Who's this guy? We don't know. But we love his expression. And, gosh, we're gonna swim against the tide and say, Anil, you should shave your stache sometimes just to mix it up a bit!
"Timepass" is a word that gets tossed around a lot when reviewing Hindi films. We at the PPCC have never actually used it, as we've never been sure what it's supposed to mean. Is it good that time passed? Or is it time that we want back? And surely, PPCC that we are, we watch movies for more than just to... pass the freakin' time. I mean, that happens already!
But Salaam-E-Ishq (A salute to love) is pretty much that: a timepass. It was a neutral companion to an otherwise sociable night, and we spent most of the evening cheerfully indifferent to what was happening onscreen. Every so often, we would turn our attention back to see yet another couple weeping from this seemingly infinite source of romantic melodrama, and we were left none the wiser about what was going on and not really very interested about what happened to who.
In fact, we at the PPCC don't think that we would have even understood most of the plotlines if we hadn't read the Wikipedia entry before watching. They hardly made an impression. And the only plotlines we did pay any amount of attention to - the memory loss one, the adultery one, the white girl one - ended up seeming facile and superficial. Scene one: man is bored. Scene two: man meets mistress. Scene three: affair. Scene four: man asks for forgiveness. What? That's it?
Very briefly, the plot: There's Memory Loss Couple (John Abraham and Vidya Balan), Adultery Couple (Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla), Starlet Couple (Priyanka Chopra and Salman Khan and a little bit o' Tinnu Anand!), Taxi-Wallah Meets White Girl Couple (Govinda and Shannon Esra), Comedy Subplot Suhaag Raat Couple (Sohail Khan and Isha Koppikar) and Commitment Phobic Couple (Akshay Khanna and Ayesha Takia and a little bit o' Prem Chopra!).
Oh, you poor, sweet John Abraham. You go back to your Dostana and have some fun.
Normally we're big fans of these broad canvas emotional epics, and we love ensembles too. In fact, give us an ensemble of roughly sketched stereotypes any day over some meticulously detailed single protagonist. Better Serenity to, say, Pasqualino Settebellezze. Two hours is, after all, a long time to spend in just one person's head (and, in this case, it was almost four hours!). Plus, we like the Baroque Love, Actually "oh, humanity!" web of life vibe, where significant characters brush shoulders on the street and never realize that they're both living their own private melodramas. That's so true, philosophically-speaking, isn't it? We're all the heroes of our private films.
Yet - and we hate to say this - all the other reviews are correct. Salaam-e-Ishq (whose title is taken, incidentally, from one of our favorite Rekha songs) suffers from too much weight. There's just two many plotlines, too many emotions, and too much happening for a simple PPCC to comprehend. It was impossible to emotionally engage on anything but the most superficial level. Despite talented actors, such as Anil and Juhi, putting in their best efforts - Anil even gets a meltdown! YESSS! - they were the merest fleeting glimpses of people. Partly this was the director's fault, too, as only a supremely efficient storyteller could paint a compelling and deep mini-story with literally four or five scenes. That's not to say the director, Nikhil Advani, doesn't do very well in some moments. The monotony of Anil's London life is established quickly and elegantly with some good aesthetic: repetition, muted colors, faceless hordes. Unfortunately, where Advani's storytelling was tight and astute in some moments, it became bloated and dragged in others - as funny as Akshay Khanna's commitment-fearing bachelor was, the jokes quickly went stale with over-use.
Advani gave himself a fairly impossible task - tell six compelling mini-films in under four hours - and succeeded in lumps. This is a shame, since we enjoyed all the performances - from Priyanka's hilarious third-person Kamini, to Akshay's wailing insecurities, to Juhi's restraint, to Anil's meltdowns (sans stache!), to John Abraham's earnest earnestness, to the unexpected and welcome surprises of PPCC house favorites Prem Chopra and Tinnu Anand!
Salman Khan even got the better of us and, when we were paying attention, we had to admit he was kinda cute. Aw, shyucks!
The songs were also quite fab. Beth already warned us that the title song was great - and it was! It was a glorious anthem to the big canvas idea we were talking about. Just watch it and you'll see. But also try to follow what's happening to all the characters, especially as the tempo picks up towards the end - aargh, it's too much, too fast! This "everyone all the time!" show continues into the melancholy Ya Rabba which similarly attempts to capture everything that's happening to everyone and succeeds only partially. We paid attention to what was happening to our favored story threads - those being Memory Loss, Adultery and White Girl - but the rest of the plots just became clutter. And that pretty much goes for the entire film: pretty shots, compelling stories, nice performances, but just too much clutter! It becomes a big old jumble that (inevitably, as we haven't emotionally invested in anyone really) loses steam and becomes an overlong stretch of soap.