I hate how this movie is spelled.
Now that we've sufficiently butchered the English language, let's check out the cast of characters:
First up is Imran Khan, who plays J. Yeah, J. Like the letter. Adding an -ay to it would make it wicked uncool, man. Of his many talents, his most obvious throughout the entire film is being able to move his forehead. Your move, Saif Ali Khan.
Jay--I'm sorry, J--works for Veer, romantic film director extraordinaire. Veer's got a bit of a Nathan Lane thing going on. I dig it.
No no, "Nathan Lane thing" is totally a compliment. Really.
J has a best buddy named Kunal. Kunal is one of the most loathsome characters in any film I've ever seen. Totally useless. Also completely undeserving of the name Kunal.
THIS is a Kunal.
This is not.
Wannabe Kunal likes throwing eggs at women who rebuff his advances. He also has an interesting and unique theory about women:
The hotter they are the crazier they are!
When I said unique...
Next is Sonam Kapoor as Simran. And don't try making a joke about her filmi name or she'll cut you. Actually no, she won't cut you, that'd be way too interesting and edgy. She'll just sort of glare at you and roll her eyes a bit.
"Did you notice how I glared at you and then rolled my eyes? It's my characterization."
(That's right, I just busted out a Luck By Chance reference. Get used to it, it's what I do best.)
Simran has a fiance named Raj. Naturally.
"I'm also only 14. I think the word you're looking for is Wunderkind."
So now we've got the major characters, let's set up the story...
We start out with a voiceover. J's dulcet tones inform us of the thing he hates more than anything in the world--sappy love stories. Examples?
We start out with a voiceover. J's dulcet tones inform us of the thing he hates more than anything in the world--sappy love stories. Examples?
What do all of these films have in common? They're all films I'd rather be watching than I Hate Luv Storys.
J works for Veer, who makes--you guessed it--sappy love stories. Veer sends J off to the theater to check out an actress's performance, which J isn't too happy about. All that changes when he ends up sitting next to the lovely Simran. He annoys the hell out of her and she storms out of the theater.
Here's what happens in IHLS:
And then poof, she's outta there.
Let me show you how this scene would have gone if someone competent had written the script:
So where were we? Oh right...J hates love stories. Perfectly filmi Simran loves them. She wants nothing more than to work for her favorite director, Veer.
So we've got two attractive young people who meet cute and have a drastically different outlook on life. Standard rom-com fare.
By the way, the introductory credits are rolling throughout this entire back story and plot set up.
Yeah, we're talking a good ten, eleven minutes of this. There's a reason why credits normally go at the end--I don't need to know ahead of time who the second assistant hair dresser is. I don't really need to know afterwards either, but them's the breaks.
Things start to get interesting when J gets to work the next day and discovers that perfectly filmi Simran is his new boss.
Perfectly filmi Simran (I'll stop calling her that soon, I promise) is the art director for Veer's new film. Sum the film up in one word for us Veer:
Nope, try again Veer.
Here's a hint: I highlighted it for you.
In a situation like this what's a boy to do? J decides to try to make friends. He visits perfectly filmi Simran to gift her flowers and introduces himself to Raj.
Sigh. Lookie here Timetable. Your character has been done before, and even he managed to sneak in some champagne during the week.
A succinct character summary if I've ever seen one.
J crashes and burns a bit. When Simran (see, I stopped) texts him to inform him of an early morning meeting, he decides to be a mature adult and goes to bed at a sensible hour so that he won't be late for work.
Haha, suckers. BEACH PAR-TAY!
Moving on. J and Silicone McFunbags get drunk, run into Simran and Raj, J pokes a bit of fun at them, Simmi (can I call you Simmi?) gets annoyed, J and Bimbo (she's got a real name, I know, I just can't remember it right now, plus she annoys me) go to his place and have sexy fun times and then he kicks her out in the morning. All in time to be late to work.
J makes some excuses, Veer lets him off the hook, and we get a little montage of J and Simmi working together. J doesn't take his job very seriously and Simran really lets him have it. Annoyed and a bit depressed, J takes Kunal up on the offer to go out for coffee. And by coffee Kunal means beer, and a lot of it. While at the bar J runs into Simran (actually vice versa, and Simran spills her drink on him), and in his tipsiness offers her some advice about Raj (who he noticed had been calling Simran a lot at work). Simran can tell he's basically a nice boy and apologizes for her behavior at work that day.
