Saturday, January 09, 2010

Pyaar Impossible

Beauty and the Geek

I guess it all started with the resounding success of Aditya Chopra's Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, with King Khan taking on the starring role as the uber geek seeking love, that reaffirmed that all Bollywood films need not rely on having all its lead male characters being alpha-male types. And then the revenge of the nerd stories probably picked up, although Ranbir Kapoor's turn as Rocket Singh the Salesman of the Year, a film which I had thoroughly enjoyed, failed to meet expectations at the box office. Then the filmmakers of Pyaar Impossible got all jittery, besides reportedly pushing back its release to early this year, had to play down the Geek factor, and ramp up Priyanka Chopra's hot mama (really) character to draw in the crowds.

But these fears don't go unfounded, not because of some similarities in having the issues of geeks being brought on screen, but rather in the way the structure of the non-romantic portion of the story here being a little close to that of Rocket Singh's, with the absence of a large, big-bang type of finale (again the complaints ringing out on how the Salesman of the Year won by giving Speech of the Year), and also the morally ambiguous ways geeks have to resort to in order to regain their upperhand and seek justice when no legal eagle can offer any assistance to their problems which had stemmed from their own naivety.

There are many reasons why I had opted to watch this film. First off, it's Uday Chopra, an actor whom I confess only having watch his comical sidekick roles in the Dhoom movies, so I was curious whether he can carry a film off on his own as a leading man. The answer is of course yes, as he plays the geek Abhay right down to the pat, a man who had been infatuated with the hottest girl in school for seven years, always afraid to open his mouth and talk to her, given an opportunity to do so when in pursuit of a software thief, he travels to Singapore and serendipity dictates he will bump into his infatuation, and even more incredibly get to work as her precocious, feisty daughter's nanny. Not to mention too that this story and dialogues are credited under Uday himself, so one wonders where he had drawn his inspiration from, whether he had actually pined for someone like his character did in the film.

Second, the other lead in actress Priyanka Chopra. There are plenty of naysayers to her credibility as an actress, but from what I watched last year from Fashion right down to Ashutosh Gowariker's What's Your Rashee (missed Kaminey!), she had shown her versatility and wide range, which the brickbrats would still like to point out in the latter film, was nothing more than a change of clothes and hairstyles, which I totally disagree. Her performance here as Alisha, the single, divorced mother and Abhay's girl of his dreams, would once again become a showcase of her ability, despite yet again looking great in the various outfits which would raise an eyebrow whether it's appropriate corporate office attire (and overheard from another audience member too that her outfits wouldn't pass). That aside, I would think that this “mum” role is probably her first (unless someone can point out to me that I'm wrong please?)

And one of the key reasons, is how Singapore gets portrayed in another Bollywood film, after the comedy De Dana Dan last year, which didn't really move around much other than for one of the song sequences and being stuck mostly within the confines of the Pan Pacific Hotel. Then there was Krrish which also starred Priyanka Chopra, making this at least her 2nd film foray to our sunny island. In this film, Singapore's good enough to become that substitute for California's beaches thanks to Sentosa, and I always get a good laugh out of how our cabbies get unwittingly portrayed as dishonest cheats who take tourists for a ride around expressways and the city area no thanks to the juxtaposition of scenes involving recognizable roads and landmarks. Or that this travel scene would become one of those sponsored tourism campaign videos.

While identification of landmarks use adds to the fun, such as the UOB skyscraper doubling up as the HQ of Pinnacle Software, and various shots in Challenger, Clarke and Robertson Quay areas, what I found more interesting is how, so far, there's rarely a depiction of HDB apartments in movies shot here by Bollywood. Everyone's pretty loaded in their ability to afford a swanky condo (at the Kallang Bay area, given the view out of their windows) in Krrish's case, or landed property in this one, that cost a few million dollars at the very least. So while local films tend to depict the accommodation here using what some 80% of the locals live in, films from abroad may, perhaps due to non-familiarity, opt to go by the more conventional (sometimes unrealistic) route of the "house" concept.

In any case, Pyaar Impossible is about the improbable love between a beauty and a geek, and Uday Chopra's story is rather straightforward, revenge of the nerd type, which somehow works fine as a magical fantasy romantic story that's kept simple and effective, without much fuss. There are essentially three story arcs, one which is the unattainable love that Abhay seeks, the second being Abhay as The Nanny / Butler / Confidant to Alisha's household, and the third giving cause for Abhay to visit Singapore, in search of the swindler Sidhu/Varun (Dino Morea).

With its catchy tunes and song and dance routine, it hit the nail on the head when the theme song succinctly dealt with the notion of how superficial it actually is when we talk about attraction, but always fail to admit so. In that respect, Pyaar Impossible laid its cards out on the table honestly even though it had to succumb to formula, and I'd pick this romantic comedy over any Hollywood one any day.

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