Film Review: Love Story 2050

BOTTOM LINE: Futuristic sci-fi thriller dazzles with VFX, leaving its much-hyped debutant star in the shadows.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Whenever a Bollywood VIP announces the acting debut of his son or daughter, cynics roll their eyes, but remain curious since the occasional supernova, such as Hrithik Roshan, has been known to emerge from this still-powerful star system. So amid a flurry of promotional appearances and product endorsements, director Harry Baweja has launched his 27-year-old son, Harman Baweja, a pretty but otherwise dull young man in "Love Story 2050," India's first big-budget sci-fi spectacular. Despite an aggressive marketing push, the film has sputtered at the boxoffice.

A reported $11 million -- one of the year's biggest budgets for an Indian film -- has been spent on the film and on the visuals orchestrated by Oscar-winning studios such as Weta Workshop in New Zealand ("The Lord of the Rings" trilogy).

The first half of the film follows a pedestrian romance between Karan (Baweja) and Sana (former Miss World Priyanka Chopra), who stumble upon a time machine owned by Karan's genius uncle (the dependably whimsical Boman Irani, in a curly white wig).

The film shines in its second half, which is set in a glittering, colorful Mumbai of the future, a Shanghai-esque vision with an unmistakably Indian touch such as a snake charmer with his robotic snake, a holographic housekeeper decked out in a sari who namastes her virtual greeting, and grandly funky musical numbers which play out from a huge, brightly lit stage floating 40 stories above the shining city.

But Baweja finds himself outclassed and upstaged by Chopra's delicacy and dynamism at every turn. Indeed it's an effort to pay attention to him when she -- and the special effects -- are on screen.

Opened: July 4 (Adlabs)

Cast: Harman Baweja, Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani, Archana Puran Singh, Harsh Vasisht. Director: Harry Baweja. Screenwriters: Harry Baweja, Rowena Baweja, Harman Baweja. Executive producer: Pammi Baweja. Director of photography: Vijay Arora. Production designer: Umang Kumar. Music: Anu Malik, Monty Sharma. Costume designers: Pooja Sarin, Theia Bomanbehram Editor: Hemal Kothari.

No rating. 138 minutes.