By Troy Ribeiro
Film: “Katti Batti”; Cast: Imran Khan, Kangana Ranaut, Vivan Bhatena, Manasvi Mamgai, Director: Nikhil Advani; Rating: *1/2
Imagine you are riding an unruly mare who trots tossing you about, and then after nearly two hour fifteen minutes of a tumultuous and awful ride, reaches you at your destination, safe and sound.
That is exactly what you would experience while watching Director Nikhil Advani’s “Katti Batti”.
On the face of it, “Katti Batti” is supposed to be a rom-com between a die-hard romantic and a commitment-phobic girl, at least that’s what the trailers promised. But what you get is a potpourri of emotional trajectories offered in a non-linear, confusing and obscure manner.
Narrated from Madhav Kabra (Imran Khan) aka Maddy’s point of view, the narration begins with an inexplicable, found footage technique revealing his live-in relationship with Payal Malhotra (Kangana Ranaut). And then we are suddenly thrown into the emergency ward of a hospital where the doctors and Maddy’s friends are trying to revive him after his alleged suicide attempt.
After Maddy is successfully revived, we learn that his drinking Phenyl was an accident. And what follows is Maddy’s pursuit to convince his ladylove to be friends with him once again. Their on-and-off relationship has now hit rock bottom after 5 years of living together.
Kangana and Imran make a lovely, volatile pair. Their on-screen chemistry is palpable.
On the performance front, the film is Imran Khan’s canvas. His is the only character that is well etched. With his look recollecting the charm of Dilton from Archie’s comics, Imran is honest, charming and expressively convincing. You like him when he woos his girlfriend, admire him when he sticks to his guns and hate him when he is boorish and callous.
On the other hand, Kangana Ranaut as Payal Malhotra who comes from a broken family, is an extension of the various roles you have seen Kangana perform in her earlier films.
She brings nothing new to the table, except for confidently carrying herself off with a plethora of outlandish wigs, in the staid role.
Of the supporting cast, Vivan Bhatena is wasted in a bland role as Payal’s ex-boyfriend, Ricky Ahuja. And Manavsi Mamgai as Devika, Maddy’s colleague is passable. But the two characters who really stand out with realistic performances are Maddy’s sister Koyel and his friend Vinay.
And with the director’s sense of infusing humour, the rest of the supporting cast like Varghese Bhai the estate agent, Mr. Ramalingam – Maddy’s south Indian boss, the paan chewing security guard at Payal’s house in Delhi and the salesman at Maddy’s school friend Tina’s shop, are forced caricatures, who are duds with their over-the-top histrionics.
The script written by director Nikhil Advani and Anshul Singhal has a convoluted screenplay riddled with forced humour and glaring plot holes which include underdeveloped characterisations.
For example, Payal is a complex character with perfunctory depth to carry the tale forward. With her family and back story missing, hers is a half-baked character that is cardboard thin.
Also the script is punctuated with songs that do not elevate the viewing experience. The numbers except for the last one are laborious and ear-sores. They explain the situation but neither do they take the story forward nor do they reveal anything new.
As for the direction of this film, like his previous film “Hero”, this one too, is carelessly mounted with conviction of formulaic Hindi masala films.
But what the director does not realise is that too much masala could spoil his film, at least for the audience.
Overall, the tragedy of “Katti Batti” lies in the fault of its director.