Movie Review: London Paris New York (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

The starting point for debutant writer-director Anu Menon’s London Paris New York (LPNY, henceforth) was undoubtedly the allure of setting a story in the three glamorous title cities; the plot and characters surely came second. But when the movie isn’t being a glorified travel show, interesting characters add spark to this edgy love story.

There’s a lot demanded of leads Nikhil (Ali Zafar) and Lalitha (Aditi Rao Hydari), who, after a chance meeting in London, utter almost every line of the film’s dialog. The young adults have in common the fact that they are both on their own for the first time, their overprotective parents having reluctantly agreed to let them attend college abroad. When Lalitha misses her connecting flight to New York, the strangers decide to spend the day exploring London together.

They have the types of conversations only had by movie characters (have you ever asked someone you just met, “So what do you want to do with your life?”), but form a genuine connection. Nikhil promises to come visit Lalitha in New York. When Nikhil tracks Lalitha down in Paris two years later, we learn that he didn’t keep his promise.

Nikhil starts out pushy and entitled but is humbled as the story progresses. I didn’t care for Zafar’s smarmy delivery in Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, which he toned down for LPNY. He’s strong in the dramatic scenes but at his best in lighter moments when he can flash his killer smile.

The best surprise of LPNY is Lalitha’s character. Unlike many female leads, who are really just vehicles for the emotional growth of the male main character, Lalitha is an equal partner for Nikhil. That means she’s equally responsible for the bad choices that drive the two apart.

Hydari strikes the right balance with Lalitha, a young woman of strong ideals but lacking some emotional maturity. Hydari’s best moment is when Lalitha turns a devastating realization into an opportunity for revenge, her coldness underscored by a deep hurt.

Zafar, who made his name as a rock star, wrote and performed all of the music for LPNY. The soundtrack is appropriately poppy for a film about young urbanites. The music features prominently during the three montages of the highlights of each city. Though I suppose it’s hard to avoid showing iconic sites like the London Eye and Times Square, the montages feel stale.

Even when it comes to the music, Hydari again steals the show. She bravely chose to sing her own parts on two songs, giving the numbers a more natural feel than when actors lip sync to voices not their own.

In the United States, LPNY has an MPAA rating of PG-13 due to references to sex and scenes of the characters drinking and smoking. LPNY is a bit grittier than a typical Bollywood rom-com, so it’s not appropriate for the whole family. But those old enough to appreciate it will be rewarded.

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8 thoughts on “Movie Review: London Paris New York (2012)

    1. Kathy Post author

      Hi, Keyur. Your review of Paan Singh Tomar has increased my interest in the film, which is showing at one theater in Chicago. My only concern is that, in the subtitled scenes I’ve seen on YouTube, words like “dacoit” and “baaghi” aren’t translated. Will the movie make sense to non-Hindi speakers like me? I’m considering waiting until Paan Singh Tomar is released on DVD so that I can pause it to look things up on the Internet while I watch it.

      Reply
      1. Keyur

        Hi Kathy,
        Good to know that my review increased your interest.

        I think it will be difficult for non-Hindi speakers to understand it without sub-titles. In fact, they have used such rural language that even some of the Hindi speakers over here are having problems.

        But still I would suggest you to watch it in theatre. Although you might not understand few un-subtitled words, I am very much sure you would understand where the film is moving.

        Cheers,

        Keyur

        Reply
        1. Kathy Post author

          Thanks for that insight, Keyur. It’s a good warning for people: don’t worry if you don’t understand everything in Paan Singh Tomar. Unfortunately, the local theater isn’t keeping it around for a second week, so I’ll have to wait for DVD after all.

          Reply
          1. Keyur

            Ohh ok. Yes, I just read in your latest post that PST earned very little in Chicago. So do watch it on DVD.

            And you most welcome 🙂

            Reply
  1. JustMeMike

    Hi Kathy – Thanks for this review. This film sounds a lot like Hum Tum (2004) which starred Rani Mukerji and Saif Ali Khan. They did three cities as well – Amsterdam, New York, and Paris. Anyway, based on your positive comments – I’d love to see it. I’m sure there’s no chance that it will play in Sarasota, FL – so I’ll wait for the DVD or the streaming version.

    A dacoit is a term for an armed bandit. The most famous dacoit was Phoolan Devi. There was a film made about her in 1994. It was called The Bandit Queen. I saw it and liked it.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Opening March 9: Kahaani and Chaar Din Ki Chandni « Access Bollywood

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