Can you fall in love with the same person over and over again? Does meeting them at different stages of your and their life mean you meet a new person each time? Anu Menon perhaps did not think I’d walk out the cinema with such questions after watching her debut film but essentially that is what London Paris New York is all about.
Menon divides the romance of her characters in three phases, each phase reflecting the mood of the city in which the characters are. Nikhil and Lalita’s love story proves that spending days and nights together isn’t what love stories are all about. The same amount of love, intensity and passion can be ignited by three simple encounters. The climax these three encounters leads to is what sets the flow for London Paris New York.
The debutant director tries rather hard to ensure her love story doesn’t get slotted into the pile of hundreds of rom-coms that Indian cinema churns out. In some ways she succeeds but in others she fails. The film attempts to color the characters with emotions reflecting the city they’re in. Paris is perhaps the most impressive of all three portions as it captures the passion and the intensity of emotions that we perceive the city of love to stand for.
In the list of differences her film has Menon can also add the fact the climax is rather innovative in which the guy doesn’t make larger than life romantic gestures but in fact yells at the girl for being such a tease! It is rather refreshing to see a leading man of a love story who is finally sick of chasing after the girl. No doubt after witnessing the roller coaster ride that Lalita turns their love story into even many of the ladies in the audience, like me, will be nodding in agreement with Nikhil.
Ali Zafar is convincing as the suave flirt of a young man in London, as is he as the self-doubting angry young filmmaker in Paris. Zafar the actor truly emerges in the final portion in New York. Having seen only his comical side in his previous two films it was quite a revelation to see him pull off the scene at Hudson River. Aditi Rao Hydari stole the scene in her limited portions in Rockstar so one can only imagine what she does when given the entire film to woe us with. She’s an absolutely natural. Some have argued that her Paris portions seem a bit forced however the writing of this portion is to be defended. Let us not forget that it is Lalita who is to come across as forced in those sequences as in her heart broken state she tried hard to become something she most definitely is not. (Again a reflection of the illogical passion and intense emotional ride the characters are in in the Paris portion). Not doubt the fake wig needed to go and perhaps replaced with anything contrasting to the bubbly plaited-curly-haired-girl we met in London.
Coming now to what Ms Menon doesn’t succeed in doing and that is to create a romantic comedy. The comedy in the film is seriously lacking and is limited to the London portion as the Paris portion is somewhat dark and the New York portion is a concluding segment in which the characters come straight to the point. No doubt the script needs no changes to accommodate for the comedy as it was only natural that the comedy is mostly encapsulated in their first meeting when their relationship was far less complex. Perhaps the marketing is to be blamed for titling it as a romantic comedy and therefore coloring our expectations as such.
Zafar’s brilliant music, enchanting visuals and a fast paced screenplay are some of the other things LPNY has to offer. Minus the unnecessary second song in the London portion the film does very little time wasting and sticks to 1 hour 40 minute duration, rather rare for a Hindi film.
Menon may not have had the most flawless of debuts but definitely has a vision that makes her a director to look out for. LPNY will have its audience without a doubt but is definitely no crowd pleaser. The film is a commendable effort by the makers to give us a different love story and whilst they succeed in delivering something different, for many they will fail at delivering something with an apt amount of entertainment value and soul. Watch it for its innovative script, the fact that it won’t take up too much of your time and for the performances of the lead actors.