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Plot: wealthy socialite meets a shy young man who looks exactly like her boyfriend

Before Koi… Mil Gaya (2003) revolutionized the way films were made in Bollywood, there was the box office smash Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai (or Say That You Love Me). Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai was the big screen debut of Hritik Roshan, the Hindi superstar-in-waiting whose dashing good looks, sculptured physique and mad dancing skills would shoot him into the hearts and loins of women of all ages. Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai amassed a record 102 awards at every award ceremony in the country, grossed 3.6 billion worldwide and made stars out of Hritik Roshan and Ameesha Patel. Not bad for a rom-com with a rather perfunctory plot and a selection of decidedly average songs that were catchy but had not much in the way of hooks. More importantly though is that Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai set the stage for the sweet family masala Koi… Mil Gaya (2003) and the future Krrish franchise. Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai was so lucrative that an attempt on the life of director Rakesh Roshan was made just a week after the movie’s release. He was shot several times just outside his office on Tilak Road, Santacruz in Mumbai by two hitmen from extortionist and Indian Mafia don Ali Budesh before whom he refused to bow.

By the time actor, producer and writer Rakesh Roshan came to direct Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai he had plenty of experience as an actor and had helmed a whopping 8 features (going as far back as 1987) all starting with the letter K. Roshan is often (and not without reason) accused of pilfering western properties for storylines and characters from Koi… Mil Gaya (2003) onwards, Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai on the other hand does the exact opposite. The plot recombines plotpoints from Khudgarz (1987), Khoon Bhari Maang (1988) and Koyla (1997) into a fun, if not exactly riveting, little romp that gets by more on its inherent sweetness than its actualy storytelling. Roshan originally envisioned to helm the production on the Fiji Islands but when the necessary permits couldn’t be secured New Zealand was chosen instead. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor were initially offered the role of Sonia. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan politely declined the part for reasons unknown. Kareena - the granddaughter of Raj Kapoor, daughter of Randhir Kapoor & Babita and sister of Bollywood superstar Karisma Kapoor – was forced to pull out just days into shooting after her mother got into a heated argument with director Roshan. Eventually Roshan decided on Ameesha Patel. For western audiences Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai will probably look like an Elvis Presley musical comedy and a Frankie Avalon-John Ashley beach party movie from the sixties combined with a truncated The Blue Lagoon (1980) vignette for good measure. Hritik Roshan and Ameesha Patel are a joy to behold, but there is nary any chemistry to speak of between the two. Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai is a romantic desi masala for the entire family that even western audiences might find appealing. It’s not quite on the level of Roshan’s later productions, but it works well enough for what it is.

Rohit Chopra (Hritik Roshan) is a good-natured young man from humble beginnings. He slaves away at his car salesman job during the day and fills his nights with playing guitar and singing his heart out. One day sells a vehicle to wealthy entrepreneur Saxena (Anupam Kher) who is involved in some shady business. At a traffic light Rohit makes his acquaintance with Sonia (Ameesha Patel, as Amisha Patel), the daughter of Saxena, and the two are instantly smitten with each other. The two meet each other again on a cruise ship bound for Singapore where Rohit impresses everyone with his singing. Through no choice of their own Sonia and Rohit are separated from the cruise and end up on a deserted island. The two decide to make the best of the situation until they are taken back to civilization. Once back in the world Sonia and her friends assist Rohit in cutting a cassette demo and help him kickstart his career in every way they can. When his career takes off and he’s able to make a living from his singing he and Sonia are to be married. On the eve of a performance set to launch his career, Rohit is witness to Shakti Malik (Dalip Tahil) and Atu Malik (Rajesh Tandon) murdering a law enforcement official investigating Saxena’s illicit businesses. Saxena’s goons find Rohit and drown him for his trouble. Saxena covers the murder up as an unfortunate accident. When the news reaches Sonia she's naturally shaken by the news. To keep his daughter from feeling maudlin and depressed Saxena sends her to live with her cousins in New Zealand. In New Zealand Sonia meets the bespectacled, well-dressed Raj (Hritik Roshan) who looks exactly the deceased Rohit. As you’d expect Sonia and Raj fall in love and together they decide to find the culprit responsible for murdering Rohit…

