Fifteen years ago, Preity Zinta made a grand entry into cinema, with Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se. In the limited time accorded to her, she managed to ruin the simple Bharatanatyam-based moves she had to do, and made us feel relieved when the gloomy Manisha Koirala came back into Shah Rukh Khan’s life because who wants to listen to yap-yap-yap 24/7? It appears Zinta hasn’t learned a single lesson in the decade and a half since she first appeared, doing something like aerobics in Jiya Jale. She hasn’t learned to dance, and she hasn’t learned that it isn’t cute when a grown woman – or when anyone, really – makes big eyes and exaggerated faces and yap-yap-yaps. Especially when her name is Ishkq.
Acclaimed actress Isabelle Adjani makes her Bollywood debut through this generic reproduction of Before Sunrise. She plays narrator, as she writes the script of the love story of Ishkq and Akash (Rhehan Malliek). The light-eyed Akash falls for Ishkq’s backside on a train, and leers in Hindi. Ishkq falls for his leering. Because this half-French girl, raised in France by a French mother, speaks Hindi like a desi, and French like a desi who has gone to Alliance Française for two months and got a certificate.
They decide to spend a night together, after some half-hearted protest from Ishkq (“Indian ho. Indian hi raho. Don’t be so French, okay?”), but there will be no sex. Unless the die demands it. Oh, yes, these two prove how stupid they are by paying 10 euros for a die they could have made themselves. The six faces of the die, which is sold to them by Chunky Pandey in a cameo, read Party, Drink, Sex, Coffee, Movie and Dinner. Indian style, they do everything on the first date, except have sex. Apparently, the die is Indian too. Which is a good thing, because they have already decided never to meet again, since they are both commitment-phobic, hate weddings and hate love. What do you know, they’re both children of divorced parents, confessions they make to each other when they’re drunk.
The tepidity of the love story is made worse by the lack of conviction that the actors bring to their characters. Rhehan Malliek is bearable when he looks distant and austere because he has the face for it. When he begins to get cute and flirtatious, he loses all the charm green eyes and thin lips can lend to a man. And Preity Zinta, in her comeback role, is simply irritating as she tries to fit her 40-year-old face into the expressions of a teenager.
The climax of the film, which hinges on Akash becoming a lowlife scumbag who throws insults at the purported love of his life to goad her into epiphany, makes us give up on this – to hell with it, these two idiots do deserve each other. The only thing about the film that makes sense is that it was scripted and produced by Preity Zinta.
The Verdict: Ishkq in Paris is an insult to cinema, Paris, love and Isabelle Adjani.