Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Prachi Desai, Neha Sharma
Directed by Kunal Kohli
Rating: 1/2 *
Cracking of knuckles, the Angry Birds background score and pure and pleasant snoring are sounds that one can be greeted with while watching ‘Teri Meri Kahaani’. These are, of course, sounds produced by the audience and aren’t a part of the movie. And while looking at the screen is the primary job in a movie hall, what Kunal Kohli offers us this week makes this the hardest and most ungrateful job ever. It would be easy to pick 100 reasons but one of the popular arguments would be: lack of anything that you’ve not already seen before. Novelty releases dopamine in the brain but the three disconnected (yet forcefully similar) love stories in this film ensure your brain doesn’t produce any dope (yours, mine or for anyone else).
If you’ve seen the promos, you know that the film features three different stories with the same lead pair spanning across decades. The first is based in 1960s Bombay which is apparently a cardboard world with photo studio backgrounds and almost stop-motion-esque establishing shots. Malvina Reynolds’ ‘Little Boxes’ would’ve been an ideal background score to complement the visuals. Without a ‘Japani joota’, Govind (Shahid Kapoor) is a musician dressed like a cross between Raj Kapoor, Charlie Chaplin and Shahrukh Khan from ‘Ram Jaane’. He bumps into Bollywood bombshell Ruksar (Priyanka Chopra) and their intimate discussion about raw mangoes ignites many crude desires (or so it must be?). Their chance encounters multiply and after many other unromantic conversations, Ruksar tosses her heart out to our caricatured guitarist. To make it a love triangle, Govind’s ‘saamnewali khidki’ neighbor Maahi (Prachi Desai) also sees herself growing old with him. And if the world couldn’t get any smaller, Maahi and Ruksar are childhood buds. So that’s ‘Padosan’ meets ‘Om Shanti Om’ meets ‘Awaara’
Leaping 50 years ahead, we’re in London and the year is 2012. Shahid is now a ‘frat ka raja’ called Krish who is invariably breaking up with a girl to only ‘unbreak up’ with another. Soon, he crashes into Radha (Priyanka) and through some confusion they’re drawn together. They dance the night away to ‘Mukhtasar’ and back it up with months of exploiting every form of communication available to man to build and nurture their relationship. The montage that features this is like a cellphone commercial, with Krish and Radha tweeting, FBing, BBMing, SMSing, chatting over the phone, on the messenger etc. Whether the idea of leaving out Fax and Xerox was a script call or a director’s cut cannot be told. Anyway, even here, there is a silly rift that is created between the two and we’re done with this sequence.
We know that we’re not going chronologically when the next story takes a giant leap backwards and we’re in Sargodha, Lahore in 1910. Now, having suffered the production values (or the lack of it) in the 1960s story, we have very little expectations. But surprisingly, we’re only let down even more. Lahore is merely a dusty village with turbaned revolutionaries, Brit colonists and our lead cast – sharing space to shop for veggies and fruits. One of the biggest fails for this sequence has to be the forced pre-independence conversations: One of the silliest being: “Independence ke baad, sikkay mein kiska photo lagega?” Anyway, here our Shahid is a flirtatious shayar Javed and Priyanka is Aaradhana, the daughter of a Sikh revolutionary. If you’re not one for shayaris, this part will be excruciatingly painful for you as Javed and Aaradhna have most of their conversations in shayaris. Some of them rhyme, some of them don’t but all of them leave you feeling burnt from inside.
This film ticks every cliché associated with Bollywood romance. The hero always meets his heroine by bumping into her or by falling over her or through some variation of collision. The hero has to be desirable enough to manage another girl who he will eventually dump for the heroine. The heroine will be upset with the hero for some reason just for you to momentarily worry about whether the ‘happily ever after’ would happen or not. And while it would be spoiler to tell you whether the three Shahids hook up with their respective Priyankas, just check every other Bollywood love story made for the answer.
Shahid Kapoor has proved himself as an actor, a dancer and a box office success. But this film takes away every credit that had been bestowed on him. Whether the character demanded it or not, he seems to be either too coy or too upstart and conveyed an air of shameless overconfidence. Even after ‘What’s Your Rashee?’, Priyanka Chopra hasn’t absorbed the fact that people don’t want to see more than one of her in a movie. While she is unobjectionable in all the three parts, neither of them stand out and make a mark to be remembered or appreciated.
Apart from ‘Mukhtasar’, neither of the songs inspire you to wake up or pay attention or help generate any interest in the film. One can argue saying that how does it matter in a love story if the period depicted seems half-baked, thanks to shoddy set designs. But then why base it in a period if you don’t have the production wherewithal to furnish it aesthetically if not accurately?
Love stories are made in film studios and not in heaven and ‘Teri Meri Kahaani’ has sets that look like hell to prove this point. While it will be a task to convince your date to shift to the neighbouring screen to catch the blood, sweat and grime in ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, it will be an effort well deserved. Unless your concept of a date is just a quiet, dark and air-conditioned place.
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