Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: Readers’ Review, Film Companion

By Vikhyath Kamath

In a recent interview with film critic Rajeev Masand, Ranbir Kapoor stated that there are many stories one can write about love. But going by Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, I’d have to disagree.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil revolves around themes like the strength of first love, the pain of one-sided love, and the concept of friendship over love. We have seen all this before, in Johar’s own films. Then why make the same film again? Because this new generation has a different take on it. And ADHM’s strength lies in depicting that effectively.

Here, the parents are nowhere to be seen. One peck on the neck followed by a song-and-dance sequence is replaced by intense lovemaking. The outfits, though branded, are understated compared to the ones in previous films. And we don’t get a happy ending.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: Readers’ Review, Film Companion

The set up that Johar creates is unique. Yes, he does go into the Imtiaz Ali territory sometimes. But the characters, who lack any goal in life other than finding love, are an original Johar products. The film is familiar, but the handling is fresh.

The first half is pure fun. Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) and Alizeh (Anushka Sharma) bonding over Bollywood is a treat to watch for any Bollywood sucker like me. The fun takes a backseat and tears dominate the second half. The heavily criticized final act of the film didn’t bother me like it did for many others. Actually, there is hardly anything that took me away from the movie. And I know whom to thank. Karan’s wide, scenic shots are sacrificed for extreme close-ups. That is, of course, because Johar’s principal cast deserve a full frame.

Ranbir and Anushka share a comforting chemistry. The entry of ‘chalti firti Ghalib’ Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has little to add to the story, but who can take their eyes off her? And just when you thought Ranbir’s contemporaries may overtake him, he delivers a performance that sets the bar even higher. He is THE actor of our generation.

That said, the film isn’t without its flaws. The characters and the story are realistic, but still not real. Some plot points went by too quickly to have any effect. A little more work on the writing, and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil could have been the definitive love story of our times.

But I recommend you watch it anyway. While the young crop of directors trying their hand at romantic movies are making films that are way behind their time, here’s a 44 year old filmmaker who has made one that truly connects. Welcome back, Karan Johar. You were missed.

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