Roy is full of so much talking and so little action that it should have been an audiobook instead of a movie. Then again, with such dull dialogue, who would listen to it?
Arjun Rampal plays Kabir, a celebrity film director. Kabir is the kind of narcissistic jerk who stomps out his cigarette butts on the floor of a hotel hallway and who uses a manual typewriter while flying on a plane.
After the success of Guns and Guns 2, Kabir is stymied by writer’s block while working on Guns 3. The first fifteen minutes of Roy consist of shots of Kabir sitting idly in front of the typewriter, brushing his teeth, feeding his fish, and fending off the concerned inquiries of his excessively patient producer, Meera (Shernaz Patel).
In the world of Roy, news reports consist entirely of details of Kabir’s romantic life and reports of art theft. A TV report about a painting stolen in Malaysia prompts Kabir to take his crew there to film Guns 3. There, Kabir becomes smitten with an independent movie director, Ayesha (Jacqueline Fernandez).
[Correction: In addition to art theft and Kabir’s romantic life, news reports in Roy also feature extensive coverage of indie film festivals. Just like real life.]
Kabir casts an actress who looks exactly like Ayesha to play the romantic interest in Guns 3, opposite his protagonist, Roy (Ranbir Kapoor). There is absolutely no explanation offered for Ayesha’s doppelgänger.
Action — such as it is — switches between Kabir and Ayesha in the real world and Roy and the lookalike, Tia, in the movie world of Guns. Both worlds are dominated by boring, pseudo-intellectual conversations, punctuated by languid song montages in which people drive around in cars or Roy rides a motorcycle.
Given that Kabir is an emotionally stunted pre-teen trapped in a 40-year-old body, nothing he or Roy says on the nature of being contains any kind of insight. There’s so much undirected angst in the dialogue, it’s like it was written by the guys from the ’90s band Bush.
An excess of ennui in their characters yields clunky, detached performances by Rampal and Kapoor. Fernandez — whose beauty is the best thing Roy has going for it — is better in scenes as Tia, in which she plays an heiress trapped in a 1960s time warp, at least as far as her teased hair is concerned.
Debutant writer-director Vikramjit Singh has a good sense for framing shots, and the movie is quite pretty. Sadly, the visual interest ends there, since Singh focuses all his attention on writing bland dialogue instead of considering what it would look like when delivered onscreen.
Without additional assistance on the script, Singh’s story feels hollow. Even after Kabir undergoes his supposed metamorphosis from spoiled man-child to emotionally mature adult, he still does something incredibly selfish.
Ayesha is on her way to a film festival in another country. For independent filmmakers, festivals provide opportunities to network and drum up publicity and funds for their next projects. Wealthy, connected Kabir stops Ayesha at the airport, telling her, in essence, “If you love me, you won’t get on the plane.”
Kabir puts his own desires ahead of Ayesha’s career, which is all the more selfish since Kabir’s got more than enough cash to buy his own plane ticket and go with her. Considering that Singh’s debut film features A-listers like Kapoor, Rampal, and Fernandez, it’s not surprising that he has an easier time identifying with a celebrity like Kabir rather than a struggling filmmaker like Ayesha.