Written and directed by Praveen Kumar with little imagination, insight and spunk, this film sources its title from the very famous couplet by Amir Khusro: 'Khusro darya prem ka, ulti wa ki dhaar/Jo utra so doob gaya, jo dooba so paar.' Kumar's understanding of love is so confined that he fails to read the simplicity in Khusro's lines. Why else would he train his attention on complexities that only but briefly help his plot?
In trying to tell the story of unrequited love that's eventually heading towards a weird ménage à trois, Kumar sticks to his roots and eschews the glamour of a big city to set his narrative in the small town Bihar. It's a language and culture he seems familiar with but for some reason he treats the subject with perfunctory knowledge. The film follows the escapades of Keshu (Anand Tiwari), freshly kicked out of school, who falls in love with an American girl, Sapna (Sita Ragione Spada) and takes her around town, helping her shape her opinion on true art.
At some point, when one has lost interest, the "sweet, firangi girl" is kidnapped prompting a lost-in-love Keshu to team up with his friends and a local constable (Vinay Pathak) to launch a hunt of their own. Joining them in this unintentionally hilarious search operation is Sapna's equally nondescript American boyfriend who is dragged into frequent scuffle
with Keshu over their common love for her. When Keshu asks her boyfriend if he loves her, he turns ambivalent, "I guess so." Say yes or no, demands Keshu to which he replies with a sense of finality, "Look, I don't know, man."
In another scene, Keshu asks him if he knows the meaning of the name Sapna and it turns out, his real definition of love is "chemistry" between two people. Keshu doesn't subscribe to this chemistry hypothesis and has his own drawn-out spin on love which is equally amusing. Keshu's friends are the most annoying bunch you are likely to encounter in the movies in a long time.
One is of poetic disposition and disguises as a turban-wearing Sikh during the hunt, another is of the rabble-rousing kind who wears India on his sleeve: "I love my India." The most insane scene is one in which a dejected Keshu is mulling over what to do next, "Koi marg nazar nahin aa raha," and a monk fetches up to assure him, "Tum marg par hi ho." If there was any profundity in those lines, one clearly missed it. The climax plays out against the backdrop of Bodh Gaya, home to Gautama Buddha's spiritual epiphany.
Jo Dooba So Paar is intended to be in the category of a rustic comedy like Phas Gaye Re Obama than dramatic Bihar-based films like Shool or Apharan. It tries to be a simple film but gets more and more convoluted, becoming in some sense emblematic of poor writing. It's like those Buddha canvasses you see everyone painting these days which have intent but are most often marred by insipid ideas and mediocre draughtsmanship.