That Hritik Roshan was destined for superstardom was clear from his debut performance (in a double role, no less) here. Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai is a valentine to his every move, his every glance and an extended preamble to showcase his dancing skills. In quite a few ways Roshan (the elder as much as the younger) lays the groundwork for the 2003 box office smash that would establish them both. In Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai Roshan the younger for the first time portrayed a sculptured, good-natured working class guy as well as his bespectacled, more reserved and introverted counterpart. Ameesha Patel combines the regal posture of Mia Sara in her prime with the doe-eyed innocence of a young Shiri Appleby but is in the habit of hamming it up every once in a while. Granted, her grand declaration of love ‘Janeman Janeman’ (‘Sweetheart’) is adorable in every way even though her dancing tends to be a bit stiff. Patel does look quite fetching in her blue veils in the love song ‘Na Tum Jano Na Hum’ (‘No, You Know, Us’) and ‘Pyar Ki Kashti Mein’ (‘On the Ship of Love’) introduces the well-known melody that Koi… Mil Gaya (2003) would use for Jadoo and that Krrish would later inherit. The soulful Lucky Ali r&b club banger ‘Ek Pal Ka Jeena’ (‘There’s Only A Moment To Life’) could have easily charted in the US and Europe had it been given an English make-over. In retrospect most of it, the romantic entanglements especially so, feel like a dress rehearsal for the later and overall superior feel-good masala Koi… Mil Gaya (2003).

Hritik Roshan playing a double role and characters named Rohit, Raj, Sonia, and Saxena all would make their return in future Rakesh Rohan productions. A lot of it feels like a test-run for something more ambitious and grander in scope. At the heart of most Bollywood productions is a romance and in case of Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai that was its entire raison d'être. Compared to the on-screen romance between Hritik Roshan and Preity Zinta in Koi… Mil Gaya (2003) and Priyanka Chopra in Krrish (2006) the courtship and eventual union with Ameesha Patel is fairly uneventful outside of the uncharted island segment. Ameesha Patel is adorable as many Hindi women in these productions tend to be but she isn’t a great actress by any metric of choice. Her presence is illuminating certainly, but it’s not as if she’s setting the screen alight quite in the same way Preity Zinta and Priyanka Chopra would years later. It’s not even for a lack of trying on Patel’s part either. The love scenes are good for what they are but there’s never quite any sparks or electricity between both leads. The action sequences are serviceable enough but tend to stick out for all the wrong reasons. Sonia’s friend Neeta (played by Tanaaz Currim Irani) obviously was the basis for Honey (played by Manini M. Mishra) in Krrish (2006). In fact most of everything retroactively served as a model for things that turned up later in Koi… Mil Gaya (2003) and the ongoing Krrish franchise. It’s hardly the worst complaint to level against the movie.

Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai was in the unfortunate position of being retroactively eclipsed by the two box office smash hits that followed it. Not that that in any way diminishes the overall effectiveness of this little rom-com. This is the sort of injection that many Western rom-coms would benefit tremendously from. Ameesha Patel is cute as a dish and Hritik Roshan is a lead man with talent to spare. Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai is a standard romantic comedy enlivened by its selection of some halfway decent (and a few surprisingly really good) songs. Compared to later Roshan productions Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai is much smaller in scale and scope. It is a fun little movie sure to elate the spirit with its kind-hearted nature and stubborn belief that love indeed does conquer all. In Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai Roshan the elder’s quirkier tendencies are reined in and it's fairly conventional as such. Talks of a sequel have been making the rounds for years, but nothing substantial has come from it thus far. Anybody interested to see where one of India’s best-paid actors was launched needs to look no further.

Plot: teen is targeted by a deranged serial murderer

Some movies just defy description. Others never deliver on their promises. The most fascinating are those that are so defiantly weird that they become their own category. I Know Who Killed Me is bad. Showgirls (1995) bad. The Room (2003) bad. 12 million dollars, 4 months of production, a former Disney child star in her first grown up role and a host of embarrassed television actors can’t possibly salvage what by all accounts was shaping up to be one hell of a trainwreck. I Know Who Killed Me is an affront to anyone’s sensibilities; cinematic and otherwise.

How is it possible that a movie trying so hard to be slick and sexy can be so unbelievably unerotic at the same time? I Know Who Killed Me wants, at any cost, to be sleazy. It yearns, no, desperately craves, to be trashy – but somehow manages to be more prudish than the average syndicated TV show. The thrills are never thrilling, the sexy scenes are so terminally dull, badly staged and unerotic that peeling your own eyes out becomes a tantalizing prospect, and the screenplay is so nonsensical and convoluted that they might as well have started filming without one. A rookie director, a first-time writer and a name-star well past her due date. Was there any way this could have ended well for anybody? I Know Who Killed Me was a failure of such collosal, epic proportions that it killed Lindsay Lohan’s career.

