Love is a grave matter in "Lucky - No Time For Love". A lot of the romance between 40-year-old Salman Khan and 19-year-old Sneha Ullal takes place in a Russian graveyard as riots break out all over a city.
Riot on! Gabriel Gracia Marquez got there first in "Love During The Time Of Cholera". Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru's sweet but finally unproductive concoction is a let down.
Sure, the film looks good with Sudeep Chatterjee's cinematography capturing a sweeping arch of violence over the snow-capped landscape.
It even sounds good. But it has no heart. It pretends hard, but finally ends up being as inspiring as a Valentine's Day card bought from a posh departmental store.
There's a skin-deep aesthetic appeal to the presentation, contoured and accentuated by Adnan Sami's dreamy songs and Monty's background music. But the film is finally felled by its own wispiness.
Efforts to imbue an epic grandeur to the romance - especially towards the end with sequences of a snow-stormed train taking away truckloads of migrants that almost mimics Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List" - fail for the lack of a grounded premise.
The plot should have been about a schoolgirl's crush on an older man. It should have been akin to Hrishikesh Mukherjee's "Guddi". Instead, it goes into the echoes of Yash Chopra's "Lamhe" where a girl old enough to be a daughter woos and finally wins the middle-aged hero.
With Salman Khan looking 35-plus and the girl heart breakingly vulnerable and callow, the film chooses to turn the initial crush into a passionate man-woman affair.
The premise of a schoolgirl falling in love with an old man escorting her through a troubled hinterland is exciting. But that the man should reciprocate her feelings is a bit hard to digest.
Beautifully mounted, but vacuous at heart, "Lucky..." is one of those could-have-been films that stops short before the journey gathers momentum.
Milap Jhaveri's dialogues depend more on Salman Khan's cocky image than the inherent romantic overtures of the theme.
"If I eat any more I'd end up like Adnan Sami," quips Khan. And when in the graveyard the schoolgirl lisps, "I'm not that type of a girl," Khan guffaws, "I've heard that line before".
Trouble is, all the lines and emotions associated with Salman Khan's romantic image here are transposed into a gawky alliance with a girl who doesn't know any better, and a man who should.
"Lucky..." simply lets the man and the woman trudge though snow and fluff until we feel enough is enough.
Mithun Chakravarty's prolonged efforts to play a cop and charlatan with a penchant for mouthing cinematic cliches falls short of expectations. The rest of the cast is marginalized by ill-written roles.
"Lucky..." isn't without assets.
It wears a polished look and exudes a glittering grandiosity. The song "Shayad Yehi To Pyar Hai" lends music to the film's soul. But it comes too late.