The clichés and the typical Yashraj-Dharma plot points, now with Imtiaz Ali also thrown in, come fast and thick along with references and odes to older Hindi cinema in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. I can’t even call it old wine in a new bottle as wine is supposed to get better with age. So, let’s just say it’s a product past its expiry date in supposedly new packaging.
Warning: Some spoilers ahead…
On the surface, Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil has everything you’d expect – lavish mounting, great songs, good looking super rich people (of the owning a private jet variety), who play out matters of the heart in beautiful locations. That it appears profound as hell and redefines the very concept of love and modern romance only to them and the filmmaker, is another matter altogether.
So for the umpteenth time, we see playing-to-type spoilt brat, Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor), grow up (just that little bit) after he experiences true pain with his unrequited love for the ‘blithe spirit’, Alizeh (Anushka Sharma). Following a relationship with an older poetess, Saba (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), he channelizes his hurt and her words to blossom into a singer, only to have his first and true love re-enter his life. And guess what, Alizeh’s now single and dying of the big C. No, no, I’m not confusing it with Rockstar… Honest!
Whatever freshness the film might have had, especially with the Ayan and Alizeh story, it gets defeated by the unimaginative treatment. The clichés and the typical Yashraj-Dharma plot points, now with Imtiaz Ali also thrown in, come fast and thick along with references and odes to older Hindi cinema in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. I can’t even call it old wine in a new bottle as wine is supposed to get better with age. So, let’s just say it’s a product past its expiry date in supposedly new packaging. There’s just so much of déjà vu and self praise that one can take and barring one great sequence around the dining table where the true feelings of all 3 central characters come out in silence, the film suffers from a chronic case of verbal diarrhea as the characters simply go on talking, talking, talking and … talking.
Ranbir plays yet another version of his earlier roles and while he’s terrific once he’s experienced heart-break, one is now seriously starting to wonder if there is anything more to him as an actor, at least in terms of versatility. His character could certainly have done with some better detailing as well. For someone who is an aspiring singer and swears by Mohammed Rafi – not once but quite a few times, all but one of the older Hindi film songs that he belts out is a Rafi song. That one is the title song of An Evening In Paris (1967), when surprise, surprise, Ranbir and Anushka are in Paris! So that we don’t forget it, we also see the poster of the film and an instrumental version of the song is played out as well when they are in love’s capital city. Anushka is saddled with a strangely written character who is supposed to be bindaas, carefree and audacious – which stereotypically in Bollywood middle-class morality means she is engaged to one man, loves another and is not adverse to sleeping with a third. Of course, she has to die! But there’s a difference in being a cool, happy-go-lucky character and being able to act it. It is simply a terrible OTT performance. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan acquits herself surprisingly well and is fine enough in a small but key role. Fawad Khan doesn’t have much to do, while Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan manage to play out the ‘surprising cameos’ – that Johar puts into each of his films – with little difficulty. Lisa Haydon is stuck with a terrible bimbette of a character she can do nothing with.
The films looks mouthwateringly good, the songs work well not just in their admittedly catchy compositions, but also reasonably so in their filming. But ultimately, the film itself has little to offer, thereby making it extremely difficult and painful to endure.
Hindi, Romance, Drama, Color