A Powerhouse Performance
The first thing that sprung to mind when I heard about the premise was that this could be like Hou Hsiao Hsien's Three Times, with three love stories presented in short story style, set in three different eras, and starring the same actor and actress as would be lovebirds. It's the quintessential love story in each of the short films presented, with little narrative links between the tales. And quite unlike a typical Bollywood film, I was surprised when everything came to close in just under 2 hours, succinct and to the point, exploiting the boy-meets-girl-loses-girl formula with success, three times over.
Written and directed by Kunal Kohli who helmed films like Fanaa and Hum Tum, the stories presented were uncomplicated in style and presentation, and is absolutely charming, being an automatic and excellent choice as a date movie. Each story is based on serendipity between the couples, with each chance and debut encounter being nothing short of memorable, developing into something a lot more, before a roadblock gets in the way which curiously almost always being the fault of the guy. And with each cliffhanger comes the hope that everything gets resolved with a fulfilling positive ending, not just because the writing and characterization make us root for the lovers to be together, but that Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra share this remarkable chemistry opposite each other, that doesn't betray the point that this is only their second pairing after 2009's Kaminey.
And Teri Meri Kamaani starts off with arguably its best segment set in the 1960s, where impressive CG gets combined with old school styled movie sets to bring out not only a believable blast from the past setting, but to add a unique flavour to the way films in those days get made in studios as well. Rightly apt for this tale is Chopra playing Rukhsar, a movie star who meets Kapoor's Govind onboard a train, sharing a trip to Bombay and then sowing the seeds of what could possibly be a start to an unlikely romantic relationship between someone famous, and an in-between jobs musician. Complicating matters is Govind's neighbour Maahi (Prachi Desai) who got utilized to try and shake off a persistent tabloid journalist, with a cruel twist set into the narrative.
Then we move into London 2012 at Stratford Upon Avon, with Kapoor's Krish having broken up with his girlfriend Meera (Neha Sharma) on his birthday, and began on the wrong footing with the stranger he bumped into, Chopra's Radha, but after a day and night of partying, and a semester of modern day instant messaging flirting and maintaining a long distance relationship of sorts, trouble comes when Meera decides to embarrass Krish online by posting less than flattering private photos of Krish, and for his tit-for-tat action really throwing a spanner into the budding relationship formed with Radha.
1910 Lahore forms the final part of the trio of stories, with Shahid Kapoor playing the Casanova Javed, who uses his charms on unsuspecting women around his village and gains a notorious reputation. Here he chances upon Chopra's Aradhana while escaping from soldiers in colonial India, and amongst the lot, this story dwells a little bit on the political climate of the time, and a more conservative courtship between the lovers. Gone are the fancy song and dance, or modern day conveniences, and in comes poetry which the characters recite in playful repartee, which I'm quite certain the nuances in remarks exchanged were sorely lost in translation.
Tackling multiple roles in a film isn't something new for Priyanka Chopra, having played 12 different characters in What's Your Rashee, and adopting 7 different personas in 7 Khoon Maaf. Once again she showcases her versatility and justifies why she's at the top of the game, and being one of the best Indian actresses amongst her generation, combining glamour and striking poise when they're called for. Aradhana allowed her to showcase a lot of restraint in a more conservative time period, while a more bubbly nature shone through as Radha. Shahid Kapoor does what he does best, and comes to life as Javed, the only character here who had to undergo tremendous transformation, although the other less flashy role of Govind probably served as the more interesting of the three he had to tackle. And together, the Kapoor-Chopra pairing proves to be once again something that probably movie goers will not get enough of.
Kunal Kohli has a winner in his hands, opting for something straight-forward and direct, and having a wonderful cast bringing life to his stories. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it a bit more if the stories are linked more than just thematically, although this may be sticking to the same old formula already done to death by cinemas from around the world. Still, Bollywood has its usual song and dance sequences which work extremely well here, and has technology to thank for in recreating sets of 1960s Bombay that's impressive, with its slight rawness and less than pristine rendering adding to some charm of that era. Highly recommended!