Rom-coms appear to be the most preferential genre, notwithstanding the fact that you can foretell where the narrative is headed a few minutes into the film. But what sets most rom-coms apart is the implementation of the theme. It all hinges on how persuasively the narrator recounts and executes the plot, how compelling the central characters are, how mesmeric is their chemistry on screen and most importantly, does the cinematic account have soul?
The Hindi film industry is famed for churning out rom-coms by the dozens year after year, but just a handful of films dare to defy the stereotype. LONDON PARIS NEW YORK, directed by first-timer Anu Menon, is, in all honesty, one of those flicks that dares to be diverse.
LONDON PARIS NEW YORK is a chic rom-com that's filmed -- no prizes for guessing -- in three hot-n-happening cities of the world. But unlike the rom-coms churned out in the past, this one's more for spectators with urban receptiveness and a refined taste for cinema, on the lines of say an EK MAIN AUR EKK TU or a WAKE UP SID. What also sets this film apart is the fact that the story unfurls in eight years in three of the world's most thrilling cities, with the viewer getting a foretaste of everything that's allied with a rom-com in this globe-hopping voyage.
LONDON PARIS NEW YORK mirrors the torment and ordeals of the twenties, the most vivid segment of one's life -- when you are taking a call on what course your life ought to take, you have your first momentous relationship and most significantly, structure your personality in this world. This is the story of Lalitha [Aditi Rao Hydari], a middle class South Indian girl from Chembur [a suburb in Mumbai], who is on her way to New York to study politics, and Nikhil [Ali Zafar], a rich Punjabi kid from Bandra [a posh western suburb of Mumbai], who's going to study film making in London. They decide to hang out together one evening in London and find that they are completely drawn to each other even as their future lies on separate continents.
The film follows their special voyage and their love story as they meet in London, Paris and New York over eight years. The film is in three subdivisions and each chapter is shot in a manner that mirrors the psychological state of Nikhil and Lalitha.
Armed with an inventive and ingenious plot, LONDON PARIS NEW YORK owes its allegiance, to an extent, to the Hollywood movie  DAYS OF SUMMER than to the atypical Bollywood rom-com. The director makes an endeavor to be as bona fide and natural as possible, illustrating sentiments that adolescents go through when they fall in love and also all that comes with it, including pain, angst and torment when heartbreak occurs. That's what makes LONDON PARIS NEW YORK an unblemished and credible take on relationships, with authentic and identifiable circumstances, germane and relevant dialogue [Ritu Bhatia and Anu Menon] and no overstated styling of the actors' attire or hair/tresses.
Besides, like I indicated at the outset, Anu Menon chucks away the time-honored prescription of exaggerated drama that we are so acclimatized to watching in Hindi movies. Instead, she makes the narrative spirited and vivacious by depicting characters that you witness in factual life. In a way, the film emulates what one is so used to watching in our everyday life and that's where the exquisiteness of the film lies. A contemporary romance that's so credible, so realistic, so coherent.
However, LONDON PARIS NEW YORK is not devoid of its share of hiccups. The languid tempo in the first hour, with the narrative getting a little too verbose and talk-heavy, is a deterrent. Above and beyond, there's not much of advancement in the story after the two central characters are introduced. It's only a few minutes preceding the interlude that the wheels start undulating. What transpires in the second hour shoots the graph of the movie northwards. The exhilaration builds up magnificently, leading to an explosive culmination. In fact, the concluding moments -- I'd like to single out Ali Zafar's flare-up -- are worthy of additional brownie points. The sequence is so brilliant that it reverberates even after the movie has concluded.
Filmed in three most dazzling cities of the world, the movie boasts of some enchanting visuals. The director and also the DoP [Sameer Arya] have the aptitude for fitting camera placement, bestowing the film with a certain added charm.
Ali Zafar shoulders multiple responsibilities in this movie, which comprises of composing the songs as well as writing the lyrics. The actor/composer sticks to the theme of the film and comes up with tunes that uphold the synergy with the plot and setting of the movie. 'Woh Dekhne Mein' is, of course, the cream of the crop. The title track is racy and ear-pleasing.
In TERE BIN LADEN, Ali Zafar made the spectator break into guffaws and in his subsequent outing MERE BROTHER KI DULHAN, he made you grin and beam. Perceptibly, one would imagine Ali Zafar to get into the jocular and frivolous zone yet again in LONDON PARIS NEW YORK. Ali gets to depict a character that's a far cry from the hackneyed characters one is so used to watching and I must add, he glows luminously all through the film, particularly towards the concluding installment in New York. This motion picture will motivate even his staunch critics to structure an elevated estimation of him as a performer and revere him as an artiste of immense caliber.
Aditi Rao Hydari looks stunning, but more significantly, she appears to capture every moment, every scene most radiantly in this coming-of-age love story. She has an unadulterated take on how to construe a scene. What you get to witness is much ahead of the customary expressions and rejoinders. She appears so unflustered and unperturbed even in the most intricate moments, which only goes to prove her remarkable credentials as an actor. Besides, the intimate moments between Ali and Aditi are aesthetically filmed, not looking forced or an aberration in the scheme of things. Dalip Tahil and Mantra appear in a cameo.
On the whole, LONDON PARIS NEW YORK is akin to a lungful of fresh air amidst the hackneyed and passe rom-coms. It's a quirky, witty, coming-of-age movie that takes a conventional premise and twirls it into something delightfully unconventional, designed to charm and magnetize the urban youth. The movie speaks their lingo, mirrors their objectives and depicts the anguish and elation of falling in love. If you are young or young at heart, celebrate your weekend by leaping on to this feel-good earth hopping romance.