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I Hate Luv Storys -- Film Review

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EMERYVILLE, Calif. -- Who knows the formula of a perfect love story better than the technicians who put them together every day?

The romantic comedy "I Hate Luv Storys," which takes place on the sets of a Bollywood musical, revolves around a cynical assistant director, Jay (Imran Khan), and a moony, sentimental set designer, Simran (Sonam Kapoor of "Saawariya"), at odds over the meaning of love and whether it's even necessary.

The considerable charm of its two leads, plus the allure of heartthrob Khan, bode well for the film at the boxoffice.

Khan plays Jay with an irresistible insouciance. An aspiring young filmmaker, Jay is happy to get a shot at working on a big-budget movie, but he is nauseated by the "filmi" cliches that make up the typical Bollywood spectacular: the farewell scene at the train station -- "If she turns around, that means she loves me," muses the hero -- the ubiquitous rain scene and the love song performed atop a snow-capped New Zealand mountain.

Simran, on the other hand, thinks Indian movie romance is a fine art -- and it's to Kapoor's credit that this graceful actress conveys a core intelligence despite Simran's willingness to wholeheartedly embrace the fantasy.

"Luv Storys" is packed with tongue-in-cheek references to such memorable Hindi films as "Dil Chahta Hai" and "Devdas" while poking gentle fun at the romantic classics produced or directed under "Luv Storys' " own banner, Dharma Prods.: "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge," "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham," "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna" and "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai." Viewers familiar with Hindi films will find much to appreciate.

But the film breezily ignores one of the most significant cliches of Bollywood -- nepotism -- which seems particularly ironic because the film's director (debutant Punit Malhotra, nephew of costumer designer Manish Malhotra), Khan ( nephew of actor-director Aamir Khan) and Kapoor ( daughter of Anil Kapoor) have all gotten a lucky break.

But nepotism can only go so far, and Malhotra, Khan and Kapoor are naturally talented enough to deliver the goods. In one witty fantasy sequence, violins play in the background as the dashing Khan and radiant Kapoor -- in a chiffon sari, of course -- profess their love, proving that these two can swoon on a mountaintop with the best of them.

Opened: Wednesday, June 30 (UTV Motion Pictures)
Cast: Imran Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Sammir Dattani, Samir Soni, Kavin Dave, Khusboo Shroff, Bruna Abdullah, Ketki Dave, Anju Mahendru, Shireesh Sharma, Aseem Tiwari
Director-screenwriter: Punit Malhotra
Producers: Hiroo Yash Johar , Karan Johar, Ronnie Screwvala Executive producer: Marijke deSouza
Director of photography: Ayananka Bose
Production designer: Amrita Mahal Nakai
Songs: Vishal-Shekhar
Background score: Salim-Sulaiman
Costume designer: Manish Malhotra
Editor: Akiv Ali
Choreography: Bosco-Caesar
No rating, 135 minutes