If you decide to watch Sunny Deol-Kangana Ranaut starrer I Love New Year (stylized as ‘I Love NY’), which in all likelihood you would not, do not enter the theater with any pre-conceived notions. Yes, the film has been delayed for a couple of years and it is definitely not the best Hindi rom-com that you are likely to come across, but it is not unwatchable. In fact, I Love New Year genuinely tries to be different from run-of-the-mill rom-coms and attempts to tell a unbelievable story through believable means. Most of the film’s pitfalls are inflicted by the cruel fact that lost time and momentum makes any product stale and mediocre. Adding salt to the injury is Kangana Ranaut’s decision to mostly disassociate herself from the film and Sunny Deol’s lack of enthusiasm in promoting what is one of his better performances in recent times. More on this later.
Sunny Deol plays Randhir Singh, an ageing and unmarried Punjabi (no prizes for guessing that), who lives in Chicago with his father (Prem Chopra). A day before the new year, Randhir has a drinking binge with his friends and is in the process transported to New York. In New York, Randhir mistakes Kittu Verma’s (Kangana Ranaut) flat as his own and there begins a series of confusions and misunderstandings that spill well into the upcoming new year.
The film’s story is reportedly based on a popular Russian rom-com. That scope of inspiration aside, the story does have merits of its own. The premise of a drunk ageing bachelor from Chicago landing up straight in the bedroom of a young, vibrant girl in New York is quite tempting. Love as a subject has been so thoroughly explored by all the filmmakers that any innovation in ‘how they actually meet and fall in love’ ends up exciting me. The setting of the story is simple and real with most of the action unfolding inside an apartment. The indoor setting, the smooth flow of one scene into another, quirky and smart dialogues, they all set up a nice little mood for the film.
However, the bright side of the story and screenplay mostly ends here. There’s is too much left to chance and destiny in the whole proceedings. The film’s climax is rather underwhelming and you wonder if the film could have ended good 15-20 minutes before. As the film has seen the light of day after being in cold storage for long, there are some tacky dubbing and visual patches. The climax looks incomplete and the overall film does bear the stain of having a somewhat stale look.
Let’s now talk about the performances. Kangana Ranaut did not want this film to be released. When you will watch I Love New Year, you will exactly know the reasons behind the film’s leading lady’s inhibitions. Miss Ranaut perhaps did not want the film to release because her acting looks very unpolished and poor. In fact, there are some scenes where Kangana makes you laugh unintentionally because of her funny accent and problematic dialogue delivery. It is clear that she has come a long way in these two years and her apprehension about the film was very much related to her own performance. However, I sincerely feel that once a film has been completed, it becomes the producer’s property and the actor has little or no right to try and stall its release. Moreover, no matter how bad you were in your skills in the past or how fine-tuned you are now, an artist must stand by his or her work all the time. Specially, when big money and livelihood of many is at stake.
Sunny Deol gets out of his comfort zone and tries his best to give a sincere and composed performance. His chemistry with Kangana does look a little odd, largely because of the 30-year age canyon that separates the two. Though, Deol does a fine job of the difficult task assigned to him, you end up wondering why would have the makers thought of casting him in this role? Did they want to go for an unusual pairing? Then, why not choose an older actress opposite Deol or a younger actor opposite Kangana? I mean all the good acting talent of Deol and Kangana aside, there are some close-up scenes where the two look like father and daughter! T-Series should fire their casting director (or have they done that by now?).
I Love New Year’s biggest plus is Pritam’s music. From the peppy Gudd Naal Ishq Mitha to sombre Judaai, the film’s soundtrack is soothing and melodious. In fact, you may want to hunt for the film’s songs and download them – a definite good addition to your playlist. The film’s production value, editing, dubbing and sound design aren’t great. That’s most likely because of the huge gap between production and release of the film.
Overall, you feel letdown by I Love New Year, not because it’s a disastrous film, but because it’s been handled disastrously. What could have been a light, little rom-com is eventually a half-baked embarrassment that does more harm than benefit to reputation of everyone involved. Watch it if you want to see how mediocre Kangana was as an actor just a couple of years ago or if you want to see a calm, caring Sunny Deol who still has some acting chops left in him.
Rating: ** (Average)