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Love Aaj Kal movie review

August 3, 2009

Review without spoilers
It is not always that a title of a movie is so apt for a film, particularly a bollywood flick. Love aaj kal (Love these days) is one such film. It is about the meaning of love in these modern times. The love story, or rather stories, is about the contrast between the love between the modern couple Jai (Saif Ali Khan) and Meera Pandit (Deepika Padukone), and between a young Veer Singh (also played by Saif) and Harleen Kaur (Giselle Moteiro), a couple from the past. The writer-director Imtiaz Ali has employed a series of flashbacks to incorporate the tale from the past. An older Veer Singh (Rishi Kapoor) strikes up a friendship with Jai and tells him about his past life.

Ordinarily, repeated flashbacks in a film can be very irritating, but in this film they are managed skilfully, to create the maximum tension. I think all of us in India can relate to the couple from the past, even those of us who have been born and bred in cities. We have heard tales from our grandparents and our parents about how life was like then. It is like this in rural India still, where girls and boys dare not talk to each other due to fear of society. They have no choice but to admire admire each other from a distance and wait for that one glance from their beloved to confirm their love. And ofcourse intentions, in the days of yore, were almost always honourable. Rather sweet and touching.

In the movie the love scenes from the past are more interesting than the love scenes from modern times. Saif Ali Khan’s fine acting as Veer Singh goes a long way in making it so. And Giselle as Harleen comes across as far more authentic than Deepika as Meera. Giselle has hardly any dialogues but she makes an impact with just her expressions. Where Deepika is concerned, Imtiaz Ali keeps harping on her smile, as if he knows that besides her beauty and her smile, there isn’t much else.

The film is all Saif’s. Whether he is playing Jai, the young ambitious architect in London, or Veer, the poor young sardar in Delhi, he does it with aplomb. However there isn’t much chemistry between him and Deepika and perhaps that, and the fact that Deepika is an inexperienced actor makes the character of Meera unconvincing. One is never quite sure why Saif and she love each other, despite their over the top show of friendship. Sure, the dialogues are interesting and lively, although not as good as those in Jab We Met. I could not help but remember a favourite movie of mine, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Here the friendship between Kajol and Shah Rukh comes across very strongly and a part of the credit goes to the chemistry between the two actors. However there seems to be a flaw in the script (of Love Aaj Kal) as there isn’t much depth to the relationship between Jai and Meera.

The music by Pritam Chakraborty is quite alright, but for the most part I felt the songs intruded.

The theme of the movie is far more interesting than the actual story (there isn’t really any story as such.) The movie raises questions like What is love? How does one know whether this is really love? Does love come like a thunderbolt or does it grow and develop over the years? What is one’s priority in life? One’s career or one’s love? And most important….does love really come only once in one’s life? The film tries to answer all these questions and this would be of some interest to young couples who are forever asking these questions of themselves.

However, it is important to remember that this film is a light romantic movie with some humour thrown in (first half). I saw the film in Pune and the cinema hall was packed with youngsters who seemed to be enjoying every minute of the film. I enjoyed the movie too and a part of the reason is that I like Saif. If one has to sum it up, this is light romantic entertainment which tugs at the heartstrings.

(Photograph from sify.com)

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46 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2009 11:27 am

    I find Deepika too lanky and awkward with her expressions – both facial and body.
    Some have praised this movie to skies and some have trashed it! Have to see this asap.

    well as long as you know both sides! Hope my review is inbetween. – Nita

  2. August 3, 2009 12:00 pm

    Think I will be seeing this one….sounds interesting :)

    yeah, but don’t expect too serious a movie. Or in fact anything earthshaking. – Nita

  3. Vinod permalink
    August 3, 2009 1:18 pm

    What is ‘love’ is something I don’t have a sure answer to. I think it is a process that brings two people together continually over a life time. It is NOT an event in an instant of time, as often depicted in Bollywood movies. It is one of those things that is felt but escapes a singular definition, almost like Faith. The definition keeps changing in content as love matures.

    Vinod, I think the beginning of love can happen in an instant. But thats the romantic me! – Nita

    • Vinod permalink
      August 3, 2009 5:12 pm

      Yes, Nita. But I really take issue with the glorification of that instant in movies as the be all and end all of love. I don’t think man is capable of sacrificing him/her self completely for anything. The essential nature of man is one of limited altruism. A more realistic view is that love requires a constant breaking and reworking of the self till it makes of those involved experience a growth by virtue of the relationship that more than recompensates for the effort/pain in remaking the self.

