Romantic comedies or Rom-coms are not a new genre. Love stories have been told in the past too and will be told in the future. Every rom-com has a bit of predictability in it but still every now and then, a 'Jab We Met' comes. A film which has that special visual treatment, powerful performances, gratifying moments and a good feel to them. London Paris New York (LPNY) is one of those special films.
Set in three lovely cities of the world and spread over more than half a decade, LPNY is a story of Nikhil (Ali Zafar) a happy-go-lucky charming boy and Lalitha (Aditi Rao Hyderi) a simple, nerdy Madrasi girl falling in love with each other thrice in six years.
And that's it.
That's all LPNY is. No impediments, no pretentiousness, no preaching, no 'zaalim samaaj' and even no supporting cast. The only third person with a line to say is Dilip Tahil who appears in the last ten minutes of the film.
The first few looks of the film give an impression that it has shades of 'When Harry Met Sally' which has already been done in Bollywood (Hum Tum), however, LPNY is a different story with a different treatment. In fact, it's closer to '500 Days of Summer' and also has a peculiar similarity with 'Rodger Dodger' because of its heavy dependence on dialogue between only two main characters. Nonetheless, LPNY is a lot simpler than any of these movies. Instead of relying on twists and complications of the plot, it thrives on performances and the affability of the lead characters.
It's a short film of less than two hours, one of the strongest points of the film because of which it does not drag at any point and is fairly gripping for a simple story. The first story of London is a bit tacky and one takes some time to get comfy with the characters specially the extrovert Nikhil. As the story moves forward, the entertainment and audience engagement bars go up. Paris story is better than London and then New York wins from Paris hands down. The climax is beautiful. Watch out for the penultimate sequence at Hudson River; best scene of the movie. The film could have finished at that point and it would have ended at a high second to no other love story of recent times. No complains though.
Ali Zafar is dynamite. 5,000 tons of talent. Besides being the lead actor in the film, he is the music director, singer and lyricist as well. While he has done well on all the fronts; acting still takes the cake. In Tere Bin Laden, you were convinced on his comic timing but needed convincing on his ability to handle emotional scenes as TBL had none. LPNY has shown the audience his flexibility, range and ability to carry the film on his shoulders. He shows his emotional side and what a show this has been. His comic timing in London segment, impatience in Paris and outburst at the climax in New York… fantastic performance. Amazing screen presence and charm.
Aditi Rao Hyderi is not far behind either. Her portrayal of Lalitha and transformation the character goes through are extremely natural hence authentic. Her adorably shy demeanor in the first story, sultry looks and heartbreak in the second and mature conduct in the third are absolutely brilliant. Her best performance after smaller roles in 'Yeh Saali Zindagi' and 'Rockstar'. She looks gorgeous in rain sequence in London and steals the hotel room scene in Paris which of course is a defining moment in the story too.
The third star of the film is Anu Menon. Anu too has worn multiple hats for the film. She has written the script, directed it and has also written the dialogues. Had I not known, I would have thought LPNY is an Imtiaz Ali film and that's a huge compliment for Anu. Her aesthetic senses deserve applause for the way he has handled intimate scenes between the lead pair. The story has been kept simple, narration even simpler while dialogues put soul in the film. They do get cheesy at times but that is the requirement for Nikhil's character build-up. Anu hasn't gone over the top and has kept the film as close to reality as possible. If there is a term 'Unrealistically Realistic', it fits LPNY. I can swear several guys have gone through what Nikhil goes through on the bench in London. Yes, it's that real. She also deserves credit for keeping the film short, not going beyond two hours by dragging the film needlessly. The credit for this should also go to the debutant editor Sally Salgoanker.
LPNY is exactly the way love stories should be made. Trendy, Urban and fairly realistic. It takes great courage to make an entire film for only two characters, played by new comers and that too a talkie one. Even if it does not win bumper opening at the box office, it will increase the audience size for Ali, Aditi and Anu significantly. A beautifully made artsy commercial film which deserves a successful run.