Saturday, February 14, 2015


Release date (India):
February 13, 2015
Vikramjit Singh

Arjun Rampal, Jacqueline Fernandez, Ranbir Kapoor, Shernaz Patel, Rajit Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Kaizaad Kotwal, Asif Basra

Fifteen minutes into Roy, the chap sitting next to me gave up on it. I was more patient. After all, what was there not to like about those expansive frames, that minimalist look, the uncluttered visuals, the mood lighting, Ranbir Kapoor’s beautifully sensitive eyes and the utter gorgeousness of both Arjun Rampal and Jacqueline Fernandez? The film is shot at stunning locations in Malaysia and cinematographer Himman Dhamija takes in the country’s roads, buildings, forests and beaches with a painterly eye, dwelling with care too on the faces of his three lovely leads.

I remember one shot of film maker Ayesha Aamir (one of two roles played by Jacqueline in Roy) where the camera is gazing up at her face in a close-up against the backdrop of a stark, nearly blank sky. Ayesha is not looking at us or the heavens. Her eyes are on fellow film maker Kabir Grewal (Arjun) who is not in the frame at first, and so we wait in anticipation for the handsome fellow before he enters the picture.

My gentleman neighbour in the theatre was not in the least bit interested in any of this. I bet he’d consider me an arty-farty type. Fifteen minutes into the film he was already irritated and busy treating his female companion to a running commentary on the proceedings on screen.

“Please, bhaisaab,” I said, about half an hour later. “You are talking too much.” He looked at me with a slightly startled expression on his face. A couple of moments of silence. Then he turned to me and said in a confiding tone we usually reserve for friends: “Actually na, yeh film buraa hai, isliye hum baat kar rahein hai.” I replied with an apologetic smile: “Par mujhe buraa nahin lag raha hai.” More silence. But a few minutes later, I heard him whisper slyly to his lady friend: “Sab log baat karne lagey toh phir kya hoga?”

Point is, I’m a patient, undemanding viewer who is easily pleased. I loved the look of this film, the soundtrack, the styling of Jacqueline’s two characters, the detailing in the sound design, that faint crackling fizz I heard when Roy (Ranbir Kapoor) lit a cigarette.

Ranbir is always always easy on the eye. Kill me if you will for saying this but ever since Don, I’ve begun enjoying watching the much-derided Arjun’s evolution on screen. Say what you will you cynics, I think Jacqueline has more potential as an actress than her films so far have cared to explore. And the chemistry between Ayesha and Kabir was enough to make me want to drag them to a bed, fling them on each other and say: “C’mon then, go ahead! What the hell are you waiting for?” When they did ultimately do it, I wanted to cheer.

Even at the concept level, Roy is interesting enough. Mumbai-based writer-director Kabir Grewal is a notorious Casanova. When he meets London-based film maker Ayesha Aamir he falls genuinely in love for the first time. She is drawn to him, but feels his selfishness is reflected in his uncaring treatment of the heroine in a script he is writing about an art thief called Roy and the wealthy art collector Tia (Jacqueline again). When Ayesha leaves Kabir, he is dealt the double whammy of heartbreak and writer’s block. On a parallel track runs Roy and Tia’s love story.       

Three things writer-director Vikramjit Singh forgot, after thinking up that basic concept though: (a) if your story has two parallel strands, you cannot over-write one and under-write the other (b) when you get an actor as fine as Ranbir playing one of your protagonists, you cannot fail to flesh out his character and unwittingly reduce him to a marginal player (c) you do not give characters glib lines that are really not as profound as they’re pretending to be and sound instead like nothing real human beings would say.

When you neglect your writing and focus on the surface gloss instead, beyond a point the result is pretentiousness, tedium and characters who deliver philosophies to each other rather than conversing naturally. The songs become one too many. And even the visual appeal gets cloying after a while, especially when Malaysia’s scenery and the actors’ lovely faces are replaced by self-indulgent lingering shots of a character on an escalator or other such images that add nothing, not even spectacle, to the film.

As the story labours on, Ayesha and Kabir’s romance becomes the dominant thread of the film. Roy, who should have taken over the post-interval portion, ends up as a distant figure spending most of his time staring into the distance waiting for something to happen while we contemplate Ranbir’s attractive profile and – you guessed right – wait for something to happen. The film is called Roy yet Roy is the character we get to know the least in the story.

Unlike my gentleman neighbour in the movie hall, I lost my patience with the film only in the second half. Even undemanding viewers cannot be taken so much for granted.

Perhaps Ranbir too felt he had been taken for granted. I can think of no other reason why the opening credits over-compensated for the neglect of his character by saying: “Ranbir Kapoor In A Very Dynamic Role.” Huh?

Rating (out of five): *1/2

CBFC Rating (India):

Running time:
147 minutes

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