Kambakkht Ishq is a case of bling over substance, in this first directorial effort from Sabbir Khan who also developed the screenplay for this vacuous romance. Filmed largely in Los Angeles and featuring Universal Studios, Rodeo Drive and Hollywood Boulevard - it’s more about Bollywood’s love affair with Hollywood than any thing involving the yawn-inducing protagonists.
Viraj Shergill (Akshay Kumar) is a stuntman who succeeds in Hollywood. Bowing down to touch the feet of his guru - Sylvester Stallone, he accepts a stuntman of the year trophy at a gala function attended by the Hollywood now set. This moment is strategically placed not only to woo the feisty Simrita (Kareena Kapoor) but to offer viewers latent insight into Viraj’s otherwise nasty, chauvinistic character. Hey he can’t be all that bad; he has this ‘healthy’ respect for Sylvester Stallone and he clearly loves his mother because he mentioned her in his acceptance speech. This is as deep as it gets folks.
His sparring partner - supermodel - Simrita Rai - is almost equally superficial. She’s supposed to be a strong female character of the type Yash Raj has been showcasing lately, but surprise - she’s putty under the stony façade. There’s a bit of a back story about how she’s all messed up because of her parents’ broken marriage but nothing that gives her character heart or soul.
Lighten up - you might say - this is a comedy. Only if you think it’s funny. I smiled on two occasions: firstly - when Viraj was in hospital saying funny things (which sounded improvised) under the influence of an anesthetic and secondly (a smile of relief) when the end credits rolled.
The problem rests with the screenplay which sets up too many inane situations at the expense of proper character development. For example Simrita influences her simple friend Kamini (Amrita Arora) to abstain from having sex with her husband - supposedly to test whether he loves her or not… (How silly is that?) Or how about - “Give me just 7 days and I’ll make her fall for me” from Viraj as lead in to another “test”. Where it counts though, attitudes change in a blink with no real build up or explanation. Why do Simi and Viraj fall in love? There doesn’t seem to be any connection beyond the physical?
The only interest lies in the use of the mantra - Om Mangalam which issues from a musical charm bracelet given to Simi by her Aunt Dolly (Kiron Kher). The journey undertaken by the charm is more interesting than the life-journeys of all the characters put together. To explain in greater detail is to give too much away.
I read somewhere that the aim was to make a dubbed English version of the same film minus the songs. For me the musical interludes (Anu Malik) and choreography (Vaibhavi Merchant) served to strengthen an otherwise, hollow creation. It is regrettable that the acting talents of Kapoor, Kumar and Shivdasani have not found a worthier vehicle.