Spare a thought for Preity Zinta. As if it wasn't bad enough that bubbliness is not equal to a pout that looks vaguely siliconic, even Air India flights aren't giving her bhao and the press is taking her to task for the sound bytes she's been giving ever since spot-fixing in the IPL went from general gossip to confirmed fact.
For most of her career in Bollywood, Zinta has had the reputation of being smart, sensible, funny and no-nonsense. Consequently, when she suggested polygraph tests be administered on those accused of spot-fixing (has she not watched White Collar or Homeland? Those polygraph tests are very unreliable) and put forward the theory that India is a nation of "scamsters" because "this is in our blood", it took us by surprise. Surely the Preity Zinta we've known and adored was smarter and funnier than this?
Today, however, the reason Zinta has been behaving so oddly can finally be revealed: the actress still hasn't snapped out of the role she played in Ishkq in Paris, a film she's produced and co-written.
In Ishkq in Paris, Zinta plays Ishkq Elise, whose mother is Marie (Isabelle Adjani). From her unnatural chirpiness, we may deduce that Ishkq is a bimbette teenager trapped in a 38-year-old's body. It's either that or she's suffering from the trauma of looking at the Cubist sculpture that is Isabelle Adjani's botox-and-plastic-surgery-devastated face and realising she could look like that one day. The horror, the horror.
Whatever the underlying reason, Ishkq is an odd bird. It seems she doesn't know how to walk. She either skips (when she's happy) or shuffles (when she's sad). Her mood changes quicker than the weather, but her facial expressions stay much the same (give or take a glycerine-induced tear). When she wants a shift in the course of conversation, she hollers "Topic change!" but doesn't actually change the topic. She's commitment shy and pretends to be "psycho" when the craziest thing she does in the movie is go looking for dinner at midnight in Paris. As anyone who has been to Paris will tell you, that's no time for din-din.
Then again, the Paris in Ishkq in Paris isn't precisely the city of love that the French tourism board keeps telling us to visit. For one thing, a lot of it looks like Prague. Sure, it has the Eiffel Tower, but many of those streets and buildings are distinctly un-French in terms of their architecture. Most importantly, if you can find me a Parisian home that has a black woman dressed in a French maid outfit opening the door for you, I'll swear off macarons for a week.
Ishkq in Paris begins as Zinta's attempt at Indianising Before Sunrise. Ishkq (Zinta) meets Akash (Gaurav Chanana) who suggests she spend one night showing him the sights and sounds of Paris. After 24 hours, they're going to go their separate ways and never see each other again. What follows is one of the most inept attempts by mankind to hit on a woman and convince her to sleep with him. It is no surprise Akash doesn't get any, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Here are some tips from Ishkq and Akash's guide to Paris by night:
1. Clubs in Paris have can can dancers. Because it's the city of Moulin Rouge. Duh!
2. There are places in Paris called Montmarte and Park.
3. Belly dancers are psychics.
4. Lots of people in Paris know Hindi, including faded movie stars and belly dancers.
5. Chunky Pandey is now a belly-button baring street performer in Paris.
After their one night of fun fun fun, Akash goes back to London but he can't forget Ishkq. Instead of trying to get in touch with her and saying hello, he does what most Indian men would do: he stalks her on Facebook. Then, when he is invited to a wedding in Paris, it's the perfect opportunity to meet Ishkq again, abandon his job in London and canoodle with her. Like all love stories, this one too has a twist. When Akash tells Ishkq he loves her, the commitment-shy Ishkq tells him she wants no part of this relationship business. In response, Akash is cruelly nasty to Ishkq and when Ishkq's mother (Adjani) tries to act as peacemaker, Akash behaves like an obnoxious brat and tells her that he disapproves of the older woman's life choices.
Of course everything ends happily ever after for Ishkq and Akash. Not just that, Ishkq even has a Digjam moment when she meets her long-lost father, Shekhar Kapur. And Adjani puts on a salwar kameez and bangles, dances and even manages to force a smile out of her rigid muscles.
The above are mere glimpses of the assaults on logic and sensibility that one has to suffer just from watching Ishkq in Paris. Imagine writing, acting and producing the movie -- it appears one of the things Zinta scrimped on was the wardrobe budget since all her skirts in the film were clearly bought from the kids' section -- and you've got to admit, Zinta's suffered a lot. No wonder she's stopped making sense.