Two seconds of Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai pack in more chemistry than two hours and 44 minutes of Ranbir and Shraddha's romance in Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar, feels Sukanya Verma.
The greatest jhooth Bollywood has pulled off is to make us believe a leopard changes its spots, promises are written in stone and compromise is the same thing as choice as long as they fulfill a love story's sole objective of a happily-ever-after.
Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar rejoices in this dated deceit and stays true to its director's trademark boy bias.
It's a truth universally acknowledged that Luv Ranjan's cinema isn't kind to women.
Yet again, the girl is the villain of the piece even though she has fair enough reason to put her foot down. But it's not brought up almost until the end in favour of the hero's virtues and magnanimity. What makes it worse is the film's love me, love my dog mindset yo-yoing between gaslighting and guilt-tripping.
If Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar wasn't so preoccupied with batting for joint family, it would actually address the issue of space and smothering relatives breaking a young couple apart instead of solely seeing it as one's burden, another's obligation.
Being a rom-com, a bulk of its opinions are conveyed in jest, rest over misty eyes and a melodramatic background score.
Although for a premise that starts out on a staggeringly frivolous note, things get pretty schmaltzy up ahead only to be narrowly salvaged by its boisterous Punjabi family high jinks, cramming in one car, quite like Hugh Grant's romance allies in Notting Hill's climax, and heading for a quintessential airport reunion.
As the latest entrant in Luv Ranjan's universe of loony home names Rajjo, Gogo, Chikku, Chauka, Sonu, Titu, Sweety, Ranbir Kapoor plays Mickey.
From a firm believer of Pyaar Hota Kayi Baar Hai to falling hook, line and sinker for the first girl he lays eyes on to family first, Mickey happily has his cake and eats it too.
Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar is lucky to have a leading man in Kapoor. A veteran of the genre, the actor carries off his character's turnabout from ready, steady, Romeo to sanskari Sooraj Barjatya archetype with such nimble charm, you play right into his hands.
He's completely out there and in element creating a superstar cocktail of Salman Khan's eligible bachelor spunk, Aamir Khan's lovable rascal and Shah Rukh Khan's relentless romantic.
Whether dazzling with his infectious dancing, teeming in excitement over monologue overkill or showing two star alumni of the Luv Ranjan school how it's done, Ranbir duly delivers.
Apart from the many family businesses, Mickey slyly runs a breakup service with best friend Dabas (stand-up comedian Anubhav Singh Bassi grabs some fun one-liners as the proverbial hero's sidekick) that charges its clients a couple of lakhs to end a relationship.
Economy is truly booming in this part of the world, which has money to splurge on splitting up, go to Spain on a bachelor's holiday where friends hook up and the clingy bride and panicky groom-to-be are left in the lurch or throw fancy engagement functions for people waiting till the eleventh hour before calling it quits.
Wealth is the answer to every problem.
Precocious little niece overhears your mischief? Toss a stack of money to shut her up.
Girlfriend wants her own place? Promise to build a floor above the family house.
Perhaps girlfriend wants her folks too? Build two.
Why bother with adult discourse when rolling in cash can solve everything?
Written by Ranjan and Rahul Mody, Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar is as random about love as it is of luxury.
One look at Tinni (Shraddha Kapoor), a friend of Dabas' fiancée Kinchi (Monica Chaudhary) doing a Bollywood-meets-cabaret at their bachelor-turned-bae holiday in Spain has Mickey burst into everything from sadakchaap serenade to shayari.
Audacious Tinni quickly reciprocates and the two paint the town red in beachwear displaying their toned bodies to perfection while showing no remorse for stealing Dabas and Kinchi's thunder.
A sexy holiday is cut short to accommodate a shuddh desi Meet the Parents scenario.
Mickey's sprawling family (Dimple Kapadia, Boney Kapoor, Hasleen Kaur, Jatinder Kaur, Inayat Verma) is the sort that behaves like how an excited dog does on seeing their master.
There are ample instances to believe they are a well-meaning, overbearing lot, but Dimple Kapadia's loud affections and Boney Kapoor's deadpan humour as well as Ranbir's breezy way of dealing with them lends it a disarming air of 'what to do? we are like that only.'
In comparison, Tinni's also-sprawling family (only Ayesha Raza can just about call it a role, the rest are all blink-and-miss) are painted uppity and aloof even if they seem quite alright.
Either way, they are of little consequence to Tinni or Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar except create a complication that's more of contrivance.
As in the tradition of all rom-coms, there's a period of heartbreak and indecision, but the mood swings brought about by characters and their sudden urge to ham and exaggerate cannot settle on a tone.
Expletives are bleeped out only to permit a distinctly audible F-bomb.
One minute, Mickey and Tinni are shedding giant tears, another doing flirty moves to Show Me The Thumka on the occasion of their buddy's baby shower.
If ever there was an award for most self-absorbed friends, Dabas and Kinchi's would win by a landslide.
One for zero chemistry too.
There are frequent attempts to create a Tamasha-style role-play around the leads, but Shraddha Kapoor's blah portrayal is no match for Ranbir's wit.
Two seconds of Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai on her apartment's television screen pack in more chemistry than two hours and 44 minutes of Ranbir and her romance in Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar.
Oomph isn't about fitness.
Sass lies within.
Energetic though she may be, Shraddha is an uninspired choice for the role.
She lacks the wild impulses to make Tinni fascinating and grabs more eyeballs for her fake eyelashes, perfectly in place, even when she steps out of a shower.
Nor do her awkward comedy attempts like the 'Lala hai tu' joke cracked at Ranbir's expense land as Deepika Padukone's 'You are a halwa' jibe at SRK did in Chennai Express.
It's tempting to envision Deepika in the same role.
She would play her like an equal. And if Ranbir's enthusiasm in a meta moment of Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar is to be believed , so would one half of a certain Ralia.