Imagine you are riding an unruly mare that trots, tossing you about, and then, after nearly two hours and 15 minutes of a tumultuous and awful ride, drops you at your destination, safe and sound.
That is exactly what you would experience while watching director Nikhil Advani’s Katti Batti.
On the face of it, Katti Batti is supposed to be a romantic comedy involving a die-hard romantic and a commitment-phobic girl, at least that’s what the trailers promised. But what you get is a potpourri of emotional trajectories offered in a non-linear, confusing and obscure manner.
The narrative of the protagonist Madhav Kabra (Maddy), played by Imran Khan, runs through the entire length of film. The plot begins with inexplicably-obtained footage which reveals that Maddy was once in a live-in relationship with Payal Malhotra, played by Kangana Ranaut. And then we are suddenly thrown into the emergency ward of a hospital where the doctors and Maddy’s friends are trying to revive him after an alleged suicide attempt.
After Maddy is successfully revived, we learn that he drank phenyl by accident. What follows is Maddy’s pursuit to convince his love to be friends with him once again. Their on-again, off-again relationship has now hit rock bottom after living together for five years.
Kangana and Imran make a lovely, volatile pair. Their on-screen chemistry is palpable.
As far as performances are concerned, the film is Imran Khan’s canvas. His is the only character that is well-etched. His look is reminiscent of the charm of Dilton, the popular character from Archie Comics. Imran is honest, charming and expressively convincing. You like him when he woos his girlfriend, admire him when he sticks to his guns and hate him when he is boorish and callous.
On the other hand, Kangana’s Payal Malhotra comes from a broken family and is an extension of the various roles you have seen the actress perform in her earlier films. She brings nothing new to the table, except for confidently carrying herself off with a plethora of outlandish wigs in the staid role.
Of the supporting cast, Vivan Bhatena is wasted in a bland role as Payal’s ex-boyfriend, Ricky Ahuja. And Manasvi Mamgai as Maddy’s colleague Devika is passable. But the two characters who really stand out with realistic performances are Maddy’s sister Koyal and his friend Vinay.
And with the director’s sense of infusing humour, the rest of the supporting cast like Varghese Bhai the estate agent; Mr Ramalingam, Maddy’s south Indian boss; the paan chewing security guard at Payal’s house in Delhi; and the salesman at Maddy’s school friend Tina’s shop, are forced caricatures, who are duds with their over-the-top histrionics.
The script, written by director Nikhil Advani and Anshul Singhal, has a convoluted screenplay, riddled with forced humour and glaring plot holes which include underdeveloped characterisations.
For example, Payal is a complex character whose role is perfunctory and lacks the depth to carry the tale forward. With her family and background story missing, hers is a half-baked character that is cardboard-thin.
The script is punctuated with songs that do not elevate the viewing experience. The numbers, save the last, are laborious and make the ears sore. They explain the situation but neither take the story forward nor reveal anything new.
As far as the direction goes, like Nikhil Advani’s other film Hero, this one too is carelessly mounted with all the conviction of formulaic Hindi masala films.
But what the director does not realise is that too much masala could spoil his film, at least for the audience.
Overall, the tragedy of Katti Batti lies in the fault of its director.