August 2, 2009

Film Review: Love Aaj Kal

The Story:'Love Aaj Kal' is a 2-sided love story which portrays love in today’s time (Aaj) and love two decades ago (Kal).

'Love Aaj Kal' opens in London with Jai (Saif Ali Khan) and Meera (Deepika Padukone), who break up after a two year relationship due to practical reasons. Meera prepares to move to Delhi in pursuit of a career in conservation architecture while Jai stays in London with hopes of getting his dream job in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Co.

To celebrate their split, they throw a ‘break-up party’ where Jai is reminded by friends that he is now a wild stallion who can freely date more girls, while Meera can continue to value her professional success. But deep down inside, Jai and Meera both know that they are inseparable, so they decide to stay friends keeping in touch via net and phone calls. Just when Jai is set to move on with his life, he is approached by the café owner Veer Singh (Rishi Kapoor). Veer tries to convince a reluctant Jai that he is making a mistake by letting Meera go and begins to narrate his own 1965 Delhi love story with Harleen Kaur (Giselle Monteiro), to give Jai a peak into old-fashioned romance.

Shuttling between two different times, both love stories unravel simultaneously exploring the two different styles of love; ‘love aaj’ – Jai’s passionless practical and bold approach to relationships and ‘love kal’ – Veer’s eternal pledge to make Harleen his wife in all lifetimes. Within the midst of Jai and Veer’s love debate, Jai falls for a French girl named Jo and Meera starts dating her boss Vikram (Rahul Khanna).

Jai and Meera’s discovery about love in modern times is defined by the enduring yesteryear love of Veer and Harleen. Where their discovery leads them and how they come to terms with New Age love and Old Age emotions, is all revealed through their journey between London, San Francisco and New Delhi.

The Cast:

Saif Ali Khan as Jai Vardhan Singh – a heartless happy-go-lucky metro sexual guy who doesn’t believe in love and for whom relationships only mean one-night stands. For him, long distance relationships is a pain so he breaks up with his girlfriend Meera and decides to stay friends to make things easier. He works as an architect in San Francisco at Golden Gate Co., but is later shattered by emotions.

Saif Ali Khan as Young Veer Singh – a brooding romantic who is thunderstruck by Harleen’s smile and makes a pledge to make her his wife in all lifetimes. Driven by his love, he overcomes the many odds piled up against him to win over Harleen.

Deepika Padukone as Meera Pandit – a fun-loving, career-oriented girl who doesn’t know the meaning of love until she experiences the ups and downs of a real relationship versus a practical relationship. She works to restore old buildings, but in reality her emotions are being restored.

Rishi Kapoor as Present Veer Singh – the ‘Great Indian lover’, he shares with Jai his sweet love story and convinces him that love today has a new language but carries the same emotions.

Giselle Monteiro as Harleen Kaur – a sweet and innocent girl-next-door who makes Veer fall in love with her demure smile.

Rahul Khanna as Vikram – Meera’s boss and boyfriend who brings Meera out of her fun relationship with Jai, and makes her experience a relationship which she later relents.

The Crew:

Director: Imtiaz Ali
Producer: Saif Ali Khan, Dinesh Vijan
Production House: Illuminati Films
Distributor: Eros International
Music Label: Eros
Screenplay: Imtiaz Ali
Story: Imtiaz Ali
Cinematography: N. Natarajan Subramaniam
Choreography: Bosco-Caesar, Saroj Khan, Ashley Lobo
Music Director: Pritam Chakraborty
Lyricist: Irshad Kamil
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Rishi Kapoor, Rahul Khanna, Giselle Monteiro, Vir Das

What Worked:

If there is anyone who can write a love story without making the hero or heroine say “I love you,” it’s Imtiaz Ali. Even with such an airy plot, Imtiaz scores high with a strong screenplay. Within the first 10 minutes of the film, Saif and Deepika’s relationship is established through choppy scenes at nightclubs, coffee shops, and trains. Imtiaz even inserts a montage of various twists which arise later through a melancholic song called "Yeh Dooriyan." The complexity of the characters, mixed emotions, and unusually witty dialogue strengthens the interaction between Saif and Deepika, making their love story relevant to everyone.

It’s Deepika’s best work yet. Aside from looking stunning, she naturally transforms her character from the first scene to the very last scene. Saif also works the screen by his portrayal of a contemporary lover but it’s really the emotional scenes where he surprises you – especially in the picturisation of "Main Kya Hoon" in San Francisco.

The juxtaposition of the two love stories is beautifully captured. There is real sweetness in the sepia-toned love of Veer and Harleen, and breeziness in the contemporary love of Jai and Meera. Rishi Kapoor is loveable as the mature Veer Singh and remains humble on screen. The actress kept underwraps enacting the role of Harleen, looks delicate and performs simply through timid expressions.

What Didn't:

'Love Aaj Kal' is not as engaging as expected. It tends to get confusing since the narrative runs between two decades and journeys through London, San Francisco, New Delhi and Calcutta. The continuity of narration is disturbed by the awkward placement of the songs ‘Twist’ and ‘Aahun Aahun.’

Although casting works in the context of the film, Saif comes off a bit uncomfortable in his role as a Sikh man since his delivery of Punjabi dialogue seems forced rather than natural.

The Soundtrack:

Pritam has composed a spunky soundtrack blended with Indian and Western influences. The outstanding tracks include "Twist", "Chor Bazari", "Aahun Aahun", and "Main Kya Hoon." Sunidhi Chauhan, Neeraj Shridhar and KK’s vocals in all of the tracks are full of energy. Mohit Chauhan’s "Yeh Dooriyan", written by Irshad Kamil, is the soul of the film and is sung beautifully.

Slated Or Rated?:

'Love Aaj Kal' is a fresh take on love. It’s got a chic look, fantastic performances and great music. Whether you’re a modern-day lover or an old school lover – go for it!

Rating: 4/5

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