An apparently ambitious Zoe(Sara Ali Khan) torn between her career and love is narrated by Raj(Randeep Hooda), his love story of ‘Kal’, to help her make the best love vs life decision. But did this period story needed to be narrated for help? No, for this story is arguably the worst narrative one can seek inspiration in. Actually, did the entire big story needed to be told? NO.
I’ve always believed that an Imtiaz Ali movie may miss every plot point intended, but even those worst plot points revolve around the mesmerizing silences, sanity, and vanity. The romance builds up subtly and the writing is layered – complemented by the sensible dialogues and the sparkling eyes of actors that do the talking. Imtiaz’s weakest ‘Jab Harry met Sejal’ too has its fair share of moments of romance that build over nothing and convey nothing. Love Aaj Kal traverses a step further to test one’s faith in naivety. It punches the loud romantic moments straight in your face. Believing that the audience still won’t invest, the actors keep on shouting the lines of love to convince you that they share a romantic bond.
The likeability is all in the ‘Kal’. Imtiaz and his movie know it too, so it proudly(rather shamelessly) uses the tunes of the original Love Aaj Kal as per the requirement, because why not!? Unlike the previous ones, both the stories are individually stupid, forget juxtaposing them to make an even worse story of stories. The little fun is in the 90s, where Imtiaz himself gets back to his true self, with a mad breakdance sequence, and the eloping and romance in train. The present story lacks these little moments too. The breakup scene aspires to go the ‘Agar Tum Saath Ho’ way, but over destitute acts across an unnecessary conflict pull it down. Actually, the entire conflict feels unnecessary in retrospect.
When one struggles to bear even one, the movie subjects us to two Kartik Aaryans – both acting the usual Kartik way. Imtiaz takes the actor to his sepia-toned world of Udaipur, beloved mountains and trains, urbane streets and cafes of Delhi – but Kartik stays consistent with his one-note acting. To compensate for playing his own self as Veer, he tries doing a Ranbir Kapoor man-child act while playing Raghu, both look-wise and acting-wise, but falls flat again. Amusingly, for a character part, young Raghu(Kartik) has been enacted terribly, who grows to change his name to Raj(Hooda) and become a better actor by miles. What’s in a name, they ask? Here’s the answer!
Zoe as a character seems like a result of Imtiaz being hell-bent on writing an Independent female part who will not compromise on her career, forget being a catalyst to her man-child boyfriend. Sometimes chaotic, sometimes psychotic is her apparent motto. Conveying it the loud Imtiaz way of writing this movie, I’m mentioning again that Zoe is Independent, with a capital I, who almost adopts this word as her middle name. She unbuttons her shirt before entering the interview room to look more attractive, and end up having a justification scene of not-me-but-you. Claps? No. Facepalm? Yes. Sara tries hard to display her acting skills amidst this all hullabaloo, but comes across as a mere perplexed screamer, who struggles with her career while partying and hooking up. But, she is ambitious. True millennial, hah? What a lame idea of writing a strong female character! To add to the absurdity surrounding her, Sara is perpetually captured in some weird bottom and side angles. But this is passable once you give up on the movie, which I sadly did after a juncture.
The much endearing female character in the movie is Leena, a sane and composed soul played wonderfully by Arushi Sharma. With little dialogues but thankfully several scenes, she emotes well through her eyes and shines bright with her conviction and confidence in the sepia-toned 90s, being exactly the freshness that the movie otherwise lacks. Simone Singh plays well the ‘Hear my righteous advice’ mother to Zoe, and man, she still looks as appealing as she looked as Camilla in ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ back in 2003(“She wants your money!”, remember?). But again, lots of noise in her scenes too. Why? The movie screams why not!?
Unarguably, the strength of the movie that metaphorically and cinematically holds the big picture together is Randeep Hooda – with his one-man show as Raj, who was earlier Raghu. He shines clear out of the lot with his usual suave, playing the catalyst in confused Zoe’s life. Sara has indeed her best scenes and chemistry with him, rather than Kartik. Blame the curse of futility, even our Hooda man couldn’t escape it – so though shown as head of 4 cafes and restaurants, he too works as little as Zoe – with them both always ready for a conversation in Raj’s cafe inhabited by no one. Ah, the leap of faith. The movie tests yours thoroughly.
Marred by all hope in the acting and writing, Love Aaj Kal finds its heart in its soundtrack – just like every Imtiaz Ali movie. The album by Pritam with lines penned by Irshad Kamil are soulful and loveable, with ‘Shayad’ in the voice of Arijit Singh comforting me as some random forgettable sequences occur in the movie. The music steers nostalgic too, with a new version of ‘Yeh Dooriyaan’ in Mohit Chauhan’s voice playing in the obvious moments. It took me straight back to the original Love Aaj Kal (2009) and how it was all good and merry with just one movie titled the same.
The original Love Aaj Kal, though not some masterpiece, has easily aged well as a good standalone in Imtiaz’s filmography. With the reuse of the same title, the 2020 release fails to justify even the signature template, vividly putting on the platter the sheer futility of its existence. As a standalone, it is too loud for no reason, badly acted and written to my dismay, and futility personified of a big picture. The individual stories compete to emerge worse until finally, the present-day story takes the trophy proudly. Just when one thinks that Jab Harry Met Sejal is Imtiaz Ali’s worst, new Love Aaj Kal stoops down to another level of bad filmmaking. It’s not a disappointment, it’s an obvious atrocity.
Watch its Trailer here: Love Aaj Kal (2020) Trailer | YouTube
Also Read: Imtiaz Ali Movies, Ranked from Least Good to Best
Also Read: Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (2020) Review | Blaring humor outweighs the leads’ lovable romance
Also Read: Highway (2014) : My 5 Favorite Scenes
Also Read: Tamasha (2015): My 5 Favourite Scenes
Also Read: Bhoot: The Haunted Ship (2020) Review | Vicky with his conviction sails this mundane horror drill
Also Read: 1917 (2019) Review | The soulful one-shot cinematic epic absorbs to leaves you breathless