The Bhatt (Mahesh and Mukesh) stable isn’t known to produce wispy, vanilla films about good women and bad men. Gangster, Murder, Jannat—in these films, unmarried couples live together, the woman is often a wreck and an alcoholic, the hero is often a killer or a bookie. Not reason enough to make them good films, but I always look forward to a film produced by Mahesh Bhatt. In his prime, Bhatt made films that shattered all existing moral perimeters in Hindi films, inciting censors and audiences alike—a kind of sensibility needed in our movies.

Run of the mill: The city of Mumbai gets drowned in the deluge of clichés churned out by the Bhatts.

For the past few years, however, his banner Vishesh Films has just been a factory, churning these out over and over again. All the films have the same kind of music, the same kind of relationships, the same heartbreak and violence, and Emraan Hashmi’s kisses. It’s a formula that worked some years ago, and Bhatt and his men are yet to break out of that mould. The latest, Tum Mile, directed by Kunal Deshmukh (who also directed Jannat), is another jab at that formula.

It is an ordinary love story. Akshay (Hashmi), a struggling artist, falls in love with Sanjana (Soha Ali Khan), the daughter of a rich man who doesn’t have any time for her. She is a magazine editor, in a loveless relationship with a man who works with her father. Akshay and Sanjana fall madly in love and move in together as songs loop in and out in the background. The title song is hummable, and in sound and meter, exactly like other former hit songs from Vishesh Films—soppy lyrics about passionate love, laced with snappy electronic beats.

It’s when Akshay goes through a particularly bad phase and is virtually penniless that egos come into play. After much deliberation and hysterical show-downs with his professionally successful girlfriend, he settles for a mundane, money-making job. The magic wears off and the couple drifts apart. Till then, the story is believable, even largely convincing.

The souring relationship is intercut—and the film begins with—the subplot: the Mumbai deluge of 26 July 2005. Long after Akshay and Sanjana have broken up, they board the same flight from London to Mumbai. Upon arriving, they become two of the countless Mumbaikars trapped on the city’s flooded streets. Akshay goes in search of his long lost girlfriend who he last saw at the airport, getting into a car. And no big surprise here—he finds her. But will they mend past mistakes, reconnect and reunite?

The Mumbai deluge is in the consciousness of the city. Every Mumbai person and those who were visiting the city that day have a story. To use it as the backdrop for a love story is a clever dramatic device. But to make it just that is insensitive and infantile. The director portrays the catastrophe in such a way that it could have been happening in any other city. Mumbai is invisible in the film, and if anything, comes across as a menacing city, drowning thousands of humans.

Hashmi’s performance is no different from his earlier ones: He has a few staple expressions. Khan, who showed promise in Sudhir Mishra’s Khoya Khoya Chand, is painfully laboured in some scenes. Towards the end, their tears and dialogues bored me, and made me ask: So what if they still love each other?

Through it all, the writer of the film tries to answer some philosophical questions, such as the meaning of art and how it is antithetical to money. The answers are trite, and as shallow as the entire narrative.

Watch Tum Mile, if you have to, only for the first 1 hour, when the relationship is real, has some great moments, and rings true.

Tum Mile released in theatres on Friday.


Deep Impact

Doomsday: John Cusack at the 2012 premiere in LA this month.

Director Roland Emmerich’s latest doomsday drama, ‘2012’, starring John Cusak, is strictly for those who were swept away by his earlier films: ‘Godzilla’ and ‘Independence Day’. It begins with the misapprehension that according to the Mayan calendar, 2012 will mark the end of the world. Emmerich takes this bit of unscientific forecast and makes a movie of enormous scale and mind-boggling special effects. Solar flares, earth-heating neutrinos and shipwrecks fill up this long film.

2012 released in theatres on Friday.