Love Aaj Kal has opened to much hype and immense anticipation. Inevitably the film will be compared to director Imtiaz Ali’s previous blockbuster Jab We Met, which may be unfair but is expected. The lead pair — Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone are already being compared to Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor respectively, the film’s look has been scrutinized as well as the music of film which has been rated as “average” when contrasted to JWM. But director Imtiaz Ali swears that the film is not only different from his previous blockbuster but should not be compared—and rightly so perhaps. Love has always been a topic of interest to all directors and script writers in Hindi cinema. Desi’s adore a good fairytale-like love story filled with good music and an innovative plot. And if you manage to make your audiences shed a tear or two, you’ve pretty much hit a home run. Love Aaj Kal deals with love “yesterday” and “today” while allowing Saif Ali Khan to play a double role as he enacts the role of a Sikh lover and a modern city boy. Does Imitiaz Ali hit yet another home-run with LAK? Will Saif shine in both roles…and none? Will Deepika Padukone finally prove she can act? Will Love Aaj Kal see the daylights of Kal (tomorrow)? Or will is it over and done with Aaj (today)?
In modern-Aaj day, Jai (Saif Ali Khan) meets Meera (Deepika Padukone) at a nightclub in London; they kiss almost immediately and start dating even quicker. Happy with the way things are going, they are quickly met with the ultimate villains: ambition and career. Meera wants to head back to the motherland and revive old shrines in the country while he dreams of building bridges (Golden Gate inspired). The couple separate, after mutually agreeing and throwing a “Celebrate our break-up” party. Unknown of the future of their relationship, they call it quits. In the meanwhile, Jai is told a story, one of a Veer Singh (Rishi Kapoor) back in the 1960’s—this is the Kal aspect. A young Singh (played by Saif Ali Khan) falls in love with Harleen (the actresses name is unknown) and they both exchange coy smiles and shy stares in the gullies of Delhi. When Harleen leaves and heads to Calcutta, Singh decides to pucker up and win over the love of his life. While Singh realized he had pull up his socks and go get his love, you’ll have to watch the film to see if Jai does the same or sacrifices his lady-love for the love of building bridges.
Imtiaz Ali knows love and there ain’t no denying that. The director has incorporated the “Kal” and “Aaj” along with lots of “Love” into a full-fledged love story that is made for audiences of all ages, much like Jab We Met. The modern angle which is trait of Ali’s style of love-story telling is visible in all his previous projects, Socha Na Tha and Jab We Met, and in Love Aaj Kal too. You meet a young vivacious career-minded professional couple who realize the importance and value of fulfilling their dreams and ambition. But, and yes there is a but, the “Aaj” story — i.e. Jai and Meera love angle is completely overshadowed by the “Kal” which is much more cuter. That brings about the biggest problem with Love Aaj Kal: the film is too far too sappy. After a while all the sappiness cooks up too much to become a great big pot of mush. The second half of film could have easily been edited especially the Saif-Blonde girl love angle which landed up being a yawn-fest. That said, Imtiaz Ali is a great storyteller so full marks to him in that area.
Performance wise, Saif Ali Khan is great; whether it’s the young Jai or the young Veer, he shines. You are somewhat reminded of a younger Saif Ali Khan back in his Dillagi days where he was correctly named a “chocolate boy romantic hero.” Deepika Padukone has yet to prove herself as an actress and fine, she moved up two points in Love Aaj Kal. There are times where she completely slaughters the dialogues making you want to cringe. As a couple though, they inevitably share some chemistry…but you can’t help but wonder if that has something to do with Imtiaz Ali. Whoever thought Shahid and Kareena would actually have an onscreen hit? It was only Imtiaz who managed to extract great performances from both the actors who eventually gave their first hit as a couple.
Rishi Kapoor is his usual abundantly talented self who I wish someone would give a different role to now—something meatier! I’m not quite sure why the new girls name has not yet been disclosed, but she is really a revelation. Will they finally let us know who she is? Rahul Khanna too is apt and credible in his role as Deepika’s boss.
Unlike Jab We Met or even Socha Na Tha for that matter, (Grrr…I’m trying not to make constant comparisons— this is hard!), the songs in this film are not as easily incorporated into the situations of this film. However, “Twist” is awesome, ‘Dooriyan’ is haunting and ‘Chor Bazaari’ is cute—there’s that word again.
Love Aaj Kal works for the young modern crew more than the older audiences. The film is interesting and watchable. Honestly, amidst my constant lecturing of “it’s not fair to compare,” one can’t help but place all three films, Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal, side-by-side only to simply conclude, this is not Imtiaz Ali’s best. Love Aaj Kal will work Aaj and Kal but not as much as the previous two.