Saba falls in love with Ayan. Ayan is still in love with Alizeh. But Alizeh’s heart beats only for Ali. And Ali’s heart wanders.
And so love doesn’t win, only platonic friendships prevail.
Karan Johar gift wraps the delicate theme of unrequited love with trademark fun, dance and NRI gloss.
And it works to a large extent because of the outstanding performances he prises out of Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma. From breaking into Baby Doll and Hindi film songs to jetting out to Paris on a whim, the laundry list of quirks they share makes them ideal partners except that the heart doesn’t follow any rules. And so while they make perfect friends and Ayan falls in love with her, Alizeh can’t reciprocate the feeling.
It’s still only her old flame Ali to whom she’ll say ‘kabool’.
Aishwarya Rai as poetess Saba breezes in and out of Ayan’s life as the strong physical attraction turns to love for her. But his heart still desires Alizeh who returns to Ayan, still offering only friendship.
There’s aesthetics in the way Karan seamlessly weaves multi-cultural identities into the narrative without crassly badgering the point.
And Pritam’s compositions, Bulleya, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Breakup, are all chartbusters.
Ranbir Kapoor dominates the show underscoring once again that he’s one of the most watchable actors of Hindi cinema today. Whether he’s in a physical relationship or letting his hair down to Tohfaa, Ranbir delivers Ayan without labor. Anushka has an easy body language and pulls off a complex Alizeh without confusion. Aishwarya Rai and Fawad Khan provide the wow appeal.
But there are fault lines. Ayan pining for Alizeh over and over again gets repetitive. Love hurts. So does a story that doesn’t know where to go. Every time Karan is lost, he gets Ayan and Alizeh to dip into an old RD Burman classic which loses its sense of fun when overdone. As it is, fun times with old film songs isn’t the most original brand of cinematic humor. It makes you smile for sure but doesn’t bring out a guffaw of the Kantabai variety.
Another time when the story sags and Karan doesn’t know where to head, he borrows a sentimental touch from Anand or Kal Ho Naa Ho which is an old trick again. For sure, Ranbir turning out in Anushka’s hairstyle is a sweet moment. And the sudden appearance of an Alia Bhatt or a Shah Rukh Khan perks up the proceedings. But for me, the biggest drawback is that Karan Johar, the master of emotions, doesn’t tap the tear ducts quite so effectively this time around.
For a fun ride and a close look at ek tarfa pyar, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil gets a 3 star rating.