By Subhash K Jha, IANS
"I think so(sic) it's destiny," groans our hero caught in a love jam that throttles him from both ends.
Indeed, we think so too.
Akshay Kumar's films are becoming classier by the month. There's a certain restrain in his presence here. The way he conveys the pain and hurt of an impossible love, is quite surprising for an actor who until recently was counted among the wooden.
Director Raj Kanwar's recent efforts to polish up his act have yielded tepid results. DHAI AKSHAR PREM KE and the boxoffice hit ANDAAZ were louder than the lyrical aspirations of their creator.
Kanwar gets it more right this time. The theme of 'love versus obligation' is nothing new to our cinema. Then redemptive hope lies in the treatment. And we aren't let down completely in the way the jukebox- symphony moves forward.
There's a certain elegance in the movement of the mix 'n' match love story. Aditya (Akshay) and Jiya (Katrina) engaged to marry the wrong life partners must move towards that inevitable mutual embrace at the end when the scrambled game of musical chairs finally ends.
In between there are several musical pieces choreographed with an eye-catching élan. One of them filmed in a commodious banquet even has yesteryears' cabaret queen Helen breaking into a sassy jig.
Such moments are well knitted into the tale of star-crossed love. Though the film suffers for Raj Kanwar's trademark humbug (superfluous loud Punjabi characters grooving garishly to Bhangra-pop beats, crude gay jokes between Akshay and Mohan Joshi, co-incidences peeking out of an otherwise-smooth narrative) there's a touch of self-conscious suaveness in the storytelling that goes a long way in keeping the central romance from collapsing under the weight of self-importance.
The initial encounters between Aditya and Jia are deftly visualized. Vikas Shivraman's camera frames the good-looking pair with arresting valentinian vibrancy. The dialogues, you feel, could've gone easy on the rhetorics. Often-times you feel the lovers, fighting off their respective engagements to court true love, are reading their lines out of an invisible prompter.
But Akshay Kumar-Katrina look terrific together. Akshay's controlled performance spotlights the character's virtuosity in the midst of luscious temptation. Watch him in that almost wordless moment when his screen-friend Vivek Shouq (in a hideous blow-dyed hairstyle) confesses he was behind the lovers' break-up… Akshay gives a clenched interpretation to a role that doesn't allow him to 'do' much on screen.
Katrina is passably competent in a tailor-made role, giving a mild emotional spin to a couple of scenes. But her inadequacies surface when pitched against Shernaz Patel (in a deplorably minuscule part) or even against Bipasha Basu who, in the brief role of Akshay's ambitious fiancée, brings a fleeting finesse to her under-written part.
But pray, what's Anil Kapoor doing playing Katrina's arrogant self-important fiancé? From the start you know this couple is doomed.
Don't look for surprises in this smooth-and-shiny romance. …Or originality. Bits and pieces from various Hindi and Hollywood creations surface intermittently. But the queasy limit is the climax where Katrina is stuck upside down in a hit-and-run car. The whole sequence is lifted from this year's Oscar winner CRASH. That's some quick thinking.