Remember Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander? Mansoor Khan captured the emotions and the turmoil of teenagers with such precision, and an entire generation connected to the movie that dealt with issues such as the competitive inter-school rivalry, the hot girl that everybody wants, the good friend that nobody notices, the class divide between students, the lies that one tells to create an impression, or to hide an embarrassing identity, and so on.
This year, Gauri Khan has decided to produce yet another version of life in Class XII, inspired, no doubt, by the very fancy private school that her children attend. The problem with Always Kabhi Kabhi, besides the rather wannabe title (which is repeated often in the movie, to justify its usage), is that it fails to connect with its intended audience.
The story is disjointed and lacks conviction. Nandini/Nandy Bull (Zoa Morani) relives her last year in school, through Friendspace, a social network. She begins with how she was always told that this would be the best year of her life but 'they' were wrong. Nandy then proceeds to burn some photographs. This particular introduction to the story is neither referred to again, nor is there anything in the next 2 hours that will give you a clue to why 'they' were wrong.
Nandy's childhood friend, or enemy, is Tarique/Einstein (Satyajeet Dubey). His father wants him to get into MIT (in the USA, of course), but despite his obvious intelligence, the boy is living his father's dream, not his own. Nandy has a boyfriend named Toy Boy, and pushes off to Goa whenever she wants to, for some debauched times, just because she wants her parents to notice her. They never do.
Aishwarya/Ash (Giselle Monteiro) has shifted to India to live with her ambitious mother, an ex-actor (Navneet Nishan). Her mother wants Ash to achieve what she could not, and therefore pushes her to model in skimpy clothes. And then there is Sameer/Sam (Ali Fazal). It is never too clear what his parents want him to do in life, but he is a disappointment to them nevertheless. The stage is thus set - dissatisfied parents, and clueless kids.
Add to this a long-haired science teacher (Vijay Raaz, wasted), who is forever sleeping, a Shakespeare-fanatic English teacher (Lilette Dubey, overacting and wasted), a docile, sympathetic Principal (Akash Khurana, confused), and two corrupt cops (Mukesh Tiwari and Manoj Joshi, both here for the money), and you have a script that has so many holes that one is surprised the director never realised what he was doing wrong.
Most of these youngsters are newcomers, except Giselle (who first appeared in Love Aaj Kal). Giselle's voice is dubbed, but she does not much to say or do anyway, except look pretty. As Ash, she is so dull and dreary that one wonders why Sam fell in love with her. Ali Fazal is promising, but he needs to find his own style. He seems very inspired by Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan in this one.
Zoa Morani gets the maximum screen time, maybe because she is Karim Morani's daughter. Not only does she have the shortest skirt in school, she also gets the best camera angles as she flaunts her body, sulking and pouting. It is Satyajeet Dubey, however, who creates some impact as Tarique. His face is pleasant, and his acting natural, at least, relatively.
Songs pop up at regular intervals, to showcase the fun and games that going to school entail. The 'youthfulness' in these sequences is more than forced - it is ludicrous. And the director cannot quite make up his mind about what the school should look like. So many locations pass off as a part of St. Mark's that the presentation becomes patchy. Add to that the rather improbable influence Shakespeare has on youngsters, and you have a movie that will soon be forgotten.
Tepid, lacklustre and absolutely illogical, Always Kabhi Kabhi can be overlooked, always. Rent a DVD of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, or Main Hoon Na, if you want to revive memories of school.