Billed as Bollywood’s Showman, helmer Subhash Ghai has recently served up a string of flops, with the January release “Kisna — The Warrior Poet” no exception. Now in an international edition, cut down from three hours and re-named “Kisna — Beyond Love,” this version plays like a dime-store novel with cringe-worthy dialogue only rarely interrupted by enjoyable musical numbers. Tepid romance, told in flashback as if channeling Gloria Stuart in “Titanic,” features a mix of Indian and English actors, but crossover chances, a la “Lagaan,” are nil.
At a press conference, Lady Katherine (Polly Adams) harks back to 1947 and the heady days of India’s independence movement, when she (Antonia Bernath) fell for the stableman’s son Kisna (Vivek Oberoi). A paint box of colors can’t disguise the inept English script, or the perfunctory helming. In his last role, the late Amrish Puri, as Kisna’s vengeful uncle, chews up the scenery, though not as badly as Michael Maloney’s stereotyped British officer. Bernath (Priscilla Presley in the miniseries “Elvis”) is surprisingly incompetent, while only Oberoi escapes with his boyish charm relatively intact. Sushmita Sen, in a fun dance number, temporarily livens things up.