      • August 3, 2009 10:06 pm

        Vinod, if anything should be glorified, it’s love! Don’t you think? :)

      • Vinod permalink
        August 4, 2009 10:18 am

        I actually think ‘death’ needs to be emphasized more than ‘love’. I fully accept Hiedeggar’s ‘being-towards-death’ view of human being. Few things place the priorities right than the thought of death.

      • Vinod permalink
        August 4, 2009 11:46 am

        I appreciate movies that show love among the interstices of reality shaped by death, pain, loneliness and suffering. That is real love and worthy of glorification.

    • vasudev permalink
      August 4, 2009 11:21 am

      vinod

      i think love is an instantaneous emotion that wanes over a short period of time. love is mostly blind and is romantic. the one that you talk about, the lasting one is generally seen as ‘end of love, begining of adjustment’. but then, it is an old fashioned concept. today it is only love discovered, love discovered and love discovered because all adjustments come to an end in divorce courts and then you start discovering love once again. with the new bf-gf concept there is a new love discovered once per six months, which is generally the actual validity of love after getting into an intimate relationship.

  4. vasudev permalink
    August 3, 2009 1:22 pm

    i fail to understand why only hindus fall in love? don’t christians and muslims have such emotions?

    yeah, sure they do! :) – Nita

    • November 6, 2012 4:52 pm

      Sure They will do. But my sujection is your not saw such peoples i think

  5. August 3, 2009 1:38 pm

    saw it, found it okay!Not at all great. Saif looks good as young Veer and deelika’s smile is awesome. Loved the song “chor bazari”! Bas, that’s all i liked! :)

    I guess okay is an okay word to describe the movie! – Nita

    • August 6, 2009 10:08 am

      Meaning, you don’t approve of the word? :shock:

  6. vasudev permalink
    August 3, 2009 2:23 pm

    header image:

    fail to understand which vehicle was used?

    a best double decker front seat? but the angle is too inclined and the shot is from a height.

    some building with telephoto?

    or a helicopter (may not be because i don’t see any heads turned upwards…)

    so? which?

    vausdev, there is a flyover there! How come you missed that option! :) – Nita

    • August 3, 2009 4:30 pm

      LOL :D

    • vasudev permalink
      August 3, 2009 4:43 pm

      Ha!Ha!Ha! Good one Nita! I see! Long time since I visited those parts. I think they constructed the walkover recently?

      You know the only other option I had left out was Nita sitting on a median lamp post and taking an impossible shot, hanging upside down. But I quickly dismissed it as…absurd!

      • August 3, 2009 9:37 pm

        vasudev, if my profession was photography I would have quite likely done that! :) I can be quite persistent if I want something! And it isn’t a walkover, it’s a flyover and a fairly old one. You can’t go up on it, as it’s a one-way but you can get down it and on to Marine Drive. We parked the car and I took some photos from there. It’s a great view of Marine Drive.

        • vasudev permalink
          August 4, 2009 10:01 am

          precisely nita. by now i have judged how much of a go-getter you could be if you set your mind on a goal.

          and considering what vivek has also endorsed, i think it makes two of us who think the same about you. (of course, vivek has added the ‘charm’ factor also to it which is perfectly true.)

          now again this reminds me of a female colleague of mine who too was part of the mahabs trek. it was her charm that got us free truck lifts and free chai upto mahad, all the way from pen.

          vasudev, I am a go-getter alright. Just that my goals are different. Right now I am working on two freelance assignments and somehow managing to post as well! However I will be taking a break next week as we are going on holiday, after a long time – Nita

          • vasudev permalink
            August 4, 2009 8:46 pm

            nita…
            where do you publish your works? would like to follow your stories.

            I will write to you about this. – Nita

      • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
        August 3, 2009 9:58 pm

        vasudev:

        Given the angle of the shot (which is taken not from the median but from the sidewalk), your hanging-upside-down-from-the-lamp-post scenario would have been perfectly plausible some decades ago, when there was no median and no median lamp-posts. In fact, some 30+ years back Marine Drive had gas lamps along the sidewalk. And every evening a truck with a ladder went from post to post, and a man would climb up and light each lamp. It would have been quite easy for Nita then to charm someone to allow her up the ladder with her camera, hang upside-down from its top rung, and take the photograph. :-)

        • August 3, 2009 10:04 pm

          Hear hear!

