I was damn sure that London Paris New York would not be a good film. And by good I mean it would not be intellectual, touching or entertaining (at least). Because that’s how I judge films…they have to either make you think or make you feel or make you laugh…if you’ve got all three…you’ve got a fair chance to pick up the golden statuette in Hollywood.
While scouring the net for previews about London Paris New York, I chanced upon an article that spoke more about Anu Menon (the writer and director) and less about the film. It revealed the passion for writing that this London Film School student exhibited…and being a writer myself, I just had to go and check out Anu’s passion spill out on celluloid.
Without being overtly critical of the story I’d like to point out that it’s got no story, so to speak. It’s more like a slice of life narrative…although a ‘filmy’ slice of life, mind you.
Anu scores heavily in 2 departments – characterization and dialogues. And that’s her winning formula. Because London Paris New York is about 2 people and the moments they share…that’s it. No scope for cheesy, trying-very-hard-to-be-funny comedians, mummys, papas, friends, etc. etc. It’s just Nikhil and Lalita all the way.
Both actors have possibly poured their guts out on the sets and look as natural as you and me would, in daily life. Ali Zafar brings life to the brash, impulsive, rich, spoilt Punjabi brat Nikhil, while Aditi Rao shines in a completely opposite independent, middle-class, limited-exposure-to-real-life Lalita. They’re so good that not once do you feel that they’re acting in front of a camera. Ali Zafar’s explosive confrontation in the pre-climax is just jaw-dropping…he cries naturally…something very very few actors…I’d love to be sexist here…very very few ‘men’ can do…Shah Rukh Khan and Shiney Ahuja being among the worst. As for chemistry between the leads…it’s fresh…and you do pine for the lovers (Ali Zafar to be specific) at a certain point…this viewer’s ‘pining for the lovers’ stage is a critical element of a love story…something Anu has got partly right…so I’d say she needs to brush up her direction skills a bit.
Dialogues as I mentioned earlier are splendid…simply because they’re very today. Lines that you and I would spout in real life with our friends, lovers – in the coffee shop, at the restaurant, in the bedroom…so on and so forth. One can actually relate to the lines like “Hey, I’ve said this line to someone” or “I can imagine myself using this line.”
A huge credit goes to Shyam Salgaonkar for keeping the film as crisp as 140 mins. What creates a problem though is that there are 3 full songs in the story, which eat into the already small running time. So, the story gets edited for the sake of songs…could’ve been explored a little more…this being Anu’s mistake (which is why I said it’s got no real story)…something I didn’t take too kindly…but then ‘most’ Indians just don’t like films without songs, do they?
Cinematography is top-notch…no two ways about that…but then if the film was shot in London, Paris and New York, how wrong could Sameer Arya go? Yet, I feel he’s captured the Paris segment incredibly. And yes, the solo lovemaking sequence is captured tastefully…very subtle yet sensual.
Songs….pah…what should I write…truth be told I’m not one for songs in a movie (unless it’s a musical, which this is not)…but to be fair Woh Dekhnay Mein is possibly the pick of the lot for it’s sprightliness, and to an extent it sets the tone for Nikhil and Lalita’s relationship. Others like Ting Rang and Aaja are just narrative fillers.
So, for me London Paris New York was a decent film…because it made me feel. Without doubt, it was an excellent study in modern day characterization and dialogue writing. I’d recommend it to 2 kinds of people:
- Men / women who like ‘filmy’ slice of life love stories, set in exotic locations.
- Anyone who loves to deconstruct cinema and appreciate its finer points, even if the film is not the best one they’ve seen.