Love at Times Square


Director: Dev Anand
Starring: Dev Anand, Henee Kaushik, Shoeb Khan, Chaitanya Chaudhary, Siya Rana.
Music: Rajesh Roshan, Aadesh Shrivastava, Lucky Ali & Adnan Sami; Lyrics: Various
Year: 2003
Running Time: 155 minutes

In the titular footsteps of such Bollywood classics as Love in Tokyo, Love in Simla and Love in Singapore comes a crash and burn car wreck titled Love at Times Square. A car wreck though doesn’t really give this misbegotten film the justice it deserves – it’s a 20-car pileup on the freeway with CNN live coverage. It is astonishing in its ineptitude. It makes it appear that the last 100 years of film never took place. It sets new abysmal standards in acting, in costume design, in dialogue, in focusing the damn camera and in nearly every aspect of the film making process. I sat stunned in my seat that someone, somewhere really thought this film should be released on an unsuspecting public. Did someone really say to the writer/producer/director/actor after seeing the film “congratulations – a marvelous accomplishment!” and actually mean it?

Of course, since the person who filled all of these roles was the legendary Dev Anand it is very likely that no one had the nerve to tell the truth – or simply didn’t have the heart to tell an old man with many great films behind him that time has badly passed him by. With films like Jewel Thief, Guide and CID to his credit back in the 1950's/60’s it is a bit sad seeing something like this appear on the screen  - no doubt this man loves film and loves being involved even at 79 years of age – but it so feels like a last ego gurgle from a once great actor and filmmaker. Someone should have said no.
Now in reality the entire audience of three in the theater had a great time watching this film. One always feels a bit guilty enjoying a film that is so shockingly bad that it is entertaining – it seems somewhat patronizing and insensitive – but damn this was so amateurish and cheerfully cheesy that I just allowed myself to free fall along with it. Every absurd and exaggerated utterance had us shouting out imitations, every flash of abundant cleavage had us hooting like frat boys, every ridiculous plot point had us chortling, every shot of happy waving Americans had us rolling our eyes in disbelief – it is not just a freeway pileup – it is a freeway pileup choreographed by the Bowery Boys.
Dev Anand plays a wealthy Indian who has moved to Silicon Valley after his wife died in an airplane crash (out of the wreckage he picks up her detached arm with ring attached  – he keeps the ring as a memento but apparently not the arm). Here he throws parties for really unattractive NRI’s and even less attractive white people (all the white folks have that thin pasty badly coiffed B movie extra look of the 1970's) and has a Congressman who speaks perfect Hindi fawn over him and a seven piece girl band flirt with him. It has the look of one of those old Hugh Hefner parties at the Playboy mansion and one is almost expecting someone to shout out "orgy!" He also has a daughter (Henee Kaushik) who lives in a swank New York apartment and is a supposed reporter for an Indian TV network – she films her reports with a tiny camcorder that she got out of a crackerjack box and seems to spend a minimum amount of time working. In fact, she apparently only works New Year Eves – the privileges of the wealthy I guess. New Years Eve 2001 takes place in Time Square and she meets two men that night who are going to stalk her for the next year with corny lines like “Sweetie (her name) I would take a thousand bullets for you” incessantly with the sincerity of a stock analyst.
One of the guys is Shoeb Khan who has this simpering smile and weird pale blue eyes that would make you reluctant to leave him alone with your children for more than a minute. If they ever do a version of the film M – he is the man to play the Peter Lorre role – but as a romantic lead he gave me the willies. The other guy who is jousting for Sweetie’s heart is Chaitanya Chaudhary – a poor fellow without a dime to his name but so much love in his heart that I was concerned it would spill over and create a toxic waste dump. So this threesome zip back and forth between New York and Silicon Valley for the next year exchanging bad dialogue and worse dance steps. Sweetie declares that she will pick one of them on the next New Year’s Eve – que drama. It’s like a low budget version of The Bachlorette.
At one point they witness the World Trade Center disaster – and Anand writes out a check for $1,000,000 that he sends to Rudy along with solemn words of encouragement. Later they attend the Concert of a Lifetime with Shahrukh Khan, Rani Mukerjee and Hrithik Roshan  - the concert hall is about the size of your living room and much to my surprise the stars do not show – a terrorist attack keeps them away – so the terrorists go after Henee instead – they mistake her for a Bollywood star – something anyone watching this film would never do.
The best part of the film for me was the seven member all female band that wants to be bigger than Mozart and the Beatles combined – and plays some weird sax driven music that is sort of indefinable but quite bad. The head of the group is Angela (Siya Rana) who has more cleavage than a city block and looks lustfully Freudian playing her cello between her legs. She struts her sizable charms and her old man eating smile in front of poor Anand while she asks him “do you know anyone who is wealthy and would like to promote our band?” It is all Anand can do not to perform a happy dance in one of his assortment of flea market hats. Every time she enters a scene he almost drools and reaches for his Viagra as he tries to give her an encouraging squeeze. Clearly, her talent is primarily upfront and if she doesn't make it to the top of the music world I understand there is an opening at Hooters. Not that Dev is much different in his scenes with Sweetie – this is a very loving father/daughter relationship in which most conversations go like this “Sweetie I love you”, “Dad I love you”, “Sweetie you are the greatest”, “Dad you’re the best”. “Sweetie I love you”, "Dad, what's that bulge in your pants" and then he gives her a big hug and a very satisfied smile appears on his face. So basically the reason for the film comes down to Anand being able to hang around a couple young women and getting some hugs from them.

Though the music had some very talented people involved – it is clear these were throw away pieces – none of them are at all memorable except for the last rather discoish and silly Love in Times Square. The picturization is also very weak – one number has a guest appearance from Salman Khan and he looks as if he had been given the moves about two minutes previous to filming. Another little number has the three of them trading moves in a disco in which they do their best not to step on anyone’s foot.

My rating for this film: 2.0