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

November 6, 2009

A comedy of many errors

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 5:18 am

November 06, 2009

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Upen Patel

Director: Rajkumar Santoshi

To be fair, there are portions of Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani that are so funny your sides will ache from laughing. But for the most part, it’s a silly comedy that goes for slapstick gags and juvenile jokes that are hard to appreciate. Director Rajkumar Santoshi’s latest comedy tries too hard to maintain an even tempo, but save for the lead pair’s crackling chemistry and some charming moments involving Ranbir Kapoor, the film is an agonizing bore.

Based in a quaint small-town with a distinct Ooty feel, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani stars Ranbir Kapoor as Prem, a ninth-standard drop-out who runs a local Happy Club which has been founded to spread joy in the neighborhood. Prem becomes good friends with Jenny (played by Katrina Kaif), a pretty young Christian girl who moves into town with her adoptive parents. Before long he’s fallen for her, but can’t muster up the courage to tell her. When Jenny’s parents force her to marry an obnoxious rich boy, Prem volunteers to help. Turns out Jenny’s got a boyfriend she loves, and now Prem must unite them.

Nowhere nearly as smart as the director’s cult comedy Andaz Apna Apna which relied on a sharp script to deliver its consistently madcap tone, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani is erratic in its humour, going from genuinely comic to frustratingly foolish in a matter of minutes.

On the upside, there’s a sparkling scene in which Prem joins Jenny at a dance party, unable to stay still even for a moment, his limbs taking on a life of their own. Another wildly hilarious scene involves Prem and Jenny and a cameo by a leading star, in which Prem must convince the star to pretend they’re friends so he can impress Jenny. It’s an entirely original scene that’s all the more enjoyable because of the in-jokes it packs.

But the humour dips when Santoshi throws in too many unnecessary subplots including one about a local politician who won’t allow his son to marry the girl he loves, and another about an underworld don who’s targeting the said politician.

Despite its hiccups, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani is not an entirely unwatchable film, and the credit for that goes squarely to its leads who invest sincerity and genuine enthusiasm while attacking their roles. Katrina Kaif breezes through her scenes, endearing you to the vulnerable Jenny; striking up a radiant chemistry with her co-star. As for Ranbir Kapoor, he is the brightest spot in this ordinary film, rising above the script’s many holes, occasionally even making the stupidity work.

The film itself is too long by twenty minutes, and suffers considerably on account of its loose script. The second half, in particular, is an endurance test for its silliness.

I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for director Rajkumar Santoshi’s Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani; if you must, watch it for Ranbir Kapoor whose performance alone justifies the price of a ticket.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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