DIL CHAHTA HAI triggered off the trend of films that looked at the lives of friends, their highs and lows, their lives taking new routes, how each one gets affected in the process and the reunion subsequently.
Ajai Sinha's STOP! steers into the same lane, narrating the story of four friends. Like Farhan Akhtar attempted in his directorial debut, Sinha's big screen debut also tries to tell the individual stories of each character, but the outcome is a pale clone of films in this genre.
The reason is crystal clear: Barring the incidents involving Tejaswini Kolhapure and to an extent, Rocky Bhatia's characters, the remaining sub-plots fail to entice the viewer. Clearly, the writer is to be blamed completely for losing an opportunity!
STOP! tells the story of four friends - Pooja [Gauri Karnik], Tina [Tejaswini Kolhapure], Sonia [Ishita Arun] and Om [Rocky Bhatia] - who share an apartment in Dubai. Everything seems hunky-dory till?
Om's ex-girlfriend Shama [Dia Mirza], now married to someone else, arrives in Dubai for work. Shama is having problems in her marital life and in an effort to lend her support, Om starts getting dependent on her gradually.
Tina's father Anand [Om Puri], a drunkard, resurfaces in Tina's life, aggravating situations.
Pooja's dream is to be the best Radio Jockey in town, but her boss [Harsh Chhaya] makes an 'indecent proposal' if she wants a show of her own.
Rohit [Kiran Janjani], a casanova, works in the same office as Om and one night, at a pub, Om introduces Sonia to him. Om's subsequent warnings to Sonia vis-?is the playboy fall on deaf ears.
Conflicting opinions and temperaments create a rift amongst friends?
What could've been a light entertainer, with emotional moments aplenty, falls prey to mediocrity because the narrative just doesn't excite. Besides being slow paced, the narrative fails to hold your attention.
As mentioned above, the sub-plots involving Tejaswini Kolhapure and Rocky Bhatia have meat, but Gauri and Ishita's sub-plots seem like a half-hearted attempt.
Tejaswini's interaction with her drunkard-father and why she abhors him is justifiable. It does involve the viewer largely. Rocky's portions are not as captivating, but have their share of interesting moments. But why this need to bring Dia's husband back in the end and make Rocky look like a loser?
Gauri's sub-plot suffers all through because the intentions of the boss are crystal clear the moment he is introduced in the story. Strangely, the viewer is well aware that something is coming, but Gauri isn't aware till he actually says it in clear words. Surely, a present-day independent girl, living all by herself in Dubai, couldn't be so na?. And when she does agree to the demands but develops cold feet later, she weeps and sobs as if it were her fault. Really strange!
Ishita's sub-plot is the weakest. Her love story never takes off, it follows the routine path, till Kiran's true colours come to the fore during the 31st December celebrations. By the way, the writer deserves to be 'complimented' for having thought of a 'novel' end to Ishita and Kiran's prem kahani.
Besides, the comedy track - involving Ali Asgar and Tejaswini - is the most irritating aspect of the enterprise.
Director Ajai Sinha doesn't deliver. He is terribly letdown by the script. Vishal-Shekhar's music is functional. 'Meri Kahani' - filmed on Rocky and Dia - is the pick of the lot. Cinematography is the only redeeming aspect of the enterprise. The locales of Dubai are visually striking.
Amongst performances, Tejaswini Kolhapure does leave a mark in a well-defined role, although she needs to concentrate on her make-up [bad] and outfits [horrendous]. Rocky Bhatia enacts his part with sincerity and does a decent job. Both Ishita Arun and Gauri Karnik could've performed better had there been meat in their characters.
Dia Mirza, in a small but significant role, is maturing into a fine actress. Kiran Janjani looks the character and enacts it well. Om Puri is splendid. Himani Shivpuri is okay. Harsh Chhaya hams. Ditto for Ali Asgar.
On the whole, STOP! has precious little to offer in terms of content. Lack of face-value and a poor start at the ticket window will only add to its woes.