Imtiaz Ali’s 50th Birthday: Revisiting His First And Latest Films Socha Na Tha And Love Aaj Kal 2020

With films like Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met, Rockstar, Highway, Love Aaj Kal and more to his credit, Imtiaz Ali remains one of the most celebrated directors in Hindi cinema. On his birthday, let's take a look at his first and latest film. Read on.

4811 Reads |  

Imtiaz Ali’s 50th Birthday: Revisiting His First And Latest Films Socha Na Tha And Love Aaj Kal 2020
With films like Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met, Rockstar, Highway, Love Aaj Kal and more to his credit, Imtiaz Ali remains one of the most celebrated directors in Hindi cinema. On his birthday, let's take a look at his first and latest film. Read on. 

Socha Na Tha(2005):  Socha Na Tha offers the comfort of muted mobility. Much of the movement afforded to this slight concoction of urban chic is self-serving and finally futile. But it's fun while it lasts.Except for the occasional vulgarity, the dialogues by Ishan Trivedi are supple and tongue-in-cheek. But like much of what goes into the plot, the words are finally more emblems of contemporary connectivity than real people caught in situations of real interaction. Whether it's the hero breaking into a jig at a traffic jam or the heroine making a face in the mirror, you know these youngsters are getting cute for the camera. Also read: Himansh Kohli Has An Interesting Take On Playing A Kashmiri In His Latest Single And It Has An Imtiaz Ali Connection- EXCLUSIVE

The whole ambience exudes a kind of enthusiastic youthful energy that Farhan Akhtar conceptualised for his trend-setting urban fable "Dil Chahta Hai". In fact the film's theme of a don't-care-a-damn dude's falling in love with the match that his parents arrange for him is cart-lifted from Farhan's film where Saif Ali Khan fell in love with Sonali Kulkarni whom he had agreed to 'view' on his parents' insistence.

There's a zing-sting to Ayesha Takia's eyeball-rolling enactment of the humiliating way she has been paraded in the past for potential grooms. It's one of the film's more endearing moments of soul-tickling interaction.Not all of the episodes translate as effectively on screen as they would on paper. The urbane wit extended to a befuddled, largely aimless 20-something guy's search for true love has its bright moments.

But these are frittered away in pursuit of a larger plot. The peppering and the window-dressing are delectable. But the real meal lacks the palatable design that we're led to expect.

Part of the blame goes to debutant Abhay Deol for whom this 'unusual' debut vehicle (boy-meets-wrong-girl) has been designed.No, don't get me wrong. This new Deol isn't a bad actor. But Abhay lacks the urbane wit of a Saif Ali Khan. His character is a sly amalgamation of Saif and Aamir Khan in "Dil Chahta Hai". Amused, cocky, over-confident and work-shy, Abhay Deol tries hard to project all of this. If we discount his awkward body language and the tendency to appear more like a dud than a dude, he gets more than pass marks, especially since he's given sequence after sequence to prove himself.

Among them I'd single out the one where he barges into his future in-laws' place to convince them that their Catholic daughter Karen (Apoorva Jha) wouldn't be safe in a Hindu family such as his.It's a cleverly written sequence audaciously inverting the whole communal issue into a comic interlude. But the cleverness shows. This tendency to let the writer's skills show up in the narrative defeats much of the film's primary purpose. By the time, Viren (Abhay) and Aditi (Ayesha) are seen sharing a hug by her furious brother, we know the film is being too clever for its own good.

Love Aaj Kal(  2020):  This   will be remembered as  the  misfired film in which Kartik Aaryan came  into his own. Striking out as  an  actor willing to take   risks Kartik  delivers a performance that  immediately puts him among  the  frontrunners  of Mayanagar. Also read: Saif Ali Khan Opens Up On Comforting Sara After Love Aaj Kal 2’s FAILURE; Reveals Telling Her, ‘You Have To Go Through This’

All else is  lost  in Love Aaj Kal . The  post-intermission section  of  Imtiaz Ali’s confounding “love” story opens  with  what looks a  video of  a cheesy rapper  exhorting the persuasions of  that  bewildering emotion called love, the same one that  Kartik Aaryan in a semi-sepia  flashback is heard telling his friends  feels like  someone  is strangling him in his sleep.

