Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Thanks, but Salaam-e-namaste will do

"Jab miyaan biwi ho raaji
Toh kya karega paaji..."

Lines like these and more. Nikhil Advani's Salaam-e-Ishq faces the same problem that the 6 couples in the film share - LOVE. A stand-alone pav-bhaji sounds tempting to me, but place it in a full course meal of Italian, Chinese, South Indian and Mexican dishes and I'd forget how the pav-bhaji tasted at the end of it.

Mind you, the six stories are not bad on an individual basis. Most often you are carried away by Advani's chilled proceedings. But before you can sink into the emotions of one story, pops open another. And you suddenly lose track of the earlier one. Its like adding new ingredients to the recipe before "onions turn light brown in colour".

Like it happened in the John Abraham-Vidya Balan case. Before we could sink their tragedy into our hearts, you have Sallu miyaan surfacing out of the blue in the Kamini (or was it Kamna?) story with Priyanka Chopra.

The Sohail Khan-Isha Koppikar track surely brings the house down with its comic touch. Unfortunately, this story is given minimum screen time. In fact, during the second half, they almost disappear. Sohail is surprisingly good, but his Aryan image gets the better of him on most occasions. The guy is so serious off-screen that when he does comedy, it seems he is indeed 'acting', unlike other actors who're almost living their roles.

My favourite story was Raju-Stephanie - Govinda. The Virar-da-chhokra is excellent in his true comeback form (Bhagam Bhag was a special appearance, trust me!). This love-story captures the possible infactuation of a cabbie falling for his "madame". Govinda's comic timing is impeccable and so is his chemistry with his lady. The Hindi-English divide makes this story indearing, adding humour along the way.

The Anil Kapoor-Juhi Chawla story is KANK extended. Plus a dash of Shall We Dance sprinkled into it and hmmpph... I'm not impressed. Juhi Chawla, my lady, we'd love to see more of you in the movies though.

Love Actually established a crucial element in its screenplay i.e. Love is a complex emotion. Salaam-e-Ishq misses the point completely. Rather it depends on cliches like commitment phobia, infidelity, accidents... which are done-to-death cliches especially in Bollywood.

I think that's where the film fails to have a uniformity - especially the Salman-Priyanka Chopra story. Charming as much as Salman might be, he does sweep the viewer off his feet once in a while, but the story falls flat. So is the John-Vidya story. Accidents, hospital scenes are formulaic tear-jerkers, but with raw performers like John Abraham on board, emotions go in the backburner. And why have the nation's hottie trying desperately to act. But all he does is pop his mouth open to emote and his tresses come all over his face. Its mushy, but I think the impact doubles with someone who can cry well, onscreen.

Salaam-e-Ishq is not a bad film. A six course meal is usually not bad, unless you want to leave the table mid-way. It still manages to offer entertainment at an excruciating length of 3 hours 35 minutes, a total paisa vasool for that expensive ticket. The humour is evenly laid out, thankfully, although it is unsituational most of the times. The music is very good, especially the title track which is skillfully picturised and edited.

But the movie is definitely a big disappointment. Not that we were expecting a Love Actually, but I remember being totally mushy at the end of that one. With Advani's film, I feel exhausted with a severe headache, mainly because of the tiring climax lasting about 40 minutes, backed by Kailash Kher's chest-beating vocals.

Kal Ho Na Ho also faced a similar problem with its last 40 minutes. It seemed to go on and on, with Sonu Nigam's vocals. But KHNH was minty fresh in its approach, especially the screenplay. Salaam-e-ishq is a different story, though.

"What's the time, again? Ain't the movie supposed to be over yet?"

No comments: