Films | FILM – London, Paris, New York

FILM – London, Paris, New York

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on March 2, 2012 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Shrishti Arya and Goldie Behl
DIRECTOR – Anu Menon
WRITER – Anu Menon and Ritu Bhatia
CAST – Ali Zaffar, Aditi Rao Hydari
MUSIC- Ali Zaffar

At first glance London, Paris, New York seems to tread the same territory of Rob Reiner’s classic rom-com ‘When Harry Met Sally’, revisiting the same stages of love and same complications. It begins with two strangers seamlessly beginning a conversation and roaming a strange city a la Richard Linklater’s refreshing Before Sunrise’. But fifteen minutes into the film and its world starts unfurling with its own unique voice.

Set across a span of seven years it travels through the three titular cities, tracing the protagonists’ love affair that seems to be doomed right from the start. The girl is a middle-class Tamilian Brahmin, brought up in a strict environment and the boy son of a Bollywood producer who has felt unwanted all his life. Young adults full of hopes and dreams; they have just set out from India to make their future. An innocuous meeting at the airport leads to them romping about in London, enjoying their first day of ‘freedom’. They spend a day full of fun, parting on a romantic note but with rules and a promise. A promise that the boy breaks and their love story veers off course.

It is a sweet, rom-com that tells the story of two young individuals with baggage trying to deal with love and life. Over years, they try to grope with misunderstandings and the unshakeable feeling of affinity they feel for each other. The movie travels across time in brackets and shows us their love blooming despite themselves and their circumstances. It is a sort of film that comes full circle only once it’s over, which makes it all the more interesting. After all, isn’t our take-away from the film what we cherish the most?

It is to the film’s credit that Aditi Rao Hydari as Lalitha and Ali Zaffar as Nikhil sink into their uneasy characters with ease and confidence. Their sparkling chemistry seals their coupledom and we begin to buy the fact that maybe they are made for each other.

The film has its heart in the right place and treats love and its complications seriously enough. However, it bites off more than it can chew in making its characters complex and glides over their coming-of-age glibly. Lalitha’s self-protective, defensiveness see-saws with her vulnerability but the put-on hardness of her exterior never strikes as a real wall, never letting us really place the person she is. Nikhil’s complexes of being unwanted by his family do not translate deep enough into showing his insecurities and rendering the exploration of these layers superficial. Also, the screenplay becomes choppy more than once, losing fluency and focus. The director however, invests enough depth in the twists and turns of their fates to make us engage with them. Or maybe it is the striking likeability and warm screen presence with which the duo pulls of their roles. Aditi Rao’s fresh looks and natural style of performance is matched with Ali Zaffar’s cocky charm and the mix becomes refreshing, even winsome.

The music by Ali Zaffar is part-retro and part fresh, with the tunes sliding off the screen effortlessly. But it is Sameer Arya’s cinematography that has the most fun while doing its work. London, Paris and New York are caressed with love and care, touristy when needed and dark when called for.

With relatively new faces and a debutante director at the helm, or maybe especially because of it, London, Paris, New York gives us a charming time at the movies.

FATEMA KAGALWALA

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