Sunday, August 09, 2009

Third time unlucky...

About 4 years ago, Imtiaz Ali’s Socha Na Tha was a breath of fresh air in the over recycled Bollywood love story arena. While Socha Na Tha was a love triangle, it really stood apart from other such films in two ways -- firstly, by exploring the friendship aspect that precedes some relationships and secondly by showcasing how Indian marriages are really a union of two families. In Socha Na Tha one guy’s indecision about a girl throws three families in disarray and stress. The dialogues and characters were wonderfully etched out and avoided the stereotypes that most Bollywood films resort to.

And then came along Jab We Met in 2007.

I originally passed up on the film figuring it to be another love story. But after constant urging by family and friends, I gave in and was rewarded with a wonderful film. Kareena Kapoor’s acting and the witty dialogues livened up the film and made Jab We Met one of the best Bollywood films of 2007.

I hardly watch a film more than once but I enjoyed both Socha Na Tha & Jab We Met so much that I have seen each film atleast 3-4 times. So my expectations were a bit raised about Imtiaz Ali’s third feature Love Aaj Kal.

Since I had delayed seeing his first two films by a few months, I decided to tackle Love Aaj Kal right on opening night (July 31) just in case the third feature was on par with his previous efforts.

Unfortunately, Love Aaj Kal was a painful experience to endure and turned out to be two wasted hours. The film is about a guy’s indecision (Jai played by Saif Ali Khan) about marrying a girl (Meera played by Deepika Padukone) but unlike in Socha Na Tha, the guy does not have a second girl to make things difficult but has his career and life standing in the way. The story has some merit but it is executed very poorly. A few moments in the film do give a glimpse on how this could have been a better work but everything is treated in the lazy manner that plagues most Bollywood films -- careers are treated as excuses to shoot scenes in scenic locales, pointless songs crop up for no reason, technically poor framed shots which focus on un-necessary details thereby distracting from the principle focal points, etc.

It is clear that Love Aaj Kal has a bigger budget than Imtiaz Ali’s two previous efforts which were shot entirely in India -- Love Aaj Kal ventures to London & San Francisco besides having some moments in Calcutta and Delhi. And it appears that the bigger budget has come with the usual bad trademarks of Bollywood films shot abroad. I can only hope that Imtiaz Ali sets his next film in India and focuses more on the screenplay rather than flashy locales.

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