Talking Movies: What Makes I Hate Luv Storys Different and What Doesn’t

Posted on July 5, 2010

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Possibly the most exciting takeaway from going to watch I Hate Luv Storys is that you get to watch the spanking new trailer for We are Family aka.  the Indian version of Step Mom starring Kajol, Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Rampal. Not that anyone is holding their breath over a remake of a decade old movie, but still there is the element of surprise at watching some new imagery.  Coming back to the subject at hand though, there is neither surprise nor newness about I Hate Luv Storys.  What there is, is a few laughs here and there and a plotline that is not even sort of there.

The story is simple enough.  Boy meets Girl. He is the dyed in the wool cynic about Love and anything within a five mile radius.  She is almost entirely made of candy floss, Bollywood flavour. He comes with the baggage of his parents’ broken marriage.  She colour coordinates her wardrobe with her fiancé.

Needlessly to say, our protagonists meet on the sets of a film where he is assistant director and she is set designer. Heated words are exchanged, cold stares are thrown and in a Mumbai where every girl the dude picks up is white or speaks with an accent, the greatest clash of ideologies since the cold war seems on its way. Only, one vase related confrontation and an upbeat song they’re all happy and chummy and picking out cushions together.

The cold stares morph into mellow, thoughtful gazes as girl begins to fall for boy but he’s not there yet or he’s there but doesn’t know it.  Girl is heartbroken, advances trip to foreign location and gets back with her pastel matching fiancé. By then boy realizes that he actually loves her and well you get the drift.  Many such peaks, troughs and shenanigans later, the romantic duo is united.

The Indian Rom-Com follows a shockingly limited number of tropes.  Either it is the saga of childhood sweethearts, the they’re good friends who realize lately post much angst that they’re actually in love or of course the ever popular they hate each other only to realize that it was love. I Hate… belongs to the third category of the opposites attract paradigm, that essential of cinematic ideas which has given countless forgettable and unforgettable movies. Only here, it takes a self-deprecating effort shot at itself through endless parodies and spoofs of its predecessors through its film within a film sub-plot. While a few do make you laugh, there is a certain staged nature about the in-house jokes that leave you cold after a point. The excessive referencing interspersed over the thin story line also cause fatigue by the time one gets to the predictable ending.

It does have to its credit some clever working in of film based themes and motifs, those which are different from the spoofs. Case in point when Jay’s ( Imran Khan)  friend attempts to  script and stage his reconciliation with Simran (Sonam Kapoor).

As far as performances go, Sonam Kapoor does an admirable job while Imran Khan fails to make an impression. His repertoire of expressions has to improve by many fold and someone should have told him to do away with the face shrug after the twentieth time he used it. Also, kudos to Punit Malhotra on the characterization of the staple must have bimbo. He actually makes her even more caricatured and flimsy then one would have thought was possible.

What makes I Hate Luv Storys watchable in the end is its inherent watchabilty. That formulaic romantic comedy slickness of well clothed people, style and decent cinematography that makes it easy to see and not expect very much from.

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