Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Jhootha Hi Sahi: The truth is out and it’s ugly
I have a serious complaint against lovers in Bollywood films. Even if they know where the other person stays and can easily deliver the “I love you” speech at the lover’s house, they insist on hanging off a cliff or climbing atop a bridge from where they can declare their undying love for each other. Don’t they realise how ridiculous it looks?
As you can guess, the above rant is inspired by a scene in Abbas Tyrewala’s “Jhootha Hi Sahi“, a dreary and dull rom-com that features perhaps the most wooden performances by a lead pair that I can remember and a lot of inane situations like the one described above.
John Abraham is one half of the wooden pair and plays Siddharth, a geek who co-owns an Indian bookstore in London with two of his friends. We are told that he stammers but only when he meets a beautiful woman. Siddharth comes across artist Mishka (newcomer Pakhi) when she calls him mistaking his number to be that of a suicide helpline. He talks to her through the night and suddenly, she doesn’t want to kill herself any more.
The two become “phone friends” but for some reason never quite explained in the film (or perhaps I missed it while I was yawning), he doesn’t want to reveal his identity to her. Instead, he befriends her as Siddharth the bookstore guy and talks to her on the phone as the helpline counsellor, leading a double life of sorts.
The film follows a predictable and boring trajectory from here on. There is of course the obligatory ex-girlfriend and boyfriend, the funny friends who egg them on and my main grouse — the ‘bridge’ epiphany at the end.
The film suffers from really bad casting, which is ironic given that Pakhi was casting director for Tyrewala’s earlier hit “Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na”. John Abraham tries so hard to act, you are embarrassed for him. He is completely unfit for this role.
Pakhi, on the other hand, is completely unfit to act. She has none of the qualities you expect in a leading lady. None of the screen presence at least and as for her chemistry with Abraham, there were scenes where she could have passed off as his elder sister.
Tyrewala obviously wants to make a smart, funny film, on the lines of “You’ve Got Mail” and “Notting Hill” but except for a few lines, the writing is laboured and tries too hard. His control over the movie wavers and sub-plots are weaved sporadically into the main narrative.
Also, Mishka is one of the most regressive heroines I can remember, coming across as this needy girl who doesn’t take up a scholarship to Paris because her ex-boyfriend had promised they would go together — before he dumped her, that is.
The only good thing in “Jhootha Hi Sahi” is the performance by Raghu Ram, who plays Siddharth’s Pakistani friend Omar. Ram is funny, sardonic and responsible for the few laughs in the film. Everything else is just a drag. Avoid.