Review: Love Aaj Kal hits you like fresh air

Review: Love Aaj Kal hits you like fresh air
Love Aaj Kal
Imtiaz Ali
Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Neetu Singh, Rishi Kapoor, Rahul Khanna, Vir Das

Sonia Chopra
It’s the couple you’d find anywhere: the kind that breaks-up and regrets, then makes-up and regrets, then gets involved with other people and…regrets. They’re confident, sweet, confused people who think they’ve got it all figured out, and are crushingly told by life’s turns that relationships aren’t always that predictable.We see Jai (Saif) who’s trying to score with a girl at the bar, egged on by his friends. He tells her he’s not trying to pile on; the girl Meera (Deepika) asks him why he is then. They dance and kiss; after a year or more, circumstances demand them to move in different directions. Instead of taking the long-distance relationship route, they amicably decide to split and even celebrate their separation. Then on, with Meera in India and Jai in America, their relationship status turns to ex-lovers-turned- friends, who cheerfully reveal the most irritating (his red shoes) and lovable things (her smile) about each other. They move on and meet other people but keep feeling that they haven’t been able to get over each other fully. Jai shares his anxiety with an avuncular restaurant owner Veer Singh (Rishi Kapoor) whose interfering questions finally leads the two to share their remarkably similar stories.

Love Aaj Kal hits you like fresh air, and you instantly fall for the central characters, refreshingly flesh-and-blood with their set of quirks, flaws and strengths. There’s Meera, an Art Restorer, whose calm logic tides the couple over stormy waters. “Tu hamesha sahi bolti hai, jaaneman,” says Jai ever so often. And yet she falters towards the end, and gets terribly caught in a dilemma. Jai is always brimming with a nervous sort of energy, saying too much when in a difficult situation, with an ego that refuses to make him see the effect of his mistakes. And yet when Jai and Meera are together, giggling endlessly, out-smarting each other at every turn, and discussing things, you’re rooting for them unabashedly.

What doesen’t work is the constant portrayal of the present generation as being all logic and no heart; while the previous generation’s attitude to love as just the opposite. This generalisation is naturally too sweeping to have any kind of effect. Jai scoffs at Veer Singh’s `pratigya‘ of getting his love against all odds, even traveling across cities just for a glimpse of the girl. Singh in turn laughs pitifully at Jai’s casual attitude to the break-up with Meera. In such a conversation, Singh says that he got serious about work because he wanted to marry his love; and Jai gave up his love because he is too serious about work. In another such old-new gen talkathon, Rishi says that love happens only once; to which Jai sniggers, `it’s happened to me at least 15 times’. Such moral discourses apart, Love Aaj Kal is a treat; especially since the second half energetically flits between the two stories.

Dialogue is funny and insightful. You have Jai praise the term `all the best’ that can be said when there’s nothing to be said. And indeed, you see him use this term more than often in a sticky situation. Even otherwise the conversation is free flowing, fun and nuanced.

Saif, nearing 40, plays a 20-something character and admittedly looks older. Yet, he makes up with a fab performance. To an extent, he’s reprising the roles he’s already played in Hum Tum and Salaam Namaste, but Jai in LAK is far more substance.

Meera’s characterisation is a delight, and Deepika plays Meera so effectively, you’re left wondering who else could have done the role. Rishi Kapoor is earnest. The girl playing Veer Singh’s love interest is suited to the character. Director Imtiaz Ali’s masterful storytelling, traversing between two eras is superbly aided by the editing (Aarti Bajaj of Jab We Met and Dev D fame, and cinematography (N Natarajan Subramanium who also worked on Jab We Met and Golmaal Returns).

With lilting music and characters you’ll love, Imtiaz Ali brings out one of the most romantic films in recent times. It’s a love story of the aam junta (mango people, as Jai translates), with a delicious contemporary edge. Go get your fill.

Verdict: Three and a half stars

~ by Yakuza on July 31, 2009.

One Response to “Review: Love Aaj Kal hits you like fresh air”

  1. You a part of production?

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