Come to think of it, if the film carries the 'burden' of humungous expectations, it's imperative that it goes beyond those expectations. The reaction after watching the film has to be similar to a child who has laid his hands on his fav toy. The joyous smile would say it all. The question is, does Love Aaj Kal live up to the hype and hoopla surrounding it? Or does it go beyond that?
Love Aaj Kal is not an easy film to write and execute. Sure, it's a love story, but it's not one of those mundane love stories that talks of love and heartache. Here, the two stories, set in different eras, run parallel, but have a similar end.
To be brutally honest, it takes time to grasp the plot, since the past and present run concurrently. If you aren't attentive, chances are you'd lose the plot. Also, if you aren't aware by now that Saif enacts dual roles in the film -- playing his part as also the part of young Rishi Kapoor -- the goings-on would confuse you no end, when the transition occurs.
Love Aaj Kal is a director's show entirely. The relationships here are complex because the couple in love lives in complete denial. It is to Imtiaz Ali's credit that he has penned an offbeat story, developed a complex but comprehensive screenplay and extracted sensitive performances from the principal cast. At the same time, the writing isn't the type that would appeal to all sections of movie-going audience. Besides, the execution of the subject and also the pacing in the first hour are deterrents.
Final word? Love Aaj Kal makes you fall in love with love all over again. Makes you value your loved ones all the more. This film is special!
London, San Francisco, Delhi - 2009.
Jai [Saif Ali Khan] and Meera [Deepika Padukone] is a modern-day couple in London. They are very happy together, but do not believe in tying each other down. So when life pulls them in different directions, they decide to call off their relationship, since long-distance relationships, in their opinion, don't work.
Delhi, Calcutta - 1965.
Veer Singh [Rishi Kapoor] is struck by a thunderbolt when he sees Harleen for the first time. He travels a thousand kilometers by train to stand under her balcony, only to have a glimpse of her face. And yet not speak a word with her.
Veer does not understand how Jai can treat matters of the heart without passion. Jai does not understand how Veer Singh could have been so naive and silly about Harleen in his youth. But as both stories unfold, we realize that the process of relationship might be different in different eras, but the experience of being in love remains the same.
Love Aaj Kal travels multiple continents and different eras. The subject matter is novel, never attempted before, but the material, the characters [Saif and Deepika especially] as also its execution is targeted at the youth in big cities mainly. As they say in filmi lingo, this one's a hardcore multiplex movie.
Another area where Imtiaz Ali experiments is by depicting Saif as the young Rishi Kapoor. It's a novel concept, no two opinions on that, but the question is, will it cut ice universally? Will people tend to get confused when the sequences turn sepia?
The film captivates in bits and spurts in the initial portions. Partly because the writing is so different. But the writing breaks new grounds in the second hour. It's in this hour that the film grips you completely, when the fragmented pieces are put together and a mesmeric picture emerges.
The second hour is the soul of the film. Right from the time Deepika decides to marry, till the last reunion, the film touches an emotional high. The sequence of events that lead to the culmination is incredible. Saif's interaction with Deepika at the marriage, or the gradual change in Saif's behaviour in the U.S. in the course of a song, or the realisation that marriage was a big mistake... moments like these take Love Aaj Kal to dizzy heights.
Imtiaz Ali is a genius. The film bears the stamp of an accomplished storyteller. This is a forward-thinking film that handles the new-age relationships with complete understanding. The songs compliment the goings-on beautifully. This is amongst Pritam's accomplished works. 'Twist' [already a rage], 'Aahun Aahun' [foot-taping], 'Chor Bazaari' [melodious] and 'Dooriyaan' [melancholic], each song is a gem. N. Natarajan Subramaniam's cinematography is fantastic. Editing [Aarti Bajaj] is wonderful.
Both Saif and Deepika come up with their career-best performances in Love Aaj Kal. Saif carries the most difficult parts with remarkable ease. Sure, we've seen him as the cool, urban guy in several films, but this one's the most demanding role and only a seasoned actor could've delivered it with such precision.
Deepika looks ethereal. Most importantly, in Love Aaj Kal, she acts very, very well. Matching up to Saif is no mean achievement and she does it in several scenes. This should be the turning point in her career. Rishi Kapoor is top notch. The actress enacting the role of Harleen is pretty. Rahul Khanna does well in a small, but significant role. Watching Neetu Kapoor in the end sequence is truly astonishing. She's so graceful.
On the whole, Love Aaj Kal is for the young and romantic at heart. Sure, it's not perfect, but the terrific performances, melodious music and stirring emotional moments [last 35 odd minutes] more than compensate for the hiccups. At the box-office, the film should start with a bang for four factors -- its novel cast, super music, great promotion and yes, Imtiaz Ali, a name that commands respect amongst moviegoers. Released extensively [approx. 1800 screens worldwide], Love Aaj Kal will have one of the biggest first weeks in India and also in the international markets. In India, the business will be superb across multiplexes, while single screens might not behave as energetically. But the business at multiplexes will ensure a fantastic recovery of the investment. Internationally, it has the potential to emerge one of the biggest grossers in recent times.