‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ Review: A Commendable First Step for LGBTQ Films in Bollywood

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga
[Photo Source: Screenshot / Fox Star Studios]

Since the release of the trailer for “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga” back in December, I, along with many others, waited for its premiere with bated breath.

Produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, this “unexpected romance” marks Shelly Chopra Dhar’s directorial venture. Chopra Dhar co-wrote the film with Gazal Dhaliwal, a transwoman who wrote the story using moments from her own life. The title of the film is, of course, a play on the hit song of the same name from “1942: A Love Story.”

The cast of “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga” includes Sonam K. Ahuja, Ahuja’s real-life father (and the male lead of “1942: A Love Story”), Anil Kapoor, iconic actress Juhi Chawla, and fan/critic/world favorite Rajkummar Rao. The film’s title song succeeds in reinventing the sweet song for a new generation, but does the film live up to the hype?

“Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga” follows Sweety (Sonam K. Ahuja) a soft-spoken, ethereally beautiful Punjabi girl who gets along well with her jovial father, Balbir (Anil Kapoor). Balbir runs a garment factory in their small hometown, Moga, and wants to see Sweety married off to a good-looking boy that will take care of her later in life.

Sweety’s Dadi, Gifty (Madhumalti Kapoor), rules the house with an iron fist, hiding keys and address books in her bra, and shooing Balbir out of the kitchen at every turn. Along with her brother, Babloo (Abhishek Duhan), they make up a typical trope-y North Indian Bollywood family. They are loud, they love food, and they say “bruuuahhh!” one too many times for it to be ironic.

Enter struggling playwright Sahil Mirza (Rajkummar Rao). Sahil meets Sweety in a time of need one afternoon in Delhi, and all the pieces of a Bollywood rom-com are well in motion. But Shelly Chopra Dhar and Gazal Dhaliwal promised a different kind of love story, and they deliver.

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga
[Photo Source: Fox Star Studios]
Sweety is a lesbian and travels to Delhi regularly to secretly meet her girlfriend, Kuhu (Regina Cassandra), under the guise of applying to art schools. It is on one such trip that Sweety meets Sahil, and she enlists his help in getting away from her brother. Without even knowing the full story, Sahil falls hard — he is enthralled by Sweety and her story, so much so that he picks up and moves to Moga to work on his play.

A series of miscommunications leads Sweety’s family to decide to marry her off and leads Sahil to believe Sweety is in love with him. In the ensuing, sometimes comedic, chaos, Sonam’s subtlety aids her portal of Sweety. The quiet sadness and flicker of anger and disappointment speak volumes. Once she finally shares her secret, her retelling of her story is just as heartbreaking. Sonam does well here, her somewhat shy, closed-off presence fits naturally in the scene.

The same holds in the few scenes we see of Sweety and Kuhu together. Sonam always projects a rather muted presence, but in this instance, it flows with the narrative — the faltering, tentative steps of first love. However, she loses steam in some of her more emotional scenes. Her outbursts start out authentic enough, but she just can’t seem to slide inside Sweety’s skin, leaving Sweety’s tears to fall flat on more than one occasion.

Still, I am hard-pressed to think of another actress who could portray this particular character with the same ease and charisma. Sonam receives a lot of aid from both her father Anil Kapoor and Regina Cassandra. Sonam simply has to follow Cassandra’s lead in some of their scenes together and can lean on her in others to add credibility to the emotion. The father-daughter bond between Sonam and Anil is evident throughout the whole script. Everything Sweety does — her silence, her sacrifice, even her desire to speak — is to protect her relationship with her father. Sonam digs into that real relationship and it pays off in the climax, the flood of tears finally feels real.

Both Kapoor and Rao are in top form, bringing conviction to their roles. Anil Kapoor goes through the whole gamut of emotions, coming out on the other side stronger and just as believable. The funny and the fury are given the same amount of dedication, and under it all is a quiet undercurrent of love.

Rajkummar Rao as Sahil has a little less to work with, despite being handed a rather large portion of screen time. Still, he remains as skilled and believable as ever. In the first half of “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga” Rao gives off a ’90s hero vibe, and it looks great on him. Enchanted by Sweety, he daydreams about her and even attempts to sneak her a letter. He’s a little cocky, but in love, and he makes a good case to play the hero of his very own Karan Johar or Imtiaz Ali-esque rom-com.

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga
[Photo Source: Screenshot / Fox Star Studios]
The second half sees Sahil trying to make amends for his earlier behavior, writing and directing a play to help Sweety come out. While he remains a focal turning point in the story, he takes a backseat here. Rao shows his strength here: He always makes a significant impact, no matter the size of the role. His determination and desire to help come across as genuine and endearing.

