The first thing that attracts you to I HATE LUV STORYS is its title. Let's face it, we adore love stories... at least I do. We idolise the characters decades after the movies have come and gone. The songs that come on our lips instantly while playing a game of antakshri are romantic songs as well. In fact, the biggest moneyspinners, let's face it, have been love stories, right? So how can we 'hate' a love story?

No matter how mushy or cheesy they are, we find love stories irresistible because of the tremendous rush we experience at the end. Some of us are big suckers for love sagas, aren't we? That's precisely the reason why this title [I HATE LUV STORYS] nagged me no end every time I watched the promo of this film.

Helmed by first-timer Punit Malhotra, I HATE LUV STORYS is typical candyfloss romance with a story that's not jaw-droppingly different, let me forewarn you. But if you're young at heart or a diehard and hopeless romantic, you'd lap up I HATE LUV STORYS like a kid laps up his fav candy.

Now to the vital question: If I HATE LUV STORYS rests on a thin plot, what is it that drives the film for the next two hours? My answer to that is, four factors: The fresh pairing and chemistry between the lead cast, tremendous youth appeal, terrific music and magical moments that make a love story work.

Final word? The makers have never claimed that I HATE LUV STORYS will change the face of Hindi cinema. Nor did they ever claim that I HATE LUV STORYS will change the mindset of the viewer towards romantic films. So let's sit back and enjoy the fun ride. This one's by the youth, for the youth. It's this age-group that would come out smiling, cheering and rooting for this prem kahani.

'I hate love stories' is the maxim Jay [Imran Khan] lives by. But as an assistant director to Veer [Samir Soni], the most famous romantic film-maker of Indian film industry, Jay has little option but to live with larger than life, glossy, cinematic love on an everyday basis. Things only get worse when he is made to work under the new production designer on the film, Simran [Sonam Kapoor], with whom he shares the strangest first encounter.

Simran loves love stories, so much so that even her life has begun to resemble one. With her ideal job and the perfect boyfriend Raj [Samir Dattani], she lives a blissful, dreamy life. One that is rudely interrupted by Jay's cynicism.

Writer-director Punit Malhotra wins Round 1 by casting the right actors in the roles of Jay and Simran. In fact, it wouldn't be erroneous to state that the casting is the trump card of this film. But what Punit ought to know by now is that every story ought to have a strong grip to keep your attention arrested for the next two hours. In this case, the film rests on a waferthin plot, with not much movement in the story in the first hour. In fact, the story barely moves in the first part.

Yes, post-interval, the story does gather momentum and though you're well aware of the journey and what the culmination will be like, you don't mind the ride because you can't take your eyes off Imran and Sonam. Also, a love story works if one pines for the on-screen lovers and in I HATE LUV STORYS, you genuinely want the duo to sort things out, which means that you're involved in their lives. Even the finale - it won't be fair on my part to reveal how this movie concludes - may be filmy or cliched, but let's face it, it works.

Let me draw parallels with another love story, also starring Imran Khan. Recall the finale of JAANE TU YA JAANE NA, which had Imran riding a horse to reach his sweetheart [Genelia] at the airport. I distinctly recall, a lot of people found the end bizzare and rightly so. Can you imagine anyone galloping to the international airport in Mumbai? But I was truly surprised when I learnt that the youth were whistling and clapping all through. The finale is different here [no horses, please] and you exit the auditorium with a smile on your face.

Director Punit Malhotra is heavily inspired by Mills & Boon novels and several Bollywood films... love stories all. But like I pointed out earlier, Punit needs to polish his writing skills, although the director in him bails the writer out and takes the film to a different level. The sequences between Imran and Sonam are well penned, but the ones between Sonam and her parents or Sonam and Samir Dattani are half-baked. Directorially, Punit shows super-confidence in moulding the two actors in their respective parts, so much so that you get sucked into Jay and Simran's world after a while.

A love story ought to be embellished with a lilting score - that's a compulsion - and Vishal-Shekhar are in true form this time. The score is trendy, energetic and beyond fantastic and what's more, it's already a rage. In fact, the musical score only takes the movie a step ahead. Ditto for Salim-Sulaiman's background score, which matches the mood to the T. Ayananka Bose's cinematography is awesome. The ace DoP proved his credentials in KITES recently and with I HATE LUV STORYS, he should find himself entrenched in the top bracket. The styling [Manish Malhotra] is top notch.

Imran enacts his part effortlessly. Though the role doesn't demand histrionics, you keep reacting to Imran because of the magnetism he radiates. The devilish streak in his character is sure to appeal to the youth. Besides, Imran has been photographed and presented very well. Sonam is a revelation. From salwars [SAAWARIYA, DELHI 6] to skirts in I HATE LUV STORYS, Sonam finally gets a role that does justice to her as an actress. The ease and class with which she carries off the glam look is fantastic. She's like a whiff of fresh air and you actually wonder, is she the same girl from SAAWARIYA and DELHI 6? In fact, I HATE LUV STORYS will only multiply Imran and Sonam's fan base manifold.

Samir Dattani is decent, although his role gets sidelined as the story moves forward. Samir Soni's character reminds you of a certain hi-profile director and he plays the part extremely well. Kavin Dave, as Imran's buddy, is first-rate and steals the show in several scenes. Aamir Ali is perfect, while Pooja Ghai doesn't get scope to deliver. Bruna Abdullah looks sensuous and adds to the glam quotient. Ketaki Dave [Sonam's mother] is wasted. Anju Mahendru [Imran's mother] is adequate.

On the whole, I HATE LUV STORYS is a young and vibrant love story with tremendous appeal for the yuppies. The fresh pairing and the on-screen electrifying chemistry, the lilting musical score and the magical moments in the film should attract its target audience - the youth - in hordes. If you're young or young at heart, this one's for you!
kingfisher backstage