'The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you.' Imtiaz Ali's Love Aaj Kal starring Kartik Aaryan and Sara Ali Khan begins with this line from one of Rumi's mystical love poems. Be it Rockstar, Tamasha or Jab Harry Met Sejal, the Persian poet's writings have always found a place in Imtiaz's world of cinema. This time too, Rumi's lines explain the theme of the film which talks about how the love today, tomorrow or yesterday will remain the same even when the characters have evolved into the era in which they exist.
What's Yay: Randeep Hooda, Music
What's Nay: Sara Ali Khan going over the top in terms of acting chops, Kartik Aaryan's confused expressions, the 'aaj' track featuring the lead pair
Popcorn Interval: Interval
Iconic Moment: The scene where Randeep Hooda breaks down and reminisces how his love story fell short of a happy ending.
The film begins with Zoey (Sara Ali Khan) and Veer (Kartik Aaryan) hitting it off in a nightclub. They almost hook up, only for Veer to pull back as he is convinced that Zoey is the woman of his dreams. On the other hand, she is averse to commitment and wants to focus on her career.
However, Zoey is made to question her choices when she comes across a cafe-owner Raj (Randeep Hooda)'s love story from the 90s. Through flashback scenes, we witness a teenage Raj aka Raghu (also played by Kartik Aaryan)'s budding romance with Leena (Aarushi Sharma).
When the narrative shifts to the present, Zoey is caught in the dilemma of choosing between love and career. On the other hand, Veer is adamant as he tells her, "Compromise, relationship kissi ke saath bhi kar lunga lekin tumhare saath nahi karunga..." Will Zoey-Veer's love story stand the test of time?
Imtiaz Ali's 2020 film Love Aaj Kal derives heavily from his 2009 flick by the same name which starred Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone. This time too, his two love stories in the film are separated by time, but connected by love. Unfortunately, the director fails to have a tight grip over his story-telling.
While the 1990s portion featuring Kartik Aaryan and Aarushi Sharma gives you butterflies in some well-executed scenes, the millennial love story featuring Aaryan and Sara Ali Khan turns out to be a messy affair.
The characters needed to have more depth and better characterization to resonate with the audience. For example, one simply fails to understand the reason behind Veer's socially-awkward nature. Further, the relationship crisis and the point of conflict barely hit the right spot.
The Imtiaz Ali staple of Rumi connection, graffiti and some beautiful moments make their presence felt in Love Aaj Kal. Sadly, the film in totality, fails to tug at your heartstrings.
Kartik Aaryan as Raghu impresses in parts and pieces. His transition from a young lover to a philandering shows some spark. However, when it comes to playing the modern-day lover Veer, the actor struggles to find his hold. In the intense sequences, Kartik tries to pull off a Ranbir Kapoor but, falls flat on his face.
Sara Ali Khan, who was promising in Kedarnath and Simmba, plays a major spoilsport with her hamming and over-the-top expressions. Even in the emotionally-charged scenes, the actress fails to make you feel for your character Zoey.
Debutante Aarushi Sharma has a good screen presence and plays her coy part well.
When it comes to the acting prowess, Randeep Hooda is the saving grace of the film. Donning a handlebar moustache and crisp linen shirts, the actor is an underrated gem who gives you plenty of moments to rejoice.
Amit Roy's cinematography is nothing out-of-the-box. Aarti Bajaj's editing goes well with the film though things could have been a lot more crispier in the second half.
'Haan Main Galat' which appears during the rolling of end credits, makes for a groovy number. Arijit Singh's vocals in 'Shayad' is soothing to ears. 'Rahogi Meri' has been beautifully picturized and leave a mark. 'Mehrama' also makes for a good listen.
Imtiaz Ali, who redefined love with films like Socha Na Thha, Jab We Met, Rockstar, Tamasha in the past, barely makes you root for the lead pair's romance in Kartik Aaryan-Sara Ali Khan's Love Aaj Kal. After two successive disappointing fares in the form of Jab Harry Met Sejal and his latest outing, all one feels like telling the filmmaker is, 'Aana toh poori tarah aana, ya toh aana hi mat.'
We give 2.5 stars out of 5 for Kartik Aaryan-Sara Ali Khan's Love Aaj Kal.