By Hindustan Times
Kuch Luv Jaisa
Director: Barnali Ray Shukla
Actors: Shefali Shah, Rahul Bose
It must be weird to be born on February 29, a birthday you can celebrate only once in four years. To be fair, there are only two people I know who share that birth-date: Morarji Desai and Superman; quite unlikely, we’ll know what either felt about it. The third one, as it turns out, is the heroine in this film. Her rare birthday is also when this daylong movie is set.
Her husband, let alone the kids, doesn’t appear to remember this special day. She is sad all right. The reasons seem a little deeper. She wakes up in the morning in her great Indian housewife ‘nightie’, figuring out drills of a day that seems to have replicated itself over years. Ms Saxena is a posh Pali Hill “housekeeper” for her husband, “nanny” for her kids, “doctor” for the watchman, “marriage counselor” for the maid...
Kuch Love JaisaAll these things, when she feels she could’ve done better for herself -- and not necessarily in the usual ‘I killed my inner dreams’ sort of way. She looks disinterested, in life, in general. You can straightaway tell from her grouchy “hallo” over the phone. She’s given up everything for those who can also make her feel alone on a day she could do without.
A startlingly expressive, still widely under-rated, Shefali Shah (Satya, Monsoon Wedding, 24 Park Avenue), plays the said character. As a middle-aged woman, devoted to her family and yet missing something in her personal life, the actor at once exudes the kind of vulnerability and warmth that’s rare to match. All her co-actors pale in comparison. On a good day, you suspect, she could this mainstream cinema’s own Meryl Streep. That day -- given the one that this film affords her -- is obviously yet to come.
The premise bears tremendous scope still. Unfortunately, the third-rate plot the writers have figured out for her could put anyone to sleep, or strut out. Ms Saxena bumps into a gangster at a coffeeshop. She’s not sure who he is. He claims to be a private detective. She decides to drive him and follow a biker around, in such a way that any dumbo would know they're being followed. She then checks into a holiday resort with him as husband and wife.
Either Ms Saxena is plain stupid or plainly sadomasochistic. It’s hard to tell. That Rahul Bose isn’t the said gangster is quite certain. Dressed in crisp white over a grey under-shirt -- besides the occasional thick twang, and senseless style of eating -- the actor at no point seems from the kachre ka dabba (dust-bin) he was supposedly born into. The character ‘Raghav Passport’ doesn’t believe in God. He believes in “riks” (for risk), and perhaps some unreasonable ones too. That would be correct for the filmmakers as well.
The relationship between the housewife and the wanted hoodlum offers neither dread nor drama. It remains flat throughout. You just leave wondering how the basic material still had the makings of a sprightly film. Half-dead, half-written, and of which probably half shot, that film's already been made. Well. Next.