What happens when you feed yourself the same old ingredients over and over again and then finally regurgitate all of it? Love Aaj Kal.
Imtiaz Ali, with his latest Kartik Aaryan and Sara Ali Khan-starrer Love Aaj Kal, an intended current take on his 2009 hit film by the same name, just isn’t able to offer either love or angst this time around.
As a fan of Imtiaz’s storytelling, it is disappointing to watch him make such a confused film that almost enters the tacky territory. Here are all the things that are wrong with Love Aaj Kal.
Sara Ali Khan as Zoe
The film’s lead character Zoe (Sara) is extra animated, complicated and confused - basically an unlikable character. And that shouldn’t be a problem as long as you are at least able to empathize with some aspect of the character’s personality, behaviour or conflicts. Tamasha’s Ved or Rockstar’s Janardhan - Imtiaz’s characters have always been flawed. That was still a collaboration, where both the actor and director, were in good form.
Unfortunately, here neither Imtiaz nor Sara manage to pull it off. While Sara struggles to keep her expressions (and hands) under check, Imtiaz fails to gain the audiences’ empathy for her.
And when you don’t connect with the protagonist, everything else in the movie begins to feel like an exercise in futility. The low angles and treatment of Zoe’s dialogues in general, make her shrill and annoying. So Zoe becomes exhausting to watch, and her story becomes insufferable.
Kartik Aaryan as Veer
In the initial part of the film, Veer, looks like someone with a development disorder as he stalks Zoe around. It felt creepy until he announced that he would back off the moment she feels that “wo tang karne laga hai”. But as the film progresses you realise that he was just meant to be different - a cute and awkward young man with floppy hair and a puppy dog expression. A little less affected body language could have gone a long way in making him a lot more real.
Where’s the Conflict?
Randeep Hooda’s 90s love story had a real conflict and was worth investing in, at least for its charm. In 2020, aren’t we way past the love vs career conflict? Don’t we have enough examples of women balancing their work and home already? Nobody was forcing Zoe to quit her career or get married. Coming from a privileged family, her problems feel too first world to invest in. Her conflicts feel too forced and completely in her head. So much so that Zoe’s meltdowns become almost caricaturish.
Veer’s statement that he can have sex with any woman he wants but he won’t have sex with Zoe until they are serious because she is special, reinforces the stereotypes from the 90s.
The problem is that there is a complete lack of conflict and if there was one, Imtiaz has totally failed in making it reach you.
Length & Scope
Considering that there is no real conflict in the film, the 140-minute long film feels excruciatingly long. Half an hour into the film, you want to tell Imtiaz ‘Tum mujhe tang karne lage ho’.
Instead of exploring aspects of modern-day love like how technology - mobile phones and dating apps - et al has changed the dating and love game today or how education and work takes people different places, Imtiaz keeps the focus limited to a girl’s fears that love may ruin her career. And this despite a supremely understanding woke partner in the form of Veer.
The editing, writing and overall execution is so off that the film enters a tacky zone, even inciting a few laughs in the wrong places.
Where’s the Chemistry?
While the film’s 90s love story has some amount of charm and a twist in the tale to keep you invested to an extent, Zoe and Veer’s love story is not compelling enough to engage you. Obviously, the chemistry between the lead pair suffers too. There was a huge section of the young audience really looking forward to the rumoured real-life couple - Kartik and Sara - to come together on screen. That it was an Imtiaz Ali love story was an added bonus. But there is not enough steam in the script or their parts to take you there.