A heartfelt love letter for the bold, beautiful and broken- Vijayalakshmi Narayanan
Every love story features conflict. And conflict requires confrontation to be resolved. ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ in its span of briefly two hours, addresses the above rightfully so.
Set between Delhi and Moga (Punjab), the story commences with playwright Sahir Mirza (Rajkummar Rao) who finds inspiration for his latest work, in the conflicting love story of Sweety (Sonam Kapoor), a girl on the run from her family, with a secret. Her father Balbir Chaudhary (Anil Kapoor) is a bumbling, middle-aged garment businessman, who would not stop and breathe till he finds an appropriate suitor, much to his girl’s disapproval. Will Sweety ever be able to tell her father about her dissent with reason forms the latter part of the narrative.
Brought to life from the words penned by Gazal Dhaliwal and director Shelly Chopra Dhar, ‘Ek Ladki..’ seizes the opportunity to address the toxic ramifications of a patriarchal society and how it affects many young hearts in our country. In a heart-breaking flashback sequence, Sweety recounts her painful school life where she was not accepted for what she is and how her only friend was also bullied and beaten up for being different from the rest. The dialogues by Dhaliwal are subtle but impactful. Ably supported by Sanjay Wandrekar and Atul Raninga’s background music, you tend to question yourself as to how accepting are you of those who differ from you. The set design by Rajat Poddar and Teddy Maurya is authentic and the locations look lived-in. But in my opinion, what the film lacks is depth. Maybe, the makers were clear to keep the proceedings crisp and brief, but it seems that editor Ashish Suryavanshi decided to omit key moments from the final edit. That also explains why the climax of the film is particularly contrived and frankly, lazy.
Despite its tiny shortcomings, the film keeps you glued for its heartfelt performances. As the garment businessman who once aspired to be a chef, Anil Kapoor seems to be really enjoying himself, chopping vegetables in the kitchen, much to his mother’s dismay. Sonam is beautiful, naïve and innocent. She is perfectly cast as Sweety and she plays her part with sincerity. Definitely, an arresting performance by the actor since ‘Neerja’. Will Rajkummar ever give us a chance to pin-point his flaws? As Sahir, the actor makes for a brilliant confidante and friend. But the real hoot is Juhi Chawla playing Chhatro, a divorced caterer in Sahir’s theatre group, who secretly desires to become an actress. Her romantic track with Balbir is the most adorable sight seen in a while at the movies. Madhumalti Kapoor as Beeji, Seema Pahwa and Brijendra Kala as the servants and Regina Cassandra as Sonam’s partner Kuhu deliver lasting impressions.
Labels be damned, ‘Ek Ladki…’ makes you want to reach out to those suffering in silence and is a must-watch for many families who wish to start a dialogue.