Tuesday, September 07, 2010

not at all worth watching even though it was free: Love Story 2050

Even if I had a super-intelligent cyborg head coming out of my actual head, I still would not have enough mental capacity - or mouths - to express how very, very bad this movie is.

...though turning Harman Baweja into a robot is one of the best ideas this screenwriting team had.
Lured by Filmi Girl's hilarious and aptly critical blow-by-blow recaps, I thought maybe it was going to be fun-bad or at least funny-bad. And heck, thanks to Hulu, it was free - but only in dollars. I really want those hours of my life back.

The hero is aggressive and blank, and his friends are cut from the film way too soon. The heroine is in turns juvenile and vapid or egotistical and mean, and her friend is in turns an idiot or a dragon. The comic sidekicks are either a waste of a talented actor, a robot the writers insist we find cute, as emphasized by her name "Q. T.", and a pink-ish bear-ish robotic thing with a blue mohawk who is repeatedly kick-petted by her owner. The first hour is so painful and perfunctory that there is no reason to watch it if you can get someone to just tell you the major characters in one-sentence summaries.

In fact, why don't I do that right now and save you the trouble? Sana is a five-year-old in Priyanka Chopra's body, so innocent and cute that she meets her death on the search for strawberry ice cream (pink! sweet!) and ironically reborn as Ziesha, a rude and icy pop star. Harman Baweja is Karan, a spoiled but unloved rich boy who falls in love with Sana and is willing to casually hop in a time machine to go to the future to find her. (And no, looking for her in the future does not make a ton of sense, but the time machine was stuck on Mumbai in 2050, so Mumbai in 2050 it was. Besides, there are a lot more moon boots and pleather in the future than in, say, 1966, no?) This definitely-not-Doctor-Who-approved project is made possible by Karan's badly-wigged mad scientist uncle Dr. Ya (Boman "Wasn't there anything else I could do to cover this month's mortgage payment?" Irani), who meets every problem with a chuckle and talks to his chalk, because of course all scientists in 2008 use chalk.

There. Now you can start the film at about 1:10:00, just in time to see Priyanka's hilarious reaction to kissing streetcar, Harman's "grief"-filled post-mortem moping, and Dr. Ya's multi-story library (quite impressive, actually). There are also some moppets, but they are neither important nor distracting, and some robots, who might well grate on your every last nerve despite 1) Q. T.'s promise that robots don't hurt people, they help people and 2) your fevered hope that this movie would get better once the robots appeared, because dammit you were promised robots.

I was really hoping the future would be either really inventive - something beyond flying cars and extra skyscrapers - or full-on dystopic - you know, with magnifications of today's problems or devolution of our flimsily-based successes or the horrifying but boldly-examined outcome of what we think of today as progress. Apart from some of Anu Malik's songs and Javed Akhtar penning the lyric "Hey you, lover boy. Will you be my toy?" (which maybe was supposed to be bad à la "New York, L. A., San Francisco"?), there's nothing unnerving or even interesting about 2050. Sure, some of the trappings are snazzy - glass houses shaped like shells, airborne concert stages, wrist-mounted guns you fire by doing the limp-wrist gesture (so the future is finally gay-friendly! Fabulous!) - but beyond the surface there is nothing about the world of 2050 that is integral to the story or even does anything to shape it. After all, this is Bollywood: we can and do have insane backup dancer costumes and zany accessories any time we damn well please! Sana could have been kidnapped to a foreign country or even a remote corner of India and the challenges Karan and Ya faced in finding and retrieving her would be the same. 2050 does nothing for this film except make its title sound way more exciting than it really is. The future is irrelevant.

If the rest of the film were well-executed, the false promises of the future setting might be forgivable. As it stands, this movie is horrendously written and acted, and it wasted huge opportunities to try out really interesting ideas or new ways to contextualize and experiment with a basic Bollywood love story. Even though freed from the here and now, the Love Story 2050 team still gave us cloying sidekicks, too-broad comic delivery (it's bad when Boman Irani could be replaced by Johny Lever with little loss), stalking=love, a self-pitying hero, and wet-noodle or mega-b*tch females, both delivered with fake-o laughs by an actress who usually cannot sell me on good material, let alone this foolishness. All of these are problems that, in my opinion, have lessened the appeal of projects by more talented cast and crew; in the hands of family Baweja, they're unpalatable. You can make imaginative and crazy and emotionally resonant things with standard elements, but this attempt - and I do think the filmmakers tried to do something interesting with a few elements, though with very little actual thought or connection to the larger project - is just so dreadfully boring and forgettable.

Let me leave it at that. Don't waste your time with this. Instead apply your film-related energies to the idea of doing wondrous things with familiar material. In the comments, share what you think real masters of Standard Ingredients Remix, like Manmohan Desai and Prayag Raj, would have done with the basic story "boy meets girl, girl dies, boy goes to the future to reunite with her"? Extra points for using Shashitabh, Nirupa Roy, Helen, and/or Jeevan.

7 comments:

Sharmi Ghosh Dastidar said...

I have heard only bad things about this one so i'll stay away from it :(

Filmi Girl said...

I'm glad I've inspired you to take this one on - it's truly horrific on so many levels!

The whole first hour is a mash of the WORST NRI romance cliches and the second is a mash of just... assorted "Hollywood sci-fi" nonsense.

Actually, now that I think about it, Love Story 2050 is possibly the Platonic ideal of a bad 2000s Bollywood film!

Going through the film for my recap, I keep thinking that this is so bad it could only be a spoof... but, alas, the Baweja khandan is not so clever.

One of the only things keeping me going is imagining Harman and Priyanka sitting around after shooting going, "Wow! This is going to be AWESOME! We will be SO FAMOUS!"

Filmbuff said...

Beth - your watching this movie despite bad press and bad blog reviews only confirms my view that you are a generous spirit. That you have found the time and energy to even write about it notches your generosity to the top. Hope you get to see a really good ane enjoyable movie to make up for the time lost on this!

Keep blogging!

Amrita said...

Whatever the movie might have been, its reviews are having quite the effect on me. For instance, I now have an overwhelming urge to create a superhero who died in a quest for strawberry ice cream.

Bombay Talkies said...

I was so so saddened that *this* was the film used to represent India at the Sci-Fi London Film Festival. What a laughingstock this film is--I can't imagine anyone seeing it and feeling compelled to want to watch any further Hindi films. Bad move Film Festival, bad move.

themuse said...

"...though turning Harman Baweja into a robot is one of the best ideas this screenwriting team had"
Absolutely Hilarious...... ROFL

Beth said...

Sharmi - Yes! Save yourself!

FG - Really, truly horrific! Almost unimaginably bad. I totally agree about the wretched NRI romance beginning - any of us could have written that in 3 minutes, except of course WE WOULDN'T HAVE!

I too was thinking this might be some kind of archetype of awful, a textbook of DO NOT DO THIS EVEN THOUGH YOU SEE OTHERS DO IT.

I almost hope Priyanka and Harman got to have convos like that - it'd be nice if SOMETHING fun came out of it :)

Filmbuff - Hehehe! I could not prevent myself from spewing about how horrible it is :)

Amrita - I know, right? It has a weird pull! I think your ice cream movie would be fantastic. Now you just have to decide whether the strawberry ice cream is ironic because it is his very essence OR because it is his antithesis....

BR - It was? Oi. Horrible choice.

themuse - :)