Movie Review: You Will Fall in Love with “London, Paris, New York”

Ali Zafar and Aditi Rao Hydari star in "London, Paris, New York". (Photo: Fox Star Studios)

Ali Zafar and Aditi Rao Hydari star in "London, Paris, New York". (Photo: Fox Star Studios)

Watch out Bollywood–with “London, Paris, New York”, Ali Zafar has achieved something no peer of his has yet: the triple threat. Actor, singer, songwriter, and lyricist (ok, make that a quadruple threat). Is there anything this man cannot do?

In a premise somewhat similar to “Hum Tum”, LPNY introduces us to two vastly different but equally effervescent individuals: Nikhil (Ali Zafar), a flirtatious, charming and free spirited man who has yet to discover who he is, and Lalitha (Aditi Rao Hydari), an optimistic feminist who knows exactly what she wants in life.

So how does the film work on so many different levels? First off, the aesthetic appeal is magnificent. Each location is shot sleekly and with enough care to bring out the real magic behind each city: London is youthful and whimsical; Paris is romantic and mysterious; and New York is charming and vibrant. One of the greatest strengths of the film is how first-time director Anu Menon incorporates each city as a third character in Nikhil and Lalitha’s story.

The story and the characters are the film’s biggest asset. Superficially, it may seem like a normal romantic comedy, trekking through three romantic cities and following two people destined to fall in love. But the undertones go far deeper and show an angst-ridden, coming of age story. LPNY encapsulates the issues plaguing our youth today–the trials and tribulations of finding yourself, finding love, heartbreak, and growing up.

The film is heavy on dialogue, but because it assists with the character development and is filled with wit and charm, one comes to appreciate the banter between the leads. Their conversations and issues are authentic and, above all, relatable. The songs are also catchy and fun. The lyrics, penned by Zafar himself, are perfectly complementary to the story’s progression.

The lead pair manages to carry the weight of the film on their shoulders, that too in the absence of supporting characters. Hydari is the perfect girl-next-door, equipped with doe-eyed innocence and a fear of any emotional vulnerability. She portrays her character with full conviction but enough authenticity to make the character seem real. Her rendition of “Woh Dekhne Mein” is endearing and sweet.

Zafar is perfect as the lost but bright artist with that boyish charm (and smile). His subtle nuances and gestures match those of a seasoned actor. Also, can we add that his buttery voice is just an added bonus? The chemistry between the lead pair is one that could rival the likes of your favorite veteran Bollywood couple. While most of the film is lighthearted and breezy, both actors do an incredible job of tackling the blaringly harsh realities of life in the serious scenes.  Zafar’s emotional revelation towards the end of the film should be indication enough that this man is in actor in every sense of the word.

What Menon has given us with LPNY is a perfect combination of Bollywood and realism. It does what other films pretend to do but fail to. It’s an age-old love story, sure–but it’s told in a refreshing and original way.

Verdict? If you are a fan of Bollywood soul but have more refined tastes when it comes to films, this is the perfect film for you. Modern and hip, but still able to touch your heart, LPNY guarantees that you will leave the theater with a huge smile on your face.

Saniya Tabani is a contributing writer to Divanee.com.