Commitment-phobia is so epidemic in today's average love relationship it beats the HIV virus as the no.1 killer of our times. Like all those lovely movies earlier about Nazi atrocities and cancer we now have interesting cinematic takes on the fear of...gulp choke...commitment among today's couples.
In first-time director Danish Aslam's Break Ke Baad, Aliya (Deepika Padukone) wants so much space, space, space...instead of a wannabe actress, she could be an astronaut! Sometimes, when you crave for too much space, your life gets spaced out. That's where the voice of reason and sanity comes in.
Imran Khan as Abhay, Aliya's sensible childhood chum, movie-going companion and wannabe husband and shit-shoveler is such a steadying factor in the high-on-life girl, you would wish him in every denuded potentially self-destructive girl's life. Imran is cleverly and perfectly cast. His real-life image of the committed one-woman man immediately gives a cool and complete credence to his part.
Deepika, one isn't too sure of, to begin with. The space she occupies here seems thrust on her. This is clearly Priyanka Chopra's territory. But hold on. Before we accuse Deepika of being miscast (can actors be accused of wrong casting? Hmmmmm...) the spirited girl begins to grow into her character. Soon, Deepika is one with her part of the high-flying utterly-selfish and brutally unthinking dreamer who wants it all and wants it fast.
As a pair, Imran and Deepika work like a dream. They both seem to understand their individual character's needs and their need to fit into one another's life. Of course, it takes the stubborn and self-defeating Aliya the whole film to realize rejecting love to pursue your dreams is akin to losing the very essence of your dreams.
The film undertakes a lovely and illustrative journey of self-realization. Deepika pulls off the role with a gradual acceptance of her own blind spots and embracing the world of love and companionship. Some sequences between Imran and Deepika reveal an out-of-the-ordinary empathy with the dynamics of urban relationship. However, the writing elsewhere gets uneven and sluggish, considerably diminishing the impact of the plot's core relationship.
That voyage from self-love to other-love is undertaken in Break Ke Baad in a spirit of buoyant joy. But the lines, between Imran and Deepika are not always as smart as their chemistry suggests. Often you tragically lose interest in the progress of their relationship, no thanks to the sketchy writing and cardboard-like incidental characters like Shahana Goswami and Yuvi in 'Australia' who are so much into accessorizing their feelings you wonder if they are auditioning for the sequel to Aisha.
But, you've seldom seen a well-matched couple than Deepika and Imran. His rapport with her is far superior and credible than what Imran shared with Sonam Kapoor in I Hate Luv Storys.
Break Ke Baad is a flawed film about a flawed half in a lopsided relationship. The plot moves from Delhi to 'Australia' (actually Mauritius) in search of a pure healthy air to breathe. The azure sea exudes an innocence echoing the lack of artifice in the Abhay-Aliya alliance.
Break Ke Baad finally emerges as one of those love stories with a potential that gets squandered in an attempt to be constantly clever at the cost of sustaining the sensitivity that the two lead players build into their relationship. It could have been much better. But Break Ke Baad is not half as baaaaad or shallow as some recent 'luv storys'. Imran and Deepika get it right. And not just the spelling.
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