Subhash Ghai is a not just a good director and producer, he seems to be a pretty good teacher too. Mukta Searchlight’s Love Express, the debut film by the former students of Ghai’s Film School, Whistling Woods International, bears testimony to this. Love Express is the story of two couples whose lives change on a train journey from Amritsar to Mumbai.
Kanav and Ashneet are engaged in Amritsar to be married in Mumbai. Kanav is the only son of a multimillionaire who has lived in London all his life and the only reason he agreed to marrying his father’s best friend’s daughter Ashneet, is to avoid being kicked out of home penniless. Ashneet, the traditional Indian daughter, puts the happiness of her parents and grandfather before her own or her lover Kuljeet’s.
The wedding of their best friends bring former couple Chiraag and Priyanka face-to-face, years after they broke up. Meeting Priyanka after so many years rekindles Chiraag’s feelings for her. Priyanka, however, is engaged and thwarts all his advances.
The film revolves around these two couples - one that is unable to forget the past and one that does not want a future together.
The entire Punjabi family travels to Mumbai by train. Everybody is extremely excited - grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, best friends all, except the couple to be married. And now that they are together with nothing else to do, they do exactly what all Punjabi families are portrayed to do in Bollywood movies. Punjabi dance!
The movie is a good first attempt of director Sunny Bhambhani who makes his Bollywood debut with this film after working on a couple of documentaries and short films. The film scores more in the drama aspect than the comedy side. Though there are certain scenes where the film drags a bit, overall it is decently paced.
The performance of the lead actors is pretty good especially of Sahil Mehta, Mannat Ravi and Priyam Galav who also debut in this film as Kanav, Ashneet and Priyanka respectively. Their background in theatre does reflect in certain scenes where the acting is more dramatic than cinematic. Om Puri is commendable as Ashneet’s grandfather, who plays a pivotal role in the lives of his family members. While he is a key part of the film, he surely does not steal the newcomers’ thunder. The actors who play Ashneet’s father, Kuljeet and Ashneet’s paternal grandmother are worth a mention.
This film is a first for not just the director and the lead actors but also for music director Jaidev Kumar. Jaidev is a well-known Punjabi music director who has composed music for a couple of Punjabi films as well as some famous Punjabi albums. The music, though well-suited for film and setting, is ordinary. But the background score and the soulful track “Tere Bina Jiya Na Jaye” do stand out. Choreography is wanting in this film. Cinematography and editing are admirable. There are some breathtaking shots of the Golden Temple and train crossing various terrains as it trundles to Mumbai. The entire film is set in a train and the camera does a fair job of maintaining the slight shake which is characteristic of a moving train. The art direction team has done a fair job of creating a palace-on-wheels effect in a normal express train which though impractical, works for the film.
The end is predictable but there are a couple of twists that are well executed. For the first film made by students of film direction and acting, this is a laudable effort which hopefully will only get better.
Verdict: Worth a watch in the theatres