‘Love Aaj Kal’ review: It’s more of director Imtiaz Ali’s journey into the mystery of love

‘Love Aaj Kal’ directed by Imtiaz Ali, is a conflict between heart and mind, in which heart wins, with a residue of mind as a necessary dark spot

‘Love Aaj Kal’ review: It’s more of director Imtiaz Ali’s journey into the mystery of love
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Rana Siddiqui Zaman

Understanding love, Imtiaz’s way, the Rumi way I remember one-liner by a film actor, “Main dil main aata hoon, samajh man nahi aata” , simply hinting, ‘those seeking me through mind should get lost and those who with heart, are welcome’.

Love Aaj Kal directed by Imtiaz Ali, is a conflict between heart and mind, in which heart wins, with a residue of mind as a necessary dark spot like that proverbial chaand main daagh. Actually, it's a film made more for liberals, well-read, elite, poets, genuine lovers and non-hypocrites and less for those who keep mind inside their hearts, in matters of love.

Briefly, the film questions and seeks answers about the basic requirement of a human being ---love. What is love? What is true love? Does it exist? How one makes out if its a true love, within oneself and in the other person whom one loves. Why the seeker doesn't get what he seeks, and so on.

The film bases itself on two types of youth -- the youth from small towns who believe in that definition of love that is spoken by Rumi, Nanak and Kabeer, in “deep quotes”. For them all romance is in the verbal communication, expression through eyes, endless wait and longing to see the beloved walk past, be protective, caring and accessible at odd times and situations. This life is represented by the then youth of the 1990s -- Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Maine Pyar Kiya times.

The second type of love is fast, accommodating, fun-loving, like an instant coffee, brew and finish and move on to explore more, till one settles in career followed by life --- a good comfortable life. Their goals are set. Life is planned and they move accordingly; without regrets.


When the 1990s small towner comes to a vast Capital like Delhi, he realises he committed and loved too early to explore in terms of easy and accessible relationships. He avoids the commitment and accepts new life of possibilities with open arms. He starts loving it except that he ends up missing that peace and warmth he would feel when with his first love.

The 2020’s young girl Zoi (Sara Khan) coming from a well-heeled, has been directed at home -- a powerful career as the only choice at the prime of her youth, followed by a serious relationship culminating into marriage. And it has a reason. Her mother (played by Simone Singh) left her career in teens to marry a man of her choice who runs away to Dubai, leaving two daughters on her weak shoulder. Zoi does not know the virtue of a dignified, complete, one-time relationship that respects the partner rather than prioritising the physical needs.

The duo meet and complexities begin. The guide (Hooda) helps both “kids” understand the value of peace and happiness. The new age boy has this in mind -- he wishes to let go of the girl, “till she returns on her own volition if she does, with complete surrender in mind, no-frills attached”. The girl comes back, but with frills, as part of her personality and upbringing. Acceptance is the only way -- both sides know, life is not about black and white, but grey.

Love Aaj Kal gradually ceases to be a film. Instead, it reads like a book, a story or a memory. It is a conversation between individuals -- a communication attempt to solve a problem.


Actors’s marksheet

Kartik, as a small time awkward, young boy is made to work hard on gestures and body language and his efforts show he followed his director to the hilt. The star has a huge female fan base. He is quite a misfit as an urban lad though. In scenes of his school days, he gives it all, especially in the breakdance moments.

Sara is a born actor. Her toothy smile defines her sensuality, and so is super confidence in the shortest, skimpiest of dresses. With no stage fright whatsoever, she doesn’t act; she just flows, naturally; be it in delivering dialogues, attitude, dance, uncomforting intimate scenes or vulnerability.

Aarushi Sharma as a small town, desperately in love, a simple girl looks quite the character, effortless and subtle. She is often lost in the din of glamour in the film. Simone Singh as Sara’s mother lives that artificiality bestowed through the role, too well.

Randeep Hooda seems to be Ali's favourite of late. He is powerful combat to a “could be dominating” cast. He overwhelms with his effortless, endearing, enticing smile and style and a baritone that matches the age he represents -- the middle-aged, heartburn loner, an escapist and realist, a liar who kills your Santa Claus and fairy tale, and a dreamer, always oscillating between the past and the present.

Siddarth Kak comes as a pleasant surprise, as the owner of a huge company.


Music

Except for Ye Dooriyan by Mohit Chauhan’s, a haunting love song, I have difficulty in remembering other numbers. They don’t hit the heart, as much they make tap your foot, as always in Imtiaz’s flicks.

Imtiaz Ali has a problem, which is not his, but the film world he makes his creations in. To meet popular parameters, it seems he makes his heroine wear unnecessary short and nothing-left-to imagination kind of dresses. Well, Delhi girls don’t dress up like that to offices for sure, even if he was catering to that 5 per cent elitist families for whom its a part of daily life. The film edits are fine, often engaging, often detaching from the main aim.

The cinematography for Ali’s film is always flawless to the core. This time his terrific shots at the Himalayas and the small down alleys and forts have a fantastic impact.

With age, Imtiaz’s films are maturing in content and it exposes his exploration of the mind. He is no longer that person who will tell the tale of love in a simple and convincing “Jab We Met” style. In which the message was direct -- Value those who value you; make a conscious choice. In ‘Highway’ he explores love among people poles apart in professions and temperament, life stature and education. In Jab Harry Met Sejal, his hero is middle-aged, happy with the longing of his lost love and is alone when someone, young, committed and ready to settle down, throws a pebble in the calm waters of his life. And in Love Aaj Kal, this middle-aged hero turns into a guide to two loving, young but confused souls. He guides them not to confuse happiness with peace, and that best life is not through material gains but togetherness with the person you miss in your best or worst moments.

Whether the film fares good or bad on box office, listen to its light conversation, with deeper meanings in it.

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