There are some films that win because of their plot, and there are others that win because of the characters. Personally, I prefer the second batch – and fortunately, London, Paris, New York fits right into this category. The plot may be something you’ve heard of before; it’s reminiscent of Before Sunrise/Sunset, One Day, and even our very own, Hum Tum. But what should put London, Paris, New York on your to-watch list, is the characters, and the charm with which the lead pair, play them.
Nikhil, played by Ali Zafar, and Lalitha, played by Aditi Rao Hydari, are two youngsters of contrasting natures – he’s the mildly spoiled brat, son of a rich film producer & she’s the middle-class girl, who prefers to pack her aachar from India, despite its availability in New York, because she’d be paying in rupees rather than dollars. The story spans one day, each character spent in three cities – London, Paris, and New York, and with each city, we see notable progression in the characters, while essential parts of their personalities are still retained.
The plot has its weak moments; it borders on dull at certain moments, but somehow pulls you back before it goes into the realm of boring. The pace of the script is lackluster at points, and there are things that don’t seem to fit entirely – there is one particular scene in Paris where Lalitha lashes out, and I’ve still not understood why entirely. But you tend not to mind these things too much, because overall, the film manages to keep your attention, and you grow to care enough about the characters, to want to see where they end up.
Performances by the lead pair are fantastic. Ali Zafar, who I did not care for in Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, is adorable and likable in this role. He plays it very well, though at times he does seem to go over-the-top (the way he did in MBKD). That mild complaint aside, he fits the character like a glove, and especially shines in an important scene towards the end. Aditi Rao Hydari is a revelation in this film; she was barely memorable in Delhi-6 and Rockstar, but in this one, she ensures you won’t forget her anytime soon. Her character probably goes through more transitions than Ali’s, and she carries it all off very well. But as good as Ali and Aditi are separately, it’s just how well they work together that makes this film work.
In her debut directorial venture, Anu Menon shows that she has a fresh voice that will appeal specifically to the youth. She and Ritu Bhatia have written dialogues that are fun, refreshing and, most importantly, extremely relatable. Particularly the scene where Nikhi and Lalitha meet for the first time – their interaction doesn’t seem contrived at all, which can only be a huge plus. The song-and-dance sequences do seem contrived though; I wish they were done away with it (I’m not a huge fan of the soundtrack anyway, barring the title song and Voh Dekhne Main).