In a scene in Vikram Bhatt's latest film, Dangerous Ishhq, Sanjana (Karisma Kapoor, in her comeback role) has a breakdown because she runs out of coffee and groceries in her apartment. To be fair, her fiance Rohan (Rajneesh Duggal) has just been kidnapped. But she gives an impassioned dialogue about why she didn't go grocery shopping, and sobs and screeches her way through it. Then, her best friend Neetu (Divya Dutta) offers to make her tea instead, right after we all established there were no groceries in Sanjana's apartment to make any sort of beverage or snack with. And if you think this is the most banal intro to a film review, well, Sanjana's grocery list is actually one of the more interesting things you'll think about as you watch the otherwise overbearing, artificial and overstretched film.
Director Vikram Bhatt and writer Amin Hajee have the seeds of a potentially gripping romantic-supernatural-thriller-type film. The concept sounds kind of funky and twisted - a woman has to use past life regression to find clues about why her fiance has been kidnapped and by whom. But what you see as the end result in Dangerous Ishhq is far from gripping and exasperating to watch.
It starts with the kidnapping of Rohan by a gang of men all wearing black leather jackets and black ski masks, a scene that instantly throws you back to the cheesy films from the 80s. Over-the-top dramatic music, included. However, the film finally starts building intrigue when Sanjana starts having, what she thinks are, hallucinations. She then discovers they are memories from her past lives. And thus begins her journey hopping back and forth across lifetimes trying to uncover clues. Her past life adventure takes her through the partition, then further back to 17th century Mughal empire, and then back some more to 16th century Rajputana. If only her jaunts to past lives didn't turn into loud, violent, soapbox television costume dramas. If you start paying more attention to the background than what's happening in the scene, you'll even glimpse a modern building or a security cubicle in the far back - in scenes supposedly set in the medieval times.
In her present day problems, Sanjana constantly tails ACP Singh (Jimmy Shergill), who is such a good cop that he plays the kidnapper's phone call on loudspeaker while Rohan's dad is negotiating a ransom deal with him. And Sanjana is such great help to him that when they find Rohan strapped to a bomb, all she does is yell at ACP Singh about a hundred times to "diffuse the bomb" and "save Rohan" while the bomb ticks away.
This brings us to the matter of saving Rohan. While Sanjana is having bad days and worse traipsing across her various past lives, you hardly feel a thing for Rohan. He doesn't leave much of an impact before his kidnapping for you to worry about his wellbeing for the next two and a half hours. Even his past life incarnations are one-dimensionally wooden. And yet we have our heroine spending all this time and energy just for him, because she is "a part of Rohan, and he is a part of me." Sadly, we don't see that love much in their chemistry.
Then there is a platter of supporting characters and guest appearances that take the film to another level of bizarreness. Gracy Singh makes an appearance in one of the past lives, shaking hypnotically around a temple and handing out flowers that glow. Ravi Kishan grimaces and shouts his way through all his lines, at times projecting his dialogues towards the sky, arms spread out and everything. Then there's Arya Babbar who, with his messy long hair and unkempt beard, was probably dressed to appear in a time period way, way back at the beginning of civilization.
For Karisma Kapoor fans out there eagerly awaiting her return to films, Dangerous Ishhq might force you to re-evaluate your excitement. Kapoor looks as beautiful as ever, but her talents really are wasted under the sheen of perfect hair, makeup and six inch heels all the time, even when she's in the middle of an exploding building. Her glam doll look throughout detracts from the rather dramatic goings-on. It diminishes the believability not just of her character but of the situations as well.
Dangerous Ishhq is a film that's constantly falling short. It falls short of a believable story. Short of convincing acting. And short of almost everything else that would make a film enjoyable. It's one of those films that assumes the audience to have minimal intelligence, negligent taste, and oodles of patience. Sanjana might have made good use of her past life regression but the film ends up being regressive on so many other levels. The film isn't worth sitting through its two and a half hours. That is, unless you want to then go back into the past and slap yourself out of the decision to sit through those two and a half hours.