When Imtiaz Ali made Love Aaj Kal in 2009, there was freshness in the characterisations and structure. He captured the Me generation of self-obsessed people, for whom romance was a game, unlike couples of an earlier generation for whom love was for keeps. It was rather amusing when the career-oriented couple in that film had a break-up party.
There does not seem to be any plausible reason for Ali to revisit his film and made a Love Aaj Kal, which really has nothing more to say, and also because millennials defy narrow categorisation. Updating the story to include ‘modern’ things like co-working spaces, and a blasé attitude to hook-ups, Ali believes he is talking to, and about, today’s generation. But even youngsters will find his depiction of them superficial and quite off the mark. If the conflict for a young woman in 2020 is still between love and career, it might be news to Ali that thousands of women are easily balancing the two.
Zoe (Sara Ali Khan) is an aspiring event manager (with a wardrobe of shorts!), whose mother has dinned it into her head that a career is important, because she gave up everything for love and ended up making rotis! Of course, in our films, characters never seem to look around and make up their own minds. When Zoe just wants a one-night stand with Veer (Kartik Aaryan), he has decided that she is “special,” and hence, to be wooed not bedded. Stalking is par for the course.
Confusing the already befuddled Zoe even more is the owner of the café, Raghu (Randeep Hooda) playing the role of confidant and guide, like Rishi Kapoor in the old film. In his youth, Raghu (played by Aaryan) fell in love with Leena (Aarushi Sharma) and gave up his home and career for her, only to realise that he made a mistake. By the time he discovers that easily available sex is not the same thing as true love, it is too late. Not that it affects his lifestyle much, but he still believes he can give advice to mixed-up kids and that they should take him seriously.
Ali aims at complexity, but creates incredibly shallow and inconsiderate characters, not one of them is likeable or worth rooting for; the way Sara Ali Khan plays Zoe, she is always on the verge of hysteria. Aaryan is completely out of his depth when a range of emotions is expected of him. At some point, Veer says that he gets his life’s philosophy from the writings on the back of trucks. Which pretty much applies to the pseudo-philosophical rambles everyone goes into when one simple line would do.
One would not mind its flaws so much if Love Aaj Kal was entertaining, but it is dour, contrived and tiresome. Carry Aspirin.