Pyaar Impossible! -- Film Review



NEW YORK -- The phrase "Don't do business with relatives" doesn't mean much in Bollywood, where generations of scions follow in family footsteps to create filmmaking dynasties. Even so, that doesn't mean you give Paris Hilton her own hotel to run.

Uday Chopra -- actor and son of major Indian producer/filmmaker Yash Chopra and younger brother of the successful Aditya Chopra (producer-writer-director of the 2008 hit "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi," among others) -- spends a lot of time helping out around the family studio, doing executive producing here, assistant directing there. And while letting him write, produce and star in his own romantic comedy must have seemed like a nice birthday present, it's no gift to audiences. Despite a few cute moments, the beauty-and-the-geek tale "Pyaar Impossible!," set against the backdrop of computer software and corporate theft, is a vanity project that shows that while love may or may not be impossible, nepotism is eternal. Boxoffice prospects look dim.

We'll give Chopra points for at least not directing it himself, and for having a good eye for talent in choosing Jugal Hansraj to do so, even though Hansraj's only previous credit was the animated flop "Roadside Romeo." Whatever this film's faults, they don't stem from Hansraj's hand.

He keeps both romantic complications and corporate shenanigans moving along at a good, grounded clip, and his experience as a former child actor probably helped wickedly precocious newcomer Advika Yadav, who as a 6-year-old romantic mastermind steals her scenes with conviction.

Not that that's enough to save this well-meant effort. Ahbay Sharma (Chopra) is a computer geek who, in college, saved beautiful co-ed Alisha (Priyanka Chopra, no relation) from drowning. Seven years later, he still carries a torch for her, but she never got a good look at him.

When con artist Varun Sanghvi (Dino Morea) steals the code for the groundbreaking software Ahbay has developed, Ahbay tracks him to Singapore where Sanghvi's selling the purloined program to a company whose marketing head is, surprise, Alisha, now single mom to Tania (Yadav). Through a mix-up, Ahbay becomes the nanny, the latest in a line whom Tania's terrorized. But after a rocky start, Tania sees that Ahbay loves her mom, and the kid's plans eventually lead to an adorable musical number (one of three in the film proper) that clues Alisha in to Ahbay's identity.

Bollywood romantic comedies, to their credit, construct romantic obstacles that feel more organic than the almost defiantly contrived ones often found stateside. As in "I Love Lucy," they make the preposterous palatable. Nothing, however, can do that for Uday Chopra, who wears only about two expressions and who, in his way-too-many close-ups, looks uncannily like the late-period Michael Jackson -- which somehow adds to his inadvertent creepiness. The painfully charmless Chopra is unconvincing as either a computer geek or even a geek at all.

Opened: Jan. 8 (Yash Raj Films)
Production company: Yash Raj Films
Cast: Uday Chopra, Priyanka Chopra, Advika Yadav, Dino Morea, Anupam Kher, Rahul Vohra
Director: Jugal Hansraj
Screenwriter: Uday Chopra
Producer: Uday Chopra
Executive producer: Aashish Singh
Director of photography: Santosh Thundiyil
Production designer: Tanushree Sarkar
Music: Salim Merchant and Sulaiman Merchant (as Salim-Sulaiman)
Lyrics: Anvita Dutt Guptan
Editor: Amitabh Shukla
Sound: Indrajit Neogi
Choreographer: Ahmed Khan
Costumes: Manish Malhotra, Shiraz Siddique, Soniya Tommy
No rating, 130 minutes