Sunday, October 30, 2016

Karan Johar's Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: Glitches in the lonely hearts club, including stilted Urdu

Alize -- no, not Alice -- played by Anushka Kapoor and the character played by Ranbir Kapoor -- I cannot remember the character's name though I saw the movie last night -- collide in a disco, and without much ado about introductions fall into each other's arms. But it ends there because Alize believes in friendship which is more long-lastng, according to her, that sexual liaison. So, Alize holds the character played by Ranbir Kapoor in her orbit and asks her to be the guy from the bride'side when she gets married to Ali, the DJ, played by Fawad Khan. The only genuine moment in the film is the emotional storm she goes through when she says Ali in another disco in Paris, stays back and decides to get married to the estranged-now-reconciled-lover. So the character played by Ranbir Kapoor plays Raj Kapoor's role of the "Joker" as in "Mera Naam Joker", sings an unoriginal and unmemorable sad song after apllying mehendi to his hands, and walks into the darkness and to the airport where he collides with the shaira, who sits alone and he forces himself into her company and tells his woe-begone tale. She gets off at Vienna and he goes to London. Then he rings her up, that is the shaira, whose name is Saba, played by Aishwarya Rai, and she says that I have been waiting for your call. Earlier in the film, even Alize tells him that she has been waiting for his call, of course for different reasons.
The quadrille then meets in Vienna, a variation on the triangle of Raj Kapoor, Vyjayanthimala and Rajendra Kumar in Sangam meeting in the Alps in Switzerland -- and the bondings seem to unravel. The shaira feels that the intensity that the character played by Ranbir Kapoor shows towards Alize is lacking in his intensity for her and she declares that the relationship is over. Meanwhile, there is a twist in the character's equation with Alize, which is borrowed from Eric Segal's block-buster of a little novel, Love Story (1970), which was made into a movie starring Ali McGraw and Ryan Oneal(1972) with its tag line of love means never having to say sorry. But there is a lsight variation on that in this movie. A couple of words have been added to it.
In all this, what the character played by Ranbit Kapoor wants to do is become a singer. He does become that because the shaira provides the words and Alize provides the pain and agony of the heart that is needed for anyone to become a good singer.
There are lines of hollow wit laced into the dialogue when the shaira is not speaking the vulgar form of high-flown Urdu popularised by the Bombay cinema, and which some connoisseurs believe it to the high-point of the so-called Mughal culture. Karan Johar avoids the cliches of a nautch girl or tawaif. His shaira speaks Urdu but she does not wear the Lucknowi chikan or anything of that sort. There is a cameo appearance by Lisa Haydon of a westernised westerner!

In spite of the attempt to keep the dialogues witty and existentialist a la Woody Allen, it falls flat, especially the Urdu bit. Then the issue of the artist's agony out of which is born great art, tried in "Rock Star", where the character in that movie was also played by Ranbir Kapoor, and Nargis Fakhri a somewhat similar role in that film which was made in 2011 and directed by Imtiaz Ali.
Despite Woody Allen's irony and dexterity his films turn out to be leaden. Karan Johar ends further down in the creative dumps. Not his fault. The subject is not easy to handle.

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