I Hate Luv Stories, 2010

Directed by: Punit Malhotra

Who is Punit Malhotra and where has he been all my life?
If Karan Johar never touched another movie, his life would be complete.
I wasn’t even more than 2 minutes into the film and I just knew this was going to rock my boots off.
Do you know what I “luv” about IHLS? Everything.

OK, down to the nitty gritty! (I was going to say “brass tax” but I hate when people say “brass tax”.)

J (Imran Khan) works for the top Romantic-Love-Story director/producer in the Indian Film World, Veer Kapoor (Samir Soni). He’s little less than absolutely disgusted by everything lovey-dovey and Bollywoody. The wind fans, the cliche, the repeated story lines, the mountains, the running in airports, and love in general. He thinks it’s unrealistic, fluffy and for idiots. He has a slight change of tune when he is forced to go see a movie by his director and sees Simran. “It was just like the old movies” he voice overs, and it is. She’s in spotlight, slow motion turning, hair blown away from her face by an industrial fan; fate works it out so that they are seated next to each other. They are watching Veer-Zaara* and he tries to talk to her during the movie to tell her how dumb all of the love stories are, who he works for and how much he thinks it’s total absurdity, she storms out in a huff because, as we find out, Simran takes all that stuff to heart. Her fiance, Raj (yes) and her were childhood sweethearts, he brings her flowers everyday, she methodically if not religiously pours over DDLJ, KHNH, KKHH, K3G, and all the other KJo/Early 2000s-Late 90s/SRK mega-hit acronyms. To her, her life and her love is perfect filmi bliss.

Cho Chweet!

As it turns out, Simran works for Veer the Mega Producer too, and because J lacks the right romantic sensibilities, he is ousted and forced to work for the art producer to get a feel for having a hands-on relationship with the film. And who is that art director? You guessed it, Simran.

You then have 2 hours of filmi reference, “guess that dance move”,  and scores upon scores of music loops from all the aforementioned acronyms. And of course, pyaar, scorned pyaar, which-guy-do-I-really-love?, running in airports and rain-drenched moments.

The best part HAD to be the few seconds you saw a montage of J following Simran around all day with a little portable fan so that her hair was always blowing about. CLASSIC!

And the repeated use of the word “Fugly”!

And the 3/4 sleeve Lacoste polo in a blue ombre that Imran wears. DELISH!

The short and short of it is that IHLS is a love story but it’s fresh and so fantastically done that you forget that while he’s spending his whole time demeaning the Bollywood-Model, J is living it.

He even goes so far to imagine him and Simran in a to-the-tee perfect recreation of all the essential mountain-top dancing scenes… and that’s when he knows he’s got it, and he’s got it BAD.

The Indian Film Industry is repeatedly telling us that their films are realistic, that when people have dreams, love, tragedy…etc they start singing and dancing, escaping through music. Am I the only one that agrees with them? Of course your entire Harlem street doesn’t join in, but you FEEL like you could start dancing and singing. Just think about the start of new relationships, you are sensitive to everything, you think strawberries are the most incredible invention**, you’re light hearted and you’re carefree… Bollywood just overtly puts it out there to show us.

In IHLS they’re telling us the same thing, shoveling it down our throats, but doing it so secretly, so under-cover that it’s more realistic, more believable. The juxtaposition of seeing someone create the filmi magic while they are unconsciously doing the same things in their own life was so scrumptious and all-around wonderful.

While I could have done with a little less of the back-and-forth emotions in the second half, I can hardly find any other fault in this film.

Yeah, none.

I’ve never seen an Imran Khan film, and I had spent all the previous months lamenting how un-hero like I found him. Duh, that was the point, Erin!! He is a great actor, he does subtle eye-emotions so well, and so life-life that I spent the majority of my time in absolute awe of him. When, at the very end, Simran says the three magic words to him, there is a moment where you see him hesitate before showing his glee, like he can’t believe it. That moment, that split second of hesitation on his face, that, my friends, is remarkable talent. Most would have rushed right into the full on celebratory emotion but, and maybe it was a fluke, that was just so, so, SO good. Look for it, I promise you, it will amaze you! I also enjoyed how he gave his Pyaar-Speech without changing his speaking voice. It was just plain J. As a girl, and I may be different, but I so despise when guys start to get laudatory and they start speaking in that weird, light, floaty whispery voice. Dude, just tell me, don’t suddenly become another person!

Digression aside…

This is also my first Sonam Kapoor film. She’s like a mix of Anushka Sharma and Deepika Padukone. Believe me, it works really REALLY well! I don’t think that she had the strength of skill that Imran had, but I was still pleasantly surprised and completely entertained by her performance. She was very sweet but largely forgetable.

Mmm, oh yes, oh yes, and having been there, I can say that their production techniques were pretty on-point with how a film is made… well, I didn’t see any budding romances, since I tended to be the ONLY woman on set… and there were a lot more men around throwing half-used water bottles and stuff, but the producer Veer was VERY much like the guy I worked under. He also had a habit of keeping me out until 6 in the morning, but I’ve forgiven him for most of that… since he introduced me to Kishore Kumar’s son, with whom I shall have beautiful children… but all that aside it only deepened my desire to go back and become the next Farah Khan…

Along with all the nods to the uber famous Filmi Music the songs for this film were just fantastic. They were actual songs people! Not underscoring the events, they stopped and had songs! Thank goodness!

I don’t mind the new way of doing music in the IFI but it’s nice to know that the die-hards aren’t forgetting their roots. The title track was shot fantastically, a lot of lights, a lot of dancers, a lot of fingers used as quotation marks. (You’ll just have to see it!)

The filmography was just so on point. Clean, precise, well paced, and with a few new touches to the typical repertoire. There was a nice use of silhouettes… that’s really what I noticed the most because I thought it just gave a really cool look and feel to the film. Like the main people didn’t HAVE to be J and Simran, they could be me and Kumar Jr… or, whomever. Ya know.

I could go on and on but it will just get more and more gushy and you will just start to see a lot of “and I thought it was just FAB!” getting written… so I’ll stop now. See it if you love the love stories, see it if you mock the love stories… either way you’ll laugh, catch a few jokes, play “what theme song is that?!” and see a resurfacing of not only the “Chava Chava” mini-dresses, but the terrific (not) dance moves as well.

*Well, they were playing Veer-Zaara on the screen
**The first time I fell in pyaaaaaar I spent about 3 hours staring at strawberries and crying over them, I thought they were so remarkable. Yep.