Cast: Kartik Aaryan, Sara Ali Khan, Randeep Hooda, Aarushi SharmaDirector: Imtiaz Ali
Love, as they say, is a many splendoured things and Imtiaz Ali as a director has explored and impressed the auds many a time with its myriad cinematic renditions.
This time, however, Ali’s Love Aaj Kal’s reprised version of the same theme of love across different generations is disappointing. With a name and general plot-structure akin to the first outing, comparisons are inevitable. But, while this Millennial-focused love story does capture modern love’s quirkiness, it certainly lacks the zing that the previous Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone offered.
This second round of love and longing in Love Aaj Kal has two parallel romantic tracks —one between Raghu (Randeep Hooda and Kartik Aaryan as his younger self) and Leena (Aarushi Sharma) from the 1990s, while the second one is set in present times features Veer (Kartik Aaryan) and Zoe (Sara Ali Khan). So far, so good.
Raghu and Leena’s is a hark back to small-town romances in 1990, the decade of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, complete with a romantic scandal and school socials. In fact, this is the story with emotional heft and genuineness that ought to have been the heart of the film.
The second thread about a millennial romance featuring Zoe, a young girl focused on a grand career fuelled by her mother’s (Simone Singh) constant warnings to not throw it all away for a guy; the ever eager to please Veer.
As the famed truism goes, opposites attract and we see the unlikely muddleheaded romance blossom in a co-working space run by Raghu (Randeep Hooda). This too by itself could have been a palatable enough story, alas, the intercutting of the two love stories does not result in a heady mix. Instead, it stymies the narrative flow for both. The deliberate cheeriness of the younger romance, and the cynicism of the older one pull in different directions instead of dovetailing into a unanimous conclusion.
Ali’s writing is good in parts but he packs in too much. Cinema writing is a clever combination of both show and tell. The writing in this film, therefore, obviously from the perspective of a wry observer, should have allowed a lot more room to show than the telling the tale. All the characters (Leena being the sole exception) talk a lot, theorizing on what love is or can be and it gets tiresome after a point of time. Love Aaj Kal lacks the easy, charming and simple-minded romance of Ali’s earlier films.
Kartik Aaryan, best known for anti-girlfriend rants in his earlier outings takes on a far more subdued role and does make a go of it. He shows an ability to pull of quieter, more sensitive roles with success too. Sara Ali Khan, the star of the film is her confident self and one can see why she would be the perfect choice for Zoe. However, the missing cadences in an otherwise sincere performance make it fall short. Randeep Hooda and newcomer Aarushi Sharma are extremely watchable despite playing second fiddle to the lead couple in this ode to modern romance.
Matters of the heart are tricky as are films on the subject and in this one, despite everyone’s best efforts, the cupid’s arrow misses the mark.