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Movie Review: ‘Love Aaj Kal’ (2020)

Imtiaz Ali is bringing a new version of his 2009 film ‘Love Aaj Kal’ back with a modern treatment. Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone from the original have been replaced by Kartik Aaryan and Sara Ali Khan in the newer film. Whilst the story still seems split between yesteryear and present day, the trailer had more memes from the dialogues created than anything else. There are also a couple of songs revamped for the new film but will it still have the magic of the original which is still in people’s hearts today?

Veer (Aaryan), in modern day, becomes obsessed with Zoe (Sara) after they almost have a one night stand. He follows her everywhere after finding her on Facebook and, although Zoe is concentrating on her well-planned out life, she manages to develop feelings for him. However, can they stick it out? Simultaneously, the story of the 1990’s Raghu (Randeep Hooda) is being relived through anecdotes being told to Zoe with him revisiting his love story with Leena (Aarushi Sharma). Does that have a happy ending?

It has to be said that the thought of having the popular Saif and Padukone starrer remade was a little unsettling for the audiences who remembered it well. After the trailer garnered great interest but managed to rub most of the audiences up the wrong way, it was safe to say that it would only be the film itself which could do the trick. Ali is known for his love stories with a twist and the fact that he’d chosen to remake this one was something quite difficult to understand after watching the newer version. Whilst every effort has been put in to recreate the same feeling as the 2009 film, it seems they are mostly wasted. This is somewhat a huge surprise right from the trailer but there is not only too much crammed into the running time but also the chemistry, the dialogues and the plot suffer major setbacks which seem to never rescue themselves or each other.

As far as performances go, Sara and Aaryan have had to fit into some quite odd characters. Sara’s rendition of Zoe who is split in her heart about whether she wants love or a career immediately places a little awkwardness to her. This is for no other reason that it’s difficult to identify with for modern women who are, in this day and age, mostly able to juggle both – placing importance on either whenever they see fit. There are contemporary real life examples of this in the film industry itself and this is therefore quite a disappointing depiction of a 22-year-old woman in present day. Sara does her best to put this dilemma across but whether the background score, the dialogues or something else are to blame… who knows. The dinner scene before the intermission is perhaps the one that the audiences will remember about the film and that’s not a great light to be see in for Sara. Aaryan also has some very odd shoes to fit into in both Raghu and Veer. As Veer, he is a little creepy at the start and then there’s no way of the audience feeling he’s being anything but stalker-like in the way he pursues Zoe. Similarly, the awkwardness continues in his role as Raghu as he also tries to win the heart of his classmate Leena. Aaryan manages to bring the weirdness of both characters across but with minimal overall impact – and laughable dialogues. Sharma makes a decent debut as Leena and plays one of the most identifiable characters in the movie but her final scenes in the film seem to give way to a whole new story which isn’t ever touched on. Randeep Hooda plays the modern day Raghu and manages to captivate audiences somewhat with his very natural acting but it’s simply not even to rescue the film overall and the climax of his love story left the cinema hall laughing out loud and clapping – which says it all. Also, whoever made the decision to have a young Raghu played by Aaryan complicated things horribly and made the entire plot seem all the more ridiculous.

The soundtrack of the film manages to create a little impact with Arijit Singh’s Shayad being a gem amongst all the tracks. The revisited Yeh Dooriyan and Twist do hardly anything to win the audiences over, almost making one realise that nothing really beats the original.

There’s not much to say in conclusion apart from that there are a lot of things that let ‘Love Aaj Kal’ down. One wonders, when leaving the cinema hall, why Ali decided to remake this film and why he decided to do it in this way. There’s very little for the audiences to hook onto and there are some scenes that simply don’t fit into the overall narrative at all. It’s difficult to identify with the characters, the feelings and even the songs. This is one remake that will go down as a disaster in relation to the original film. Maybe audiences need to revisit the original version instead of watching this new one – it’d, quite frankly, be better use of their time!