Long story short, this scene is about why Sonam Kapoor should never wear her hair up.
The big glasses don't make the big ears look any better, unfortunately.
Their meeting in the bar marks a change in their relationship. When J shows up late again to work the next day Simran covers for him, and they begin to talk like real people, rather than as co-workers who can't stand each other. In short, they become friends. At the same time, Simran begins to see the beginnings of imperfection in her relationship with Raj.
You take that back this instant.
At this point the film within a film gets going, and the two lead actors show up to begin rehearsals. Meanwhile, Simran, realizing her feelings for J are more than just friendship, breaks up with Raj.
Not the least of which being that I look 12.
Simran and J have a night out on the town, enjoy some drunken shenanigans, joke around at work some more, and Simran realizes that she is truly in love with J. We're at least lead to believe that J might reciprocate those feelings.
The modern-day wet sari scene.
On we go to the Filmfare-nominated number Bahara. Personally not a big fan but hey, anything to
advance the plot make room for more film tributes (a set that looks like Saawariya and a dance number reminiscent of Say Shava Shava).
And so we creep ever closer to intermission...but not quite. Simran decides to declare her love to J and asks him to meet her. She gets prettied up and buys beautiful flowers and walks into the hotel bar to meet him...and sees him kissing the hand of another girl.
I'm going to drop the scornful attitude here for a minute, because I actually found this scene fairly touching. I certainly can identify with Simran--I'm not a sappy romantic but I know that feeling of excitement at what you think is a relationship, and her sweet hopefulness is almost heartbreaking once we see J's reaction. She's a better woman than I am because I would have broken those flowers off on his face. "Am I nothing of yours?" is something I've wondered to myself a few times. I kind of wanted to hug Simran here--it's ok love, boys are dumb.
At long last. Oh wait, there's more?
So to what I'm sure is no one's surprise, the second half drags annoyingly. Let's make this (relatively) snappy.
Back at the office, J discovers that Simran has requested to have two female assistants, rather than J, for the rest of the shoot. He confronts her and she hides the shame of her rejection in false bravado. We move on to hers and his versions of Bin Tere, with a bit of padding in between (Simran decides to give Raj another chance, J and Kunal go out and Kunal displays his idiocy, etc). J drunkdials Simran only to end up (unbeknownst to him) speaking to her mother, and later that night Simran and her mother have a heart to heart about love.
Simran's solution to her problems? She runs off to New Zealand to join the film crew for the remainder of the shooting schedule, leaving J behind in India. Of course first we have to put up with Kunal's List of Filmi Cliches and a scene with J rushing frantically to the airport to catch Simran before she leaves. Honestly the film would have been better off if this entire ten minute bit had been left on the cutting room floor. We don't need yet another tortured "this is it, I have to get away from you, let's just be friends" scene. We've had one or two of those already.
Following Kunal's list of filmi cliches, J gets on a plane and joins the team in New Zealand. While there he is reminded constantly of his feelings for Simran, and gets a nudge in the right direction from a surprising source.
"Girls are like buses," Rajeev tells him. "You miss one and there's always another right behind it. But no matter how many buses you come across, there's only one that takes you home."
Of course the theme of this film is "Stretch Everything Out to an Excruciating Point" so instead of just going over to talk to Simran, J has a few shots, pulls the "my wife's pregnant" line again (see awkward first half drunken shenanigans) and makes a massive ass of himself. Primary mission unaccomplished. Secondary mission (adding another ten minutes to this already bloated film) achieved and then some.
The next morning J resolves to tell Simran exactly how he feels, but before he has a chance to speak to her he sees that she's carrying
Thwarted again. Raj has shown up to spend time with his 'jaan' and J can only stand by and watch. It's obvious that Simran isn't happy with Raj, and who possibly could be with someone who coddles you the way he does Simran? He doesn't even let her hold her own coffee mug ffs. That's not love, that's nurturing dependence.
And then, of course, another forgettable song. (I love Vishal and Shekhar, really I do, but apart from Jab Mila Tu this soundtrack was a bit of a dud.)
J is in love. Veer tells him to get off his ass and tell Simran how he feels, so, again, rather than just being straightforward, J asks her to meet him in a park that evening, and arranges a romantic setting that he thinks Simran will appreciate.