The supporting cast feels like a natural addition to the story — the house help and neighbors provide comic relief and world development without detracting from the focus. Juhi Chawla as Chatro is a pure treat, funny until she’s not, she startles a reaction out of the audience with her straight-forward, honest approach to love and family.

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga
[Photo Source: Screenshot / Fox Star Studios]
The dialogue of “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga” feels a little heavy at times, and the plot’s pieces take a little bit of time to come together, but it seems intentional. Chopra and Dhaliwal set up the first half to subvert it later. The recurring prop of Sweety’s diary and the climax sequence run the risk of becoming too meta, but the first half saves it from being so. The color palette is gorgeous, a soft-comforting pastel is paired with several flashback sequences.

I wish, however, there had been more Kuhu. For all the talk of “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga” being the first mainstream film with LGBTQ love in the forefront, Sweety and Kuhu receive little screen time to showcase their romance. The narrative too seems stuck on the idea of Sahil doing right by the girl he loves.

Still, imagine, for a moment, the weight of a highly sought after lead actress playing a queer woman in a WLW relationship. “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga” treats this relationship with respect; it is not a fake out, and it certainly is not the butt of some stupid and/or offensive joke.

[Read Related: ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ New Trailer: True Love Isn’t Always ‘Boy Meets Girl’]

In the second half, Sweety asks Sahil, “tume lagta hai iss play se kuch farak padega?” (“Do you think this play will make a difference?”) He shrugs, looking back down at his book “Pata nahin, par kahin se toh shuru karna padega. Abhi toh sab so rhe hai.” (“I don’t know, but we have to start somewhere. Everybody’s asleep right now.”)

Every film comes with its trappings, and “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga” is no different. The writing snags a little, and the screenplay leaves you asking for just a bit more, but the idea is fresh. The story is important, and I hope it serves not as a benchmark for how to make films like it, but as a starting point for moving forward and showing even more progress.

By Priyanka Gulati

Priyanka Gulati is a writer, bollywood fanatic and hazelnut coffee lover. When she’s not swiping the burgundy lipsticks at Sephora … Read more ›

‘Thank You For Coming’ Unapologetically Begs the Answer to a Very Important Question

It’s never a dull moment with your girl gang; some shots and conversations about sex, right? If you agree, you’re in for a treat with Karan Boolani’s directorial venture, “Thank You For Coming,” which had its world premiere at the 48th annual Toronto International Film Festival. This coming-of-age story unapologetically begs the answer to a very important question: Why should women be left high and dry in bed?


Kanika Kapoor (Bhumi Pednekar) is a successful, 32-year-old, Delhi food blogger who makes a huge revelation on her 30th birthday: She’s never experienced an orgasm. This dirty little secret (no pun intended!) has now become detrimental to her self-esteem. She feels so down and out that she even accepts the proposal of a very boring suitor, Jeevan-ji (Pradhuman Singh Mall).

[Read Related: Meet Fashion Blogger and Media Star Dolly Singh]

Thank You For Coming

But, it’s not like she hasn’t tried. Kanika’s been a monogamist since her teenage years, starting with puppy love in high school — unfortunately, their sexual endeavors coined her as “thandi” (cold) by her first boyfriend — all the way to dating in her adulthood. But, regardless of how great any relationship was, nobody had her achieve the big O. All until the night of her engagement with Jeevan, when the drunk bride-to-be leaves the party for her hotel room and gets into bed. What follows is her very first orgasm. Ghungroo, finally, tute gaye! But, with whom?

The morning after, an initially-satisfied Kanika works herself into a frenzy of confusion and frustration as she makes her way through the list of potential men who could’ve been in her room the night before.

Thank You For Coming

Was it one of her exes? She’d simply invited them to come to wish her well.

Was it her fiance?

Or, God forbid, was it actually the rabdi-wala (ice cream man)?

Boolani takes a straight-forward and on-the-nose approach to drive the point home. There are no cutting corners, no mincing words, and no hovering over “taboo topics.” The dialogue is raunchy, the characters are horny, and no one is apologetic. It’s important for a film like “Thank You For Coming” to be so in-your-face because the subject of women achieving orgasms can’t really be presented in any other way. Anything more conservative in the narrative would feel like the makers are being mindful of addressing something prohibited. And there is no room for taboos here.

