Salaam-e-Ishq (A Tribute to Love)

Salaam-e-Ishq was sort of our first ‘real’ Bollywood experience. We initially became aware of Bollywood through Bride and Prejudice, which for a short time everyone was talking about. But, like most other people, we weren’t that inspired to check out the real thing: Hindi films.

What did get us was a song. A friend sent Hannah the title song from this movie. We listened to it non-stop for weeks, looked up the video on Youtube and had to watch this movie. And it was worth it.

The story is a bit complicated (I’m told the concept is based on Love Actually but I’ve never seen it so I couldn’t tell you), involving six stories (well, five stories and one awkward comic relief side-plot thing) about six couples that are very loosely connected.

The six couples are: Ashutosh (John Abraham) and Tehzeeb (Vidya Balan); Gia (Ayesha Takia) and Shiven (Akshaye Khanna); Seema (the ever lovely Juhi Chawla) and Vinay (Anil Kapoor); Rahul (Salman Khan) and Kamini (Priyanka Chopra); Raju (Govinda) and Stephenie (Shannon Esra); and Ramdayal (Sohail Khan) and Phoolwati (Isha Koppikkar).

Ashu and Tehzeeb’s story was the most touching of the six, hands down. Vidya is fantastic as the sweet Tehzeeb, and honestly I can’t complain about John’s performance. I know everyone says he’s more a model than an actor, but here he was very effective.

Salman is at his best in a character like Rahul, and Rahul and Kamini’s relationship was very amusing. Of the six, the two couples I think that could stand to have their own movies, would be John and Vidya, and Salman and Priyanka. In any case, I would watch those movies.

Shannon Esra played the know-nothing American with grace. I mean, she wasn’t obnoxious, but she was pretty believable. Govinda was positively adorable (and I understand what they mean in other movies when someone is told to “dance like Govinda”). And have I mentioned that I love this movie?

Things to skip: Any of the scenes with Sohail and Isha. They play a newly-wed couple and add only awkwardness to the movie.

The soundtrack is by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and is first-class. You get two good dance songs (Salaam e Ishq and Tenu Leke) as well as Dil Kya Kare; there are a couple of others but not so memorable. It’s sad that Mera Dil didn’t make it into the movie, but happy that someone put it up on Youtube.

The movie was written and directed by Nikhil Advani, who had previously directed Karan Johar’s Kal Ho Naa Ho, and was assistant director on Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, which explains the frequent mentions of KJo in the film. (that, and the fact that tie-ins to the real world of Bollywood are almost irresistible to scriptwriters, apparently)

This was a great movie to begin our venture into the world of Bollywood with because, while it had some Indian peculiarities (just because you call someone “uncle” doesn’t mean they are your uncle, for instance) and was a little crazy, the story is very accessible and you don’t really need any prior knowledge of India to get through it just fine.

Oh, lessons learned: Anil Kapoor looks better with facial hair than without it.