It is 2020, and we’re still discussing how it is difficult for women to find a balance between career and love, but why aren’t men asked same questions? Why is creepy stalking so normalised, and challenged with a notion that women love being followed by men? This is just the tip of the iceberg on the list of problems this film portrays. Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal, based off of his own film with the same name, just like his previous film, tries to celebrate old school romance and how it has become in the present world. However, over the years, being criticised for making the same films again and again, this time Imtiaz channels that feedback and takes it a step forward, by making the SAME film, with the SAME name, only packaging it in a different way, and well… traumatising the audience while at it.
The opening shot says a lot about many films, and with Ali, he loses it right there. The film starts with Leena (Arushi Sharma), approaching Raghu (Kartik Aaryan), asking him as to why he’s stalking her, to this, Raghu doesn’t apologise, but rather just says, “ab se nahi karunga”. This doesn’t end here, Leena, hearing this, reverts with asking him whether she asked him to stop. In present day, the same happens between Zoe (Sara Ali Khan) and Veer (Kartik Aryan).
Like the original, this film also intercuts between two timelines, informing each other. Veer and Zoe meet at a bar and he refuses to have a fling with her because he thinks she is ‘special’. So, Veer, keeping all his work aside, goes around following Zoe. “I’ll leave the moment you feel I am intruding”, is what Veer says as a defence for his creepiness.
Zoe is career driven, and doesn’t believe in long term relationships. She has a plan for everything, her life as well. She is guided however, by Raj (Randeep Hooda), since it’s a love story, there has to be a ‘Raj’. Hooda pulls off a Rumi from the 21st century, who says blunt truths like, “If you love them, set them free – sirf dosron ko kehne ke liye hain, khud karne ke liye nahi. Yeh duniya ideal nahi hai!” but also contradicts the same whilst narrating his tale to Zoe. He takes it up as a responsibility to school Zoe that she should be serious about love, and that she should not commit mistakes like he did in the past.
Hooda perpetually romanticises his past regrets, of letting of this woman Leena, for whom, he not just left his city, but also his career, and now was an owner for a few cafés and restaurant spaces, longing his existence. ‘Shockingly’, Zoe transforms listening to Hooda’s stories and gives up her career to be with Veer, only to realise Hooda and his story had a huge blind spot. Here, at the midpoint of the film, we are shown of a visible conflict, which is not internal anymore, and in reality, not even that big a conflict.
Imtiaz Ali, in his 8th directorial feature, makes a love story for the millennial audience and it’s safe to say that he doesn’t get the nuances of a millennial relationship right. The original Love Aaj Kal followed the same story at its core, about old school romance, but that one rekindled this feeling of wanting that kind of love. This one comes off merely hollow, with large loopholes, because of which this film doesn’t sustain and feels like a stretch. This film makes the director’s previous film seem so much better than what it was, only because with this one Ali seems to have hit a new low.
A film made and based in 2020, Ali still induces the film with the same age-old stereotypes that we thought we were done with, or atleast didn’t expect them coming from a director with features like Highway (2014) and Tamasha (2015) in his bag. Other than the career v/s love conflict that the female character goes through, because both cannot exist together, the film also looks down upon casual sex. Kartik often says that he can have sex with anyone, but because Zoe is “special”, they should only do it when they have reached a certain level in their relationship. This concept goes hand in hand with old people considering sex a sacred concept and having sex before marriage, a sin.
The only interesting bit within the 141-minute-long film was the conflict in Hooda’s story which itself was sufficient to be made the core conflict of the film, which could’ve been informed in the present. Instead, what comes out is a low stake love story between two people wherein one feels being career oriented is an issue, while the other feels that idealism will take him places.
The actors themselves don’t add much to the narrative. Kartik’s Veer seems visibly troubled, but is considered to be cute and awkward, while his Raghu is a weird small-town lover who turns into a womanizer. Both these roles are played without any conviction, in total Kartik Aaryan fashion, though without a monologue this time. Sara is all show and no go. With nothing going her way other than her fashionable outfits, Sara competes with Kartik for the trophy of who acts worse. Sara is just plain loud, which doesn’t portray any hurt feelings of hers, rather hurts our ears. The only saving grace for the film was when the score of Yeh Dooriyan plays twice, which takes us back to the original, only to bring us back to reality with a badly made remake of a classic.
From a director of films like Jab We Met (2007), Rockstar (2011), Highway (2014), Tamasha (2015), and the original Love Aaj Kal (2009), comes another one with the same name, only this time, the replica doesn’t stand the test of its time, but rather informs us about Ali’s voice, which is visibly regressive, with no ray of hope to change for the better.