That I Know Who Killed Me was even greenlit for production is largely thanks to the then-still relative bankability of freckled redhead Lindsay Lohan. Lohan first broke to the big time with her dual role in the 1998 remake of Disney’s The Parent Trap (1961). That streak continued with another remake of a classic Disney staple in the form of the 2003 reimagining of Freaky Friday (1976), a role that earned her the award for Breakthrough Performance at the 2004 MTV Movie Awards. Lohan’s star truly rose with Disney’s Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004) and the sleeper hit Mean Girls (2004). From that point forward Lohan’s off-set shenanigans started to catch up with her as she was involved in a series of car accidents in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Her last Disney project Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005), the fifth (and, so far, last) installment of the Herbie franchise, was a production fraught with problems from Lohan’s side. Her on-set diva behavior and hard partying ways had become the stuff of legend and she had to be hospitalized with a kidney infection. Disney on their side spent a good fortune on visual effects artificially reducing Lohan’s famous bosoms because they apparently would distract too much from a talking car. Just My Luck (2006) put a dent in her career, overtaken almost completely by tabloid press and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and not even the Robert Altman comedy A Prairie Home Companion (2006) and the Emilio Estevez drama Bobby (2006) were able to pull LiLo from the path to self-destruction she had embarked on.

In 2007 production on I Know Who Killed Me, Lindsay’s much-publicized first grown up role, was halted as she had to undergo appendix surgery. Around the same time LiLo admitted herself to the Wonderland Center rehabilitation facility in Los Angeles for a month-long treatment. Her legal, personal, and substance abuse problems became so grave that during production she either showed up very late, or failed to show up at all. For the climax director Chris Sivertson was forced to use a body double to complete the project. Sivertson’s only prior credit of note was co-directing the 2004 remake of The Toolbox Murders (1978) and this remains Jeff Hammond’s first (and, likely, only) screenwriting credit. I Know Who Killed Me was nominated for a grand total of nine Razzies, or Golden Raspberry Awards, eight (Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Excuse for a Horror Movie, and Worst Rip-off, among them) of which it ended up winning. It was not screened in advance for critics for a very good reason. I Know Who Killed Me is terrible.

Sivertson knows his classics and desperately wants to mimic the style of Brian DePalma, Dario Argento, and David Lynch and fails spectacularly. I Know Who Killed Me is simply so uniformly and universally terrible on all fronts that you’d wish Jess Franco had directed it. Suffice to say I Know Who Killed Me all but killed Lohan’s once promising career. It heralded LiLo’s spectacular and very public fall from grace and her subsequent spiral into irrelevance. Almost immediately the ill-repute from I Know Who Killed Me spread like wildfire in the bad cinema blogosphere. It wasn’t until 2010 when LiLo hit absolute rock bottom as she alternated between time in jail and in rehab. In 2012 the inevitable spread in Playboy followed. In the decade-plus since I Know Who Killed Me, LiLo’s career, or what little that’s left of it at any rate, has shown no signs of improving. Chris Sivertson, inexplicably, remains active as a screenwriter and director.

In the idyllic upper middle class town of New Salem (Massachusetts? North Dakota? Illinois? New York? Pennsylvania? Does it really matter?) a young woman called Aubrey Fleming (Lindsay Lohan) - an aspiring young writer, naturally gifted pianist and grade-A student - has gone missing, causing great consternation to her parents Daniel (Neal McDonough) and Susan (Julia Ormond). Jennifer Toland (Stacy Lynn Gabel), an earlier abductee, was found horribly mutilated, tortured and very much dead. Fleming’s disappearance prompts an investigation by an FBI taskforce led by agents Phil Lazarus (Spencer Garrett) and Julie Bascome (Garcelle Beauvais, as Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon). One night a bloodied, mutilated girl named Dakota Moss (Lindsay Lohan) is found in the middle of nowhere. The agents, Aubrey’s parents and a psychiatrist question and later try to jog Dakota’s memory believing her to be a fabrication on Aubrey’s part as a defense mechanism to deal with her obvious trauma. As Dakota gathers the clues revealing a long-hidden sordid family secret Moss is able to ascertain who is the perpetrator behind the terrible slaying that continues to haunt New Salem, allowing her to at long last meaningfully mumble: "I Know Who Killed Me." No, it wasn't the butler, cos that is the only cliché that I Know Who Killed Me avoids.

To see beloved television actors as Gregory Itzin, Neal McDonough, Michael Adler, Brian McNamara, and Paula Marshall slumming it up waiting for the paycheck to clear, trying to maintain a straight face while sputtering their way through some of the most hackneyed Ed Wood-ian, near Tommy Wiseau-ian dialog imagineable is heartbreaking to say the least. Itzin, McDonough, Adler, McNamara and Marshall one and all are reliable television actors well above and beyond this kind of cinematic crapshoot. The other name star in I Know Who Killed Me is British expat Julia Ormond, who is under the mistaken impression that this is a serious movie. To see her cringe her way through the “mister Gervais” scene in the hospital is actively pain-inducing. Ormond, the poor thing, was in Legends Of the Fall (1994), Sabrina (1995), and First Knight (1995) in just the decade prior. Thankfully she redeemed herself with David Fincher’s multiple Academy Award nominated The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008) with Brad Pitt the following year.

