Love Aaj Kal dives straight into the ambiguous, uncomfortable and unspoken parts of love. You will either jump in and love it, or straight up hate it. As a fan, I can safely declare Imtiaz Ali is back in the zany space. The movie stays true to its premise of tackling uncomfortable parts of love until it reaches its pointy end.
The 2+2 se zyaada type of love, along with career, money, lust, cheating, boredom, fears, commitment, balance, freedom. This time Imtiaz explores the ambiguities of love before love, tackling the romance in tiny bits and pieces as only he can so beautifully, not shying away from leaving an incomplete, unresolved feeling of what love could or couldn’t be. Why we do what we do, why we act the way we act, why we hurt and disrespect the people we care about. The best part is it doesn’t attempt to explain any of these actions nor does it fairy tale love. In fact, it shows almost every character as flawed and full of contradictions, to the point where it appears all over the place, until it reaches the acceptance that life will never be a straight line, therefore neither can love.
Right in the first scene, all four characters from both eras make an entrance, 2020 pair Zoe-Veer (Sara Ali Khan, Karthik Aryan) and 1990 pair Leena-Raghu (Arushi Sharma, Karthik Aryan). Zoe and Veer are free to be with each other but struggle to connect. Leena and Raghu are on as are many social barriers in the way of their romance. As the stories progress, you see confusion, insecurities, infidelity, career, gender, the usual things one would see in an Imtiaz Ali creation, but with a more insular approach than seen in his earlier movies. It’s a splash of emotions and vignettes on screen until the final credits roll.
As for the elephant in the room, it’s a yes and a no. The story is similar in premise to Love Aaj Kal 2009 and it is the career and love dilemma all over again. But it is handled differently. You still have the older character in Randeep Hooda, all grown up and ready to dish his love wisdom. The woman struggles this time in 2020, she wants to toss it all away for love and is challenged at every point by herself, her mother, her past. What could have been better were some of the contrived sequences, the lifts on a bike, the cafe sets, and some of the usual ways in which Imtiaz tends to explore the female characters, with kid gloves.
It’s definitely not going to be a popular movie choice. The characters unravel but do not get a chance to be put together again. Their actions, reactions, the story leaves an incomplete feeling. Actors Sara, Arushi and Karthik come across as theatre dolls, and not the stars you want them to be. The camera hovers around as their life plays out. All with good reason. It’s not Tamasha level intense. It doesn’t have the playfulness of Love Aaj Kal 2009. Both movies took the whole journey, of course. But on the whole, it works like a charm. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Love Aaj Kal 2020 is about all that happens within before love takes over.
3.5 out of 5
Hamida Parkar is a freelance journalist and founder-editor of cinemaspotter.com. She writes on cinema, culture, women, and social equity.
Love Aaj Kal. Writer & Director: Imtiaz Ali. Players: Sara Ali Khan, Karthik Aryan, Arushi Sharma, Randeep Hooda. Music: Pritam, Ishaan Chhabra. Theatrical release: Maddock Films, Window Seat Films, Reliance Entertainment.