        • vasudev permalink
          August 4, 2009 10:12 am

          vivek

          your anecdote about earlier mumbai street lighting made interesting reading.

          but actually this is a very confusing shot. it is not straight (and therefore not a bland aim and shoot kind of a thing). there is a certain mystery in it. it is inclined which could be because the photographer went on a 30 degree bend to the right.

          or it might appear as if taken from a tall median lamp post, while the photographer had inclined all the way back and down even while tilting the camera to get the perfect shot which has to be confusing as well.

          but where is the flyover going? looks like it is meant to dump mumbaikars into the sea? otherwise, don’t you think it is too tall at the curve and the curve too sharp? intriguing? or is it a nita effect?

          • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
            August 4, 2009 12:01 pm

            vasudev:

            Nita would be the best person to confirm this, but the “incline” of the shot is due to at least two reasons that my speculation (and some awareness of the ground realities on location) suggests:

            (1) The shot is taken from a bend on Princess Street flyover where it takes a right turn before descending to the northbound lane of Marine Drive. This point would be more or less over the outer edge of carriageway below.

            (2) For visual effect or because of the aspect ratio allowed by the space for the header image, Nita has cropped the photograph diagonally, rather than employ her usual technique of stiching together multiple exposures to create a panoramic view.

            In fact if the photograph was taken with a standard lens (as I imagine — the depth of field suggests that), and not a wide-angle or a telephoto, it is a remarkable achievement.

            @Nita: I am open to correction on all of my assumptions and speculations. :-)

            • vasudev permalink
              August 4, 2009 12:28 pm

              thanks vivek. that explains it.

            • August 4, 2009 12:33 pm

              Vivek, you are bang on, as I have just a simple digital camera with me and no fancy lens. While taking the picture I had tilted the camera slightly just to see what would happen. However when I looked at the photograph I was not happy with the result but realised that if I tilted the photograph at a greater angle (I did that on photoshop) and then cropped it diagonally I would get the maximum panoramic view.
              You are right about the location exactly, it was at the bend.

            • vasudev permalink
              August 4, 2009 12:36 pm

              actually you have come out with many possibilites of photo editing. thanks for the inputs!

          • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
            August 4, 2009 12:17 pm

            vasudev,

            //your anecdote about earlier mumbai street lighting made interesting reading.//

            I don’t know if such street lighting existed anywhere in Mumbai other than Marine Drive. I never lived in the city, only visited it occasionally, and I am relying on memories from my childhood, teens and a little beyond. I particularly remember standing at a vantage point on Malabar hill one evening, and watching the “lighting-the-lamps-one-by-one” operation from end to end (starting from Wilson College). It took close to an hour, I think, though my sense of time may be distorted. I did not have my own watch at age 14. :-)

  7. August 3, 2009 2:42 pm

    i am dying to seet this movie
    and specially after your post where you have praised it so much !!!!!!!!!

    anju, I hadn’t realised I had praised the movie that much. If I have, I think you shouldn’t expect much. True, I enjoyed this movie thoroughly but that is because I like frothy romantic movies if they are well made. – Nita

  8. August 3, 2009 3:24 pm

    i loved this movie.. but surprisingly none of my friends liked it.. probably i am from the old times whereas they are from the newer ones!

  9. August 3, 2009 4:40 pm

    I enjoyed the movie though I wasn’t too convinced with the possibility of love being only possible once!
    I agree about Deepika being not too natural, and yes Saif was the life of the movie, …no doubt :)

    I also enjoyed the older love story much more. Maybe someone like Rani or Kajol or Preeti would have been much more suited for Meera’s role :)

    IHM, I think perhaps the director should also shoulder some of the blame because he should have coached Deepika. She was fine in Om Shanti Om. – Nita

  10. August 3, 2009 6:00 pm

    I loved it so much, I posted a comment and my appreciation on this movie’s, and Saif’s original blog.

  11. rags permalink
    August 3, 2009 6:07 pm

    “They have no choice but to admire admire each other from a distance and wait for that one glance from their beloved to confirm their love. And ofcourse intentions, in the days of yore, were almost always honourable.”

    I would have thought it would be the opposite. The more you’re restricted the greater the chance of ‘dishonourable’ intentions.

