A Dud Actually
By MovieTalkies.com, 24 January 2007
Let us not even begin to compare Salaam-E-Ishq to Love Actually because on all fronts in pales in any comparison and does not even come close to achieving what Love Actually does in terms of narrative, or for that matter any other film which has had multiple stories running independently in a film. Anyone who is able to bear the almost 4 hours film will quickly realize why Karan Johar felt that this was not a film which should be made by Dharma Productions and also with due respect to Nikhil Advani, proves the extent of the inputs Karan must have given in the much more impressive Kal Ho Na Ho.
The film is based on six different love stories wherein the Sohail Khan and Isha Koppikar track is completely undeveloped and unnecessary. The intention of the track may have been to provide humour, although there are ample attempts at humour in the Salman – Priyanka, Govinda, and Akshaye Khanna – Ayesha Takia tracks. And if the attempt was humour in the case of Sohail and Isha's track, the comedy is lame at best and could easily be removed completely from the film.
Let us take a look at each track individually, beginning with the Kamini (Priyanka) and Rahul / Raoul (Salman Khan) love story. Firstly, Priyanka's performance is the best of the lot, although she will probably take a great deal of flak as the character is over the top (a la Malika Sherawat) and hence some will not find her performance appealing. But actually her comic timing and reactions are perfect and to play such an over the top character and get it so right, is not an easy job. Salman is underutilized and looks lost throughout probably because his character itself is extremely weak in terms of writing (screenplay credit goes to Nikhil Advani, Saurabh Shukla and Suresh Nair). This track gets the maximum screen time, yet is one of the weakest in terms of its basic premise as it remains unclear as to why Rahul takes so long to reveal the truth as does Kamini's obsession with doing a Karan Johar film.
The second track is of Ashutosh (John Abraham) and Tehzeeb (Vidya Balan) which is the most serious track of the film. This track has the most substance and yet it still does not manage to touch the hearts of the audiences and the climax confrontation between the two at Akshaye Khanna's house is also extremely clichéd. This track is the best in terms of writing and also in terms of trying to engage the audience but somehow the emotional connect is lost. Performance wise Vidya Balan is okay but the audiences are waiting to see her come back to her Parineeta form which she is unable to do here. John Abraham doesn't seem to have improved much and seems as stiff and wooden as ever although in couple of the emotional sequences which are sans dialogues, he evokes the right expressions.
The Shiven (Akshaye Khanna) and Gia (Ayesha Takia) track is the funniest and although Ayesha doesn't get much scope to perform, Akshaye is superb as the commitment phobic finance trying to break off his own impending marriage but still hang on to his lady love. Together their timing is also superb and Akshaye's expressions are superb. Overall this is the best track and the most developed in terms of the characters and situation even if it gets less screen time.
Then there is Vinay (Anil Kapoor) and Seema (Juhi Chawla), a seemingly happily married couple who encounter trouble when Vinay goes through a mid-life crisis (that would be the only excuse for seeing Anil Kapoor in a clean shaven look in army cargo pants breaking into a uncoordinated jig at a nightclub) and gets attracted to Anjali (Anjana Sukhani). Juhi Chawla is wasted, Anil Kapoor is fine although over the top at times and Anjana doesn't get much scope to perform. Again the track suffers due to weak writing.
The final track is that of Raju the cab driver and Stephanie a foreigner who has come to India for the first time to stop her Indian boyfriend from getting married to someone else. Govinda is first rate and he is in full form once again and his interactions with Stephanie and how they break their language barrier is cute and engrossing in parts. However the story itself is extremely weak and difficult to digest in terms of believability.
The only sequence which really stands out is the interaction between Kamini and Vinay at the coffee shop in which Priyanka holds her own pitted against a veteran and carries off the scene beautifully. Although clichéd, the John-Vidya conversation at Akshaye's house is interesting in parts especially because of what it results in for Akshaye.
Production values are great and cinematography by Piyush Shah is beautiful. The film looks great, but what it lacks is substance. The songs are ok but tend to be speed breakers in an overly length affair, but the title track picturization and how it involves all the characters is the best. The editing is almost non-existent and the length needs to be trimmed easily by at least 30 minutes.
A mind blowing cast, a great technical team, a director with a hit film to his credit; all the right ingredients for a good film and yet lack of importance is given to the script, which ends up spoiling the whole affair.