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Love Songs

Rating: 1

March 28, 2008

Cast: Jaya Bachchan, Om Puri, Prthviraj Choudhury, Shahana Chatterjee, Mallika Sarabhai

Director: Jayabrato Chatterjee

Latest in the line of English language films set in the Bengali milieu, director Jayabrato Chatterjee’s Love Songs has a perfectly simple plot to it, but it comes with a screenplay so laboured, even pretentious that you wish your reclining seats came with a remote control to fast-forward this drivel.

Mridula Chatterjee’s 20-something grandson Rohan comes home on summer break from law-school and takes it upon himself to know more about her strained relationship with his dead mother. Mridula, played by Jaya Bachchan, who’s raised him single-handedly since he was a little boy, is not entirely prepared to dig into those memories, but on Rohan’s insistence, she goes into flashback mode.

Now there’s something to be said about Indian actors speaking English on screen — they sound affected and they tend to put on strange accents. Bad enough, the dialogues in this film are terribly amateurish, what’s worse is that the actors deliver them with such fake sincerity that the entire film comes off looking contrived.

I can’t imagine what the director was thinking when he cast the beautiful Mallika Sarabhai as the alcoholic singer wife of Mridula’s college sweetheart. Made-up and costumed to look like Salma Agha on a bad day, she’s saddled with ridiculous lines and ends up looking and sounding so bad, you can’t be blamed for suspecting the director was getting some sort of sadistic pleasure in doing this.

What explanation is there also for Shahana Chatterjee’s hysterical performance as Mridula’s rebellious daughter? She shrieks out most of her lines in a voice that reminds you of the one Ramgopal Varma used for the title character in his film Bhoot. Veterans like Jaya Bachchan and Om Puri are wasted in this thankless film, they fail to hide its many, many flaws.

I’m going with one out of five for Love Songs. I didn’t expect a conventional entertainer from this one, but I’m sorry to say it lacks any artistic merit either.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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