Film Review: Kambakkht Ishq

Kambakkht Ishq

Directed by: Sabir Khan

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, Aftab Shivdasani, Amrita Arora, Kirron Kher and Javed Jaffrey

**** WARNING: Contains plot spoilers – if you do not wish to know what happens, please read my review after seeing the film.*****

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Kambuckt eeshq“. Sylvester Stallone’s voice was echoing in my head as I went to purchase my ticket for this film – so much so that I got corrected by the non-Indian box office attendant when I pronounced it in that manner. Clearly, she had not seen the trailer that had gotten many people talking for all sorts of reasons. From those who felt that Akshay wouldn’t be able to create magic at the box office this year to those who were dead curious as to what Sly Stallone and Denise Richards would do in a straight up masala film.

Right from the trailer, it was obvious to all that this was not going to be a brain taxing film. And if you go in thinking it will be one, well, shame on you, you really should know better. What the film does manage to do (as implied by its trailer) is to be one of those comedies that aims for laughs and diverts for you for two and bit hours. Add a healthy dose of gloss and polish, throw in scenic places like Hollywood and Italy as a backdrop,giving our protagonists (male and female) a licence to romp around in skimpy outfits and do things they would never do back at home – and you pretty much have kambuckt eeshq.

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KI is set in Hollywood and is the story of a playboy stuntman Viraj (Kumar) who believes women are only good for one thing. In the opposing corner is Simrita, a part time supermodel studying to be a surgeon (something not seen since the days of Coyote Ugly when Tyra Banks gives up bar dancing to go to law school). When Viraj’s brother Lucky marries Simrita’s best friend Kamini (Arora) the two come at loggerheads. Whilst Simrita dismisses all stuntmen as being “second hand”, Viraj seems intent on teaching Simrita a lesson. A battle of the sexes ensues, with both trying to outwit each other, taking the game to another level…

There is no doubt KI is an entertaining film – and though it is predictable, one thing I liked was the brisk pace of the first half. No unnecessary build up, straight into the action and up to interval, holding our interest. But in the second half, things begin to unravel and then after a few clunky changes of gear, the story seems to give up and we head towards an inevitable ending. This is a shame because the first half is powered well by the chemistry between the two leads and making the most of the unique premise of the film (a Bollywood film in Hollywood – don’t you love the irony yaar?) But there is an exact moment in the film in the second half where the writers either got cold feet or decided to go for broke and sadly, this didn’t pay off. I also was not sure what to make of the heavy debt the film owed to Grey’s Anatomy, even using a very similar hospital set – at times, it seemed too inspired for my liking but it did make the idea of Kareena being in Grey’s an interesting proposition.

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But there is still plenty to enjoy in KI. The opening sequence is quite fun as are the credits which take their cue from Farah Khan and have the cast boogeying away to a remix. Techinically, the film is gorgeous to look at, with bright colours and a high amount of gloss clearly showing off the money spent on the film. Before seeing the film, I hadn’t paid too much attention to the soundtrack but after watching the film, the songs are definite growers and no doubt will build in popularity as the weeks go. I was also interested to see how the Hollywood cameos would be catered for in the film and pleasingly the film gets it right – Brandon Routh is hardly there, whilst Sly and Denise Richards get the correct amount of screen time which helps the film rather than hinders it. Also, notice the rather interesting underwater proposal – done in such an understated way, its impact is almost missed.

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In terms of styling, this film is definitely up there with films like Tashan and Dostana in observing and creating new trends. Kareena looks stunning in baby doll dresses, sky scraper heels and clutch bags and though there are a few continuity errors with her hair (wavy, then straight, brown, then red) but these are forgiven as she is made to embrace the Hollywood look with gutso. Similarly, after Singh Is Kinng, Akshay looks dashing in his wardrobe, again capturing that laid-back dressed up LA look that is much sought after. Though the girls may receive flak for the skin show, there is certainly no shame in the gorgeous threads they are wearing. It has to be said, Kareena’s  dress at the awards  and dress for the Bebo song are not as eye pleasing as the rest of her wardrobe in the film and one feels it was a missed opportunity. As for the bikini wars (Kareena – Denise – Amrita) Kareena does it again, slinking away with the sultry one piece, with Amrita also looking good in her many costumes.

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In terms of performances, our two leads are very good in their roles. Finally, Akshay goes back to playing safe and we don’t mind it as this is what we love him for. Yes, he has done it before and yes we have seen it too many times but no one else can play the lovable wise cracking jock as our Akki can. His comic timing in the film raises many scenes above average and the awards acceptance speech is also a touching moment in the film. Kareena is also good, though one feels she isn’t really challenged by her role. She manages to match Akshay’s energy quite well and even manages to carry the end of the film herself, something only a few of today’s actresses can do. The shadow of Geet from Jab We Met looms large and although we find it hard to love Simrita, Kareena at least makes her likeable. Aftab and Amrita are average in their supporting roles, there is little for them to do and they are easily overshadowed by Akshay and Kareena which is a shame as Aftab especially could have had more to do.

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The supporting cast are all given very small roles which is a blessing and a curse at the same time. A curse as some serious talent is wasted but a blessing as we’ve seen it all before. Hence, Javed Jaffrey cracks us up as the man trying to sue everybody, Kirron Kher is the Punjabi aunty wanting to be down with the girls and Vindhu Dara Singh plays the straight man well to Akshay’s literal punchlines. Boman Irani is wasted in a very bizarre cameo which seems to fulfill the mindless quota of the film. Out of the Hollywood crowd, Brandon Routh and Holly Valance have blink and miss roles, making no impact. Denise seems bemused though she looks stunning in her many get-ups and it seems less is more (in saratorial and other aspects) suits her well. The real winner is Sly Stallone, who comes across as endearing and is given a great deal of respect by the film which he lives up to. His role is fun and he seems to enjoy it as much as we do and this definitely  is in the film’s favour.

There is definitely going to be a section of the audience that are going to hate KI – essentially, if you are not a fan of Singh Is Kinng, Welcome or of that sort of humour, then avoid KI and go see New York again. However, if like me, you quite enjoy Akshay being on form and don’t mind switching off your brain for a little while, then you will enjoy KI. Its been a while since we’ve had an out and out entertainer and call it the effects of the strike but right now, a film like KI is just what Dr Bollywood ordered! The film is also looking promising at the box office and looks like it will put Akshay and Kareena back in good stead for the rest of the year.

Isn’t it terrible when your love for something like Bollywood clouds your judgement? Kambuckt eeshq….

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