Direction: Prem Soni
Actors: Preity Zinta, Rhehan Malliek, Isabelle Adjani
Consider the scenario. Boy sees girl on train, checks her out, comments on her clothes and then introduces himself with a smartass
“A-cash; cash with an A” (Akash, really; Rhehan Malliek). Under normal circumstances, that would earn a rebuff. But the girl smiles and introduces herself with an equally ridiculous “I-s-h-k-q” (Preity Zinta). Dear lord, they must be made for each other.
Of course, had that realisation dawned on them so quickly, there would be no movie. There would also be no need for the screenplay to blatantly borrow the basic plot idea from Before Sunrise (1995) for its entire first half.
Instead, they agree to “spend the night” together in Paris and never meet each other again. It would sound absurd, but original, if you hadn’t seen the Ethan Hawke-Julie Delpy starrer where they too meet on a train and agree to spend one night in Vienna.
Of course, the borrowed plot is cooked with a generous dosage of Bollywood spices. So you must suffer clichés like a Paris full of French people who speak Hindi; and a heroine whose jackets are heavy but hemlines ridiculously short.
This is the sort of Bollywood romance that used to set the box office on fire back in the 2000s. Producer-actor Zinta is on familiar territory, for she herself has starred in some of them. But alas, the formula is old, and this one has no Shah Rukh Khan to spread his arms out wide and save the day.
To be fair, Malliek isn’t a bad actor. But a film like this requires a star. And though another Khan — Salman — pitches in with an ‘item number’, that may not be enough. Meanwhile, Oscar-nominated French actress Isabelle Adjani is wasted as Ishkq’s mother, and speaks a dubbed Hindi that’s thoroughly unconvincing.
However, the film deserves points for production value. Paris is a cinematographer’s dream, and one never really gets tired of time-lapse shots of the evening sky around the Eiffel Tower, or the cobbled streets.
The film might get you to do two things — plan a French holiday; or pull out a particular old DVD. Somehow, one doubts that Ishkq in Paris is trying to achieve either.