Sunday August 2, 2009

Movie review: Love Aaj Kal (Imtiaz Ali)

Posted by Karthik

We’ve come a long way indeed. It started with ‘Yeh shaadi nahi ho sakti’, often uttered by the male lover who took a bit too long to announce his love. Women became empowered, a few years later – and uttered the long, shrilly, ‘Naheeee’, at the shaadi ka mandap, just seconds before the mangal sutra reaches its destination. Then it was the post sagai realization of true love. Love Aaj Kal takes the evolution to the next stage – post marriage realization. I’d have loved to see this film from Rahul Khanna’s point of view – I’m sure it’d have been titled KLPD.

Jokes apart, Love Aaj Kal is a mighty underwhelming film, given the standards set by Socha na tha. Though, with each passing film, Imtiaz seems to be stepping down the ladder – case in point, the very filmy, but enjoyable, Jab we met.

The only spark of intelligence is Saif playing the young Rishi Kapoor (should have been Ranbir Kapoor!) in the sepia-toned flashback – a very interesting plot device. The yuppie Saif merely sleepwalks through his role and reprises his zillion other, similar roles. Deepika looks pretty, but is severely miscast – she lacks the maturity and intelligence to carry such a role and it shows in many scenes, with her blank stares, passed off in the name of emotion. Brazilian debutant Giselle Monteiro, playing Harleen looks adequately radiant to entice a man to travel from Delhi to Kolkata, but seems extraordinarily uncomfortable dancing to Punju steps – quite understandable, given her roots. Rishi Kapoor is very, very dependable, as always, and getting Neetu Singh for a few seconds in the end is a lovely touch.

The music is fantastic and adds color at the mildest excuse – Chor bazari is perhaps the most enjoyable, with a repetitive step that looks like pulling errant and ill-fitting trousers back in place, enacted really well by Saif and Deepika.

Beyond the reasonably interesting premise of starting with a break-up and moving the film forward, the parallel drawn with Rishi’s flashback just does not gel. For one, the comparison between the fickle, modern youngsters (Saif and Deepika) and the more focused older generation (Sardar Saif and Harleen) is too simplistic. Its also the same old filmy theories of ‘love at first sight’ and ‘is this love?’ that are explored all over again, in the flimsy garb of 2 generations.

The time span shown in the film is a bit too implausible; the initial scenes leading to the break-up span several months, while the entire cycle from the break-up to the film’s climax is easily a couple of years. That, to me, is way too long, for matters of heart to stand still, despite a very thin excuse offered by Imtiaz in the form of the blonde girlfriend-door mat, Jo, and the poor boss, Vikram. The latter, thankfully, culminates into a wedding, but, like explained earlier, its merely a mildly progressive and civil way of saying, ‘Naheeee’.

With such a flimsy premise and an equally convenient plot point of Saif not knowing Deepika’s status for one full year – despite generously showcasing and referring to chatting and email a few scenes earlier – pulls the film completely down. The mugging scene and Saif’s reluctance to part with Deepika’s photograph seals all others with its massive cringe-worthy moment.

If there was one takeaway from Love Aaj Kal, it is that the older generation did not have options; so they made up their minds faster and easier. The younger generation is spoilt for choice; hence, takes a few years and a couple of collateral damages to do the same. Some sweeping generalization, that.

Sure, it is better than most other Hindi films which are mired either in ostentatious remakes of simple and earthy plots from far superior regional language cinema or in making a buffoonery of the money available at its disposal. But is that the yardstick, really? C’mon Imtiaz…going by the commendable lack of compromises in your terribly under-appreciated debut, I sure expected you to go up – not down.

Keywords: Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Rishi Kapoor, Giselle Monteiro, Imtiaz Ali, Pritam



  • jur802

    This review is way more than 100 words… does that mean u highly recommend the movie?? … overall the movie is not that gr8… n depika cannot enact complex emotions … she can only smile, cry, and get upset… other than that I agree she stares with a blank face… jeez!

  • nickraman

    The film was bad. Saif Ali Khan is getting typecast with roles like this. Moreover, it seems like he’s made the decision to love the girl but stretches the film too much to annoy the viewer with the “obvious” ending. Imtiaz pretty much took the Jab We Met script, added in some “Hindglish” masala + English serials (ala Dawson’s Creek) and of course, when in plot device, please hire a senior actor like Rishi Kapoor to give the film more appeal to the older audiences who are diehard Hindi filmi types. I’ll admit, Rishi’s backstory was what made the film tolerable. Deepika is total waste and can’t act for nuts.

  • sitafny

    I thought the movie was okay though the chemistry between the two of them could have been better. I loved the songs! you can hear it HERE the clarity is good 🙂

  • Pingback: Karthik reviews Love Aaj Kal : NAACHGAANA()

  • jaydeep

    After I watched Singh is King i was so disappointed I decided never to watch Bollywood flick in theater, I gathered a lot of courage to get into theater to watch this one. So had to write this I AM DISAPPOINTED YET AGAIN.
    I totally agree Imtiaz has gone down the ladder and actually not just one step down but slipped down a few rungs. The subject so sensitive and so today deserved more sensible treatment. Script & direction are erratic. Characters penned, are not as subtle as in his previous two outings. At the end one feels the writer himself isn’t convinced with the point he is trying to make, there is absolutely no impact.

    Also, major drawback is Saif the producer & Imtiaz forgot that there were other characters and actors in the movie and failed to realize it will be difficult for Saif the actor to pull off a screen to screen performance. Even Shahrukh & Hrithik need well written & well presented supporting cast. I am surprised Rahul Khanna signed for this role, those couple unknown guys sitting next to punjabi Saif got more footage than him. Its a KLPD for him in all senses.
    Disagree on two things with karthik’s review though, one Deepika I felt was perfectly cast and a thorough natural in her role and second Twist was the best shot song, very well choreographed. Rest of the music was way under utilized rather just wasted.
    Despite having a good concept (narrating present & past together & casting saif in both), good actors & fab music, Imtiaz misses out big time on this one.

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