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Fred Reviews Bollywood's Kambakkht Ishq

Published July 6, 2009 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
Kambakkht IshqKambakkht Ishq

Kambakkht Ishq is the first full on Bollywood movie I’ve ever seen. You’d think someone as passionate about film as I am would have explored this dense world by now, but perhaps I just needed friends like Sylvester Stallone, Denise Richards and Brandon Routh to hold me hand on this brave new journey. They only have cameos but it got me into a screening.

Review: Kambakkht Ishq

The plot is really like a gimmicky Hollywood romantic comedy, only with awesome dance numbers. Perhaps that is the solution to Matthew McConaughey’s ouvre. Basically it’s How to Lose Your Sister’s Guy in Hollywood. Womanizing stuntman Viraj (Akshay Kumar) and bitterly independent surgical intern Simrita (Kareena Kapoor) want to prove to their siblings that they can’t count on love, so they sabotage each other’s in-laws.

It’s a concept as high as any Hollywood movie, but far less pretentious. They’re just playing around with good natured fun. I don’t think anybody’s really expected to believe these characters’ philosophies on romance. They’re way more manipulative than we are in our movie relationships.

They ham it up so much, they’re just playing the broad strokes. Even their dick and fart jokes have a fun spirit. Perhaps the hamminess is more tolerable because it’s a foreign language. We don’t always have to read the subtitles to get what’s going on. They throw in a few English interludes to give our eyes a break too.

They’re totally political incorrect too. I guess it’s okay to do blackface over there. That foreign body subplot is outrageous, so they go for it. Hey, as long as nothing’s sacred, NOTHING can be sacred.

It’s got all the staples of our romantic comedies, particularly the scene where the guy doesn’t just tell his wife what actually happened and instead stammers to make himself look more incriminating. “Hey, a skank threw up on my pants” isn’t that hard to articulate.

Setting it in Hollywood makes it more relatable too. The studio jokes should be appreciated by anyone with at least a cursory knowledge of Entourage. They use just about every set on the Universal Studios tour, but I guess you wouldn’t know it if you hadn’t been going there all your life. I mean, the Earthquake ride and the Waterworld tank? What movie within a movie on earth could possibly be reusing Waterworld sets?

The celebrity cameos are fun. You might think Stallone just showed up to stand there, thus giving Routh more to do with the image he has from one movie, but Stallone pays off in the end and Richards is a delight just because you totally buy that she’s the random celebrity part of this world.

The production values betray them, particularly when they blatantly reuse stock shots of red carpet celebrities, but maybe that’s part of the joke too. Maybe the idea of Jack Nicholson in the front row of a stuntman award show is so ridiculous that it’s not even supposed to really look like him.

The cast is F’ing gorgeous, especially the background players. Their sexy moves enthrall me. I just don’t understand why there’s only five dance numbers in nearly two and a half hours? Why drag out a silly rom-com except to pepper it with wall to wall dance interludes. I guess I have a lot to learn about Bollywood.

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Fred Topel
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