Direction: Nikhil Advani
Actors: Kangana Ranaut, Imran Khan
Romantic comedies in Bollywood are still stuck in the ’90s. And the Imran Khan-Kangana Ranaut-starrer Katti Batti is no exception.
Imran plays Maddy, a young professional recently dumped by his live-in partner Payal (Kangana Ranaut). The first half of the film is borrowed from 500 Days of Summer, where the young man recounts through flashbacks how the two met in college, their minor squabbles, how she helped him overcome a personal loss, and how despite everything she was the perfect girl. Maddy has no idea why Payal dumped him, so when he finds out that she is set to marry a client who is also his college rival and her ex-boyfriend, he decides to sabotage the wedding and uncover the truth.
Very little makes sense in Katti Batti. In crafting a feel-good rom-com, director Nikhil Advani sacrifices logic and believability. Maddy and his friends behave more like irrational teenagers than men in their thirties. More illogical is a whole narrative arc in the middle of the film where Maddy meets a pet store owner who turns out to be the leader of a band comprising dumped men, specialising in songs about being dumped. They’re called FOSLA (Frustrated One Sided Lovers Association). It’s that kind of ’90s throwback.
Visually, Advani creates a candyfloss aesthetic that evokes Karan Johar films from the early 2000s. Everything is icky-sweet and kitschy to the point of being vapid. For a film that seemed, at the outset, to be a take on live-in relationships and modern romance, there is no realism here. The college where the couple meets is supposed to be in Ahmedabad but is straight out of an Archie comic. The actors’ personas are as mind-numbingly artificial — Kangana has a fake American accent and is dressed like an accessories model throughout.
Overall, the film feels like someone watched a few Woody Allen and Michel Gondry movies and decided to ‘apply their styles’.
Khan tries his best to bring some spark of life to the proceedings, but he doesn’t have it in him to carry a script so weak. Ranaut is more restrained than usual — she neither excites nor bores, but her performance overall is pallid. It’s as if she knew just what she had got herself into.