God and Subhash Ghai know, the film industry needs new talent. It is therefore heartening to see Ghai patronize newcomers. Love Express, directed by Sunny Bhambani and starring Sahil Mehta, Mannat Ravi, the film is a sadly uninspired vehicle to accommodate new talent. Everyone connected with this rather touchingly disoriented low-budget romantic comedy set in ‘speeding’ train (or so we are supposed to believe) is untried, eager to make an impression.
The amateurishness of presentation is in some ways, a sign of burgeoning talent. The students of Subhash Ghai’s acting school seem in search of their bearings. And that’s what makes them so endearing. The set representing the chugging express train is quickly filled up with a wedding party, assorted uncles and aunties, nieces and nephews oddball characters who burst in pop-Bhangra songs as though they auditioning for India’s Most Flaunted. The characters revel in their loud quirkiness because that’s the way a Punjabi wedding entourage is expected to behave.
Subtlety, or whatever we may call any attempt to infuse an aesthetic restraint to a film about wedding revelry, is at a low premium here. The debutant director has a grip over his characters but not much of an idea as to how to package them in any way that appears innovative.
The two newcomers playing the reluctant bride and groom struggle with lines that try hard to replicate the trendy cynicism of today’s wannabe-cool brigade. The small-town social climbers with their fake designer bags and borrowed accents were far more palpably credible in Aanand Kumar’s Tanu Weds Manu.
Love Express expresses neither a love for the small-town milieu that it tries to pack into a train of caricatural characters, nor does display any fluidity in its narration. The actors possess no wherewithal to make the loud caricatural characters spoofy in their flamboyance. At the most we can smile indulgently at the new talent that Subhash Ghai’s film school throws forward. Decades ago Ghai acted in a film Umang about youthful aspirations. Love Express makes you wonder what these young guns really want.