Director: Jugal Hansraj
Actors: Uday Chopra, Priyanka Chopra
Note: this is not Notting Hill, in only as much as Uday Chopra isn’t quite Hugh Grant. This is still an incessantly stunted ‘Hollywood rom-com’ knock-off, to the point that a neatly dictated formula will allow.
Even the climax, a soppy monologue, plays out on screens (Apple Macs at a computer store, instead of the giant electronic billboard of a baseball game). Characters speak in the clipped flow of LA, doling out their typically clumsy American manners: bobbing of the head, two fingers to the eye, pursing of the lips, a nod after another. Everything else, from the backdrop to the background score, remains just about as fake. This sucks the most.
As kids we grew up imagining what muffins or scones with clotted cream could taste like when Enid Blyton’s Aunt Polly would invite kids over for tea. We fantasised over Jughead Jones’s V-shaped pizza slices later. So much about India may have changed since. Yet, the world and the empathy in most of our feature films are still not directed to our own. They remain half-baked, and borrowed. Not this film’s story though.
The film’s hero has admittedly written its script. He at least gets the key aspect of the casting right: himself. Chopra plays an ugly, under-confident, under-stated geek of sorts. This is better than the last time we saw him as the sole leading man: “I’m the Neil. I’m the man. Rockstar. Superstar,” over a dozen hot bikinis craving for his naked body.
The boy here has held dear to his heart a girl (Priyanka) for 7 years, I presume, for her looks alone. He’s certain he can’t get her. She is divorced, has a tyrant for a child now. He becomes the supremely accommodating nanny. He also convinces the girl of his dreams that if she were to keep an unkempt nerd’s look, no one would look at her either. This, I suspect, draws her out of a jock-in-suit (Dino Morea) she vaguely fancies presently. It seems of course a fairly quick conclusion to make, if there is any to the film at all. The brainless, humourless show goes on.
To millions of Indian men: Never met her, never spoken to her, merely eyed her from a distance, remains still the beginning of love at first sight. A film could help shed light on this psychotic phenomenon. This one – oscillating between dull conversations, and duller conflict around a stolen computer programme – hardly reaches beyond the premise of its promos.
And then, in that reworked line from Notting Hill, we watch the gorgeous heroine abruptly confess to her clueless, geek god: “I’m just a girl, who feels like a princess before you. And you’re not a loser.” Of course.