That’s how  we often feel while watching Imtiaz Ali’s  antidotal love story. Consciously or otherwise Ali denudes  the  feeling of love of all romance, makes it  look like a  train hurtling torrentially  into  the   land of    trauma . So fasten  you seatbelts, for a  ride into the  choppy waters  of a  love relationship , with Kartik Aryan playing  the  cross-generation double loverboy with all the earnestness  of Charlie Brown sneaking midnight treats  for Snoopy.Kartik  is endearing  from first frame to last.

As  for recreating   1990,  Imtiaz resorts to the  most convenient and lazy tool to nostalgia: film songs. Imtiaz’s 1990  opens with Dil deewana bin sajna ke from  the  film Maine  Pyar Kiya which released  in  1989. There are  references  to Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak which came  in 1988 . That’s  it. Raghu(Kartik playing the young version  of Randeep Hooda)   pursues Leena with all the  sincerity  of  a softspoken stalker. Leena, played by  semi-newcomer Arushi Sharma plays so  hard-to-get you fear Raghu may stray. And he does, in  most unexpected  and revolting ways. Raghu’s sudden spurt of promiscuity is so absurdly out of character, and so in-character with the  conduct   of the  characters  in Imtiaz’s  film. They are constantly contradicting themselves to the point of being exasperatingly incoherent. This  is specially true  of  Sara Ali  Khan who is saddled with a role that requires her  to be aggressive, angry, bitter and  drunk, in that  order. Unable to negotiate  her character’s  anguish step by step she  makes a horrible mess  of  the  emotions,looking like  a clueless nervous wreck in the  tight close-ups that cinematographer  Amit Roy insists  on saddling Sara with.  Not her fault. If you choose to  mistake the Taj Lands End for   the Taj Mahal,this is what  you get.

Somehow sex  is a  huge problem  between Kartik’s Veer and Sara’s Zoe.He refuses to do the  needful  because she is, errrr,  too good for pre-marital sex.

“I can have sex anyone. But I don’t want a compromised  relationship with you,” Kartik protests.

No Valentine’s Day release  could be more anti-Valentine’s  than  Love Aaj Kal ,  a purported love story  spanning two eras and two  couples in  love who seem to hate the  idea of  idealizing love so much that they end up romancing the opposite of love.Or, could  it be that these  characters love themselves more than the  they love, love?

Constantly  tripping over  their own rites of romanticism, Imtiaz Ali’s characters contradict themselves  more than even the politicians of their country.Zoe’s mother(played by  an unusually over-the-top Simone Singh) chides her daughter for  prioritizing  love above career and later urges Zoe to marry her boss’s  grandson because…well,  ambitions dissolve when wealth welcomes.

Speaking of  ambition, Sara’s Zoe  shows up  for a  job interview unbuttoning  her top  to “impress” the interviewing  committee. When she is questioned on her bizarre behaviour she  smirks, “Well, I have this body.And I couldn’t leave it home when I came for this interview.”

Huh? Who is  more drunk here? Zoe or  the guy who wrote her lines?

For all its  trippy contradictions,  Love Aaj Kal  is nor bereft  of  brilliance. Some episodes like the one  where  a stone-drunk Zoe is  humiliated  by her rough  date , are ably written. The  character  of Zoe’s Haryanvi date  is  brilliantly played. The way he counts the pennies for every Tequila  shot and insists that Zoe pay for  the bucks with f..ks ,  is savagely sad and  humorous.

I wish the rest of  this  unanchored  sequel to the 2009 romcom was equally powerful. Most  of the film is sadly, weak and  under-written. Or worse, weak and  hammy.

 Like all  of Imtiaz Ali’s cinema this one too takes the protagonists on a  Bharat darshan . They finally end up reunited in Himachal  , with Zoe  complaining that the problem of balancing career with love remains  unchanged.Too tired to  sigh, I simply gave up. Into this  jumble  of  contradictory  love messages  Kartik Aaryan  serves as a semblance of  sensibleness.

A  band aid on a war wound,so to speak.                               

Image source: SpotboyE archive