On the surface, Kismat Konnection is about Raj Malhotra (Shahid Kapur), who is five years out of college and still coming to terms with the fact that he isn't any closer to delivering on the promise he exhibited through his years in academia. This best athlete/student/all-rounder is now a Toronto-based architect running from pillar to post trying to score his first job with his friend and partner Hiten Patel (Vishal Malhotra).
Raj's luck is so bad that the powers-that-be in situations like this could consider substituting his mug for the long-suffering black cat as the ultimate symbol of bad luck. Add to that the fact that his rival (Karnvir Bohra) is an ex-college mate, whose real-world contacts and drive allow him to thwart Raj at every step in his career. So far so glum. Until Priya (Vidya Balan) enters his life one fateful morning and alters the course of his much-promising, never-delivering life.
Like the subject of most romantic comedies, the two leads hate each other when their paths cross the first few times. So of course, the headstrong young man doesn't quite see that his luck changes whenever Priya is around, until a dubious oracle named Haseena Banu Jaan (Juhi Chawla) paints him a picture and sends him on his merry way in pursuit of the girl that passes for his good luck charm.
After he has spent the next few reels pursuing, and getting Priya (who happens to be a part-time activist working against the very mall whose construction contract he needs to win) to fall in line with his tall claims, the never-quite-focused leading man makes the mistake of actually falling in love with her. And that's when the real story of the film begins, in a manner of speaking.
Trying to discuss the pros and cons of this film as separates is a task so difficult it is well nigh impossible. The film looks good; cinematographer Binod Pradhan makes the colours pop and Toronto serves as an interesting backdrop to the various hi-jinks these characters get down to.
Apart from the title track, the music is nothing to write home about so ultimately, the film is dependent on its cast for salvation or damnation.
When he is not trying to infuse every scene with emotion through (over) expression, Shahid is easy on the eyes. But after a point, the flexed muscles and taut neck cause subconscious strain on the audience that is completely out of character for a supposedly breezy romp like this film. He could really stand to take to heart a few lessons from the less-is-more school of performance because he exhibits an easy physicality when he's not trying so hard.
Vidya is woefully miscast as the chirpy yet feisty Priya. Neither the new haircut nor the questionable wardrobe does Ms Balan any favours and as a result, she looks stiff and uncomfortable nearly every time the camera is trained on her. She also lacks any real chemistry with her leading man.
Of the support cast, Juhi Chawla's turn as the quirky cupid figure of Haseena is a thankless job; Vishal Malhotra is adequate as Raj's long-suffering friend and Om Puri (as Sanjeev Gill, the man who holds Raj's career in the palm of his hands) sleepwalks his way through another role that makes absolutely no demands of him.
It is not easy making a movie, this much I've come to realise. It is harder still to make something light and frothy because fluff, like selling out, is hard work. So imagine how hard it must be to make a fluffy romance with a socially-conscious edge that is trying to draw the Jab We Met fans and make them play nice with the Lage Raho Munna Bhai die-hards.
Kismat Konnection succeeds in the places that probably weren't even given enough attention at the screenplay level. Either that, or the filmmakers took refuge in that age-old filmi falsehood -- 'we can fix it in post'. If a thought were to be spared for such trivialities, it would be clear that the Raj-Hiten relationship is far worthier than the one blossoming between Raj and Priya. If more thought had been spared, a situation like the one with the Russian moneylender could have been milked for great comic effect; as also the one with the cops, who turn up to break up the protest against the construction of the mall in place of the community centre. Also, the drama inherent in the plight of those that call the community centre home is dealt with too perfunctorily to actually earn any sympathy from the audience.
I suppose, as a one line pitch, this movie sounded really appealing -- a man with a really ugly string of luck is made whole by the arrival of a walking, talking, opinionated good luck charm, who just happens to be opposed to the very job he's working so hard to land.
Sadly, neither the film nor its leading pair delivers on the promise of that premise.