Cast: Preity Zinta, Isabelle Adjani, Rhehan Malliek
Director: Prem Soni
'Ishkq in Paris' is the sort of film that inspires its director and its leading man to assume aliases so they might escape responsibility for subjecting us to this travesty they've committed to the screen. Leading lady Preity Zinta, unfortunately, is too well known to hide behind a fake name.
Preity, playing Ishkq, a permanently perky Parisian photographer, is the sort of girl who takes off for the weekend to Rome because she "loves being served by Italian waiters". On a train back home, she meets pretty boy Akash (Rhehan Malliek, formerly known as Gaurav Chanana), and no sooner than you've uttered the words "Before Sunrise", they're spending the day wandering about the French capital drinking, partying, and discussing life and relationships.
Preity, who is credited not only as star, but also as producer and co-screenplay writer of this muddled film, continues to rely on her dimpled smile and her sparkly eyes to do all the heavy lifting as far as her performance goes. But those tropes have gotten rusty from overuse.
Ishkq and Akash hit it off, but love is not on the menu. Ishkq, you see, is allergic to marriage, having seen her own mother (legendary French actress Isabelle Adjani) go through a messy divorce from her dad.
Writer-director Prem Raj (formerly Prem Soni, who helmed that forgettable Salman Khan-Kareena Kapoor starrer 'Main Aur Mrs Khanna') piles on the cliches, slipping into a quicksand of regressive ideas and over-familiar stereotypes. The film becomes increasingly soppy in its second half, but never in a way that you truly care for its characters. And how can you anyway? Former TV actor and born-again newcomer Rhehan Malliek is as expressive as a slab of granite, and it doesn't help that his voice is so obviously dubbed. Preity Zinta shimmies and shakes, and giggles till her jaws must hurt, but delivers only one genuinely moving moment in a scene set in a hotel room where she opens her heart to Akash. But no one ought to be more embarrassed than poor Isabelle Adjani who's dubbed in clunky Hindi, and must even suffer the indignity of dancing like a junior artiste in an Indian wedding song.
'Ishkq in Paris' is a misguided, overwrought affair that feels way longer than its 96 minutes. I'm going with one-and-a-half out of five. Watch it if you can muster the courage.
Rating: 1.5 / 5
Ashwani Kataria, New Delhi
RS Mani, Mumbai