|It's ishq. And it's so dangerous it needs a second h.|
It's a little tough to get a bead on Dangerous Ishhq while watching it. Cinematically, it's slickly put together, and while its narrative flies around all over the place laughing its ass off at anyone trying to make rational sense of things it does so agreeably and makes a lot more linear sense afterward (an “okay, we know this was nuts, but this is how we got to this ridonkulous point” montage at the climax helps a lot) than one ever would have dreamed twenty minutes earlier. This is why, even though it has moments and indeed whole sections of being a very bad movie, Dangerous Ishhq ends up being a perfectly acceptable, utterly shameless entertainment by the time the credits roll.
Karisma Kapoor (of the Kapoors), in her comeback role after several years away from movies, stars as highly successful model Sanjana, whose romance with industrialist's son Rohan (Rajneesh Duggal) is not only highly photogenic but very much the real deal. After a very whispery, gauzy bit of romantic business, dudes in masks break into Rohan's beach house with guns and kidnap him; they throw Sanjana against a wall and she cracks her head, falling unconscious.
When she wakes up in the hospital, Sanjana begins having what appear to be vivid hallucinations. On the advice of her friend Nettu (Diyya Dutta), Sanjana goes to a shrink, who tells her nope, it ain't hallucinations . . . SHE'S SEEING THINGS FROM PAST LIVES! When I say “Re,” you say “Incar-fucking-nation,” y'all. Look, you have to understand, this may read like I'm making fun, or like I'm being culturally patronizing, but I swear this comes from a wholly innocent, good place: whenever an Indian movie features reincarnation as a plot point, I throw my fists in the air like the Knicks just scored the winning basket in the NBA Finals. I fucking love reincarnation movies. I liked the reincarnation twist in Om Shanti Om even more than I liked the joke about Abhishek not even being in Dhoom 5, and that was a good joke. (Ed. Note: for non-Bollywood initiates, even though Abhishek Bachchan is the cop good guy in the Dhoom movies, he was way overshadowed by antiheroes John Abraham and Hrithik Roshan, respectively, in the first two, and in the forthcoming Dhoom 3, the antihero “bad” guy is going to be played by Aamir Khan, aka the one of the three Khans who's so awesome no one ever snarks at him like SRK and Sallu-bhai. Oh, also, Hrithik Roshan got to tongue-kiss Abhishek's real-life wife in the second movie, and it was a wicked hawt kiss too. There, aren't jokes better when you explain them?)
That parenthetical actually serves a critical point in discussing Dangerous Ishhq: the movie goes off on tangents just like that one, with little as apparently to do with the movie at large as that bit of snickering at Abhishek Bachchan has apparently to do with this review. But, just like Abhishek was briefly engaged to Karisma Kapoor—fuck yeah, interconnectedness of all things—all these reincarnation shenanigans actually have a bearing on the kidnapping case in the present day. When Sanjana brings her incarnation-derived insights in the case to lead detective ACP Singh (Jimmy Shergill, who owns) at first he's like “yeah, right” but he tries out a bit of intel that Sanjana derived poetically from her past-life regression and finds out it's real, he's like, huh, fancy that.
Completely aside from not wanting to spoil the plot, I'll stop thereabouts because if I told you what happens in the rest of the movie, you wouldn't believe it. Suffice to say, Karisma Kapoor gets to wear a lot of cool clothes, Jimmy Shergill fucks shit up left and right, and while nothing that happens makes a lick of sense, an audience able to find something sturdy enough to suspend their disbelief with should have an okay time. It's a nice-looking picture with pretty actors and a couple not-half-bad songs.
One thing that can't be alibi-ed away, though, is Karisma Kapoor's performance. It's not that she's bad for the whole picture, but her performance is all over the place, and she seems like she's asleep for most of the present-day stuff. It doesn't help that the character is written as kind of a dingbat, but Lolo's huge unblinking, expressionless eyes don't convey a ton. I feel bad, because she's one of those actors you want to be good, but she ain't too great with nuance. The big emotional stuff, she's better at; this is why, as shit gets crazier and crazier in the second half her performance improves a bit, and she has a lot of supporting help. Like Jimmy Shergill. Holy shit that guy rocks.
So, yeah, Dangerous Ishhq: the extra “h” in “ishq” is for “Hwhat the fuck?” but mostly in a good way. No idea how it'll play with mass audiences, but it'd be nice for Karisma Kapoor to have a hit, just because.