    Honestly,this concept of one true love is overrated. Life would be so boring if you have to love the same person all the time. Anyways, will skip this movie. Mushy romances are not exactly my thing.

    rags, from a distance how dishonourable can you get? :D – Nita

  12. August 3, 2009 6:49 pm

    I too liked the ‘Love Kal’ part more than the ‘Love Aaj’ part. Saif Ali Khan and Giselle Monteiro convey a lot just with their expressions, my favorite scene being when Veer Singh travels to Calcutta just to look at Harleen. Both are delighted to see each!
    I kinda like Deepika Padukone. I didn’t find her too bad or lacking in emotions… I seem to be in a minority here, though :)

    Urvashi, I feel Deepika has potential. I think she will mature as an actor. She seems a little awkward now. I don’t think she is lacking in emotions at all. Just awkward.- Nita

  13. August 3, 2009 7:07 pm

    i saw it on saturday, it was overall ok , but in the last half an hour i found it very repetitive and predictable…..my wife though liked the movie very much..i’ve noted that after marriage my frequency of watching movies has gone up :)

    Specially romantic ones eh? :D – Nita

  14. Dev permalink
    August 3, 2009 10:25 pm

    Nita, more or less I agree with your review. The film was bit different in execution, but nothing special in the end. I think both Saif and Deepika are currently the best looking guy and girl respectively in bollywood, so it was good to see them together.

    • August 4, 2009 8:40 am

      Of course, you’ve heard your heart saying that Deepika is the best looking woman ;) Haven’t seen the movie yet. But I think Deepika acts like a plastic doll. Kudos to Farah Khan for using her mannequin-like movements to perfect in OSO.

      • Dev permalink
        August 4, 2009 9:00 am

        Ruhi, khabardaar agar apni bhabhi ke baare main kuch galat bola..grrr…
        Even if I think from my head and not from my heart, I think she acts pretty decent given her characterizations in the movies she has acted. :)

        • August 4, 2009 9:04 am

          ahem…I’ll ask you the same question 2-3 years down the line after we see some more pretty women entering the film industry. :)

      • August 4, 2009 9:03 am

        Lots of typos- movement to perfection* and not perfect

      • August 4, 2009 4:11 pm

        Hey hey Ruhi,don’t argue with Dev on Deepika..

        Dev bhaiyya,shall I smash the one cho called my babhi a plastic doll? ;-)

        • vasudev permalink
          August 4, 2009 8:49 pm

          sorry to say this but i always felt that deepika with a mousch and deepak being the name would really look more handsomely manly than womanly.

        • Dev permalink
          August 5, 2009 12:54 am

          Dev bhaiyya??? lol..
          No Nimmy, no need for that..Ruhi is just pulling my leg..she likes her actually.. :)
          But good to know you care so much for ur bhabhi. :)

  15. August 4, 2009 5:43 pm

    Hey Nita ,

    Yup, Love Aaj Kal was quite a decent watch ..

    ANd you are correct in saying that it’s all saif show throughout .. He is the heart and soul of the film .. He has acted briliantly .. he is versatile and I loke him a lot .. At least he does do crappy movies like Kambakht Ishq and all ..

    Looking forward to ‘Kaminey’ now .. Expectations are high and I really dont want to get disappointed ..

  16. August 4, 2009 6:39 pm

    This movie was a refreshing change after Khambakht Ishq and Luck, which were a letdown, and thankfully watched them both on DVD.
    Watched LAK on the big screen, and I liked it. Others who were with me, did not. I think the movie portrayed how times change, but the essence of love remains the same.

  17. August 4, 2009 8:53 pm

    Got here from Chirag’s new site .. :)

    Saw the movie last Sunday, and enjoyed it thoroughly perhaps because I went with a lot of young people, my children, nephew, niece, and their friends :)

    You put it across as it is, simple and unvarnished; I had to keep nodding my head at your observations :)

    I too thought that Dipika was rather unnatural. Still, in its entirety, entertainment was ensured!

  18. August 6, 2009 2:00 am

    Aaj kal is tarah ke different movies kuch zyada hi aa gaye hai! Being different for the sake of differentiation is fine, but… I will come back to give a better comment tomorrow. I am still in the hangover of watching that movie :-) Whatever happened to Chak De, TZP and the likes???

    Destination Infinity

  19. August 14, 2009 2:04 am

    Great review :) I would watch this movie for Saif. I think Deepika is fairly new, so for her to play various roles, it would take more experienced Actor to grasp it. Of course I loved Deepika’s role in OSO :)

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