Love Aaj Kal Movie Review: Imitiaz Ali couldn't pull-off the complexity of love by juxtaposing the old and new generation's love stories.Modified On: 17 February 2020 | Reviewed By: Saurabh S Nair
Kartik Aaryan and Sara Ali Khan are good as a couple but that chemistry doesn't work because of the poor writing. The couple issues would have resolved with half an hour if they just sat and had a conversation instead of stretching for 2 hours 25 minutes.
Cast: Sara Ali Khan, Kartik Aaryan, Arushi Sharma, Randeep Hooda
Director: Imtiaz Ali
Ever since his filmmaking debut in 2005 with the charming Socha Na Tha, you could say that Imtiaz has, within his cinematic universe, been fascinated by the rhythms and the vagaries of love. He’s been committed to telling stories about the redemptive, transformative nature of true love. Occasionally it’s yielded extraordinary results – as it did with Jab We Met, which remains his finest film. Other times it’s been hit or miss.
Like the earlier Love Aaj Kal, the new film straddles two love stories across two time zones to make the point that one only has to look to the past to resolve romantic conundrums of the present. In that film, Saif Ali Khan’s Jai realized the depth of his feelings for Deepika Padukone’s Meera after listening to Rishi Kapoor’s Veer recount how he found and fought for love as a young man. In an inspired casting choice, Saif also played the younger version of Rishi Kapoor’s character Veer.
A visibly off and awkward Veer (Kartik) meets a career-driven, high-on-life-and-booze Zoe (Sara) at a bar and they end up together in bed. However, Veer stops midway, leaving her high and dry because he feels they need to be more ‘serious’ before they make love. He soon turns into a stalker, landing up at the same co-working space where Zoe works, which is owned by Raghu (Randeep Hooda). Now, Raghu is a brooding loner who once gave up everything in Udaipur to be with the girl he loved, Leena (newcomer Aarushi Sharma) in Delhi, but soon turned into a Casanova who hooked up with almost every woman he met.
Back to the lead pair, while Zoe has her five-year plan in place – she wants to start her event management company and only then get into a long-term relationship; Veer, a techie, is not much of a planner. He just lands up on his bike to pick and drop Zoe at her meetings/dates each time an Uber fails to reach her location. After resisting initially, Zoe eventually falls for him and a series of conflicts with each other and their inner selves soon follow.
In 1990 Udaipur a young fellow, Raghu (also played by Kartik Aaryan), is smitten by Leena (Arushi Sharma). Theirs is a delicate romance potentially thwarted by objecting parents and a judgmental society. There are some nice bits here, like a scene during a school event where the pair dances awkwardly. But this segment is sweet at best; it’s also mostly inert.
The real problem with the film, however, is the present-day track, and particularly the character of Zoe. Between the way she’s rendered on paper and the way that Sara plays her, Zoe is pretty much insufferable. One can appreciate her ambition and her single-minded focus on her event-planner career, but using a feminist argument to justify unbuttoning her blouse while going into a job interview is far-fetched.
The work-love conflict that she makes a big deal about isn’t fleshed out enough to feel convincing. Practically nothing about her situation suggests that her relationship with Veer could come in the way of her achieving her professional potential. If anything Veer is supportive and devoted to the point of being a pushover.
Sara plays Zoe as high-strung, shrill, and prone to unprovoked outbursts. Zoe is meant to be complicated and confused, but she comes off as self-important and infuriating. Kartik, meanwhile, fares better. He brings a boyish innocence and goofiness to Raghu, who is experiencing love for the first time.
As Veer, his body language is awkward initially, but he grows into the role of the idealistic romantic. Arushi Sharma, in the role of Leena, has a nice, likable presence. But it’s Randeep Hooda who grounds the film in some modicum of believability. As a man looking back at his life, reflecting on his choices, Randeep brings a lived-in quality that this film is sorely missing.
Love Aaj Kal is largely contrived and superficial. It’s a love story in search of conflict. In that, it reminded me of Imtiaz’s other film, the polarising Tamasha. Like that film, it doesn’t have a lot to say yet pretends to be deep and profound. The filmmaker’s opinion of the millennial generation and their take on love, sex, and commitment is unmistakably patronizing. The film claims to hold a mirror to modern love, yet it judges that very thing.
Love Aaj Kal is a film that’s for the millennials only because it’s a modern-day love story but even then, it needed a way better treatment. Watch it maybe if you get free couple tickets and have no better V-Day plans with your significant other.
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