“Teri Meri Kahaani”… Love’s labours lost

Posted on June 26, 2012


There’s the obvious kind of bad movie, one that’s written badly or performed badly or directed badly, the kind of film whose badness emanates from its very pores, like a scent meant to scare us away. Kunal Kohli’s Teri Meri Kahaani is the other kind of bad movie. There’s nothing aggressively bad about it, but there’s nothing good either – and there’s something frustrating when a film that could amount to something ends up being nothing. (From an obviously bad movie, on the other hand, we expect nothing and we get nothing.) On the surface, we have big stars (Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra) who are also capable performers, a big production budget that guarantees that the eye will have its fill, and, above everything else, a romantic high concept that a fairly competent Bollywood filmmaker should be able to execute in his sleep – the hero and heroine share a janam janam ka saath, they are destined to be together through an endless cycle of rebirths. But scratch the surface and there’s no charm, no emotion, no one to root for. There is little doubt that the leads will end up together, and we wait glumly for the slightest hint of a spanner in the works – an ex, a disgruntled parent, a poltergeist beneath the floorboards…

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Teri Meri Kahaani tells three unrelated stories that begin when the hero and heroine  run into each other accidentally – first in Poona in 1960, then in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2012, and finally in Lahore in 1910. For a while, it’s fun to see period-movie grandeur being lavished on something that’s not Big and Important, but a silly Shammi Kapoor movie – and for those interested in how effects are put together, the before-and-after images during the end credits are a useful show-and-tell on filmmaking in this digital age. The trouble, though, is hanging on till those end credits. Kohli’s direction, like his film, is all surface – he has the couple spouting couplets in 1910 and tweeting in 2012. The one interesting idea he has is to serve up all three romances with a side of sex. In our films, we like to pretend that people were purest in the past, but here, the Shahid Kapoor of Lahore is an unstoppable womaniser, and in 1960, a neighbour who sees him naked assures him that he has nothing to be ashamed about. This may be cause for celebration for teenage fans of the actor, but the rest of us have to endure his chemistry-free shenanigans with his leading lady, three times over. Forget rebirths, these two wouldn’t make it past a cup of coffee.

Copyright ©2012 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi