Sometimes you just want a good laugh, and that’s exactly what James Dodson’s cross-cultural romantic comedy brings to the table. When walking into any romantic comedy, you don’t quite expect something totally out of the box, and although The Other End of the Line has its hiccups, at the end of the day it races smoothly to the finish line. The trump card of the film is definitely the sincere cast, with South Indian superstar Shriya Saran (Sivaji, Mission Istanbul, Awaarapan) and Hollywood actor Jesse Metcalfe (Desperate Housewives, John Tucker Must Die) leading the pack.
Granger Woodruff (Metcalfe) is a workaholic by nature. In a partnership with his best friend (Basis), he works day and night in order to be the best at his marketing job. Like in almost every romantic-comedy, nothing seems to be going quite right in his life, including a relationship with his conceited girlfriend. Nevertheless, Granger hardly has time for a relationship anyway.
As if things couldn’t get worse, his credit card number gets stolen which is almost a blessing in disguise, only Granger doesn’t realise it just yet. He receives a call from a credit card operator named Jennifer, supposedly from San Francisco, and the two slowly share several light-hearted moments over the phone. On the spur of the moment, Granger asks her out on a date. The only problem is, he is unaware of the fact that she lives halfway across the world in Mumbai, doesn’t have an American accent and her name is actually Priya Sethi (Saran).
At the same time, Priya is all set to get married but yearns for something deeper and spontaneously packs her bags and heads to San Francisco to meet Granger. When they meet, sparks fly, but things get complicated as Priya hides her true identity, of Jennifer the credit card operator, from Granger.
Though the setting is different in The Other End of the Line, the basic plot isn’t exactly creative, and falls into the same trap that most romantic comedies do. Still, the shift back and forth between Mumbai and the United States of America creates a fairly interesting contrast that gives the script an extra edge. Tracey Jackson’s writing makes for great entertainment, with several hilarious one-liners dispersed throughout the course of the film.
Lines like these keep the otherwise run-of-the-mill script going, but even they can’t save the film from its ultimate flaw—predictability. If you know what’s going to happen within the first fifteen minutes of a film, it’s not a good sign. But the average movie-goer doesn’t always mind predictability as long as it’s engaging. Luckily, in The Other End of the Line, it is. As we travel across the globe with the lead pair, the proceedings are very entertaining and you hope to see Priya complete her fairy-tale romance with Granger. In fact, characters like Priya are a great depiction of a strong, modern India—one in which youngsters fight to make their own decisions.
If only the film started out a bit better, it would have been the perfect date flick. The initial portions are lacklustre and the characters don’t strike the right chord immediately. Instead, they grow on you as the film progresses.
Another thing that seems out of place is the background music, which is mostly in Hindi. For the most part, it’s quite unnecessary and English music might have been more fitting—especially for the portions filmed in San Francisco. Other technical aspects like cinematography, costume design and art direction, are all perfect.
As mentioned earlier, the cast brings great energy to the film and saves some extremely one-dimensional characters. Except for Priya, none of the characters have depth and several are almost stereotypical. Shriya Saran, who makes her international debut with this film, is confident throughout and charms despite her flawed diction. Jesse Metcalfe compliments her well and the two do share great chemistry. However, it’s obvious that he is a pro at these types of roles, so he doesn’t really bring anything new to his performance.
Actually, it’s the supporting cast who are absolutely fabulous. Anupam Kher is brilliant and makes you laugh in each and every one of his scenes. Sushmita Mukherjee is great as always. Even Tara Sharma, who only gets about ten minutes in the film, is excellent. She has some hilarious lines! Ditto for Austin Basis, who has great comic timing.
If what you’re looking for is a good night out with a movie that won’t set your brain in overdrive, take a trip to see The Other End of the Line. It may not have the most creative plot, but the cross-cultural backdrop provides an interesting twist on an otherwise oft-repeated storyline. Also, there are several laugh-out-loud moments to keep you entertained throughout.
It’s a typical romantic comedy but the silver lining is that it never tries to be anything but that. As Dodson put it, it’s shamelessly romantic, and that works!
Oh, and yes … they kiss!