The summer of 2001 alone has seen more good films out of Bollywood than last year. The three clear winners of the summer have been Lagaan - Aamir Khan´s perfect period piece, Aks - Amitabh Bachchan´s arty yet excellent suspense thriller, and E. Niwas´s Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega - A breezy entertainer that will have the viewer in splits. Other noteworthy have been Anil Sharma´s biased yet entertaining Gadar: Ek Prem Katha and even Goldie Behl´s enjoyable Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai, a film with an endearing social message. Anubhav Sinha´s Tum Bin, too, enjoyed a decent run in theaters. Rajiv Rai´s Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat has been one of the summer´s most talked about films and has a hip cast consisting of Kirthi Reddy, returning to the silver screen after her disasterous debut in Tera Jadoo Chal Gaya, wannabe superstar model Arjun Ramphal, Sunil Shetty, Aftaab Shivdasani, and Isha Koppikar. Oh yeah, and B-Grade "actress" Monica Bedi is thrown in for some necessary skank appeal. The film is nothing like There´s Something About Mary, as was reported earlier. So the question we all are asking ourselves is, does PIAM live up to high expectations? Well, not exactly, but it´s a nice timepass film. If you can sit through some of the plot´s inanities, you might just enjoy the film for the music, the beautiful European locations, model Arjun Ramphal in a good debut, and the gorgeous Kirthi Reddy, who is an atrocious actress but looks so darn bewitching on-screen that it´s hard not to like her.
The film is all about Isha (Kirthi Reddy). She´s beautiful, she´s intelligent, and above all, she´s a medical student (Which makes her all-around perfect - find me one like her!). Isha has a bit of a problem in the form of three guys, all in love with her. A rich businessman named Yash (Sunil Shetty) has fallen so hard for Isha, that he is willing to support her education and give her a scholarship to go study abroad. Yash, unable to tell Isha of his love for her (A calamity that befalls most Indian film heros), hires debonair playboy Gaurav (Arjun Ramphal in a fantastic debut) to woo her for him, and, alas, Gaurav ends up falling for her too. Thrown into the mix is Taj (Aftab Shivdasani), Isha´s host in Scotland, who falls for her too. Let´s not forget to mention Maya (Monica Bedi, looking scary, to say the least) and Rubina (Isha Koppikar, looking great!) two sketchy characters who wait in the wings till the end to pick up the two losers Isha dumps.
Before I say anything else, let me say that Arjun Ramphal will go far. The guy has scored in a big way with his debut film, and offers a good performance. His dialogue delivery is clean and clear and he looks pretty comfortable and confident in his role. Up next for Ramphal is Ashok Mehta´s legal drama Moksha, with Manisha Koirala. The film is supposed to be quite serious and both Mehta and Koirala have praised Arjun Ramphal to the skies. Aftaab Shivdasani is quite good in his role as the comical lover boy as well. After Mast, Kasoor, and Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega, Aftaab comes up with a golden performance and manages to hold his own despite the other two male leads. Sunil Shetty has a small role, but does whatever he has well. He has been improving with every film, and PIAM is no exception. Kirthi Reddy, as mentioned before, is a bad actress, but looks so stunning that I didn´t mind her at all. She looks very nice in Viju Shah´s beautiful songs. Up next for Kirthi is Anil Kapoor´s Badhai Ho Badhai and, if trade reports are to be believed, Rajiv Rai has repeated her in his next film as well. Isha Koppikar does a better job in her small role than Kirthi in the acting department, but is stuck with playing second fiddle. She looks really good though, despite her ill-characterized role. Monica Bedi is hardly worth mentioning, nor is she in the film for very long. She´s real lucky to be milking her mafia connections for all they´re worth, because without those connections, she would have vanished without a trace. Dev Anand protege Mohini Sharma, of Censor fame, appears briefly in a cameo.
Technically, the film is very nice. The cinematography is amazing. The film looks very rich and beautiful. Viju Shah´s music is simply superb. The songs are hummable, soft, and extremely enjoyable. The music is further enhanced by the stunning picturizations.
Rajiv Rai, in my opinion, has never been that great of a director. Sure, Tridev and Mohra were enjoyable, but the films looked incredibly tacky in places. Gupt looked polished in parts, but had a moronic comedy track. PIAM suffers from the same problem of being novel and enjoyable in parts, but moronic in others. Rai has had some obvious problems rising above his mediocre screenplay. He has spent a fortune on shooting Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat, though, and it shows. Had he paid more attention to the script, the film would have been much better. So, while the movie borders on inane in some sections, it is overall worth a watch. It´s not as good as some of the above-mentioned films to release this summer, but if you´re in the market for a cute romance, watch Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat. I have a feeling that the film will run at the box office due to it´s glossy look, despite the obvious shortcomings in the story. Hey, if Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai can do well, there´s hope for any film.