Mayank Shekhar | Last Modified - May 24, 2013, 11:54 AM IST
There is a hero, a heroine, both are bumbling, uninteresting strangers to each other, hanging around in Paris. Between them is a rolling die with things to do written on its six sides: movie, dinner, coffee, sex etc. Every couple of hours they roll the die to figure out what they should do next. This time the die instructs them to watch a movie, except by now it’s past 3 am and so the heroine suggests: Well, we can’t watch a movie, but no one can stop us from making a movie of our own. No one can, of course. This is the only ironic moment here. They start filming some rubbish on a camera starring each other, which is no less of a torture than this film about them that you’ve been watching on the screen thus far.
The heroine is Preity Zinta. This picture is called Ishkq In Paris. Preity plays Ishkq, who is half-Indian. She also plays her own mother, who is fully French. She’s produced the film and taken credit for its story, screenplay and dialogue. The quiet hero (Gaurav Chanana) usually stands or sits in a corner, looking dumbfounded most of the while, mumbling a moronic line or two, as she gets to do all the talking and smiling and dancing and preening and pontificating. The poor clueless guy, trying hard not to nod his head, is called Cash with an A, or Akash or A-cash. You hope he brought in sufficient funds to participate in this fun. Paris is an expensive trip.
The lead couple had met on a train and decided to spend a night wandering around the streets with a promise that their paths would never again cross each other’s. This is the premise of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise (1995), set in Vienna, which had a sequel Before Sunset (2004) that was set in Paris, the third part of the film Before Midnight incidentally released earlier this year. My favourite movie in some ways with a similar thought, Bernardo Betrolucci’s Last Tango In Paris, starred Marlon Brando that shook up the moralists in America when it released in 1973. Last Tango was a film entirely about sex. Before Sunrise was a film about light and lengthy conversations. This one is neither.
There is basically a sobbing, lonesome woman who loves Bollywood and Salman Khan and hates marriages because they lead to divorces. Really? Yeah, pretty much. The heroine is closer to 40 now in a film industry that rarely writes leading roles for women that age, and so she has to write it herself. Her surgically enhanced face conceals a wonderful career, starting with Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se and the immortal introductory line, “Are you a virgin?” Shekhar Kapur, who plays her father here, had introduced her to Bollywood; and Aakash, the lead character, is the guy she’d done a day-trip around Sydney with in Dil Chahta Hai. These facts have nothing to do with the story of this dull film. But it is the cruel story of show business itself that you end up thinking about far more. It happens to the best. Hits happen. Then shit happens, inevitably; sad.