Not every 150-minute movie can be easily divided into three parts. But AkaashVani, written and directed by Luv Ranjan, lends itself extraordinarily well to this conceit. Each third, it turns out, is devoted to one specific idea. And in each case, only when the film is convinced that the point’s been safely driven home does it move on.
Akaash (Kartik Tiwari) and Vani (Nushrat Bharucha) meet on the first day of college and become friends. He slings out one-liners that wouldn’t fly with an Ajit impersonator, she finds them outrageous and, despite her best efforts, can’t help smiling. Cut to Akaash smiling at Vani smiling. Repeat 50 times. And just like that, college is over, they’re in love and it’s time to tell her parents.
However, within minutes of Vani reaching home, news arrives that her till-now absent sister has eloped, just prior to her marriage. Her parents overreact spectacularly by getting Vani married her off to Ravi (Sunny Singh Nijjar), a nice, clean-cut boy with a good job. There’s the little matter of marital rape (shown three times, just in case we weren’t sure) and constant mental abuse, but why would that bother ostensibly concerned parents? As for Akaash, he’s largely absent, having been dumped over the phone.
Having established that falling in love is magical, and that one should never throw away a love that’s special, the movie tries out a third novel concept: it’s never too late for love. Akaash returns; he’s miffed at first, but soon there are tears and a return to slo-mo smiles. There’s more to come, but by this point you might be past caring whether the two run away together or kill each other, like the lovers in Ishaqzaade.
The ending, when it finally arrives, is straight out of a TV serial, though Bharucha salvages enough from it to mark her as someone worth keeping an eye on. Her characters haven’t had the greatest luck: she and her boyfriend were butchered to death in Love Sex aur Dhoka, and she was off-screen and at the receiving end of a mean, funny rant by Tiwari that was the highlight of Ranjan’s first film Pyaar Ka Punchnama. Here, she’s a silent sufferer in need of rescuing. So is the audience.
This review appeared in Time Out Delhi.