Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani – Dir: Rajkumar Santoshi. *ing: Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif
Remember the fable about that lazy sod who is stupidly entrusted with the task of purchasing a great big hunk of cheese, which he is expected to lug home upon his back? Said lazy sod finds soon enough that carrying that smelly block of fromage is way too much hard work, and instead decides to set the thing rolling down the hill, figuring that it’ll find its way to the village on its own.
Well, think of APKGK as the cinematic equivalent of that wad of cheese, left to roll down the hill to find its own way to its destination. Or, in other words, apparently director Santoshi and co. threw together a mish-mash of ingredients of dubious quality and lobbed it against the wall to see what would stick. Or, to put it yet another way, APKGK is that proverbial chicken with its head cut off, running around in frenzied, pointless circles until it finally keels over dead.
Which is to say that the film, to use a desi figure of speech, is a film without head or foot (sar paer). It has only the shakiest semblance of a plot, a script that ricochets wildly between nerve-testing comedy and cold-as-gazpacho ‘family drama’, and characters and situations so improbable they belong in a Barbara Cartland novel, had the poodle-loving lady in pink ever tried her hand at cranking out a piece of farce, as opposed to her usual piece of… well let’s not be rude about the deceased.
But if you must know, the story revolves around one Prem Chopra (Kapoor) a no-good wastrel who whiles away his days being ‘precedent’ of the local losers’ ‘Happy Club’, and the bane of his father’s existence. Enter love interest Jenny (Kaif, reprising her cutie-pie bimbo act for, oh, only the umpteenth time) and suddenly Prem is forced to attempt to grow up and face his responsibilities if he is to win her heart. Really, what is so gazab about this oft-told kahani?
However, there is one thing that keeps APKGK from being an irredeemable waste of time, and that is – drum roll, please – the absolutely colossal charisma of Mr. Ranbir Kapoor! If ever a film has been carried entirely on a single set of shoulders, this is it folks. On paper the titular character is an annoying little twerp, like a hypo-maniac left off his tranquilisers for too long. But in Kapoor’s hands he is lovable, ridiculously charming, and, dare we say it, very nearly comparable to some of the most memorable personae created by dad Rishi (who, to the devotees among us, is the true Kapoor khaandan deity). There really must be something in that household’s water.
Mention must be made too of our wonder boy Atif Aslam, who’s in fine form, making quick work of the film’s only real stand-out song, ‘Tera honay laga hoon’. And surprisingly enough, his slim pitch makes for a good ghost-voice for the rather more bear-toned Kapoor.
There is little else to recommend the film, unless mindless comedy is your need of the day, which, admittedly, is a perfectly valid need, but there too lies a pitfall since the jokes aren’t all that hot. When pretty much the funniest line in the film (spoken by a statue, no less) is “Wipe the crow shit off my back”, there isn’t much room left to maneuver, is there?