Love Aaj Kal: A V-day disaster

It’s that time of the year when couples go on record to flaunt their love for each other, either through posts on the social media or through gifts.  Valentine’s Day is a day of celebration for the youth and with cinema being one of the prime modes of entertainment even now, youth-friendly movies released during the V-Day week do have a solid potential at the box office. Imtiaz Ali had all the luck he wanted for his latest release Love Aaj Kal, a reprisal of sorts to his 2009 film of the same name releasing on V-Day.

If you have watched the first Love Aaj Kal that starred Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone in lead roles, and also watched the trailer of the latest one, you might have an idea of what the storyline looks like. The film shows two timelines, 1990 (Udaipur) and 2020 (Delhi), with the respective eras telling us a love story apiece. The modern-day romance is between Veer (Kartik Aaryan) and Zoe (Sara Ali Khan), two contrasting individuals who fall in love by chance. Unfortunately, complexities creep into their relationship, testing the waters of their mental strength and loyalty.

It doesn’t help Zoe that she has got infected by the scars of her single mother (Simone Singh) and it forces the former to be fearful of commitments. Meanwhile, Veer is the embodiment of patience in their romance. A vital to the love is a cafe that’s owned by Raj (Randeep Hooda) is a go-between for the new-generation lovers. He sees a lot of himself in Veer and so, Kartik Aaryan plays the younger Raj in the 1990 romance where he is Raghu and courting a poignant woman Leena (Arushi Sharma).

The parallels in the two timelines are about the women, their strong-minded nature and eternal confusions regarding romance. Of course, the conflicts differ, as they would with time and generations. But, both Zoe and Leena do have their common grounds. As do the two men, Veer and Raghu, despite all the contrast that’s evident from the surface in the two love stories. The film switches between the two love stories alternately, trying to find that common glue which can stick the two stories together, and convey the theme of true love and self-discovery.

When Imtiaz Ali first entered the scene back in 2005 through the Abhay Deol-starrer Socha Na Tha, there was an air of freshness with his films. Whether it was the romance or the conflicts, we got a refreshing angle to things. Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal, Rockstar and Highway continued through the same path of having confused characters in the narrative, with realization being the goal despite the diversity in their genres. The  Imtiaz formula seems to have become jaded.

With the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Jab Harry Met Sejal, it was evident that the director had started to lose a grip over his craft. With Love Aaj Kal, that point is further driven home. For starters, why reprise a film that’s just over a decade old? Coming to the performances, Kartik Aaryan does a neat job in both the roles. He does have his flawed moments but overall, has managed to put in a reasonable performance, given the inadequate nature of the script.

Sara Ali Khan has infectious energy and the two films she has done prior to this is testimony of that. In terms of deeper shades and complexities, Zoe is probably the toughest of the roles she has gotten so far. She tries hard but clearly, there is a long way to go before she can ace such kind of characters that are easy to go wrong. Her spontaneous acts and eye-candy looks do aid her to some extent but this isn’t a space that can be easily nailed by a two-film old actress and Sara does struggle at several points, particularly during the high-intensity sequences.

On her Bollywood debut, Arushi Sharma is subtle and quietly captures the strength of her character. Compared to Sara, she is more at ease but perhaps it’s also the setting of her romance.  It’s Randeep Hooda who effortlessly tops the charts as far as performances go. He manages to convey the magnitude of varied emotions but unfortunately, he doesn’t have as much screen time as the other three characters in the film. There are times when you wish that he had also enacted the flashback portion of his romance instead of giving that also to Kartik Aaryan but that’s how commercial cinema goes.

Love Aaj Kal neither has a strong storyline nor do the characters have meat in them. To top this, it is a tale told with minimal conviction. It’s almost as if Imtiaz merely wanted to cash in on the popularity gained by the Kartik-Sara pair on social media and the V-Day weekend, and was in a mad rush to somehow complete a film that could release on this romantic weekend. A definite recipe for disaster, this kind of thinking.

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