If you had a chance to go back into the past and ‘fix’ it, what would you do? Turn joyous cartwheels of course, because hindsight gives us wisdom that we didn’t have when we were in the moment.
Maths genius Jay Varma (Sidharth Malhotra) has the gift of time travel, that miraculous thing which he can use to make things right between him and lady love Diya Kapoor (Katrina Kaif). What can go wrong with that most intriguing premise, even if we’ve seen similar stuff in About Time and The Time Traveller’s Wife?
Quite a lot, actually, as it turns out: Baar Baar Dekho doesn’t have anything that can entice us into repeat viewings, let alone a single one, because the execution is flat and banal.
The problems are apparent right from the beginning when the characters start taking shape: they remain fuzzy, especially the character whose actions set everything in motion. Sure, a potential groom can start developing cold feet when the rituals of the big fat Punjabi wedding, fronted by a big fat Punjabi papa, threaten to overwhelm. But Jay is such a drip that you are never convinced about anything he does, whether it is a feeble declaration of loveor a stab at teaching moony-eyed female students.
The life lessons that Baar Baar Dekho holds out is a) there’s more to life than differential equations (we know), b) the past and the future can only be accessed through the present (we know ) and c) that Katrina Kaif may have the most amazingly mobile waist in the universe but her emoting ambitions are strictly futuristic (this we get to know all over again, sigh).
The appeal of a winsome romance is the thing between two lovers: the more it pulses, the more effective it is. On that most crucial score, Jay and Diya don’t make our hearts beat: they cosy up but there is nothing going on between the two.They traverse continents and time zones and eras, zigging into the past and zagging into a future which has remote-controlled transport and plangent screens controlled by hand gestures, but there’s no sense of wonder in these scenes. The lovers don’t make us dewy-eyed either even if the film they are in is glossy and bursting with good looking people and places. You end up admiring the scenery and feeling very little.
Baar Baar Dekho has Sarika and Ram Kapoor as mommy and daddy of girl and boy respectively, both good actors, both wasted, and a few supporting acts (Rajit Kapur, Sayani Gupta) who gamely set about wrestling with a sinking plot, which gives them little to go on with in the first place.
Siddharth Malhotra is left to flounder, and that is heartbreaking because he is capable of so much more. He can underplay beautifully, and add nuance to any part (he was so good in Dharma Production’s previous Kapoor & Sons) but here he is strictly one note.
Watch: 5 reasons to watch Katrina Kaif & Sidharth Malhotra-starrer Baar Baar Dekho
What the film needed was to borrow some of the high voltage energy of the madly addictive Kala Chashma ditty, which has turned into the season’s club song du jour. Baar baar dekho? Wishful thinking. Once is way more than enough.