It is all about 'feeling the feeling,' suggests a voice in the background, while on-screen various people hug as they sport their best Sunday smile, which really gets nauseating after a point. Luckily, this movie is not an exercise in the art of hugs. It is about the hero and heroine taking 17 reels to express their feelings for each other.
The premise of Humko Deewana Kar Gayee is pretty uncomplicated. Aditya (Akshay Kumar) is the quintessential sweet guy-next-door, an automobile engineer and test driver for, if the logo is any indication, Toyota. And then there is Jia (Katrina Kaif), the poor little rich girl trying to fight loneliness in shopping. Originally from India, the duo is presently in Canada because of professional and personal reasons, respectively.
When they bump into each other in Canada, they are already engaged. With a typical lack of subtlety, to establish their being meant for each other, their respective fiancées are shown in strikingly poor light. So as the cliché goes, Aditya's bride-to-be (Bipasha Basu as Sonia) is a cold, indifferent, career-minded fashion designer who doesn't like wailing babies and goodnight kisses. Jia's groom-in-the-wings ('the surprise star' as Karan) is a cocky, ruthless businessman who doesn't have time to accompany her during any of the shopping binges. Fine, we get the point.
Coming back to the movie, while in Canada, Aditya and Jia have many-a-brief-encounter, going through the predictable routine of fondness, friendship, denial and love. Jia blends in effortlessly with Aditya's over-the-top family, comprising of a nagging sister, wisecracking brother-in-law and his whimsical (read: drunk) mom (a gaudily dressed Bhagyashree, ebullient Mahesh Thakur and amusing Helen).
The script tries to emotionally choke the viewer, convincing us how Jia never got to enjoy the simple pleasures of a family life, how her daddy beat her mommy, how mommy died of depression. Whether we fall for her teary speech or not, Aditya does. Just when the lovebirds are about to declare their feelings, good old filmi fate intervenes giving way to a bitter misunderstanding. Do the kindred souls come together? Do their fiancees suddenly become 'good' folks?
Despite the screaming obviousness and inherent corniness of the script, Humko Deewana Kar Gayee does have some pleasure points. The chemistry between Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif is cute and endearing. They both seem comfortable in each other's presence, which makes the budding love affair rather believable. After a spate of successful comedies, Akshay tries to do a Shah Rukh Khan with élan. He carries off his romantic avatar with restrained charm and gentlemanly grace. Katrina continues to look lovely as ever. Her sparkling screen presence and sincere performance indicate she is a upcoming star, on the rise. Bipasha Basu, in a brief role, is required to look hot and act cold. She delivers on both counts.
The film has comic moments, alternating between seriously unbearable to genuinely amusing. The entertainment factor is consistent, while the songs try your patience to butt-numbing levels.
Director Raj Kanwar loves melodrama. Watch any of his films -- Jaan, Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega, Dhaai Akshar Prem Ke and Andaaz -- they all descend into a heavy-duty emotional breakdown. Here too, the second half is layered with unwanted tear-jerking moments.
Kanwar also loves soppy Hollywood romances. He's previously been inspired by mushy fare like A Walk In The Clouds and While You Were Sleeping. Here, he takes a generous portion of Notting Hill, a sprinkling of Titanic, doubles it up with the Dil To Pagal Hai and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai brand of sentimental packaging, and makes a royal mess of the climax by taking a ridiculous moralistic stand.
Watching HDKG is like going to your regular hangout. You know what to expect, but end up having fun anyway.