Love Aaj Kal
cast Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Rishi Kapoor, Rahul Khanna
director Imtiaz Ali
An uninspiring story with cheesy lines and no real romance makes this flick dull, writes Sneha May Francis
he saccharine-induced love story almost always works its charm in Bollywood and brings instant box office luck. And that’s exactly what Imtiaz Ali banked on for his first two successful ventures – Socha Na Tha and Jab We Met. So for his third project, the filmmaker decided to add a few contemporary twists to the tried-and-tested romantic angle. But in an effort to outsmart himself Ali forgot to concentrate on the basics, leaving behind a bad screenplay, unintelligent dialogues and poor characterisation. Perhaps he hoped the charm of his earlier films would do the magic for Love Aaj Kal.
A few hasty shots spanning across parties, shopping trips and coffee outings, introduces us to Jai (Khan) and Meera (Padukone) – the new age couple who are cool, easy-going and commitment-phobic. We are quickly spun around across time zones, cities and characters, in a song sequence, leaving us thoroughly confused. Only towards the end do we realise that it’s Ali’s musical summary of his film. But what’s the point of summarising it?
In any case, Jai and Meera part ways amicably because they think they aren’t cut out for a long-distance relationship. It’s logical, yes, but it stretches logic a bit too far where they throw a ‘break-up’ party, and female friends are urged to flirt with the now single Jai, as Meera watches with absolutely no qualms. The cringe-inducing corny lines are reminiscent of a badly written school play.
Enter Veer Singh (Kapoor), the chubby turban-ed hotelier who pokes his nose into Jai’s life, urging him to believe that Meera is the ‘one’. He lectures Jai about how romance was selfless during his time and narrates how he travelled miles just to catch a glimpse of his ladylove Harleen. We are tossed across time zones, with each looking at romance, or the lack of it, during different generations, only to be told that no matter what, love conquers everything – even pushing aside personal ambitions.
Khan desperately attempts to imitate Dil Chahta Hai’s Sameer but ends up looking aged and his stiff botox-induced face expressionless. Padukone, on the other hand, looks like a dream but fails to perform. Despite a half-baked part, Kapoor gives it his all, making him a clear favourite. Harleen, whose identity is still kept under wraps for unknown reasons, is uninterestingly pretty. Khanna has a blink-and-miss role, but we do feel a lot more for him than the lead pair. Neetu Singh makes a special appearance and we only wish she stayed longer.
Overall, it’s a fair attempt by Ali, but it’s not perfect. Maybe he should invest more time picking a good screenplay next time rather than casting actors who’d double as producers and coining silly terms like the ‘mango (aam) people’. Surely it’s achievable, don’t you think?
(Published on e+, Gulf News August 6, 2009)