A film-set worker rebels against Bollywood tropes while trying to score with a fellow crewmember in Punit Malhotra’s “I Hate Luv Storys.” Featuring up-and-comers Imran Khan and Sonam Kapoor, this amusing celebration-cum-parody of Hindi romantic-comedy classics plays to local auds’ familiarity with such titles; references may go unnoticed by nonresident Indian audiences, but the situations will resonate with fans from Hollywood to Hong Kong. Pic has done robust biz since early July, loving up more than $8 million worldwide.
Disdainful Jay (Khan) is a member of the crew working with celebrated Bollywood director Veer (Samir Soni) on his latest film. As per the title, Jay loathes romantic comedies but watches one of Veer’s films to familiarize himself with the director’s work. By chance, Jay sits next to stunning genre devotee Simran (Kapoor), and a standard hate-at-first-sight meet-cute ensues.
The next morning, Jay is transferred to Veer’s art department, only to find that Simran is his new taskmaster; he makes a play for her, which she frostily rejects. After multiple misunderstandings and pratfalls, the pair’s working relationship settles into a friendship so smooth that Simran considers taking it further.
First-time helmer Malhotra lets his film slide a bit too far into meller mode, although several wry, witty references to other Hindi films (with a particular emphasis on 1995’s perennial hit “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”) help maintain a light tone, as does Khan’s endearing perf as the cocky, cynical Jay. Kapoor, however, never really convinces as the ice queen who has a change of heart. Supports roles are well cast, with Sammir Dattani repping a handsome variation on the standard romantic-comedy Ralph Bellamy role.
Title song is dynamically presented in a well-mounted beachside rave number. Sampling from Bollywood classics, Malhotra overuses the catchy tune “Maahi Ve,” lifted from 2003’s “Kal Ho Naa Ho” (which he worked on as an assistant director). Production values are glossy and easy on the eye.