LoveYatri is a journey to the death of cinema

We all are aware of the moolah that gets pumped into the launch pads of some star sons and daughters, and, so, the so-called well-argued defence that Bollywood biggies offer on the nepotism debate has always sounded rather weak. Despite many of them being untalented, we have to put up with them simply because they have a famous parent or relative help push them through the door.

Pitted against this week’s other release, the racy thriller AndhaDhun, the Abhiraj K Minawala directed film Loveyatri gets released after an Ahmedabad-based outfit moved the Gujarat High Court seeking a ridiculous ban on its original title, Loveratri, claiming that its title and contents hurt the sentiments of Hindus.

Does it help to change the title? Despite all the calculated buzz, that this Salman Khan and his family produced romantic drama would get viewers to trot out to see it over the weekend sounds like wishful thinking. Instead of letting the film quietly slip into the theatres, the entire Khan-daan has been promoting son-in-law Sharma and the film nationwide. The only saving grace, if it can be called one, is the pretty debutante lead actress Warina Hussain. Other than her, Loveyatri is unapologetically sappy, with its old-school designed humility providing no relief or charm.

Set against the backdrop of Navratri in Vadodara, the film has Sushrut (Aayush Sharma) – fondly called Susu by his family and friends – as a garba dance teacher, who has no interest in classroom studies. When the London-based Manisha/Michelle shows up in his city during the nine-day festival, Susu sets his eyes on her and is floored. She, too, looks drawn towards him, much to her father, Sameer Patel’s (Ronit Roy) annoyance. After all, she is someone who has set her sights on UK’s most prestigious B-school that comes with a hefty pay-package of 85,000-pound-a-year.

The rest of the 139-minute film is so predictable that one could walk out midway and still get the drift: a fleeting shared moment between the boy and girl during the garba dance moments; a spin on his scooty round the city; one missed opportunity; two loyal friends Pratik Gandhi and Sajeel Parakh, and a maternal uncle Rasik (Ram Kapoor) chipping in with their help and support and the mandatory misunderstanding that leads to decisions that send their lives in completely different directions. Obviously, as each navigates the complexities of life, love, and everything in between, they always find their way back to each other. Loveyatri is one of those annoying movies in which everything would be just fine if the two central characters had a simple conversation that cleared up all their misunderstandings. But then, there would be no film – although, in retrospect, that might not be such a bad thing. In the absence of any logic, we get contrivances and coincidences and near-misses. The cosmic confluence of events, which takes place over a year before another Navyatri, is meant to be smooth but is actually more irritating than anything else. Towards the climax, Loveyatri takes a detour into becoming downright stupid. The rich owner of a laundry chain, Sameer decides to teach Susu a lesson, when Susu lands up in London as part of a dance troupe run by Rasik. Susu is falsely implicated by Sameer in an attempt to kill Sameer and is put behind bars. As two India-born British cops ostensibly try to interrogate Susu, he discovers that the two (Sohail Khan and Arbaaz Khan) happened to be Gujjus too.  What follows next is too silly to even comment on, as life drains out of the movie.

With all the possible clichés amid unmoving performances, Loveyatri takes such pains to dodge boredom it forgets to put anything in its place. One can only regret on behalf of Salman Khan and family that their debutant relative was not so fortunate!

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