoing conversational style of Before Sunrise, as the conversations in the first two cities were really pretty good!

Definitely agree that the writing was patchy in some places, but it was so refreshing to see two new faces in a romcom. I have to say this film was far less bland and blehh in romcom terms than Ekk Main aur Ekk Tu.

veracious said...

Rum - Yep, I was with the film the first two cities. I think, had Ali's character been less of a stereotypical filmi hero who finds "bookishness" a bore and therefore harps on the hero for it and had the writing been good until the ending, this might've made it among my favourite romcoms.

maxqnz said...

I can't belive people hated this one. It is flawed, and you've touched on some that here, but overall it was a good effort, I thought. It could have been better, but as an attempt to desify two truly iconic romance films, it was not a disaster.