But, there is room for a more open conversation on the reasons why many women feel the need to suppress their sexual needs in bed; how generally, women have been brought up to be the more desirable gender and hence not cross certain boundaries that would make them appear too brash. The fight for the right of female pleasure would have been a little more effective if the modesty around the topic was addressed. But, that doesn’t mean that the point is remiss.

The plot moves swiftly along, never lulling too long over everything that seems to be going wrong in Kanika’s life. “Thank You For Coming” is full of all the right tropes that belong in a comedic, masala film, too; the direction very seamlessly takes classic fixings like the abhorrent admirer (enter Jeevan-ji) and effectively plugs them into this contemporary feature that will remain perpetually relevant.

Thank You For Coming

And now, let’s come to the star of the show: the well-rounded characters.

Producer Rhea Kapoor has mastered the formula of a good chick flick and her casting is the magic touch. She’s got a knack for bringing together the right actors — cue, “Veere Di Wedding.” So, just when we think that it doesn’t get better than the veere, Kapoor surprises us with a refreshing trio — they’re modern, they’re rebellious, and they say it like it is. Thank you, Dolly Singh (Pallavi Khanna) and Shibani Bedi (Tina Das) for being the yin to Kanika’s yang — and for the bag full of sex toys your homegirl oh-so needed!

To complete Kanika’s story, we have her single mother, Miss. Kapoor, brilliantly portrayed by Natasha Rastogi. She is the face of a headstrong and self-assured matriarch and a symbol of the modern-day Indian woman. Rastogi’s character exemplifies the fact that with access to education, and a stable career, women do not need to mold their lives around men.

I love the fact that Miss. Kapoor is almost villainized by her own mother (played by Dolly Ahluwalia) in the film because she had a child out of wedlock in her yesteryears, she chooses to remain single, and she brings her boyfriends around the house to hang out with. But, there’s a point to be made here. The fact that Kanika’s mother is being antagonized just highlights that she is challenging the norms and pushing the envelope for what is socially acceptable for women. Miss. Kapoor definitely deserves an honorable mention.

Pednekar’s unexpected yet impeccable comic timing is the highlight of the entire film. Everything from being a damsel in sexual distress to a woman who unabashedly chases self-pleasure, Pednekar puts on a genuinely entertaining act for the audience. From being portrayed as a high-schooler to the 32-year-old, independent woman, Pednekar is fit for each role. Her naivety as a teen wins you over, as does her gusto as a full-blown adult with a broken ankle and some very messy relationships. This also speaks volumes about the versatility of her looks.

And, of course, Pednekar is not new to films that address social topics, but “Thank You For Coming” challenges her to balance Kanika’s droll with the responsibility of delivering a very important message to the viewers. Mission accomplished, Ms. Pednekar!

Thank You For Coming

“Thank You For Coming” is a through-and-through entertainer. Everything from the casting — a huge shout out to the rest of the supporting cast including Anil Kapoor, Shehnaaz Gill, Karan Kundra, Kusha Kapila, Gautmik, and Sushant Divkigar, without whom this roller coaster would have lacked the thrills — to the homey locations and even the glitz and glamor in the song sequences, they’re all perfect pieces to help drive home a powerful message: Smash patriarchy!

All images in this article are courtesy of TIFF.

By Sandeep Panesar

Sandeep Panesar is an editor, and freelance writer, based out of Toronto. She enjoys everything from the holiday season to … Read more ›

Abhishek Bachchan, Saiyami Kher, and Angad Bedi on ‘Ghoomer’

“Ghoomer,” R. Balki’s latest directorial venture, had its world premiere at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2023 (IFFM), earlier this month, and the moment was nothing short of memorable. Lead actors Abhishek Bachchan, Saiyami Kher, and Angad Bedi, were present to unveil their labor of love to the world, and all three were left speechless at the reaction of the global audience; the film received a standing ovation on opening night, leaving the team extremely emotional — a feeling that Bachchan tells Brown Girl is one he cannot put into words.

“Ghoomer,” tells the story of Anina (played by Kher), an exceptional cricket player who loses her right hand in an accident. Downtrodden and with no will to live, Anina finds a mentor and coach in Padam Singh Sodhi (played by Bachchan), an insensitive and brash failed cricketer who helps her turn her life and career around; Anina also has the unwavering support of her husband, Jeet (played by Bedi). Sodhi teaches Anina unorthodox techniques to make her mark on the cricket ground once again. Enter, ghoomer, a new style of bowling.

[Read Related: 5 Tidbits About Bollywood Royalty Abhishek Bachchan For His 41st Birthday!]