Aaaaand shot down. Not for the first time am I reminded of Dil Chahta Hai while watching I Hate Luv Storys. DCH featured Preity Zinta choosing a relationship with a man who infantalized her out of a sense of duty. Same here with Simran.
Back in Mumbai J, having already taken advice from Veer and Rajeev, uses his last lifeline and calls his mother. The scene would have been touching if Imran's crying didn't look just like Imran's laughing. He knows those are two separate emotions yes? Anyways his mother tells him to fight for his love and not to give up.
Moms always know best.
Of course before J can act on this advice he has to run the gauntlet of idiocy that is Kunal, who has since found a girlfriend of his own, and DO. NOT. get me started on how the only acceptable romantic interests in films for overweight characters are other overweight characters. "Oh look, two fatties. Naturally they can only date each other." No. Incorrect.
Jay calls the Love Guru (a radio advice show) for yet more advice:
Let's see, who does J know who could help him out with this jealousy scheme...oh right, Silicone McFunbags from about eleven hours ago (I'm guesstimating, it might only have been two but who's counting?).
This picture is here solely as an aide for debating whether or not those are real. I was thinking they weren't but now I think they might be. Which means I might have to start calling her character by her proper name: Giselle.
What follows is quite possibly the stupidest plot line in the history of man. J pretends to date Giselle and "accidentally" runs into Simran and Raj all over the place.
Raj has that skeevy look on his face because he just looked at Giselle's boobs.
They literally say "blah blah" as their conversation. I had to stop after a couple of scenes but trust me, this shit went on for ages. "Blah blah" is Kunal's way of narrating conversation that isn't important, but we all know what's really going on here: the entire writing team just said "fuck it."
Their plan falls spectacularly to pieces (gee, who could have predicted that?) when they run into Raj at the mall. Raj is there with Simran's parents and tells J and Kunal that he is proposing the next day to Simran (and that she's already accepted, which, uh, is weird, but ok). J decides it's time to give up their silly scheming and let fate take its course.
Good news folks, the finish line is in sight.
Simran, unable to hide her unhappiness anymore, finally grows a pair and tells Raj the truth. I have to admit that I feel bad for him--he's so in love with her and tries so hard to make her happy, and even takes her back after she falls in love with someone else, and she waits until after she's accepted his marriage proposal to finally be honest with him. No wonder the poor guy looks like a hurt puppy.
Simran, having run Raj's heart over with a few bulldozers, leaves him at the restaurant and dashes off to the premiere of Pyar, Pyar, Pyar. Oh didn't I say? Yeah. That's the name of Veer's film.
Simran runs around the premiere but with no luck, because J got it into his head to fly home to be with his mother and is at the airport. He tries to get in line for security but is met with a "No Entry" sign. He puts his bag through the scanner and sees a "Do Not Proceed" sticker on the ground. Standing in front of the timetable, all the flights mysteriously flip to "delayed." Kunal attempts to call him several times but J purposely doesn't answer. Instead he speaks to his mother, who has arranged for him to meet with a psychiatrist and calls him a ninny for being such a crybaby. In so many words.
She finally talks some sense into the boy (for the second time) and he grabs his stuff, hails a taxi, and shows up at the film premiere to "do some drama."
Well gee, who could resist THAT?
Of course, she's not there. He steps back outside and finds her, and FINALLY our star crossed lovers can be together.
If you've seen I Hate Luv Storys then you know why this line pisses me off: she says "I love you too" with the same amount of emotion and conviction as I have when I say it to my mother when I'm signing off the phone. "K mom, talk to you later. Love ya." She could not sound any less enthused about what she's saying if she tried. I like Sonam Kapoor but I hope her delivery of that line haunts her til the end of her days. It completely ruined any sort of romantic mood that had built up til that point.
Oh it was something alright. It was something.
For those of you who managed to survive this far, congratulations, and thank you. Now we can get on to the actual premise of the post, namely...
5 Things I Hated About 'I Hate Luv Storys' (And 5 Things I Luved)
Hate #1: Kunal.
'Oh sure,' you say. 'Pick on the fat kid.' His character was obnoxious. When he wasn't being utterly useless he was dispensing horrible advice or being used to set up a rash of random plot points, a la his "Cliche" list.
