A version of this review appeared in The Age, July 7, 2010.
By the standards of Hindi cinema, Jay Dhinga (Imran Khan) is an unrepentant bad boy. He drinks on weekdays, he chases girls and refuses to settle down – he even owns a T-shirt with the slogan “BOLLYWOOD SUCKS”. Moreover, he hates love stories. Which is a problem, because he happens to be the hero of one.
Jay's opposite number is the starry-eyed Simran Sharma (Sonam Kapoor) who believes she has found true love with her childhood sweetheart Raj (Sammir Dattani). Like Jay, Simran works behind the scenes of the movie business – a setting that allows the first-time writer-director Punit Malhotra to show off his expertise by weaving in frequent jokey references to famous Bollywood actors and love scenes.
To underline the point, Jay's best friend (Kavin Dave) ticks off the cliches of the romantic comedy – the fights, the drunk scenes, the sprints to the airport – much as Jamie Kennedy once expounded on the rules of the slasher genre in Scream (1996). Even the casting has an “inside” flavour: the leads are related, respectively, to two of the biggest names in Bollywood cinema, Aamir Khan and Anil Kapoor.
Pure fairy-floss (or the Indian equivalent) I Hate Luv Storys is heavily self-conscious without being even slightly ironic; all the expected emotions arrive right on cue. Criticising the film feels like kicking a puppy, but I admit to finding Khan's clowning more irritating than adorable – and I have no idea why half the second act takes place in New Zealand, unless it's a joke about the Bollywood fetish for foreign travel.