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Movie review: Love Aaj Kal

Imtiaz Ali’s new film shuttles between the two time zones,‘aaj’ and 'kal’,and his twin-set of lovers,as they ricochet between cities and conviction.

Cast: Saif Ali Khan,Deepika Padukone,Shweta Gulati,Rishi Kapoor,Rahul Khanna

Director: Imtiaz Ali

Jai and Meera are a very today couple. They noodle around in London,figuring out if they are,like,together. That entails mugs of black coffee and lots of smart chatter,and eventually,a parting of ways,because they can’t quite get a handle on their feelings. Like,love,you know,who knows?

Veer and Harleen take us back to the 60s. He follows her rickshaw on his cycle in Purani Dilli,and she takes note of her smitten Sikh suitor with downcast eye and demure smile. She’s a ‘soni kudi’,he’s a ‘changa munda’,and there is nary a doubt in their hearts that they are meant for each other.

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Imtiaz Ali’s new film shuttles between the two time zones,‘aaj’ and ‘kal’,and his twin-set of lovers,as they ricochet between cities and conviction. We get good-looking locations in London,Delhi,Calcutta,San Francisco,and exceedingly good-looking people. We get zippy backchat (I’m not trying to pile on,says Jai; then why pile on,shoots back Meera). We get some really nice moments. What we don’t,is a crackling romance.

Because ‘Love Aaj Kal’ is,in the way it comes across,a buddy movie. Jai (Saif) and Meera (Deepika) kiss and cuddle,and their conversation leads you to believe that they have done ‘sab kuch’,but they are more like pals that hang out,rather than dying-for-each-other lovers.

There’s affection,not ardour. There’s more longing in Veer’s (Rishi Kapoor) voice when he talks of his Harleen (Shweta Gulati),than in all the exchanges between Jai and Meera.

It’s also not new enough. The snappy back-and-forth between the guy and girl,the large Sardar family and the songs,the train journey (a leitmotif in Imtiaz’s films),remind you strongly of both ‘Hum Tum’,and ‘Jab We Met’. Saif playing the older Veer,in turban and beard and rashes of Punjabi,comes up with a few fresh flourishes; but his Jai is all too familiar.

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You wonder if the outcome would have been different if he had paired himself (‘Love Aaj Kal’ is Saif’s first home production) with another actress. Deepika is far too put together to display naked emotion,and if you can’t do that,you can’t play a madly-in-love lover.

It’s hard not to warm up to a film which is,at its core,likeable. I just wish I could have liked it more.

Rating: ***

(shubhra.gupta@expressindia.com)

First published on: 31-07-2009 at 05:48:22 pm
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