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London, San Francisco, Delhi - 2009.
Jai and Meera are a modern-day couple in London. They are very happy together but do not believe in tying each other down. So when life pulls them in different directions, they decide to go with the flow. These Heer-Ranjha, Romeo-Juliet type janam janam ka saath type couples exist only in story books, Jai says. In the real life, we have to be practical.
Delhi, Calcutta - 1965.
Veer Singh is struck by a thunderbolt when he sees Harleen for the first time. Soon after, he stands under a tree and swears that is janam mein aur har janam mein... yehi meri votti banegi - Harleen Kaur. He travels a thousand kilometers by train to stand under her balcony only to have a glimpse of her face. And yet not speak a word with her.
Love Aaj Kal
Veer does not understand how Jai can treat matters of the heart without passion, like a financial transaction. Jai does not understand how Veer Singh could have been so naive and silly about Harleen in the days of his youth. But as both stories unfold, we realize that the process of relationship might be different in different eras, but the experience of being in love remains the same. So there is the frolic and despair of modern living, the liberation and confusion. And there is the past - the times of innocence and compulsion. And there is distance, and the fondness that increases with distance. Gaps widen between two people, but bridges keep growing too.
Midway into the second half of Love Aaj Kal, Rahul Khanna screams at Deepika Padukone and asks her to make it clear what she actually wants in life. That`s one of the very few moments in the film audiences can really empathise with.
After all, this is what you as a viewer also feel throughout the love story of Saif Ali Khan and Deepika - what do they really want?
They break off, but haven`t quite drifted apart. After all it`s an era of communication, says Saif. So much so that even when the `once in love and perhaps still in love` couple decide to take care of their lives separately rather than getting into an ugly long distance relationship, they continue to meet and greet and paint the city of Dilli red.
It`s just that continuous talks around `how we are happier today when compared to yesterday` become monotonous after a while. It seems good though in the initial reels of the film. In fact, the first 20 minutes of the film are excellent when the director wraps up the beginning and the end of the Saif-Deepika love story.
While watching this portion of the film, you do feel that Love Aaj Kal is indeed treading a very original path. In fact, the entire `break up party` introduction is an ace in the hands of Imtiaz Ali and he plays his cards brilliantly.
So far, so excellent but this is the point from which the film starts taking a dip. Rishi Kapoor`s emergence in the story gets a good kickstart. But the entire flashback angle with Rishi narrating his own story, something which sounds quite exciting on paper, doesn`t really carry the same punch as the Saif-Deepika story.
In fact, whenever the film goes into past mode, it dips and only Deepika`s re-emergence on the scene lights up things. Watch out for the scene where she finally decides to move on and brings on a fake smile in front of the mirror.
The interim love story of Saif and his Swiss girlfriend brings the pace down again, hence making for an uneven ride till interval.
Post interval portions don`t quite help things much as the `Dilli bhraman` of Saif and Deepika looks fake.
Just when it seemed that the film had come to an abrupt end, there is this twist in the story that makes one wonder if Love Aaj Kal is the same movie that started so impressively and ended in such an ordinary manner!
If not for the performances and the music, the film would have dipped even further.
Deepika is excellent as she brings in a certain casual feel to the entire `getting in love and then breaking up` part. Watch out for Saif in those excellent monologues once every 30 minutes or in the brilliantly narrated sequence that goes along with `main kya hoon`.
Rishi hardly gets scope but is nice in his earlier scenes; one wonders though what made Rahul sign a film that doesn`t fetch him a single decent scene!
Yes, one understands where Ali was coming from when he decided
to convey that the emotion of love was just the same across different generations.
In the end, however, Love Aaj Kal turns out to be just another love