Sunday, February 25, 2007

Salaam E Ishq (Love's Sweet Salute)

This was not one, but six romantic comedies, all intertwined Love Actually style but with a very definite story of its own. It cuts between Delhi, London and various parts of India, as well as mashing up languages - conversations would take place with one person speaking Hindi, the other English, but whatever language was spoken, there would generally be words from the other main language dropped in. Oh, and of course there was the occasional song.

It followed the classic convention of the romantic comedy, some sort of intervening problem which is all nicely tied up at the end: since we had six couples, there were six different threats. It was a long movie, over three hours, but there was only point at which I was thinking "this is silly": otherwise I enjoyed it a lot. It was very entertaining, hugely colourful and a lot of fun. Insofar as there was a moral, it was that sometimes you have to fight for your love. Oh, and that love might mean being just a little bit mad.

Keeping the names of the characters straight was a bit hard, but I'll do my best. The movie starts with the second wedding anniversary of Asutosh and Tehzeeb:
While Tehzeeb is filming a piece on a new Mumbai to Goa train service for romantics, it is derailed and she loses her memory of the period she has known Asutosh. He is heartbroken and does all he can to re-establish her memory, but even when she has another skull-cracking accident, that is not to be. But love's sweet salute operates on them anyway : lost all the old memories? We can make new ones (and his lines work all over again on her!).

I think my favourite character was Raju, a taxi driver with very little English, yet he has a very specific dream of meeting and marrying a blonde:Stephanie has come from Canada to see Rohit, and hopefully stop him from marrying his Indian bride, whoever she might turn out to be - the marriage brokers have quite a sequence of families for him to meet - making the point that love is the reason to marry, not the random choices effected by brokers.

Raju is Stephanie's taxi driver; as soon as he sees her, he thinks the prophesies have finally come true. But when he learns she is on the way to her love, he shows his love by doing her bidding - badly! She wants the Taj (meaning hotel in Delhi), he thinks "Taj Mahal" and thus they end up in Agra! Trying to prevent Rohit from marrying means they have to race quite large distances around the country (Raju has beaten the marriage broker up to get the list). There is a reverse Lost in Translation moment between Raju and Stephanie - despite having no common language, he can see from the language of her eyes that if Rohit doesn't marry her, she will kill herself. But, you know, I could fully relate to him: she asks why are you doing all this for me; his answer was simply "I love you".

Two of the other couples have more commonplace stories. Vinay and Seema have been married 15 years and have a couple of kids: he is her life, but when he spots the much younger Anjali on a train one day, decides that he wants "more", without being too sure what it is. Shiven and Gia are a love match, about to get married, but he gets cold feet, and tries to facilitate her cancelling the wedding (he wasn't exactly my favourite character). There was another couple, I didn't really get what was going on with them until I read a review: they were already married, but thanks to the crowded nature of Indian family life, having trouble finding somewhere to consummate - that explains why they end up near naked on a train!

The most dramatic (and annoying) couple were Kkamini and Rahul: she is a wannabe film star, who has had an embarrassing night in which she ended up in a pool in a night-club with Shiven, and needs to do something to restore her reputation. She decides the way to do this is to invent a secret love, Rahul. It just so happens that there is a fellow, completely unknown to her, called Rahul who is carrying a major (stalker-sized) torch for her. He comes into her life, won't leave without being paid a vast sum of money. Of course, when he does leave, the realisation hits Kkamini that she loves him.

And so, three hours into the movie, and after following a fairly convoluted path, they all end up in the one place - at Rohit and Gia's wedding, as it happens. There, all is restored to the way it ought to be.

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1 Comments:

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