This is what happens when a production house best known for its stories about the rich and the indolent trains its sights on the downtrodden. The message of Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, Punit Malhotra’s second film with Dharma Productions, seems to be “It takes a village”. But what the film is really saying is that village-dwellers can’t solve their own problems without the help of someone from the city, no matter how unmotivated or under-qualified these saviors might be.
But the village is just a prop anyway, a device to help Sriram (Imran Khan, an unconvincing Iyer) find the human being hidden deep inside his lazy, narcissistic self. Sriram is there to convince “activist” – and occasional midwife – Dia (Kareena Kapoor Khan) to forsake her do-gooding in the Gujarati village of Jhumli and come home. Years ago, the two were in a relationship which ended badly; the details of this take up the marginally superior first half. Now, he must win her love back by getting a bridge built for the villagers. Isn’t it just super-convenient that he has an architecture degree up his sleeve?
None of this, as you may have guessed, is remotely interesting. Kapoor acts like she’s still on the sets of Satyagraha, while Khan keeps winking at the camera like it's his friend. There are small roles for Shraddha Kapoor and Anupam Kher, but the only actor who makes any impact is Nizhalgal Ravi, a veteran of Tamil and Telugu cinema, as Sriram's father. It’s a wonder a film this slight and insubstantial can still go on for two-and-a-half hours, but it does. However, by the time a teary village kid tells Sriram – who’s just sold off their land to have a chemical factory built on it – that he wants to “be like you bro”, many in the audience may have exercised their right to get up and leave.
This review appeared in Time Out Delhi.