Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
Love’s Labour Lost, Literally!

Karan Johar
Writer - Director

Niranjan Iyengar

Movie Review
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil:Love’s Labour Lost, Literally!

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil –
Love’s Labour Lost, Literally!

Dil ka toh pata nahin magar baithna mushkil ho gaya tha! The movie is interminable and what makes it worse is that it appears to be a series of disjointed incidents – the story has no bite to it – seemingly shot in all the nightclubs of London and Vienna with everyone having an incessant party, if the settings are anything to go by!

As it turns out, the theatres have probably had more butts in seats due to the controversy the movie generated; in deference to the same, there is a disclaimer right at the beginning that states no hurt is intended to any sentiments, beliefs, community, yadda, yadda, yadda. Anyhow, director Karan Johar has hedged his bets by representing the three major religions, with the male protagonist being Hindu and wearing a cross around his neck, while the rest of the cast play Muslim characters.

The movie is related as flashbacks during an interview with Ayan Sanger (Ranbir Kapoor) who is supposed to doing his MBA from London, while secretly hankering to become a singer. He picks up Alizeh Khan (Anushka Sharma) one evening in a nightclub. The two are dating Lisa (Lisa Haydon) and Faisal (Imran Abbas) respectively, which soon breaks off. Ayan turns out to be a highly emotional dude who bursts into full-scale rona-dhona at the drop of a hat and it falls to Alizeh’s lot to comfort him, which leads to them becoming besties. Contrary to expectation, although Ayan and Alizeh indulge in plenty of gaana-bajaana, with flowing chiffons et al in the snowy Alps as a tribute to ‘Chandni,’ nothing happens between the two. Well, something does, but it’s one-sided, from Ayan. Alizeh is still in love with Ali (Fawad Khan) with whom she’s had a break-up. Apparently, he’s this globe-trotting DJ and he turns up in Paris where the Double A are holidaying. Bas phir kya, Ali and Alizeh kiss and make up and wedding bells ring out. She asks Ayan to attend her wedding as her best friend and he flies down from London to Lucknow obligingly, going so far as to put mehendi on his hands to rival the bride’s! That’s interval. Thankfully!

Back in London, Ayan heals his broken heart for three months and then flies off on a whim to Vienna, all because he had met the beautiful, older Saba (Aishwarya Rai) at the airport. They decide to be friends with benefits and everything is swimming along; Ayan is even able to handle it when he bumps into Saba’s ex-husband Tahir (Shahrukh Khan in a cameo), who gives him some guru-gyan on pyaar-mohabbat - and this gives our hero some fresh motivation and that in turn gives our scriptwriter (KJo) his high point - kahani-mein-twist moment. After this ‘giving-cycle’, how the complex equations of love between Saba-Ayan-Alizeh-Ali progress and resolve become the rest of the screenplay. Though it might seem intriguing but saving spoilers, I can just tell you it’s not satisfying as an audience because the resolution depends heavily on a convenient device which is also highly clichéd.

KJo seems to have lost the plot. Perhaps he should make up his mind whether he’s a chat show host, actor, writer-director or producer. And yet, I found that the dinner table scene between Ayan, Saba and Alizeh, so replete with simmering tension, was reminiscent of the Johar of ‘Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna,’ a man who is capable of handling love stories maturely and sensitively.

The movie is laced so liberally with songs that it’s like watching Binaca Geet Mala in video! Johar has borrowed left, right and centre, right from famous dialogues from other movies (Dabang) to shairi from Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Having said that, one must admit that some of the original ADHM dialogues (Karan Johar, Niranjan Iyengar) are fresh and entertaining, e.g. MBA’ stands for “mere baap ki aarzoo”; “First Class amir ho ya private jet amir?” “pyaar mein junoon hai, dosti mein sukoon hai,” or “main kisiki zaroorat nahin, khwaish ban na chahti hoon.”

Ranbir Kapoor is a fantastic actor who loses himself effortlessly in any character he plays and this remains true in ADHM as well. He has ably carried this movie on his shoulders but it is a pity that other aspects let him down and he may be seeing his second big budget flop in a row, after ‘Bombay Velvet.’ His love and support for her shine through his expressive eyes. Anushka Sharma, another natural delight to watch, is a perfect foil for him and the camaraderie between these two comes across loud and clear. She looks extremely attractive in the film, with some apt costumes by Manish Malhotra to suit her overall personality. Aishwarya Rai is a world-acknowledged beauty and looks beautiful, glamorous and very fit. The less said about her acting skills, the better. I didn’t find any such “steamy” scenes in the movie between her and Ranbir; I think the steam arose more from the posed, still, publicity shots.

Lisa Haydon plays her part with admirable ease; a perfect fit for this role. I have no idea why people thought Fawad Khan was worth making such a fuss over, either the director for casting him or India’s mango people for the over-reaction to his nationality. Just about anybody could have essayed this role. Don’t ask me why Alia Bhatt was there in a blink-and-miss it role as a DJ. Probably doesn’t hurt to stay on the good side of a commercial director like Karan Johar and anyway, if you’re getting paid for a few nanoseconds, why not?!

With music by Pritam and lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya, songs like ‘Bulleya’ ‘Channa mere’ and the title song ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ are particularly mellifluous and haunt you long after the movie is over. Cinematography by Anil Mehta is literally a work of love.

Walking out of the theatre, some aunties were bemoaning the lengthy movie. Turning to me, a couple of them said, “The editor did not do his job properly.” Manik Dawar, I stuck up for you, I swear I did! I told the aunties, “Jab story hai hi nahin, toh Editor bechara katega kya aur rakhega kya?!”


   Punam Mohandas

Punam Mohandas is a film buff, a journalist, an author, an accomplished travel writer and an expert on South Asia. She also writes columns on film personalities. She has lived and worked in India, Dubai and Bangkok.

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