Balki checks all the boxes with this feature — his protagonist is a female athlete, the film is his way of giving back to cricket (a new form of delivery), and he highlights the idea that nothing is impossible for paraplegic athletes. The heart of Balki’s film is in the right place — Kher mentions that the film is meant to be more of an inspirational movie and less of a sports-based movie. One can only imagine the impact that a film like this would have on an audience that’s hungry for meaningful cinema.

And, to chat more about “Ghoomer,” Brown Girl Magazine sat down with the stars of the show. Bachchan, Bedi, and Kher came together to talk about their inspiring characters, the filming journey, and how their film aspires to change the landscape of cricket and paraplegic athletes in the country. It was all that, with a side of samosas.

Take a look!

The featured image is courtesy of Sterling Global. 

By Sandeep Panesar

Sandeep Panesar is an editor, and freelance writer, based out of Toronto. She enjoys everything from the holiday season to … Read more ›

‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’: A Perfect K Jo Showcase Celebrating the Filmmaker’s 25 Years in Cinema

Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani

It’s always a flamboyant affair of colour, emotions and grandeur when Karan Johar directs a film, and his latest blockbuster “Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani” is as K Jo as it gets. After recently being recognised at the British House of Parliament for 25 years as a filmmaker, Johar is back to doing what he does best — bringing together families and star-crossed lovers, but this time with a modern touch. He makes a decent attempt at showcasing progressive ideals and feminist issues while taking us on this family-friendly ride.

“Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani” is a larger-than-life film revolving around the love story of a boisterous Rocky (Ranveer Singh) from a wealthy Delhi family, and Rani (Alia Bhatt), a sharp journalist from a progressive Bengali household. And of course, despite belonging to completely different backgrounds and lives, our protagonists, in true Bollywood fashion, fall hopelessly in love through a string of slow-motion gazes, warm embraces and some truly breath-taking song sequences in Kashmir’s snowy mountains. They are then forced to face their opposing families which brings along the family drama in the second half of the film.

The plot is not the film’s strongest point — there’s no real surprise about what’s going to happen next, and yet the film doesn’t fail to keep audiences engaged and pack an emotional punch. This is down to its strong acting, witty dialogues and K Jo’s classic, beautiful cinematography.

K Jo

Ranveer Singh sinks into the skin of his character with ease – not only does he make the hall burst into laughter with the help of perfectly-timed gags but he pulls off those dreamy gazes ,expected in K Jo’s heroes, to evoke that typical, fuzzy-feeling kind of Bollywood romance. Alia Bhatt’s intelligent and undefeated character is no less a pleasure to watch on screen — not only does she look breath-taking in every shot but her feminist dialogues earn claps and cheers from the audience as she brings a progressive touch to this family drama.

[Read Related: ‘The Romantics’: Revisiting the Legacy and Grandeur of Yash Chopra With Filmmaker Smriti Mundhra]

Albeit, while Bhatt’s dialogues do their best to steer this film to the reformist drama it hopes to be, some of Singh’s gags and monologues on cancel culture bring out bumps in the road. The film could have done better to reinforce its points on feminism and racism without using the groups it tries to support as the butt of jokes.

There is also a case to be made about how long these Punjabi and Bengali stereotypes can go on with often gawkish displays of Ranveer’s ‘dilwala-from-Delhi’ character among the overly-polished English from Rani’s Bengali family. But it is with the expertise of the supporting cast, that the film is able to get away with it. Jaya Bachchan in particular is as classy as ever on screen; the stern Dadi Ji holds her ground between the two lovers, while Dada Ji Dharmendra,  and Thakuma Shabana Azmi, tug at our heartstrings showing that love truly is for all ages.

K Jo Rocky aur Rani

Saving the best to last, it is the film’s cinematography that makes the strongest case for audiences to flock to the cinema. The soul-stirring songs steal the show with their extravagant sets and powerful dance performances that treat the audiences to the much-awaited cinematic experience of a K Jo film. While audiences may already be familiar with the viral songs, “What Jhumka?” and “Tum Kya Mile“, it was the family-defying fight for love in “Dhindhora Baje Re” that really gave me goosebumps.

Overall, the film does exactly what it says on the tin and is a family entertainer with something for everyone. It will make you laugh, cry, and cringe at times, but nothing leaves you feeling as romantic as some old school Bollywood with a mix of new school humour, in true K Jo form.

Stills Courtesy of Media Global House



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By Anushka Suharu

Anushka Suharu is a British Indian journalist, with a Masters in Interactive Journalism (City, University of London) and a BA … Read more ›