After watching Anjaana Anjaani and Jhootha Hi Sahi in quick succession, I?ve come to the conclusion that if a Hindi film begins with a lead character attempting suicide and not succeeding, then viewers are in big trouble.
Because the next two hours are invariably spent in watching the character discover the value of life, usually by falling in love. He or she goes from depressed and weepy to giddy and happy.
Like in the earlier film, here too this emotional journey is agonizingly boring.
Anjaana Anjaani was careless to the point of cynicism. The makers didn?t try at all. Here director-lyricist Abbas Tyrewala and his wife, lead actress-writer Pakhi try too hard.
Set entirely in London, the film is about a set of friends, who, like in the American television serial, are each other?s sole support. They are neighbours and work together. For variety, we have a Pakistani brother and sister and the token gays.
John Abraham plays Sid, a nerdy bookstore owner who inexplicably has a hot stewardess girlfriend but stammers in the presence of beautiful women. By mistake, his number gets printed as a suicide hotline and he connects with Mishka, played by Pakhi, who is desperate to kill herself.
The rest of the film is about how Sid, in two avatars, as himself and as Mishka?s suicide hotline friend, helps her to live and love again. Of course Mishka spends most of her time either with Sid in person or with Sid on the phone but never wonders why both sound exactly the same. But that is the least of this film?s problems.
There is a sliver of a story here but Abbas has translated it into a clumsy film that never gets off the ground. The scenes have a strange, stagey awkwardness, almost like a bad television serial.
John working every acting muscle in his body makes Sid endearing but the chemistry between him and Pakhi is flatter than his washboard abs.
Almost every hetrosexual character in the film has a crush on Mishka, including the neighbour?s adolescent son but it?s not clear why this is so. As she herself says: aaj kal main hi achhi company nahin hoon. So much of the film is about friends and the support system they provide but the characters are so poorly etched that none leave an impression.
The nurturing Pakistani sister is pregnant but refuses to marry her loving boyfriend. Why? I couldn?t tell you. It?s all about surface coolness so the book store they run is called Kagaz Ke Phool and carries a sign that says: We don?t do Deepak Chopra.
Likewise, Jhoota Hi Sahi doesn?t do romance or friendship.