TV Review: Love 2 Hate U
The premise of Love 2 Hate U, actor Arjun Rampal’s new show on Star World, is pretty straightforward: actors, directors and as far as we can tell, one author (that would be who else but Chetan Bhagat) confront the people who hate them. The series is not, as we excitedly first thought, a programme that pits Aamir Khan against arch nemesis Shah Rukh or locks Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor in a room together and throws away the key. Instead, it’s about getting normal folk, who shall we say entertain strong opinions, to face the people they loathe. If this all sounds a bit like a schoolyard bully fight, where the Goliath of Bollywood ego is pitted against the David of a Tweeting public, then you’d be right. Bringing us to wonder: what’s the point of all this?
Was Love 2 Hate You made so Arjun Rampal could add television host to his resume of nightclub owner, model, muse, SRK’s sometime bestie and movie actor? Or because Star World desperately needed to fill air time until Koffee with Karan returns with a fourth season next year? Or maybe the purpose of the show is to give Bollywood folk, ever getting affronted by an increasingly vociferous public and sphere of critics, a chance to get their own back by making unsuspecting folk cow under the might of their…talent? Whatever the reason, after watching the first episode, you’re left with the yawn-inducing sense that it’s all a bit, well, lame.
Rampal kicks off the first of the confrontations with a boy called Farhan Syed, by huffing and puffing with such badly acted indignation, that you begin to understand why Farhan seems intent on comparing Rampal’s acting abilities to wooden furniture. The twist is that Farhan, goaded into a diatribe against Rampal, has no idea that Rampal is next door, about to pounce on this unsuspecting hater whose Twitter handle @duggalsahab is helpfully flashed on screen. After listening to Farhan’s reasons—whose chief contention is that Rampal simply can’t act—Rampal’s best comeback is to tell viewers at home that Farhan needs to “re-think” his job as a freelance writer because he didn’t like Rock On!!, and that “he’s not really funny”. Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be about hating Rampal?
Rampal then shows him how it’s done by cracking this joke: “There’s another Farhan, who’s an actor, director, writer, musician. You need to change your name because it’s insulting to Farhan Akhtar.” Ooh, psych! Mission accomplished because one frothy pink margarita later, Farhan downgrades his hate-o-meter reading from 3.75 to 0.7. “As a person,” Farhan concludes, “Rampal is a 9 on 10.” Score one for Bollywood; zero for humanity.
Rampal’s second victim is a girl called Suchitra Laxman, who is forced to reckon with the largely put-on ire of “National Award winning director” Madhur Bhandarkar. The problem is that Bhandarkar seems to have no issue with people not liking his work, because, well, he’s a National Award winning director. Oh yea, and he failed sixth standard and never finished school so you can’t blame him for making unrealistic movies. Faced with the prospect of failure—Laxman’s hate still burns at a steady 3.5—Bhandarkar then ropes her into a scene reading from the upcoming Rampal and Kareena Kapoor-starrer Heroine. The ploy, wouldntyaknowit, works, because Laxman dials down her hatred to a respectable 2.5. “I understand where he is coming from,” she says.
As our columnist Deepanjana Pal insightfully explains in this week’s column, there’s a point to haters, critics, and discerning members of the public who choose to express their opinions. Bollywood, like so many creative endeavours, usually prompts violently divisive reactions, and that’s part of the entertainment allure that makes the industry one of the most robust in the world. Rampal, however, seems to forget that for every hater, there’s an equally rabid fan out there, who as evident by the Twitter ticker that runs at the bottom of the screen, is likely to now bombard Farhan with hate Tweets. So trying to rid the country of the non-fans, one person at a time, seems like a Sisyphean task at best. Except that it’s the viewers at home that are subject to the eternal tedium of it all.
Love 2 Hate U airs on Star World every Sunday at 9pm.Tags: Arjun Rampal, Farhan Syed, Love 2 Hate U, Madhur Bhandarkar, Television, TV