London Paris New York
Director: Anu Menon
Cast: Ali Zafar,Aditi Rao Hydari
A film that sounds like an itinerary of newlyweds on an international honeymoon manages to deliver a desi rom-com with flavour and zing,coasting on a guy and a girl who look like they cant wait to get it on. That last is such a rarity in a Bollywood flick that it makes us willing and able to overlook the saggy bits.
Naive Lalita Krishnan (Hydari),twice-born Brahmin and very high-minded indeed,bumps into Carefree Nikhil Chopra (Zafar) at London airport. Shes on her way to New York to get some serious learning on greater political participation and worthy NGOs. He is the scion of a rich producer pappa,so film school is only an interlude,but you gotta do something,right? And all hes interested in when we come upon him is showing this fascinating new creature the sights,and having himself a time.
London Paris New York uses the familiar shtick of following its characters through switches in space and time. Because its a rom and a com,you get both sweet and salty moments between Lalita and Nikhil as they negotiate the rocky curves of a relationship: anyone whos been trying to keep it together across continents is familiar with the anxieties that can keep lovers awake nights. What if he finds someone else? What if she does?
Debutant director Anu Menon does a good job in keeping her characters real,rooted and capable of a growth curve. They play well with each other,these two,as they criss-cross cities and sentiments and scenic spots along the Hudson-Seine-Thames. Lalita jabbers too much when nervous,and turns skittery when it comes to encounters of the deep kind. Nikhil likes keeping it light,but is happy to be clunked on the head by true love.
The film sags in between,and the writing,overall smart and funny,gets forced at times,making you aware of time passing slowly despite the slender length of the film. But the charm of the lead pair manages to filter through: the strong attraction between Lalita and Nikhil is a field-force,and when they get their noses and lips in alignment,it feels right. Hydari shows talent in the way she melds a hint of voluptuousness and the nice girl together,keeping the slight tendency to get irritatingly cutesy at bay (she also has a great way with deep red lipstick). And Zafar is terrific as the smooth guy who is born unto wealth but who can get on his knees when he needs to. Slow burn. Deep hum. Nice.