Love Aaj Kal is Film#3 for writer-director Imtiaz Ali. He has already impressed me with his dew-fresh dialogues in Socha Na Tha, and his excellently executed Jab We Met. But when film studios start backing you up with larger budget scales and more foreign locales instead of the streets of Ratlaam, things can get a bit haywire. That’s the problem for Love Aaj Kal. It seems like a Project gone not awfully wrong, but one which just about manages to stay afloat due to a very wrong management and yes, very wrong selection of resources – ie Deepika. When you upscale the scope of the project, I believe, you should upscale the requirements from the resources – [ in this case, I think *anyone* but Deepika could’ve served this well, how bout Sonam Kapoor..humri Bittu *wink* *wink*]. Enough of the parallel comparison with Project Management, let’s get down with the review. Shall we?
Love Aaj Kal is an ordinary idea which tries too hard to be intelligent. At the core of it, sits a story which is utterly predictable. But nevertheless, its charming in its own way. It tells the tale of love in todays world where relationships take a back seat and careers take over our lives. Of breakups being celebrated in a party, and of long-distance calls. Does Long Distance relationships work? The main protagonist Jai [Saif] doesn’t think so, and so does Meera [Deepika]. And so they decide on breaking up amicably. But an old guy called Veer Singh [ Rishi Kapoor] interrupts, reminding him that Love is not about giving up, and it happens only once. He narrates him a tale of his own love story – love as it was in the yesteryears, in true sepia tone, and which spans across Delhi to Calcutta, travelling in a general compartment on Indian Railways. And I might be a bit cynical to say it, but here’s my problem. Why doesn’t dude Jai just try to stop Mr.Veer Singh from coming on to him? Just say it- back off!! And Veer Singh pushes quite a lot.
The interesting depiction of the young Veer Singh as Saif itself is quite intelligent, as both Saif and Rishi imagine of the young Veer Singh to look like Mr Khan. Another major problem; Saif’s Punjabi accent is awful. He kinda reminds me more of Langda Tyagi than a Sardar. But surprisingly though, the yesteryears romance is the highlight of the movie. Surprising because, you expect in an Imtiaz Ali movie, the dialogues would be the ones which keep the movie rolling. But with the least of dialogues, and making the silence do the talking, the chemistry between Veer and Harleen shines through effortlessly. Harleen [ some Brazilian model called Giselle Monteiro] is as shy as a touch-me-not and Veer’s undying love for him is beautifully depicted in a wonderfully written scene, when Veer travels all the way from Delhi to Calcutta, just to stare at the window, waiting for Harleen to appear. He brings her favourite mithai, and she hides behind her Dupatta, Veer’s favorite liquor tea. The setting is picturesque – Uttam Kumar posters in the backdrop, and unpainted Pujo Murtis, and of course, green shutter windows. Can it be more Calcutta? Set-design – Bravo!
But as much as the yesteryear’s love story dazzled, the today’s love story fizzed away like an open can of Coke. Lemme just say it, don’t care if it sounds harsh. Deepika cannot act to save her life. She just can’t, period! More to add to this one is an utterly predictable plot of boy separating from girl to go into another relationship, drifting away to find his materialistic goals just to finally realise his true love for her. Ugh! Slap me. HARDER. And all this realisation takes place in an extremely stupid fashion. A brawl at the dark alley in San Fransisco makes Jai realise that he loves Meera. Hmmm. Feels like remembering that only God can help, when Ajit Agarkar and Anil Kumble are on the pitch, in an India vs. Pakistan match with 6 balls remaining and 10 runs to win the match. In the same way, Jai remembers Meera,..oh, it must be you!! Makes me cringe.
As for the tracks, I think most of them have been used as an ornament and quite distractingly so. I never liked the Twist track, and I don’t still. Chorbazari is quite catchy I must say, and so is Aahu Aahu. But the best track of the album is Aaj Din Chadheya. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s vocals are to die for. Unlike Jab We Met, where the tracks appear more like a part of the narrative, the tracks here appear as jutting out of the storyline and hits you on the face. Such a shame. Last but not the least, Imtiaz Ali’s forte has always been his dialogue. It breathes life into even the dullest of characters. But here it seems a bit overdone. The Hinglish is a bit hammed up, and feels like too much effort has been made to add words like ‘ Pile-On’ and ‘Angle’ and stuff. Yes, the dialogues are a bit ticklish at some situations, I do agree, but nothing more than that. May be I am still not over the fact which I mentioned earlier. Did I say it loud enough? Deepika cannot act. Even Saif looks a bit shitty standing next to her. I did not like his confused, chattering portrayal, at all. I’d prefer his Mr.confused Sameer in Dil Chahta Hai anyday. What saves us all from this sinking ship is Rishi Kapoor’s honest enactment of Veer Singh, and of course the cameo which left a smile on my face. Should I just say it? Screw it. Neetu Singh makes a cameo in the climax. There you go. I said it. Watch it for the cameo, Rishi Kapoor and yes, the Calcutta scene. You can totally wait for the DVD, shouldn’t be long.
Rating: 3 out of 10 – For Harleen [ past and present ], Veer Singh Sr. and Aaj Din Chadhheya