When was the last time you saw a really good sweet 'n' syrupy romance? This year, the love stories have been notably dead meat material. "Kaun Hai Jo Sapnon Mein Aaya" is no different.
At least "Uuf Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai" was rescued from drudgery by debutant Sammir Dattani and some soul stirring music.
But don't look for silver linings in "Kaun Hai..." It makes you pine for a reprieve from the alpine amour that's become boringly characteristic of all silk-and-honey romantic potions that Bollywood doles out for those unidentifiable lovesick generations not yet cynical about love at first sight and all that jazz.
Apparently such people still exist in some remote corners of the globe. Rakesh Bapat and Richa Pallod convey the externalities of the lovelorn generation without internalising any of the emotions. Their performances are as shallow as the rest of this NRI-oriented romance where words like 'sabhyata' and 'parampara' are used as spiritual aphrodisiacs.
But the frigid direction and turgid characters trying hard to look camera-oblivious negate all efforts to give the presentation a spick and span look. The romance looks sanitised to the point of seeming senseless.
Pallod is the lime-fresh all-purpose wannabe bahu from India who gatecrashes with her joie de vivre in the stoic Indian family in London, like Rameshwari and Rekha did in "Dulhan Wohi Jo Piya Man Bhaye" and "Khubsoorat".
Director Rajesh Bhatt's NRI residence teems with stereotypes. The shloka-reciting grandma (Vineeta Malik) who complains about pizza for dinner. "It's not pit-za it's peeza," hero Sunny (Bapat) corrects her.
Actually grandma got it right. Her recipe has worked in Hindi cinema for too long to be tampered with. This film doesn't rock the boat. In fact it doesn't rock, period.
The affable patriarch played so enjoyably by Madan Puri and Ashok Kumar in the two aforementioned films is reinvented as a sham ayurvedic doctor in London played by Kader Khan.
He'd have been funny, if only he had better lines and co-stars. The rest of Mr. Khan's household comprises starched and shell-shocked faces that look like they've watched "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge" any number of times to evaluate how Hindustanis in London behave.
Since the film is shot in London, the narrative takes the wide-eyed Mehak (Pallod) sightseeing. We tag along. It isn't only London Bridge that's falling. The plot, skimpy and slight from the start, crumbles irretrievably with every passing reel.
To the director's credit, he never indulges in vulgarity of any sort, unless we look at the trio of comedians played by TV-star Sooraj Thapar, Sheila Sharma and Rana Jung Bahadur who are brought in periodically to lighten the load -- what load? Don't ask!
From the start, this film is so flimsy it redefines the law of gravity. What never goes up cannot come down. But "Kaun Hai..." manages that impossible feat. It starts at the lowest octave and discovers new notes at the bottom of the storytelling scale to simulate a sickeningly sweet soprano of romance.
The 'twist' in the second-half emerges after Kader Khan's sullen household has had its fill of Mehak's homilies and parathas. Apparently, that pain she felt in the heart wasn't just love for the frustrated playwright Sunny but a far more immediate and urgent disorder requiring immediate medical attention.
When the doctor, Anupam Kher, wheels the sick girl into the OT, it's time to get a script doctor to spin a miracle into the comatose narration. What we get is a film about muslin dupattas and verdant values scattered into a flight of fancy that fools none and exasperates all.
This is a bland meal pickled with spices that lost their flavour over long periods of exposure.