When a film spells its title I Don’t Luv U, it’s clear that its target audience doesn’t comprise adults but the generation that came of age with Facebook and Twitter (or as a character, here, hilariously puts it, “the burger generation”) – so what might a grown-up gain from a viewing? Perhaps an insight into how kids, today, really are. Note, for example, today’s version of the meet-cute. When Yuvaan (Ruslaan Mumtaz) sees Aayra (Chetna Pande), the newcomer in college, he says her eyes remind him of his grandmother’s, looking into which his grandfather fell instantly in love. Just when you brace up for a passionate declaration, he says, “Do you believe in sex at first sight?” Ah, romance. Yuvaan’s friend is even better. He recognises women only through their body parts. When he sees a pair of breasts, say, a thought bubble appears over his head, announcing “Adding new data.” And if there’s an “object match,” a bulb goes off – he remembers her name.
The girls, on the other hand, make out furiously with their boyfriends, but when a boy extends his hand in greeting in front of their parents, they respond with a demure namaste. Can these hormonal teens drive an emotional love story? That’s the challenge facing the director, Amit Kasaria. At first, Aayra tells Yuvaan that they can hang out. “But remember, we’re not a couple and I don’t love you.” A song follows, with the refrain I don’t love you. Some scenes later, she demands a promise from him that he’ll never leave her alone. The song, this time, comes with the refrain Do I love you?. Given this progression, you expect, any minute, a third song, with an I love you refrain – but before that can happen, Yuvaan misreads an I’m-home-alone invitation by Aayra. He unzips her dress, slips a hand down her back, and leaves her in tears. Wouldn’t this girl from London – she lands in Delhi and coos, “Kitna apnapan hai yahan” – know how to push away a boy who exceeds his boundaries?
The problem with I Don’t Luv U is that the wan leads haven’t an iota of chemistry. They could be siblings. And despite the ups and downs in the narrative – a beginning where someone jumps off a high rise and lands on the pavement, in a pool of blood; a tell-all diary (are today’s teens still scribbling thoughts on paper?) – the drama just doesn’t build, and a love story, in any generation, cannot sustain itself without the audience whipping itself into worry about the outcome. Worse, in the second half, the screenplay meanders into messagey territory, about television sensationalism and its effects on society. These portions are laughably simplistic, though they do make the case that today’s youngsters, behind the brash facades, are no different from those in earlier times, needing the support of emotionally nurturing adults (Yuvaan’s parents, the sympathetic cop played by Murli Sharma). I Don’t Luv U isn’t terrible and it could have been saved with a rousing climax, but the end is shockingly low-key. In Kasaria’s hands, Romeo would have ended up sharing a sandwich with Juliet.
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