'Love Aaj Kal' review: SarTik's film is nowhere close to the 2009 predecessor

If you can inhabit and survive in Imtiaz Ali's world of old-school love with a dash of passion and conflict, you will understand 'Love Aaj Kal'. And you will love it. Watch 'Love Aaj Kal' for Sara Ali Khan's screen presence, her crackling chemistry with Kartik Aaryan, a few lessons in love, and some old-school romance.

Sonal Gera Sonal Gera
Updated on: February 14, 2020 15:46 IST
A good distraction is Sara's striking screen presence. Her

A good distraction is Sara's striking screen presence. Her charm, in fact, sometimes gets the better of the actress that she is.

  • Movie Name:Love Aaj Kal
  • Critics Rating: 3 / 5
  • Release Date: Feb 14, 2020
  • Director: Imtiaz Ali
  • Genre: Romantic Drama

Imtiaz Ali is no stranger to telling stories that reek of melancholic love -- a love that transcends barriers of behaviour patterns to let everything fall in place. 'Tamasha's Ved, 'Jab We Met's Aditya, and 'Rockstar's Jordan -- all had their idea of love shattered into pieces to finally make peace with themselves, and create a masterpiece. 'Socha Na Tha', 'Love Aaj Kal' (2009), and 'Highway' also were films that elaborated on the pop culture, and gave flawed, but lovable, characters.

This year's 'Love Aaj Kal' is nowhere close to the above-mentioned movies, or even its 2009 predecessor -- in terms of direction, screenplay, editing, acting, and the nuances that we have loved Imtiaz Ali for. The nuances, and the nitty-gritties of the characters are still there, but they are so contrived and convoluted that you start hating on Ali. No kidding here -- for -- let me put this straight -- who hooks up in clubs and bars these days? Or who finds a romantic relationship a full-time job that he/she cannot balance it with a "full-time" job?

Sara Ali Khan's Zoe Chauhan is perpetually torn between the demands of her professional life (which aren't many by the bye), and her heart that constantly seeks companionship -- so much so that she stops feeling any emotion after she breaks up with Kartik Aaryan's Veer.

Veer, on the other hand, is a loner who believes in true love. But resorts to the hackneyed method of stalking a girl into a relationship. It's a blessing that he is not exactly like a toxic boyfriend who would stop his girl from pursuing her dreams. The girl, in this case, does it herself.

The girlfriend, in this case, is also the toxic part of the relationship. Her outbursts, reactions, ideologies, and desires are as shallow as her mother's insecurities (which she constantly thrusts upon her daughter). Because of this, the axe falls on Sara who is not able to properly emote what her Zoe feels. Her hand gestures are even a bigger distraction, and if Imtiaz Ali instructed her to do so, he needs a break.

A good distraction is Sara's striking screen presence. Her charm, in fact, sometimes gets the better of the actress that she is.

Kartik truly embodies the 1990s Raghu he plays -- for he is erratic, yet impactful. In the 2020 scenes, he is better than Sara. But when it gets to playing Raghu -- especially when he is given prosthetics to resemble Randeep Hooda -- the humongous effort he puts is glaring.

Randeep Hooda is the most underused actor in the film. He plays the same role as was played by Rishi Kapoor in the 2009's 'Love Aaj Kal'. The man who made Mahabir an iconic character is reduced to a Rumi-cum-Kabir-cum-cafe manager, doling out love lessons to Zoe. His love lessons, as opposed to Kapoor's in the 2009 film, are actually "lessons" -- and through the runtime of 141 minutes of the film, he tries to teach Zoe what not to do when in love.

Arushi Sharma makes a striking debut with the film. But her role is as underdeveloped as the movie.

That brings me to the culprit of the entire rigmarole -- Imtiaz Ali. If you have grown up watching his movies, you will feel betrayed by 'Love Aaj Kal'. I did. Because I thought 'Jab Harry Met Sejal' was a one-off mistake. And could be repaired by another 'Tamasha' or a 'Rockstar'. Or even a 'Love Aaj Kal' -- even if it meant a recreation. But this self-plagiarism (if that's even a word) stands testimony to the falling graph of a genius filmmaker.

It's quite certain now that Ali does not fully understand the complexities of the younger generation, or their rebellion (even if it's without a cause). The entire narrative is based on a flimsy premise, and the screenplay does no good to the storytelling. There are way too many close-ups, way too many still shots, and way too many distractions. The movie also reinforces stereotypes, equating casual sex with sinning. It debunks a few of them too -- like the boyfriend is never asked the career question.

Imtiaz Ali has always been known by characters that have several layers -- and perhaps, a reason to why they are the way they are. 'Love Aaj Kal', however, becomes too hammy when presenting its characters.

Ali, however, does not falter in underlining the myriad complex emotions involved in a romantic relationship -- the one superpower he has, and the one that made me his fan. He makes you cry with Zoe's admittance of her love for Veer, or Raghu's acceptance of his mistakes. The rare sparks of brilliance in 'Love Aaj Kal's storytelling manage to help you hold your seat at least till 'Haan Main Galat' starts playing with the credit roll.

Dialogues are good, music better and lyrics of the songs the best part of the film. The most endearing aspect of the movie, however, is the chemistry Sara and Kartik share.

The rumoured love-birds must have had an instant connection for them to be able to translate it into something so palpable, so adorable.

Summing it up... -- Alright! I should not be using that statement. Because Aarti Bajaj clearly did not cut the long story short ;)

'Love Aaj Kal' is a flawed notion about the quandary between love and ambition in the more-flawed lives of the younger generation. What makes it worth watching, however, is Imtiaz Ali's unique storytelling, involving conflicting emotions and self-realisation, which makes you cry -- even if you feel stupid for shedding tears for no strong reason.

If you can inhabit and survive in Imtiaz Ali's world of old-school love with a dash of passion and conflict, you will understand 'Love Aaj Kal'. And you will love it. If you cannot, it's a reality check for him.

Watch 'Love Aaj Kal' for Sara Ali Khan's screen presence, her crackling chemistry with Kartik Aaryan, a few lessons in love, and some old-school romance.

IndiaTVNews.com verdict: 3 stars