Do you believe in sachcha pyaar? The one that makes you “serious” enough about someone in college to do “it”, move cities for your lover, give up trips to Paris and, in general, other stupid decisions taken in haste that you know you are going to regret over drinking sessions, if the relationship eventually does/doesn’t work? Katti Batti’s Payal (Kangana Ranaut) and Imran Khan’s Maddy Sharma are in sachcha pyaar, which always wins in Bollywood and in Hindi proverb territory. They 500 Days of Summer their way through college; Kangana is your manic pixie-dream girlfriend — the Indian version — forking over career options faster than you can say career, while Maddy studies hard and tries to live up to his girlfriend’s bohemian whimsies.
Everything is very relatable if you are from art/design school and within the youth-specific age bracket 19-35. I could see a middle-aged woman beside me look bemused, shake her head and proclaim the vague words “the next generation” from time to time, in a “let my hideous progeny go forth and prosper” way. We have seen those couples, scratch that, been those men who fall in love with girls who make origami paper planes, and wear a lot of unnecessary junk jewellery to prove a point. We have led those “normal” boys in hoodies and jeans on, who would fall over themselves to keep us happy. The first half of Katti Batti is a mirror that portrays just how ridiculous it looks to the rest of the world. It is as fake as the stop motion Lip to Lip song, a cartoon strip of Kissyman’s adventures on a pastel-coloured crumpled bed, adorned with paper flowers. As the story goes backward and forward (before and after Maddy gets dumped), we are provided flashbacks where Maddy and Payal live the hipster dream — she paints his nails, they do up the house in neo-rustic fashion, and cuddle in bed.
If Katti Batti is funny, it is because of its layers of self-denigrating insider digs, which older people might not relate to — they either lived in simpler times without the Great Indian Sexual Revolution, or happily wiped those memories off along with the poop off their newborn
The first half of Katti Batti pushes through its faltering plot by the strength of its overwhelming pace and action — Ranaut and Khan are both involved in some near fatal accident at multiple points — just like that disastrous couple in college who would keep the rest of their friends circle weary but busy. It’s the second half of the film where the plot turns, refuting and disappointing its internal logic. We would still have liked Kangana Ranaut to continue playing the slightly too colourful femme fatale who doesn’t tolerate a guy who cannot share responsibility of a pet turtle in their cute live-in relationship, and sprays the toilet with his “little soldier” as though it were a “champagne bottle”. Instead, the story tries to fit both Maddy and Payal, unsuccessfully, into the mould of victims of chance, star crossed lovers who would have made it through if only… while spending an entire first half proving just how disastrous they were for each other. Aamir Khan might have cried through this, but while we feel sorry for this couple (and an entire generation cursed into hipster adolescence), ultimately it feels like listening to that friend who will not stop weeping about his/her jilted lover status. Maddy even gathers a band of Sufi singers with insufferable haircuts who call themselves FOSLA (Frustrated One-Sided Lovers Association) in his perpetual chase to win Payal back. FOSLA writes songs about — no prizes for guessing — unrequited love. The band eggs on Maddy to hijack a wedding, managing to get him arrested in the process. Moral of the story: Never listen to these Sufi/fusion band boys with strange haircuts who will agree to babysit your turtle.