Apparent YouTube sensation of the day Jessica Rose, “lonelygirl15” to the demographic this was no doubt marketed towards, plays a bit part as one of Aubrey’s friends. The rest of the no-name cast are either wooden or sleepwalking their respective roles. The screenplay is an epic display of undiluted incompetence. Jeff Hammond obviously looked at Planet Terror (2007), Captivity (2007) and Saw (2004) (on to its second sequel by 2007) for inspiration as I Know Who Killed Me features a pole-dancing lead character, loses itself in endless (and, frankly, tedious) montages of torture-porn and has a serial murderer antagonist with a predilection towards punishing his victims through elaborate revenge schemes and contraptions. Characters and plotpoints, big and small, disappear or are not followed up upon with alarming frequency and the symbolism is as subtle as a bull in a china shop. Rank desperation, that’s what it is. Chris Sivertson is a competent director, there’s no contesting. Not even he can save this hot mess of a screenplay.

I Know Who Killed Me desperately wishes it was an Italian giallo murder mystery. It has the sadistic killer in gloves targeting nubile women, it's more transgressive in its portrayal of sexuality than is usually the norm for Hollywood, one of Aubrey’s closest relatives and her family harbors a dark secret, and the red-blue lighting obviously takes after the best works of both Mario Bava and Dario Argento. To even things out there’s also a premature burial and the killer gets really creative upon his captive victims. It opens with a strip routine that looks like it was recreated wholesale from Jess Franco’s The Devil Came From Akasava (1971) and Vampyros Lesbos (1971) and then continues with more elegiac static strip routines that seem to take more after Diana Lorys in Nightmares Come at Night (1972) in the sense that they go nowhere and show nothing. Where old Jess had a chronic problem getting women into their clothes, I Know Who Killed Me found itself saddled with a diva who through contractual stipulations refused to get out of hers. It's exactly the sort of problem you'd never have with starlets like Misty Mundae.

La Lohan duly researched her all-important grown up role, taking up pole-dancing lessons in preparation and gloriously shot herself in the foot and into the hearts of sex workers everywhere with such eloquent, sensible and carefully worded declarations as, They're all whores, they're all whores . . . xcept for some obviously!", “strippers dude, I tell you, I really respect the cunts now. . . I'm not gonna lie to ya and letting candid bits of wisdom as rehab was a sobering experience escape her mouth. Even The French Sex Murders (1972) was more sleazy and, relatively speaking, there were far more sleazier gialli that decade. At least it had Barbara Bouchet. Lohan’s amputated extremities are probably the worst in a moderate budget Hollywood production in living memory. Her severed arm in particular is, somehow, less convincing (despite the obvious and expensive green-screen composit shots that it took to produce the effect) than Pier Luigi Conti’s not-really-a-stump in Jess Franco’s Eurociné jungle epic White Cannibal Queen (1980). The line “people get cut. That’s life” is on par with Everybody got AIDS and shit! from Showgirls (1995) and Tommy Wiseau’s “I did not hit her!” non sequitur from The Room (2003).

Who casts Lindsay Lohan and has her not take her clothes off? LiLo plays a stripper who wears far too many layers of clothes and whose routines seem to take ages. Lohan is given a shower scene and we’re not even treated to a lingering ass shot or a glance of sideboob? The average Andy Sidaris movie was spicier, Tinto Brass (who is a master technician) is sleazier through his innate artistry. Not to mention that the late Jess Franco had Romina Power, Susan Hemingway, and Katja Bienert suffering all sorts of unspeakable indignities and humiliations before they were even old enough to drink! Marie Liljedahl was barely 18 when she bared all in Joseph W. Sarno's Inga (1968). Mary and Madeleine Collinson had been flaunting their twins for a good two years before they landed the titular part in Twins Of Evil (1971) and they were barely 19. Renato Polselli and Luigi Batzella made entire features during the wicked and wild 1970s wherein Rita Calderoni barely wore any clothes. It’s depressing on how many levels that I Know Who Killed Me fails in the most obvious of ways. It’s certainly an achievement when the works of Jess Franco and the Eurociné repertoire become a viable alternative. I Know Who Killed Me is such an awesome concentration of pure wretchedness that, somehow, some way, the alternate ending is even worse than the theatrical one. I Know Who Killed Me is a Lovecraftian monstrosity of such staggering proportions that if you gaze into it long enough, a glassy, empty-eyed Lindsay Lohan will stare right back at you…