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Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

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As with any Karan Johar Movie, watching Ae dil Hai Mushkil requires us to surrender all the inconveniences of religion, family and tradition at the ticket booth. We know what to expect: a lot of good looking, with the same generic values, enjoying a privileged life style without ever getting a job, yet somehow we can see ourselves in their hopes and dreams . That connection is what makes Karan Johar’s films so successful.imran-abbas-ae-dil-hai-mushkil-the-breakup-song

Ranbir Kapoor is Ayaan an NRI, floating through an MBA when he really wants to be a singer, oh, and he has a private jet in the garage.  He has a gold digger for a girlfriend, something he only picks up on when he meets Anoushka Sharma’s Alizey. Alizey and Ayaan become fast friends and that is the heart of this film, what makes us love someone and what makes fall in love with someone? “Mohabbat main junoon hai dosti main sakoon hai” says Alizey.  There are no boundaries (except actual sex) in this ultra-cool couple’s “dosti”, where sharing a spoon ,a hug, a room and even a bed  are all on the same level and not supposed to arouse any feelings, except of course that they dobni-ae-dil-hai-mushkil-anushka-sharma-hairstyle-351x185

The first half of the film moves at a snappy pace, holding the audience’s interest in anticipation of deeper things to come. However, the second half doesn’t bring the expected  pay off, spinning into a long , winding  exploration of Ayaan’s feelings that give it a surprisingly drama like feel. The leap to epic romance doesn’t work because the other end of the equation between Alizey and her first love Ali (Fawad Khan,) is left completely unexplored. Why does she love him? Why did she leave him? How is he tabahi for her?  To make it clear, it is obvious that this story is very much about Ayaan and his relationship with Alizey but the story needed a few scenes of Alizey and Ali as a counterpoint to raise it above the superficial; guy cannot get over being friend-zoned narrativeadhm-fawad

It’s no huge surprise that Fawad Khan looks fabulous on screen and his scenes bring much needed freshness and life to this cliché ridden story. Some of the best scenes were Alizey and Ali’s wedding brought wonderfully to life in the song Cutie Pie. In fact the only scenes which actually hit the high notes of pathos the makers aimed for are of Ranbir as he walks out of the party unable to face Alizey’s loss. Fawad reappears towards the end and the again the audience is left wanting more. As to the other half of the much talked about Pakistani contingent, Imran Abbas looks great on screen as Dr Faisal and provides an amusing catalyst to Alizey and Ayaan’s friendship. According to Abbas’s Facebook a few of his scenes were cut and it’s anyone’s guess as to whether appeasement or necessity was the  reason.adhm-5

As this is a Karan Johar Movie s Lucknow, Vienna and Paris are all a hop, skip and a jump away just like the relationships. Ayaan seeks solace with Saba, a divorced poet played by Aishwarya Rai who despite the sheer intimate nature of her scenes seems untouchable and remote till her meeting with Alizey. The dinner party in Vienna is one of this film’s strongest moments; where all three participants learn that the veneer of sophistication cannot protect them from the pain of their emotions. In the end they are just like the rest of us in search of that elusive feeling of being the “only one “for someone. This is one of the points where the script actually succeeds, holding a mirror up to Ayaan but what should be a point of revelation ends up lost in the mish mash of his emotions.

Shah Rukh Khan’ brief appearance as Aishwarya ex-husband Tahir is another example of the way the characters in this film are always yearning for someone but unable to make enough of a commitment to hold on to that someone. Tahir goes on to give Ayaan some spectacularly useless advice about unrequited life, because speaking poetic Urdu means never having to move on. The strangest thing about Tahir and Ali too is their complete lack of jealousy , they seem immune to the raw emotions Ayaan is struggling with, and can easily philosophize their broken love lives’ away, so it’s not surprising that audience isn’t moved either.

Ranbir gives a fine performance and shines in some of the most emotional scenes but after a while the unrelieved concentration on his character’s feelings becomes wearing. He is so good at playing the sweet, nice guy who has something to learn, but it is nothing new for him.  Anoushka Sharma looks beautiful and gives a simply fabulous performance as a woman who is present but always somewhere else in spirit. Her love of old Bollywood songs, the references to old movie dialogues that she and Ayaan bond over; all point to her disappointment that reality could not match the fierce intensity of celluloid. Ranbir and Anoushka look great together but it despite their closeness its always platonic compared to her scenes with  Fawad .

 

Lisa Hayden as the ditzy “gold digger” steals the show with her complete lack of self-awareness and you get the feeling she maybe the only person on screen who actually knows what she wants. The scenes of her much practiced “Salamalaikum” and “what, no Namaste for us?” were a sharp and funny reminder of the at times willful misunderstandings that have scarred this film’s release.adhm6

In the original story Ali, Alizey, Faisal and Saba characters were supposedly Pakistani, but had to be changed to Indian Muslims from Lucknow because of the threatening rhetoric coming from Indian nationalists. It really seems a fuss about nothing when , there was nothing particularly “Pakistani” about any of these roles but to be fair apart from a bhajan on his IPhone there was little to mark Ayaan as an Indian either. Representations of Muslims in Bollywood sadly veer from caricatures saying Subhanallah, with shawl glued to their shoulders as in the recent Dilwale to the generic girl with a Muslim name we see in Alizey.

