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Love Aaj Kal Movie Review: Rebooted Trips Over Its Own Trippiness



Love Aaj Kal

Starring  Kartik Aryan, Sara Ali Khan, Arushi Sharma

Written & Directed by Imtiaz Ali

The  post-intermission section  of  Imtiaz Ali’s confounding “love” story opens  with  what looks a  video of  a cheesy rapper  exhorting the persuasions of  that  bewildering emotion called love, the same one that  Kartik Aaryan in a semi-sepia  flashback is heard telling his friends  feels like  someone strangling him in his sleep.

That’s how  we often feel while watching Imtiaz Ali’s  antidotal love story. Consciously or otherwise Ali denudes  the  feeling of love of all romance, makes it  look like a  train hurtling torrentially  into  the   land of    trauma . So fasten  you seatbelts, for a  ride into the  choppy waters  of a  love relationship , with Kartik Aryan playing  the  cross-generation double loverboywith all the earnestness  of Charlie Brown sneaking midnight treats  for Snoopy.

Honestly,  there is  no  way of telling the two Kartiks apart. Saif Ali Khan at  least had  the turban. As  for recreating   1990,  Imtiaz resorts to the  most convenient and lazy tool to nostalgia: film songs. Imtiaz’s 1990  opens with Dil deewana bin sajna ke from  the  film Maine  Pyar Kiyawhich released  in  1989. There are  references  to Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak which came  in 1988 . That’s  it. Raghu(Kartik playing the young version  of Randeep Hooda)   pursues Leena with all the  sincerity  of  a softspoken stalker. Leena, played by  semi-newcomer Arushi Sharma plays so  hard-to-get you fear Raghu may stray. And he does, in  most unexpected  and revolting ways. Raghu’s sudden spurt of promiscuity is so absurdly out of character, and so in-character with the  conduct   of the  characters  in Imtiaz’s  film. They are constantly contradicting themselves to the point of being exasperatingly incoherent. This  is specially true  of  Sara Ali  Khan who is saddled with a role that requires her  to be aggressive, angry, bitter and  drunk, in that  order. Unable to negotiate  her character’s  anguish step by step she  makes a horrible mess  of  the  emotions,looking like  a clueless nervous wreck in the  tight close-ups that cinematographer  AmitRoy insists  on saddling Sara with.  Not her fault. If you choose to  mistake the Taj Lands End for   the Taj Mahal,this is what  you get.

Somehow sex  is a  huge problem  between Kartik’s Veer and Sara’s Zoe.He refuses to do the  needful  because she is, errrr,  too good for pre-marital sex.

“I can have sex anyone. But I don’t want a compromised  relationship with you,” Kartik whines. For some strange reason he looks like he has just seen a  ghost and speaks his  lines as though  just recovering  from laryngitis.If this is what love does, then let’s  pass.

  No Valentine’s Day release  could be more anti-Valentine’s  than  Love Aaj Kal ,  a purported love story  spanning two eras and two  couples in  love who seem to hate the  idea of  idealizing love so much that they end up romancing the opposite of love.Or, could  it be that these  characters love themselves more than the  they love, love?

 Constantly  tripping over  their own rites of romanticism, Imtiaz Ali’s characters contradict themselves  more than even the politicians of their country.Zoe’s mother(played by  an unusually over-the-top Simone Singh) chides her daughter for  prioritizing  love above career and later urges Zoe to marry her boss’s  grandson because…well,  ambitions dissolve when wealth welcomes.

Speaking of  ambition, Sara’s Zoe  shows up  for a  job interview unbuttoning  her top  to “impress” the interviewing  committee. When she is questioned on her bizarre behaviour she  smirks, “Well, I have this body.And I couldn’t leave it home when I came for this interview.”

Huh? Who is  more drunk here? Zoe or  the guy who wrote her lines?

For all its  trippy contradictions,  Love Aaj Kal  is nor bereft  of  brilliance. Some episodes like the one  where  a stone-drunk Zoe is  humiliated  by her rough  date , are ably written. The  character  of Zoe’s Haryanvi date  is  brilliantly played. The way he counts the pennies for every Tequila  shot and insists that Zoe pay for  the bucks with f..ks ,  is savagely sad and  humorous. 

I wish the rest of  this  unanchored  sequel to the 2009 romcom was equally powerful. Most  of the film is sadly, weak and  under-written. Or worse, weak and  hammy.

 Like all  of Imtiaz Ali’s cinema this one too takes the protagonists on a  Bharat darshan . They finally end up reunited in Himachal  , with Zoe  complaining that the problem of balancing career with love remains  unchanged.Too tired to  sigh, I simply gave up. Into this  jumble  of  contradictory  love messages  Randeep Hooda serves as a semblance of  sensibleness.

A  band aid on a war wound,so to speak.

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