1 Star (out of 4)
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Katti Batti is a romance that’s uncomfortable to watch. You leave the theater feeling worse than when you entered.
The story begins three weeks after the dramatic breakup of Maddy (Imran Khan) and Payal (Kangana Ranaut). Maddy winds up in the hospital after drinking disinfectant, a drunken mistake that his family assumes is a suicide attempt.
His pushy younger sister, Koyal, and his best friend, Vinay, try to force Maddy to forget about Payal. When Maddy discovers that she’s getting married to his college nemesis — loathsome rich guy Ricky (Vivan Bhatena) — he sets out to stop the wedding, convinced that Payal still loves him.
The story of Maddy & Payal’s turbulent relationship is told via flashbacks, as Maddy routinely drifts off into his imagination even in the middle of dinner. There were plenty of times that they were happy, but there were more times when they weren’t. Goofy musical cues and some funny bits aren’t enough to classify a film this depressing as a comedy.
Writer-director Nikhil Advani’s fatal mistake is his assumption that Maddy’s protagonist status automatically makes him a good guy, when he objectively is not. A character who sincerely proposes marriage to a woman he’s only met the day before isn’t exactly emotionally stable.
It’s when things get difficult that Maddy shows his true colors. He responds to challenges with angry outbursts, and physically attacks both Ricky and Vinay. He’s suspicious and jealous of Payal, worried that she “will do something wrong” if left to her own devices.
After they break up, Maddy leaves 103 voicemail messages for Payal. When she doesn’t respond, he tries to find her by contacting not just their mutual friends but her co-workers as well. While Maddy never strikes Payal, he is possessive and controlling.
There’s a twist near the end of the film that Advani hopes will explain everything, but it doesn’t come close. By Advani’s rationale, Maddy isn’t a bad guy, he was just provoked into acting badly. But why isn’t Maddy responsible for his own actions? Acting like a madman is either a choice, or it’s cause for him to be locked in a mental institution.
But anything goes for Maddy, the center of the Katti Batti universe. His family and friends exist only to help Maddy sustain his romance, and they do so regardless of how poorly he treats them. As the movie progresses, the same question springs to mind with greater frequency: “Why are they helping this jerk?”
It’s not Khan’s fault that Katti Batti is such a bummer. He does what he can with a nasty character. Same for Ranaut, whose character exists only to be a love interest for Maddy. The rest of the supporting cast is good, too, but the material lets them down.
The twist near the end is pure movie contrivance that bears no resemblance to how real people would behave in a similar situation. Same goes for a tedious argument in which Payal interrupts a cricket match to scold Maddy for his unhealthy diet, poor aim in the bathroom, and for not noticing the new curtains she bought. The sequence is lazy, immature, and no fun at all, just like the rest of Katti Batti.