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In the end I wonder if the Hindu nationalists demanding a ban on ADHM actually did the makers a favour by stirring up so much controversy that people are watching it to see what the fuss was about? On the flipside, if it was a better product that was killed on the editing floor it is a shame that what could have been an iconic movie, connecting people across borders, has been reduced to a “time pass”.  It would be easy enough to criticize Karan Johar for not standing up to the bullies but at least he made the effort to reach out and be inclusive. Hopefully this film should be shown in Pakistan, if for no other reason than that it includes the hard work of Pakistani actors and singers. The better reason would be that we cannot let empty political rhetoric drown out the voices of peace and understanding.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil lacks the emotional power of Karan Johar’s previous films like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai or My Name Is Khan but is good enough to watch once for the good music and the great performances put in by the entire cast.

Sadaf Haider … Who is still waiting for that one  Iconic movie … That big one that knocks her outcompletely ,just  like they used to .

Thanks to Sadaf Siddiqui for the metaphoric hand holding and calming of frayed nerves . and Big thanks to all the lovely ladies who pitched in with their take … Reshma , Anjum , Robica and Saira  🙂 .Cannot resist saying Mona you weren’t there but you were 🙂 when SRK appeared I screamed for both of us .. when Fawad Khan apeared I swooned for both of us

5 Comments »

  1. Aww! Thank you so much 😊
    While reading your review I felt I was there with you guys.
    Thank you for screaming out loud when SRK appeared❤️️

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  2. Okay so I do agree with most of all that you wrote, but you missed a few points in favour of the movie: Ranbir’s chemistry with Aishwarya, for example, and I feel that although the movie has a very basic, done-many-times-before kind of plot but one cannot help but take notice of note of the bonding b/w the lead characters Ayaan-Alizey, and even Ayaan- Saba and some of the highly impactful scenes of the movie b/w them, besides the dinner table one (which was obviously great).

    As for jealousy, SRK/Tahir’s jealousy was clearly evident. He only puts up a show in the beginning (of their brief meeting) b/c he has no right over her but mockingly (in-good-humor-style) says: “Acha tou tum ho jisne inki raato’n ki neend ura rakhi hai”. Later, he gets teary-eyed and clearly says to Ayan: “Nafrat kerta hun mein tumse.. aur aaj bhi mein tumse nafrat kerna jaiz bhi hai kyun k aaj bhi mein Saba se muhabbat krta hun.”

    Whereas, Ali stays mum in the beginning, but his jealousy is also clearly evident in his dialogues (where he says he felt like killing Ayan innumerable times in the past two years and when asked why he experienced that feeling, he say, because of “your (Ayan’s) feeling” when he encounters Ayan in a pub. “Tumahara ishq tna kambakht tha k mera kamm parh gya.”

    There are some downers and it’s not a movie based on an extraordinary subject, but its beauty lies in its raw (ness) of the characters (nobody is projected as perfect – every the apparently so strong Alizey has a weakness.) and the not so predictable reactions of people in typical situations.

    About Ali-Alizey, she tells Ayan (while reminiscing her past) that she and Ali were together in her college in Lucknow and how she fell in love and how they parted ways. Later again, how their marriage fell apart.

    I feel it was not important to show their connection to their countries (India and Pakistan). Both were expatriats (Ayaan did not even have India’s visa.) so did not necessarily have to be very “Pakistani” or “Indian” in their actions in evry way.

    I belong to the age group that it projects and I feel a strong emotional connect with the movie (cried all the way through MANY of the scenes), so although it may not seem iconic, I do not think it lacks depth 🙂

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    • Thanks for commenting and its great to get your perspective . I guessed that a lot of younger people would connect with it more . Actually the reason I said it remained superficial is becuase it never rose beyond Ayan’s needs . Alizey did not owe him anything and from a purely cinematic point of view .I got tired of Ayan’s whining . I agree with you that ayaan and Saba looked good together and there was chemistry there but I just find Aishwary an icequeen who deoesn’t emote as well as she used too. I loved the scene when Alizey keeps complimenting saba on her peerless beauty , her wonderful accomplishments but there is the echo of her relationship with Ayaan in that sentiment . Just as Alizey cannot see Ayaan’s good points and can nonly see Ali … Ayaan cannot see any of Saba’s beauty or talent as a match fro the feelings he has for Alizey. That is why I said it holds up a mirror which he refuses to look at . I really wanted to say a lot more but as reviewer a person is torn between giving away the entire movie and giving a thourough evaluation or hinting at things so people dont get mad about too many spoilers .
      I understand your reasoning about Expats becuase I was raised and went to university in England so I know exactly the kind of world K aran Johar is picturising but That is what is so superficial . A clever writer would have tweeked something out , some fine line .

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