Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Love Aaj Kal’ (2020) Review : Ekko Ek Kahaani, Bas Badle Zamana!

Love, for the lack of a better word, is transcendental. The feeling of being loved is surreal. There is no optimum way to explain the rush of blood and the heady feeling of missing someone. To understand the heartbreaks, without becoming heartbroken oneself, is futile. Many poets and authors have made their efforts to explain love. But seldom has anyone been able to elucidate the pain and the suffering that love brings along with it. The olden days brought miseries to the lovers. From Romeo and Juliet to Tristan and Isolde, from Paris and Helena to Salim and Anarkali, literature sings paeans about the agony that the star-crossed lovers have gone through. Yet people fall in love. 

With time, people’s perception of love has changed. The modern world that we live in, demands sacrifices in exchange for the materialistic pleasure it provides. In the rapid race of living life to its fullest, love has also become contemporary. Love, today is woven around hashtags and insta-messages, where relationships daily crumble under the heavy load of social media scrutiny. Yet people fall in love. 

But ain’t that the thing about love! It is still that warmth, that sublime feeling that makes people do things, that they never had thought they would be doing. Love has remained always the same, yesterday and today. 

Director Imtiaz Ali’s take on modern-day relationships with respect to its previous generation ‘Love Aaj Kal’ (2009) talked about the indecisiveness of contemporary lovers. A decade later, he comes up a modern-day retelling of the tale, only this time, the indecisiveness is replaced by more indecisiveness. If yesterday’s Meera and Jai parted their ways, due to their individual career decisions, then today’s Veer and Zoe get separated due to picking the choices between the head and the heart. But love, as always has its way out. If yesterday’s Jai came scampering back to Meera, as he finally realised what his mentor Veer Singh (played by Rishi Kapoor) meant, similarly today’s Zoe throws way her insecurities, as she finally understands her mentor Raghu’s (played by a fantastic Randeep Hooda) trauma of missing out on his true love. Imtiaz tells you upfront – Love, irrespective of the time it is happening, irrespective of the societal stigma attached to it, even irrespective of the people involved in it, has always been the same – Unapologetic, unabashed, undaunted.

The film will have a field day of drawing criticisms and coping its fair share of brickbats for its randomness. Frankly, if you’re not an Imtiaz Ali fan or not familiar with his style of storytelling, it will be difficult to comprehend the scenes unfurling on the screen. Some sequences are so random that it takes a while for a viewer to get into the groove. It ain’t a mushy love story, rather it’s about the complexities of a contemporary relationship. As a viewer, you are entitled to compare the lead actors performance with the previous one. One really cannot hold a candle to the Saif and Deepika’s chemistry. But when observed closely, Zoe and Veer’s character resonates with the world they have been brought up with. If one comes from a broken family, the other comes from a world made out of compromises. They both are rooted steadfastly in their beliefs. If Zoe believes chasing love will distract her from her goal, a mistake that her mother did and ended up suffering for life long, then Veer’s also firm in his own standpoint that when people fall in love, with the good things, they also end up owning the other person’s follies as well. As the millennials dealing with all kinds of shits, that the previous generation finds unnecessary, both Sara Ali Khan and Kartik Aryan are on the top of their games. If you feel they’re overacting, trust me, they are not. It’s how people perceive the millennials these days. It’s time, we see them, in a different light!

If Imtiaz Ali makes you spellbound with his timeless tale of love, Pritam floors you with his music and Irshad Kamil with his poetries. At a pivotal moment of the film, when the characters, from past and present, break up, the soulful voice of Mohit Chauhan makes you weep with his rendition of ‘Yeh Dooriyan’. Listen to the lyrics and you’ll know what he means when he says – ‘Mujhe Nazdeekiyon Se Mili, Yeh Dooriyan’. Later in the film, we see two lovelorn people, excelling in their respective professional lives, yet longing badly for their beloveds; a hauntingly melodious KK croons in your ears – ‘Yun Tera Hona Bhi, Aur Tanha Karta’. Trust me, you’ll feel the pangs of guilt in those places of the heart, that you probably weren’t even aware of. ‘Shaayad’ will take the cult of Arijit Singh to newer heights and songs like ‘Parmeswara‘Meherma’ and ‘Dhak Dhak’ will become permanent fixtures on your playlist. What a brilliant album! 

Randeep Hooda is sublime. There’s a hardly anyone that can top his performance. The debutant Aarushi Sharma is radiant. One gets pleasantly surprised to see Simone Singh and Siddharth Kak after a really long time. The quirks inside Imtiaz’s head shows up here and there. If it was Social in ‘Tamasha’ then it’s ‘Mazi’ in ‘Love Aaj Kal’. Justice Chowdhury, a stand up comic tells you in a rather unique way the difference between raw animalistic feelings and true love. And as it always happens in Imtiaz Ali films, the redemption lies in the mountains! Amit Roy’s cinematography is as insane as the razor-sharp editing of Aarti Bajaj.

Finally a word about the love of the nineties. There is an entire generation of people like us, who grew up on mushy love stories. Like films, we also believed that all love stories should have a happy ending. Imtiaz Ali tells us to look beyond. In a way, he pokes into our own lives. To be honest, certainly all love stories didn’t have happy endings. Some became compromises. Most of them turned into messy married lives. A few ended up as repentances. Imtiaz tells you that people aren’t always aware of what the future holds for them and eventually it’s their individual choices that ultimately define their lives. But that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t fall in love. After all, it’s love that breaks the barrier and makes you do things, that you probably had never thought of doing in a sane mind. And even it breaks your heart in the process, it’s still divine. Wait till you see the sequence when it finally tells you what happened between Raghu and Leena!

Do not go for ‘Love Aaj Kal’ if you’re looking to have a great time at the theatre, munching popcorns and giggling at silly humour. It’s not for the faint of hearts. Certainly not for the ones, who try to find sense in everything. And for those who are still reading till the end, you know who you are. Go and immerse yourselves into an experience, that will remind you of your own follies, your own fallacies and perhaps that one time, when you were truly in love.

“Aana to Poori Tarah Aana.. Ya Toh Aana Hi Mat..”

 

The Cinemawala Rating: 4/5

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