Director: Abhiraj Minawala
It’s bad enough LoveYatri was always going to be tainted as a vanity project to launch the acting career of Salman Khan’s brother-in-law. But couldn’t they have at least made a half decent film so they wouldn’t be accused of laziness on top of the criticism they already face for exploiting privilege, entitlement, and yes, nepotism? Because, say what you will, LoveYatri is an excruciating bullet to the brain. It’s nearly two-and-a-half hours of predictable, formulaic, charmless love story that has as much spark as a box of matches soaked in the rain.
Its plot scraped together from dipping generously into standard tropes like desi boy-falls-for-NRI girl and strict-father-throttles-daughter’s-romance, the film is basically a rehash of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. There are also echoes of Salman’s own Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, which remains the most lavish cinematic celebration of Gujarati culture.
LoveYatri, which was formerly titled Loveratri as a nod to the nine-day navratri festival that practically consumes the state of Gujarat, opens in the city of Baroda where local slacker Sushrut aka Susu (don’t even ask!) and London girl Manisha, who also goes by the name Michelle, meet-cute during garba celebrations.
Played by newcomers Aayush Sharma and Warina Hussain, Sushrat and Manisha are put through the paces in an insipid, bland love story that you’re not for a moment even remotely invested in. Every beat of the story is familiar, the conflicts come off as outdated and unconvincing, and practically every character is a cliché. Ronit Roy shows up to repeat his angry, disapproving dad shtick, which frankly is getting a little old now. Ram Kapoor, meanwhile, slips into the Anupam Kher mould as the indulgent, irresponsible parent-figure. There are also the hero’s friends – a cynical fellow referred to simply as Negative, and a supportive chap dubbed Rocket.
Written by Niren Bhatt and directed by Abhiraj Minawala, LoveYatri is, for all practical purposes, the Aayush Sharma show. He gets the proper ‘hero’ treatment with soft-focus, slow motion entry, multiple opportunities to lose his shirt and flaunt his body, and catchy songs to show off his dance moves. To be fair, his dancing is on point, and his acting is serviceable but nothing to crow about. The big question is, does he land as the star he’s being positioned as? The answer is no. His co-star Warina Hussain is pretty. And that’s about all one can say.
The blame for LoveYatri rests not with these young actors, but with its makers for setting them up to fail. Frankly even Salman Khan would have trouble making this script work today. I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five.
The only thing that works is the music, especially the Chogada song, which shows up all the way at the end of the film. By which time you’ve practically passed out in your seat.
Rating: 1.5 / 5