Anjaana Anjaani is perhaps one of the most annoying films I have seen in recent memory. That is not so much because it is a terrible film but because it had potential to be infinitely better. It is an excellent example of how you cannot take an offbeat and quirky premise and employ mainstream romantic comedy conventions to tell the tale. It just does not work. For that reason, Anjaana Anjaani sits uncomfortably in an odd place where a few strong sequences dissolve thanks to too many weak ones. It's like a drop hydrochloric acid mixed in a gallon of water. It is ineffective at best, and a complete waste at worst.
Akash (Ranbir Kapoor) and Kiara (Priyanka Chopra), two strangers, meet at the George Washington Bridge in New York City on a cold December night. Both come there with the intention of committing suicide; he because of losing everything in the 2008 Financial Crisis; she because of her boyfriend (Zayed Khan) issues. Unsuccessful, they make a pact to commit suicide on New Year's Eve which is 20 days away. In the mean time, they intend to do everything that they always wanted to do but kept putting off. Thus begins a journey that makes them rethink their entire lives.
The premise had immense potential I think for providing a refreshing, daring and interesting romantic comedy. However, the film collapses under its own weight as it tries to be faithful to rom com conventions. It tries to be youthful but comes off as achingly artificial. It attempts humour, but comes off as awkward. It tries to be serendipitous but appears too unbelievable. It throws logic out to the winds, at too many places. For example, there is a particular sequence where they are both in the (literally) freezing ocean about to drown and it is there she decides to tell him her life story. They decide to drive from New York to Las Vegas. In addition to showing them reach rather too quickly, they also get their car stolen in the middle of the desert and still manage to make it look as if finding civilisation is an easy task.
It also has too many songs. Despite the glossy production and the good music, that is a hindrance as it adds to the already long runtime. At a time when Hindi movies are restricting music on a need to use basis, this film goes mad with it. Further, its placement of songs is problematic to say the least. Songs like "Aas Paas Khuda" which should've come in the penultimate portions is the first song in a completely wrong context.
Further, it has problematic characters. While I love Priyanka Chopra, and she does do extremely well as an actor in the emotional sequences, her character is just plain stupid and for all her modernity, is in desperate need of a crash course in self-respect and maybe, feminism if her tiny little fictional brain can handle it. Ranbir Kapoor hardly looks like the investment banker he apparently was. He is funny in places but his character has none of the brains to look even a wee bit convincing. They have great chemistry together but that cannot cure the disease of inept writing which plagues the film. Even something serious like the Financial Crisis is used so carelessly and with such little regard for its impact that it is frustrating (How many times can you say "The Market has crashed" and its grammatical in a single scene? According to this film, the answer is countless. The more you say it, the more you will make the audience feel sorry for you.)
I did start this review mentioning some strong sequences. I like the back story of Kiara even though it is horrible placed in the narrative. Priyanka Chopra I thought did exceedingly well in those portions. There were some small scenes here and there as well. However, overall, this is a shockingly bad film that had the potential to be an amazing one, maybe even an Indian answer to Harold and Maude. Do not bother with it unless you are stuck in a long plane ride and this is your only option. That was the case with me.