My levels of masochism have clearly been on the ascendant since I decided to watch Karan Johar’s latest film on the Diwali weekend. In my defense some factors need to be noted…. (a) the son was rather enthusiastic about the plan and this deviation from his usual slumberous ‘I don’t want to’ and ‘Lets see’ got me pretty excited. (b) Given all the brouhaha about the film being banned because of one whole Pakistani actor’s presence, and then subsequently unbanned when K Jo put out a sad little video statement, I was rather intrigued. I had never watched Fawad Khan on screen and wanted to know what the big deal was with women swooning all over the country. (You can watch and read about Karan Johar’s sad little video statement here …

The film starts with a serious looking Ayan Sanger (Ranbir Kapoor). Serious in mainstream Bollywood equals glasses, a heavier than usual stubble and a saddish smile. We are soon thrown into Ranbir’s past and his meeting with Alizeh Khan (Anushka Sharma), allegedly at a party in London. Ayan (a supposed MBA student) gets excited seeing the sinuously dancing Alizeh (who seems to do pretty much nothing) and approaches her, one thing leads to another, they land up playing kissy face when she says his kissing technique sucks (no pun intended). So they abort all sexual activites and swap life stories through the night. Ayan has a girlfriend Lisa (Lisa Haydon) who he says is verrrryyy hot, and Alizeh has a boyfriend who she clearly does not fancy much. Lisa is the proverbial sultry bimbette and provides a bit of genuine amusement to viewers. Ayan is also rich, very rich, very verrrryy rich, the ‘private jet rich’ as per Alizeh, spouting one of the many ludicrous lines given to the characters through the film. Anyway, bimbette and the boyfriend jointly exit early enough; a sobbing Ayan (who misses the bimbette) and perky Alizeh (who does not miss the ex boyfriend) who are now baaaaaest friends jazz off to Paris for a weekend on the private jet. I swear nobody can figure out when and how this baaaaaest friendship happened! In Paris, she bumps into the lost love of her life Ali (Fawad Khan……nice-ish but really in need of a beard trim in my humble opinion),  dumps her baaaaaest friend to stay back. And Ayan, sobbing and sniffling (as he does THROUGH the film, irritating the crap out of people) goes off and hooks up with the icily gorgeous Saba (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). Saba, when she is not dancing sinuously in nightclubs or being nuzzled by her ex husband, is a poetess who lives in Vienna and has published books on Urdu shayari. Yes there is a lot of sinuous dancing in the film. The music is lacklustre apart from a couple of hummable tracks which make a lot more impact without the visuals.

I have no idea why I have written a full paragraph describing parts of a film that has more ham than all of Europe. Maybe that is why K Jo chose these exotic European locales? For pork lovers across the world, I do not refer to the delicious meat but to ‘Hamming’ defined as…an actor or performer who overacts.

On top of stupid dialogues, mindless characters going in and out of clubs and restaurants and farcical situations;  we had to sit through the usual make believe world of Mr. Johar where everyone including students are free to traipse around a continent at the drop of a hat; people seem to have no means of livelihood; an aspiring  but very mediocre singer suddenly becomes a nightingale thanks to a broken heart; a poetess lives in a home that could make Liliane Bettencourt’s jaw drop and more such nonsense. Just for reference, Ms. Bettencourt is one of the principal shareholders of L’Oreal and according to Forbes, the richest woman in the world! Aaaand everyone in Europe, whether at a party or at an airport or on the road or in a concert, seems to either be Indian or speak/understand Hindi.

I spent the first half of the film wanting to hit someone on the head, recovered slightly in the second half only to wish the film would end for almost an hour at the end! Anushka Sharma is as exciting as a boiled potato. Ranbir’s character is so annoying that I wanted to put a duct tape over his mouth every few minutes. Fawad Khan is pretty much blink and miss. I never thought there would be a movie where I would prefer Aishwarya’s wooden deadness to Anushka’s charisma, but the latter was so absent in this film that ARB almost shines. And K Jo’s eternal favourite man makes a guess appearance in the film and increases the porcine quotient manifold! Last but not least, all the hoo ha about Ranbir and Aishwarya’s chemistry in the film is just publicity gimmicks. All slow mo camera, sexy music, consciously pouting lips and minutely choreographed sinuous movements, you can create chemistry between two coconuts with so much artifice!

The two big stars in ADHM are……………………………….Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge! KKHH was K Jo’s first film; I know all the romanticism about first love but I really wish he would get over it and grow up! While a little reminder might have been sweet, an overdose gets nauseating. My assumption that he had managed to imbibe certain mature cinematic sensibilities, after watching Bombay Talkies, is clearly incorrect.

The biggest turn off in this film is lack of depth. The writer/director has not tried to define a single character beyond the superficial. So we are left with cardboard people who wear fancy designer clothes, speak like they are perpetually reading from a script and have no likely connect factor with the audience. It will probably go on to become one of the biggest moneyspinners of the year because some people like me will go watch it out of curiosity and some because they love all things Bollywood.

I always like to read what other genuine movie critics have to say. And here are two excerpts:

Despite controversy over the casting, Karan Johar’s romance, pairing drippy Ranbir Kapoor with spiky Anushka Sharma, has a failure of nerve about Hindu-Muslim relations….Mike McCahill. The Guardian


Writer-director Karan Johar occasionally enlivens the dawdling song-and-dance with cheeky allusions to classic Indian films….Joe Leydon. Variety

Go watch it at your own risk. Make sure you have enough coffee to keep you awake and popcorn/nachos to keep you occupied!


Copyright © Taraa Vermaa Senguptaa October 2016
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