Movie Review: Subhash K. Jha on Anjaana Anjaani

By Subhash K. Jha

Film: "Anjaana Anjaani"; Starring: Priyanka Chopra, Ranbir Kapoor, Zayed Khan;

Directed by: Siddharth Anand; Rating: ***

Romantic comedy "Anjaana Anjaani" goes in to so many directions, you wonder what happened to those good old films where Boy Met Girl… and they lived happily ever laughter.

Laughter, there's plenty of it in "Anjaana Anjaani". Raucous laughter, bitter laughter, silly laughter, goofy laughter… The couple Akash and Kiara are portrayed more like two beer-swigging buddies on a road trip through the USA (shot with shimmering restlessness by Ravi Chandran) than lovers staring at the moon and dreaming of the ever-after.

This is that 1940s' Bette Davis-Clark Gable county where love emerges from the verbal skirmish between two people thrown together by fate. There isn't much plot on display here. Once we know that the two suicidal protagonists are together for the rest of the movie the only mystery that remains is why such vibrant lives would want out.

The drama of death as defined by the rituals of daily living are rather elaborately, sometimes engagingly other times tediously, mapped in the plotline which is slimmer than Priyanka Chopra's waistline. Regrettably for an interactive rom-com the dialogues are not always as savvy, sassy and seductive as they ought to be.

Many times you feel the dialogues are translated from the English rather than conceived in the spoken language. Then there are the songs. Sigh. Tediously carpeting the soundtrack of the second more-pointless half, Vishal-Shekhar's music just seems to be creating a dimension to divert our attention from the two belligerent characters played by two very engaging actors who quite often seem to be inventing pretexts for their characters beyond those provided by the plot, character and the lines they mouth.

Priyanka Chopra, incontestably the most complete and watchable actress of her generation, makes you forget the film's obvious blemishes, mainly lengthy self-indulgent passages of pedestrian passion-play written in a tone that attempts to be flip but fails to grip. With every film Priyanka grows in stature as an actor even when the space offered is meager as in "Kaminey".

Given a wall-to-wall character to perform in this film she has so much fun digging into the crevices of the person she is required to create, you end up watching only the character and the actress, in that order.

Perfect timing in the comic scenes, skilfully and subtly seductive in the bedroomy interludes and boisterous when in a drunken rage, Priyanka takes over the show from her first inebriated appearance on a bridge where she spots our hero while trying to jump to her death.

Ranbir Kapoor in comparison is surprisingly subdued. It's partly to do with the nature of his character (an arrogant misguided soul with little control over his ego). But you suspect Ranbir just decided to sportingly play the backseat boy this time because on Priyanka he had finally met his match on screen.

Zayed Khan as Priyanka's heart breaker gets little space. But he makes sensitive use of the meager playing-time.

With more support from the dialogues and an elaborate supporting cast (the people who get a voice are largely stereotypes, the preachy lady doctor, the hero's supportive friend and his chirpy wife, etc), the very fine lead pair would have been better able to express their exceptional skills as actors.

"Anjaana Anjaani" is a film that sets off a tender saucy engaging trip. It somewhere loses its way. But still gets to its targeted destination because of the lead players who appear to know all the signposts and U-turns. By heart.

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