Many are the ways in which love stories can be told. Some - like Karan Johar - tell it with flourish, using extraordinary situations to tell a pretty ordinary tale and propping it up with generous jabs of melodrama, tear-shedding moments and, of course, many a musical crescendo to boot. Others - like Abbas Tyrewala - prefer the gentle thrum of a brewing romance to an out-and-out eruption of love. Jhootha Hi Sahi, Tyrewala’s second directorial attempt and his wife Pakhi’s first shot at scriptwriting and acting, is a pleasing drift from Bollywood staple. It’s like a lulling boat ride on the sleeping Thames, with A R Rahman’s lilting melodies warbling in the background.
John Abraham plays a bespectacled, bumbling geek Siddharth aka Sid, whose phone number is mistakenly printed on the brochure of a suicide helpline in London. Thanks to this mix-up, every night Sid is flooded with calls from guys waiting and wanting to jump from windows or pumping down a bottle of sleeping pills. Sid tries to dissuade them from doing so.
One night he gets a call from a girl Mishka (Pakhi) who’s on the verge of ending her life after a bitter break-up with boyfriend (Madhavan). Sid persuades her to hang on to life and slowly a friendship brews between the two.
Trouble begins when Sid lies about himself and tells her that he’s an adventurous guy who has scaled mountains, plumbed deep seas and what not, while in reality he’s only seen it on National Geographic, that too in half sleep.
The real Sid is a wimp, who stammers, and cowers into a corner when faced with Mishka. So, should he reveal his true identity to her? Or should he play the double role - one as a phone friend in whom Mishka confides and the other as the bumbling Sid whom she grudgingly likes - all this without letting her know that both are the same person?
Though overall a watchable film, Jhootha Hi Sahi keeps losing its grip repeatedly. John’s stammer, though well enacted, is overdone; so is the attempt to make Pakhi look glamorous and younger. But to her credit, even if she looks mature than John, Pakhi is comfortable under her skin and gives a fine performance for a debutante. For the first time, John comes up with a performance that merits a true praise. Playing the owner of a bookstore, who doesn’t feel much for his nominal girlfriend (Manasi Scott) and who’s ill at ease when face-to-face with any beautiful girl, John fits the role to a T.
Abbas Tyrewala leaves loose strands throughout the course of the story and ties them up by the end, connecting the dots and culminating the story in an all but predictable climax. What stands out, however, are the oddball characters in the film. There’re Sid’s Pakistani neighbours: his good friend Omar (Raghu Ram) and his pregnant sister Aliya (Alshika Varde) who keeps turning down her boyfriend Nick’s (George Young) marriage proposals for reasons never made clear. Or there’s Amit (Omar Khan) who’s a closet gay and has a crush on Uday (Prashant Chadda) a self confessed gay. And there’s Sid’s overbearing girlfriend Krutika (Manasi Scott) whom he doesn’t love.
What’s fun to watch is the repartee between this motley bunch of characters. The dialogues are crispy, with witty retorts. But some sequences in the film are clearly overwrought. The return of Pakhi’s ex boyfriend, his accident, and her sudden change of heart towards Sid doesn’t seem convincing. Also the finale could have been better conceived. When Pakhi is finally sure about what she wants, why on earth she sets a deadline? To make the hero gallop like a horse and leap across the parting Tower Bridge? Or was Tyrewala trying to kick the adventurer out of the wimp? Or was he simply trying to cobble together a loose end without himself being convinced of it?
Whatever! Watch Jhootha Hi Sahi only if you are in the mood for a gentle, slow, subdued love story.
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5