Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Salaam E Ishq

Title:Salaam E Ishq: A Tribute to Love
Cast: Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Akshaye Khanna, Ayesha Takia, John Abraham, Vidya Balan, Govinda, Shannon Esrechowitz
Director:Nikhil Advani

Salaam E Ishq - A Tribute To Love is something like 4 hours long, an epic piece of cinema, although really that surprising in Bollywood terms. The film follows 6 couples through various stages of relationships, though one of those couples is only really added for comic relief, and while the other stories intersect there story barely features. But then given the amount of threads and links, half the film could most likely have been cut out and it would have been improved.

Kkamini sings and dances at Shiven’s stag night, and ends up in all the gossip papers as the latest event in the life of an Item Queen. But Kkamini dreams of being much more than an Item Queen, of becoming a famous actress, perhaps even a Tragedy Queen, and inspired she sets about making her dreams come true. Shiven is supposed to be marrying Gia, but he is such a play boy that the idea of not being able to play the field fills him with terror. To this end he starts to try and find ways of sabotaging the wedding, but as he comes ever closer to success he starts to have his doubts. It is too late for that though, as Gia’s father makes moves to set her up with a Canadian Indian instead. Gia’s sister makes plans to travel from London to Mumbai for the wedding, while her husband Vinay arranges Kkamini’s visit to London. But Vinay is bored, and when he bumps into a Anjali, young Indian bollywood dancer on a London train, it doesn’t take much to lead him astray. Then there is Raju, a lowly taxi driver, who sits at Mumbai airport and dreams of the day a blonde white woman will arrive and fall in love with him. Cue the arrival of Stephanie from Canada, keen to prevent her boyfriend from betraying their love and accepting a marriage arranged by his parents. Then there are the less connected stories of Ashutosh and Tehzeeb, a muslim and hindu, who find their marriage thrown into turmoil when Tehzeeb is in a train crash, and finally Isha and Sohail newly weds who would consummate their marriage if it weren’t for constant disaster.

Salaam E Ishq has been getting compared to Love Actually, and given the multi stranded love story and ensemble cast, then it isn’t entirely surprising. Then of course, Love Actually didn’t have the colour, the energy and the dance routines. But those differences are the staple of Bollywood cinema, and don’t necessarily make this a great film. The film is highly polished and slick feeling, and overloaded with all that. There were pieces that did work, and could have been extracted in their own right - the relation between Ashutosh and Tehzeeb, while being one of the more tenuously connected to everything else, is actually one of the most touching and watchable. After than the manipulations of Kkamini, desperate to improve her career, only to have tables turned by her “high school lover”, has a certain something. Lastly the thread with the humble dreaming taxi drive Raju, and the jilted Stephanie, has a certain magic to it.

Bollywood is still one of those things I don’t know enough about. So from my point of ignorance, I did quite enjoy the film. Though I was conscious of the flaws which have meant that it has had a mixed reaction. It is far too long, and there is far too much going on.

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