He's like a chubby little minstrel, singing his way through the film and putting horrible ideas in peoples' heads.
Did you ever stop and think it's because you're an idiot?
Luv #1: The Movie Within A Movie
I love movies within movies SO HARD. It's a plot device that never gets old for me. It worked in Luck By Chance and it worked here, though in I Hate Luv Storys it was more of a way to work the "love stories" angle into the film. You sort of had to have the two leads work at a film studio. A movie about two accountants who disagree about a movie genre doesn't really work does it? It also lends itself well to the characters asking leading questions about the 'little film' which also apply to the film itself, chiefly...
Hate #2: The Plot
Another excellent question my handsome friend. The premise behind the film was good and if they'd stuck to that premise we would have been in business. This was supposed to be a fresh take on an old story. Instead it was an tired, predictable version of what may or may not have been a fresh story--it's hard to notice originality when your eye is trained steadily on countdown on the DVD player.
The idea of a boy who doesn't take relationships seriously and almost ruins his chance with the woman of his dreams because of his cocky denial of love has been done before. Aamir Khan (Imran's uncle for those of you unfamiliar) played this character perfectly in Dil Chahta Hai. And the same film gave us two versions of Simran and Raj: Shalini and Rohit and Pooja and Subodh. If I Hate Luv Storys had had a younger man/older woman angle I'd have skipped it altogether for the far superior Dil Chahta Hai.
I Hate Luv Storys needed at least half an hour trimmed from it. First to go would have been the "let's make Simran jealous' storyline. And let's be honest...every second of the script that took place in New Zealand could have gone out the window and no one would have noticed. That might have freed up some room in the budget for better writers.
Speaking of writing...
Luv #2: Hidden Gems
Someone on the writing team has a sense of humor and daring. How else do you explain these moments?
Atta boy. :)
Hate #3: The Music
Sorry but it fell flat. One good song (Jab Mila Tu) out of six isn't good enough. This is probably one of my least favorite Vishal-Shekhar albums to date. The title track would be excellent if it didn't sound like an advertisement for something (namely "I Hate Luv Storys").
Luv #3: Veer
Samir Soni played the impassioned film director perfectly. He was ludicrous and over the top and ridiculous without you ever thinking that those were negative traits.
Hate #4: New Zealand
I don't actually hate the country of New Zealand (don't worry Ness!) but I do hate how it was used in the film. I understand there's a certain amount of coordination between the New Zealand tourism board and the film producers, but there had to be a way to feature a trip to NZ without making it look like a commercial for NZ. At no point was there indicated a specific need to have a foreign location (for the film within a film), and that combined with the commercial-like introduction of the country made the fact that it was a gimmick very obvious.
There's a way to make something like this look halfway natural (think "Vande Mataram" in K3G with its gorgeous aerial shots of London), but this ain't it.
Luv #4: Rajeev
Aamir Ali Malik's portrayal of the cocky film star in IHLS's film within a film was my favorite part of the 2 hour plus film. He was hysterical, and had some of the best lines in the film (and not just comedic bits either--he delivers advice about women in the form of a bus metaphor (see waaaaay above) that is genuine and sweet.
Hate #5: Giselle
Otherwise known as Silicone McFunbags. She was awful. In the immortal words of Center Stage: "Who let that disaster in here?" She's very pretty, which is good because she doesn't have anything else going for her. She's not Indian, so why the producers decided to have her speak Hindi in the film is beyond me. It was bad. Her accent made Katrina Kaif sound like a linguistic goddess. The actress is half Brazilian and half Saudi, but her accent in English is American (and a really really obnoxious American accent at that) and her Hindi...oy. "Marry nomm Gisella haaaaaaaaaaai." Remember in Luck By Chance (oh there I go again!) when Farhan is making fun of Isha Sharvani's bad Hindi? Yeah. Again, linguistic goddess compared to this girl.
To sum up, Giselle could die in a fire and I would not have cared one iota. She ruined massive parts of the movie and her character was completely unnecessary.
Luv #5: Imran Khan
Imran freaking Khan. The kid is seriously adorable. This wasn't a great film for him but he did well with what he had and my dislike of I Hate Luv Storys was not in any way his fault.
I mean, how could you not love this face? ;)