Romeo and Juliet, Heer-Ranjha, Shirin-Farhad and all those other love stories - they are only for the books and the movies, right? Ever seen it happen right in your midst? (And I donâ€™t mean neighboring Gupta auntyâ€™s daughter who eloped with her motorcycle-wala boy-friend in the middle of the night). What Iâ€™m asking you to do is re-ponder the age old question : What is love ? Does it exist ? More importantly, does it ever happen to us, the aam junta, the mango people? Fear not - I have not had one drink too many on this Friday night, nor am I drowning in existential angst (not yet anyway) - I am merely quoting a line from â€śLove Aaj Kalâ€ť.
The movie attempts to answer the above question by example. The questioner here is Jai Vardhan Singh (Saif) whoâ€™s living in the UK, dreaming of working for the Golden Gate Company in San Francisco, and in the meanwhile trying not to â€śpile-onâ€ť to beautiful girls. While trying the whole â€śdonâ€™t mean to pile-on, butâ€ť routine, he meets beautiful Meera Pandit (Deepika). They hit it off, which subsequently leads to a relationship. When their careers dictate that they move to different countries, they part amicably, and move on with their lives.
Championing the cause of true love in the film, is Sardar Veer Singh (Rishi Kapoor). A nosy old man who wonâ€™t stop prying into Jaiâ€™s love life, Veer Singh also relates his youthful tale of love for the beautiful Harleen Kaur. The Veer-Harleen sequence runs parallel to the Jai-Meera storyline, contrasting the ways of yester-year and modern day love.
This film with itâ€™s dual-track love-stories falls strongly into the romance genre. However itâ€™s not your frothy, bubbly romance, a la â€śJab We Metâ€ť , but more of a tale of â€śdifficultâ€ť love - i.e.; finding â€śThe Oneâ€ť, and on finding him/her (if you do), the more onerous task of knowing if this is itâ€¦Our protagonists Meera and Jai really donâ€™t have a clue; they donâ€™t appear to have thought that far.
Saif plays two characters in the film, that of suave city-boy Jai, and also that of the young Sardar Veer. He looked quite a â€śnaturalâ€ť Sardar, and even managed the Punjabi accent ably. Overall his performance was energetic, enthusiastic, and if not immaculate, really quite decent. Deepika is quite good as Meera. Meera is an unconventional Bollywood heroine, in that she is smart, has her wits about her, and is calm and reserved by nature. Thus, Deepika seemed a good fit for this role, although her monotonous dialogue delivery didnâ€™t actually light up the screen in the first half of the movie. Her acting style is rather understated, which kind of works here, because thatâ€™s who Meera is.
This is a slow-paced film, livened up by some smart quips, and energetic dance sequences. A big plus is the melodious music; â€śAahun Aahunâ€ť is a peppy number with Punjabi beats, â€śYeh Dooriyanâ€ť features Mohit Chauhanâ€™s soulful vocals, and â€śAaj Din Chadheyaâ€ť is sheer romantic poetry. The film is well-directed and the characters believably developed. Imtiaz Ali lives up-to his reputation and handles the finer sentiments of this film oh-so delicately. His sensitive portrayal of a love languishing, the rarefied disappointment of not knowing whether the one you pine for will indeed be yours, is moving.
It is clear after watching the movie that the director had a â€śvisionâ€ť of what he wanted to project. â€śLove Aaj-Kalâ€ť is an unusual love tale for Bollywood, because it lacks the â€śadd-onsâ€ť generally seen in desi films of this genre - the over-the-top/quirky characters (a la Geet in â€śJab We Metâ€ś), the familial parodies (loud Punjabi families are frequently the butt of jokes) and the implicit vibes/coochie-cooings (he thrusts, she parries) between the love-struck pair.
The film when it started, presented the Jai-Meera story in a flurry of quick, short takes - I could just imagine the director yelling â€śCutâ€ť after every 10 seconds. Until about the interval, this was how it went, kind of abrupt, and cryptic - made me feel like I was getting the compressed version of the story. But post-interval Ali seemed to get his act together, and the squiggly little pieces of the plot seemed to come together and flow. Thus while I was beginning to have my doubts in the first half of the film, I must say I was floored by the second. The characters are hard not to like, and Meeraâ€™s predicament had me shedding a few tears of my own.â€śLove Aaj Kalâ€ť is a film well worth your time, just donâ€™t go in there expecting a happy-happy, smooth-n-snappy Friday night movie.
(Kidwise : This is a clean, classy film, with nothing more than a few lip-locks, and one mugging scene. I wouldnâ€™t actually recommend it for children under 13, because of the pace and nature of the film - younger kids might have a hard time getting it).