Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra
“All the greatest love stories (sic) are between strangers,” promises this picture’s tagline. In real life, this ‘love between strangers’ business, I suppose, would mean a one-night stand.
It makes for the customary premise for any formulaic, frothy film like this. The lead couple starts out hating each other, or as platonic friends, and eventually slips into eternal love. The picture takes about the same time to finish as the popcorn in your tub. Female audiences suitably develop crush on the male star. Tears are shed; laughs had;
, as they say. Fair play.
The climax scene usually takes place at an airport (bus-stop or railway station). This is where you find the hero (or the heroine) rushing, in a moment of epiphany, having found their destiny -- their partner for life -- waiting for them somewhere at the other end.
Between this airport sequence and what’s called the ‘meet-cute’ (first time the couple meets on screen), there is supposed to be a plot, possibly sub-plots, strong conflict and a set of characters. This one unfortunately has none.
The director (Siddharth Anand, fine for the genre) has figured out the songs (a dozen of them) and the scenic sweep all right. You travel across the deserts of Nevada on road, into the neon lights of Las Vegas, peer over San Francisco from a perfectly chosen spot, and look down from New York’s George Washington Bridge.
The latter is where the hero and the heroine, strangers, meet, attempting at once to commit suicide. The boy’s (Ranbir) lost all he had to the Wall Street crash. The girl’s (Priyanka) apparently lost her childhood sweetheart to a casual affair. Neither sees any point in carrying on. They try to kill themselves together: wrap their face up with cellophane; light up gas in the kitchen stove…. By the fifth failed effort, you’re not sure either is really hell-bent on hara-kiri. Suicide demands strong resolve, not sociable company. There’s no such thing as a 'couple exit'.
They set New Year’s Eve for their final date with death, again, jumping off the same George Washington. The handsome twosome has time now to check off wishes from a bucket-list: it’s adventure sport for the penniless girl; a woman he loves so he can bed, for the virgin guy. Whatever.
You know both will fall for each other. You wait around hopelessly. Ranbir Kapoor, the star, remains the only big idea behind this film then. He bares his torso; walks around in a white ‘baniyan’ (what Americans call the “wife-beater” vest), eager to bring back a forgotten wear; charms women with his look; swigs the tequila shots; almost gets buggered by a hulk; drives under the desert sun… All for a story that doesn’t exist.
You know why this film does. Or why rom-coms such as these get repeated ad infinitum on screen. When they work, oh, they take in serious crores. It’s business as usual.