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Loveyatri movie review: Aayush Sharma, Warina Hussain are equally bland in Salman Khan’s ode to garba

His friends – Rocket and Negative – are more realistic about the upcoming nine nights of revelry. They look forward to falling in love every half hour and being heartbroken every hour. Susu’s mama (uncle), played by Ram Kapoor, a full-time garment salesman and a seasonal singer, is also Susu’s love guru and he believes his nephew’s life is going to change this Navratri. Uncle’s love notes include wisdom such as love is like a SIM card – it fits in to all phones irrespective of brand or cost. A smarter boy might have seen the warning signs, but then Susu is not the ace in the pack and blindly follows uncle’s advice.

Enter Michelle (Warina Hussain), aka Manisha, a Gujarati NRI who comes to Vadodara from London with her father (Ronit Roy). They are on a family visit. Between clicking sticks and spinning mirrorwork, Michelle and Susu spot each other at the local garba, and it is love at first sight.

The large garba get-togethers are the highlight of director Abhiraj Minawala’s Loveyatri. Richly decorated sets, vibrant costumes and energetic dancing serve as the backdrop for Susu and Michelle’s fledgling love story. But every good old-fashioned Bollywood love story needs an equally old-school villain. With Ronit playing the laundry service-owning patriarch (with a chain of laundromats called Lord of the Rinse), you know he is going to throw a spanner into Susu’s love story.

Niren Bhatt’s script is old wine in recycled bottles, just with a new faces and a new setting. From the backdrop of the Navratri festival in Vadodara, the action later shifts to the banks of the River Thames in London. Boy chases girl, proves his worth to the unreasonable father, wins girl, and meets two sympathetic Gujarati policeman who become his unlikely saviours (Arbaaz Khan and Sohail Khan).

As the location shifts, we leave behind two of the best things about Loveyatri – Pratik Gandhi and Sajeel Parekh, the actors playing Negative and Rocket. Their delightful performances swaddle Aayush Sharma, whose default setting is to hold one blank expression for as long as needed in the scene. Kapoor and Roy lift up potentially flat scenes too. Like her debutant co-star, Hussain too is bland, and this almost works in their favour as a newbie onscreen couple.

Vaibhavi Merchant’s choreography, Tanishk Bagchi’s music, sparkling costumes (Alvira Agnihotri, Manish Malhotra and Ashley Rebello), and Jishnu Bhattacharjee’s camera bring energy and colour when it is most needed — the vibrant background occasionally compensating for the lifeless foreground.

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