Dullsville. That’s the first feeling after sitting through the lackluster Ishkq is Paris. It’s hard to do, but director Prem Raj has managed to make Paris seem shallow. Preity Zinta’s valiant and energetic performance is not enough to lift this supposed romance out of the doldrums.
Two desis meet on a train journey from Rome to Paris and decide to spend the evening together – no strings attached, no promises or expectations. Both are anti-marriage, anti-commitment. He keeps hoping to have sex with her, while she reminds him that even though she’s half French, she’s Indian in her morals.
They stick to the agreement and return to their daily routines, but in a film with only three characters, you know boy will meet girl again and love must happen in Paris.
That’s the set up for Akash (Rhehan Malliek), pronounced a-Cash, meeting Ishkq (Preity Zinta). They proceed to get to know each other over one night in the most romantic city in the world. But the Paris in Prem Raj’s film is not romantic. It’s an odd place where Chunky Pandey sells curios; where you take a trip up the Eiffel Tower, visit cafes, nightclubs and parks based on the role of a die. You don’t see Montmartre, Champs Elysees, the River Seine or cathedral of Notre Dame!
City tour aside, the narrative itself is so literal and predictable (written by Zinta and Raj), down to the boy’s eyes opening up to the girl when he sees her in desi attire at a French-Indian wedding. (This is the set up for Salman Khan’s guest appearance.) There are also clichés like the fact that it starts raining at the moment of break up.
As I mentioned before, there’s a third character – Ishkq’s mother, a French actress Marie (played by French actress Isabelle Adjani) estranged from her Indian husband (Shekhar Kapur). In such a limited set up, chemistry between the leads is critical to engaging the audience. Sadly, Malliek lacks the charisma and acting skills to pull off the part which is further hindered by being sketchily developed. While Adjani could well pass off as Zinta’s mother, there is no onscreen bonding between mother and daughter either.
Zinta is the only watchable element in this tedium. Let’s hope we see more of her in better-developed projects. Even at 96 minutes running time, Ishkq in Paris feels like a nine-hour flight, with jet lag!