If your idea of fun this Valentine’s Day, is to endure a film that serves as a term at a detention center, then Imtiaz Ali’s 2020 version of ‘Love Aaj Kal’ is the ride you’re volunteering for.
It’s tragic and honestly deplorable to learn that a filmmaker who was the poster boy of matters-of-the-heart cinema has fallen a victim to his own bearing. Redemption is far-fetched, seeking reason on our part seems as a futile attempt to make any sense of a script that never looks cohesive or earnest.
Written by Ali, ‘Love Aaj Kal’ is a dual assault on our senses in the guise of two parallel storylines set in Udaipur, 1990 and Delhi, 2020, which focusses upon two diverse perspectives on love.
I’m not being cynical or dismissive of the hopeless romantic stereotype. I’ve been the same and a lot of my pop culture references have been sourced from Ali’s much content-richer films. But as a more informed audience viewer who sees credit and resonance in a ‘Little Things’, a certain amount of layering, intensity and internalising is a bound expectation. Something Ali totally misses in his latest directorial which does not find any relevance even superficially. The conflicts seem inserted for namesake. And Good Lord, we are in 2020. Are we still debating that the question about finding the balance between love and career be imposed upon the woman? It’s a glaring pattern in Ali’s filmography that his seemingly woke narratives find conservative and conformist conclusions. So Sara’s Zoe is a career-driven, sexually active woman, but her man will treat as the naïve virgin who he can’t have sex with, without an obligatory sense of commitment. Also, I’m really wondering how many more films will we see the man redeem himself despite straying away with multiple women while the woman guilt trips over choosing anything else but her man. I’m not even going to start about how stalking is made cute and how a woman’s no is supposed to be read as a yes.
At two hours and twenty-one minutes, ‘Love Aaj Kal’ feels claustrophobic, something that editor Aarti Bajaj could’ve avoided. The dialogues come across as gibberish mouthed post a hangover. The performances make Youtubers and Tik Tok influencers worthy of Best Debut nominations. It’s our fault that we expected Kartik Aaryan to experiment apart from his staple, monologue-infused sexist charades. Neither as Raghu nor as Veer, does the actor even broadly come across as the ideal lover boy. Sara Ali Khan, while extremely confident and sassy when she’s being the budding entrepreneurial Zoe, hams it to the top in the emotional scenes, making room for many unintentional laughs. Watching debutante Arushi Sharma cut a sorry figure as Leena, your doubts are cleared as to why she was left out of the promotional trails of the film. The only saving graces are Randeep Hooda as Raj and the music by Pritam. Hooda, in a recent interview said that Ali was the only reason, he agreed to do this film. Our only question to him at this point is, why?
‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ is forgiven. To forget ‘Love Aaj Kal’ might take forever. We only hope the idea of continuing the franchise any further is forsaken.