Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

March 2, 2012

Affair to remember

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 11:16 pm

March 02, 2012

Cast: Ali Zafar, Aditi Rao Hydari

Director: Anu Menon

If you’ll believe that a couple can fall hopelessly in love after spending only three days together in seven years, perhaps you’ll buy the many contrivances of London Paris New York.

Spoilt rich kid Nikhil (Ali Zafar) and philosophy-spouting Lalitha (Aditi Rao Hydari) meet while disembarking from a flight at Heathrow and proceed to spend the day together exploring London, before Lalitha heads off to New York the next morning. They meet again in Paris two years later – Nikhil is working towards becoming a filmmaker now, and Lalitha is a political-science exchange student. The couple rekindles the old flame, then breaks up, all in the course of one day. When Nikhil seeks her out in New York five years later, they’re older and wiser, and must make some tough decisions before he heads home the following day.

London Paris New York, written and directed by first-timer Anu Menon, features no other characters (save for a cousin and a father who appear only in one scene each), so the film rests solely on the protagonists and the shaky relationship they share. Borrowing the tone of the Before Sunrise and Before Sunset films, the dialogue here is mostly conversational in nature, although there are times the lines feel labored and over-written. An entire back-story involving Nikhil’s dead brother serves no purpose other than to give his character some cheap redemption in the end.

You’ll notice there’s a rushed feeling to each encounter between the couple, beginning with the manner in which they unload their lives while waiting for their baggage at Heathrow. It’s as if the director was racing against the clock, desperate to cram as much as she could into each of the film’s three episodes. The Paris chapter, as a result, comes off as particularly contrived because you’re never able to wrap your head around Lalitha’s absurd behavior.

What the film has going for it, however, is its breezy vibe, and the crackling chemistry between its leads. The humor, initiated mostly by Nikhil, isn’t of the laugh-out-loud variety, but includes some clever zingers…like the nickname he gives her – Lalithapedia – for her tendency to stock useless information on just about everything. There’s a refreshing frankness in the way the couple discusses sexual attraction; and a spontaneous outburst from Nikhil in a pre-climax scene in New York is superbly written and nicely performed.

Ali Zafar and Aditi Rai Hydari infuse energy into their roles, but there are portions where their acting comes off as affected. Ali is particularly charming, especially in the comic bits, but would it really have hurt to grow a goatee for the Paris episode instead of painting one on? For her part, Aditi is lovely in almost every frame, except when she has that awful short wig perched awkwardly on her head. Her character, unfortunately, is poorly etched, and as a result Lalitha often appears whimsical and annoying. Together, however, they make sparks fly. Whether squabbling or simply being cute, the actors grab your attention in those tiny little moments that perfectly capture their delicious compatibility, making it hard to take your eyes off them.

The film itself cruises along inoffensively despite the potholes, clocking in at a crisp 100 minutes, and is aided by some snazzy camerawork and hummable songs. I’m going with three out of five for writer-director Anu Menon’s London Paris New York. The charismatic actors rise above the flawed script to deliver an easy, enjoyable evening at the movies. Watch it for its freshness; you won’t be bored.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. i agree watched it…

    Comment by ashwin ladniya — March 3, 2012 @ 12:11 am

  2. Aditi Rao can deliver, the girl has got acting skills; Ali’s character was the same as that in Mere Brother.. . The script was quite bland, and absolutely stupid in parts.

    I had nth better to do on a Friday evening, so I went. It was okay. I was not elated, not disgusted either.

    Comment by Kanika — March 3, 2012 @ 1:10 am

  3. Very true. Liked the banter

    Comment by Ros — March 3, 2012 @ 1:18 am

  4. I think your review so far is the most authentic one..the movie has left most of the critics if not all confused as to what to write about this kind of a movie..including myself. Probably Anu Menon’s London film school background explains the shadiness of the film..very new very different which is what experimental cinema is all about..rather than just picking a new topic or theme..it’s a cliched story no doubt but the way it is handled shows the finesse of the director..somehow reminds me of “Aisha” which again had a new feel to it inspite of the Bollywoodness..

    Comment by Ishaan Shariff — March 3, 2012 @ 8:16 am

  5. awsem movie, great story, dialogues and some great chemistry bw ali and aditi,
    loved the movieee
    gonne see it again wt friends.

    Comment by sam — March 3, 2012 @ 9:26 am

  6. i will go 2 stars for this film .Story is villain here n also Ali Zafar

    Comment by Apurv — March 3, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

  7. lolz @ the timings for above comments,,,,March 3 sat, and at 1:15 in the early morning.
    @Rajeev, nice review and seems a good watch to go for…thnx 🙂

    Comment by Puneet — March 4, 2012 @ 9:58 pm

  8. I loved a song from the movie that is little refreshing. I thought the movie was gonna be good too. Going by Raajeev’s review, It seems very good.He would not give a Rom com 3 stars for nothing. Looking forward to watch it over the weekend.I liked the actress so much.She has this very naive looks in that song I mentined.Finaaly something to watch from bollywood. Fed up of series of disappointing films.I will see it and add comments here.

    Comment by gururaj — March 5, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

  9. Sounds like a clubbing up of Before sunset and its sequel After sunset….

    Comment by Ajhas — March 7, 2012 @ 11:06 am

  10. @Ajhas: Ha Ha.There is no such film by name “After sunset”. It’s only “Before sunrise” and “Before sunset”.

    Comment by gururaj — March 9, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

  11. Sir, this review speaks volumes about your bang on reviewing ability. Absolutely agree with most of your take on this movie as well. Perfect job sir, gr8 going…. you enrich the movie watching experience a lot 🙂

    Comment by Jay Jani — March 16, 2012 @ 12:05 am

  12. I watched this movie and then read your review and I completely agree with your review, few times the director tried to induce artificiality and I was left wondering why did Aditi dress up like a drug ridden girl in Paris and her absurd behaviour and I was actually looking if the director would reveal that point when they were breaking up in Paris. But still this movie can be watched as the comic one liners are good and the photography is shot well in all the 3 major cities. I also thought why did the director go with an aritificial beard for the episode in Paris?

    Comment by Sandy — April 6, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

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