Movie Review: Love Aaj Kal

11 years ago, Imtiaz Ali, fresh out of the super-success of JAB WE MET [2007], presented his next, LOVE AAJ KAL [2009]. It was a unique film for that time as it focused on not one, but two love stories, set in different eras. Also, lead actor Saif Ali Khan played the lover boy in both the tracks and that also ensured the film stood out. Director Imtiaz Ali now uses this idea once again in a film, which is also titled LOVE AAJ KAL. It features Kartik Aaryan and Sara Ali Khan and their chemistry has already become a talking point. So does LOVE AAJ KAL manage to be as excellent as its predecessor? Or does it fail? Let’s analyse.

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LOVE AAJ KAL is the story that tackles the ever-changing dynamic of being in and finding love. Veer (Kartik Aaryan) and Zoe (Sara Ali Khan) are based in Delhi and they meet one night at a nightclub. Both attempt to get intimate but Veer backs off at the last minute. Veer however realises Zoe is special to him. He finds out that she works from a co-working space. He also lands up there. Zoe is at first irritated with him but she’s interested in him. Meanwhile, Raj (Randeep Hooda), the owner of the co-working space, witnesses their love blossoming in front of his eyes. Zoe shares her views with Raj that she wants to have a casual relationship and doesn’t want to get into a serious relationship so soon. At this, Raj begins to narrate his own story. This is a time when he was Raghu (Kartik Aaryan) and was a school kid in Udaipur. He is crazily in love with Leena (Arushi Sharma). She too falls for him and one day, both get caught. Her family asks her to move to Delhi. Raghu, madly in love, follows her to the capital city. He starts to work as a waiter. Zoe is enchanted to hear about Raj's story. She decides to give love a chance. She gets a job offer from Dubai and she deletes the mail as she doesn’t want to be away from Veer. However, this is when Raj drops the bomb. He reveals to Zoe that Raghu breaks up with Leena as he turns into a playboy. This and her mother’s (Simone Singh) constant reminder that she shouldn’t sacrifice career for love gives her a jolt. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Imtiaz Ali's story is decent. The basic plot makes an interesting comment and if handled well, it could have made for a great romantic film. Imtiaz Ali's screenplay however doesn’t do complete justice. A few scenes are very relatable as it talks about the complexities of today’s times. But on the flipside, it’s also quite unconvincing. Dialogues are a bit philosophical and could have been simpler yet meaningful.

Imtiaz Ali's direction is not upto the mark. He gets a few things right. The use of graffiti on the walls and parallels being drawn between the two stories does impress. A few scenes are very well handled and bear his stamp. But there are times when one does wonder where the film is going. Some scenes don’t have the desired impact and even end up being unintentionally funny. He also leaves loose ends and a few subplots don’t get the logical conclusion. Imtiaz also doesn’t focus on backstories of his characters. This was something seen even with Shah Rukh Khan’s character in JAB HARRY MET SEJAL [2017]. In the case of LOVE AAJ KAL, Veer seems socially awkward and one doesn’t understand why that’s so.

LOVE AAJ KAL begins on a fine note as the characters of both eras get established. Yes, things do seem a bit off especially some dialogues and Veer's behaviour and his body language. However the 90s track has a charm and keeps the interest going. One of the best scenes here is when Raghu and Leena have a romantic moment in the train. The twist in Raghu's tale comes as a bolt from the blue. This bit particularly works because till now, it looks like a clone of Rishi Kapoor's track from the old LOVE AAJ KAL. As a result, audience won’t see it coming. Trouble however starts from the interval point. Zoe's outburst is weird. Post interval, the film does pick up when Veer comes to pick up Zoe. Also, the culmination of Raghu's story is poignant. However, Zoe’s actions take the film down. The final scene is just okay.

<strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Love Aaj Kal | Public Review | Kartik Aaryan | Sara Ali Khan | First Day First Show</span></strong>

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Talking of performances, both Kartik Aaryan and Sara Ali Khan give their best shot. Kartik gets to do something different and excels. In a few scenes, he ups the humour quotient as well. His intense look is watchable. Sara too follows her director’s instructions to the T and in a few scenes, you do see her brilliance. However, her character is so weird that despite her best efforts, it comes across as a caricature. Randeep Hooda is dependable. But few of his scenes get repetitive after a point. Arushi Sharma is sweet and has a fine screen presence. Simone Singh is fair. Others do well.

Pritam Chakraborty's music won’t stand the test of time like the previous LOVE AAJ KAL. <em>'Haan Main Galat'</em> is catchy but played in the end credits. <em>'Parmeswara</em>' is wacky but audiences won’t be able to connect. <em>'Dhak Dhak', 'Aur Tanha'</em> and <em>'Shayad'</em> are fine. Ishaan Chhabra's background score gels well with the film.

Amit Roy's cinematography is quite great in some sequences. But in some close up shots, it is not upto the mark. Suman Roy Mahapatra's production design is quite stylish, especially in present day portions. Aki Narula's costumes are quite appealing, especially the ones worn by Sara and by Kartik in present day track. Aarti Bajaj's editing is sans complaints.

On the whole, LOVE AAJ KAL is strictly for the youth and romantic at heart. At the box office, it will start on a positive note on the account of its novel cast and the festive (Valentine’s Day) period. The business will be decent across urban multiplexes while business at single screens may remain average.