‘Love Aaj Kal’ (2020) Review: a Boomer’s Judgmental POV on Modern Love

Love Aaj Kal Featured Image
[Photo Source: Screenshot / Reliance Entertainment]

“Love Aaj Kal” (2020) by Imtiaz Ali, starring Sara Ali Khan and Kartik Aryan, was one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year. Audiences were not only excited to see how Sara tackled a reimagining of her father’s movie (Saif Ali Khan starred alongside Deepika Padukone in the original 2009 movie), but fans have also been shipping #Sarthik ever since Sara admitted to having a crush on Kartik Aryan while on “Koffee with Karan” last year. Despite the incredibly buzzy lead-up to the movie, the trailer fell super flat and brought out some of the best work from Internet trolls and meme experts. It showcased subpar acting, no real sense of a plot, and lukewarm dialogues that didn’t showcase any real POV on modern love. So how did the actual movie compare?

Let’s start with the premise. Sara Ali Khan plays the role of the main protagonist, Zoe—a young, ambitious 22 year old—who wants to build an event management empire and has no interest in or time for a soulmate. She has a plan for everything in life, which is why she prefers sticking to casual dates and hook-ups rather than long-term relationships that might totally derail those plans. Enter Veer, an incredibly awkward, shy, and idealistic young man she picks up at a bar who wants more from her than a casual hook-up. Pissed off by his refusal to sleep with her, Zoe storms off, only to find that Veer is now following her wherever she goes. He joins her co-working space and is waiting outside with his bike every time she has to go somewhere (good thing her Uber drive.

This is the first of many red flags of what’s to come in this movie. Ladies and gentlemen, I can’t believe we still have to say this in 2020, but this is what we call S-T-A-L-K-I-N-G, not love! If someone I saw at a bar ONE time suddenly started following me around everywhere, I would most definitely call the cops, not fall madly in love.

Unfortunately, Ali uses this behavior to position Veer as the ultimate traditional romantic who represents the good old days of simple love, while Zoe’s character represents the complicated millennial, non-committal approach to love. Similar to the original “Love Aaj Kal,” Ali uses a secondary character’s love story as a plot device to help Zoe explore her feelings about modern love and become a true believer. Raghu, played by Randeep Hooda, is the manager of Zoe’s shared-workspace who takes Zoe on a journey of his first love (set in 1990) to help her better understand Veer’s idealism and old school romance.

Love Aaj Kal 90s
[Photo Source: Screenshot / YouTube]
While this premise works at face value, the characters are severely underdeveloped and lack true depth. Sara and Kartik are also robbed of a chance to build and showcase chemistry due to their weak character arcs, and there’s absolutely nothing that happens that makes you believe that these two characters are in love. There was one moment halfway through the movie where I suddenly felt some emotion and got really excited, only to quickly realize that it was just the beautiful, melodious voice of Arijit Singh singing “Shayad” that was tricking me into thinking there was something romantic happening on-screen.

What makes this movie even harder to watch is the subpar performances from both leads. Randeep Hooda helps ground the movie with a rock-solid performance, but Sara and Kartik struggle to find their footing. I honestly have no idea what Kartik was doing the entire movie; it’s like Ali told him to leave every ounce of charm he had at the door before getting in front of the cameras. The end result is an extremely broody, wanna-be Ranbir Kapoor style of acting without any of his depth. There were multiple times in the theater when people actually laughed out loud at his acting, in moments that were definitely not meant to be funny.

Love Aaj Kal 2020
[Photo Source: Screenshot / YouTube]
While Sara struggles with some of the more complex emotional scenes in the movie, and there are definitely several moments of overacting as shown in the trailer, her portrayal of Zoe is an honest attempt. It’s hard not to like Sara because of her off-screen personality, and I think she just needs a few more movies for her on-screen talent to match up.

Outside of this shared plot device and the exploration of two love stories set in different time periods, there is little in common between the original “Love Aaj Kal” and the reimagining. Despite Ali’s disappointing recent ventures like “Jab Harry Met Sejal,” there are some loyal fans who have been holding hope for another magical wonder from him like “Jab We Met,” inarguably the best film of his career. “Tamasha” was also a key moment in Ali’s career. The polarizing movie split viewers into two camps—those who didn’t understand what the hell was going on and thought this was one of his worst movies to date, and the “intellectuals” who reveled in the emotional depth Ali tried to convey, claiming people who didn’t understand his movies were just too shallow and stupid to do so.

The new “Love Aaj Kal” is far more reminiscent of Ali’s “Tamasha” than it is of the first “Love Aaj Kal.” Unfortunately, Ali once again gets too wrapped up in trying to create deep, complicated, un-relatable characters to actually explore any of the wider themes about modern love. I don’t think Ali has any idea what he’s trying to say about modern love and it shows; you’ll spend the entire movie bending over backward to try and find a meaningful takeaway that just isn’t there.

“Love Aaj Kal” really should have opened with a warning and disclaimer: No women or Millennials were consulted in the making of this movie. “Love Aaj Kal” is a boomer’s POV on millennial love, and Ali’s take is clear; Millennials are a bunch of commitment-phobes who are obsessed with their careers and have been totally messed up by their parents’ generation when it comes to love. Watching their parents go through a divorce or unhappy marriages have made us all scared to open ourselves to love and extremely doubtful about its existence. While you cannot deny that these are characteristics of modern love, instead of holding up a mirror to its realities, Ali’s portrayal feels one-dimensional and judge-y. If there’s one redeeming quality in the movie, it’s that for once the female lead is the protagonist and is showcased as fierce and independent. You really want to like Zoe, but at the end of the day, she is a modern woman written through the eyes of an older man. Which is of course why she can’t possibly be happy with the success in her career without love. In fact, she can’t feel at all without a man in her life! Also *sidebar* but can we talk about how in both “Love Aaj Kal” movies, the male lead gets to play the part in both timelines and no one bats an eye? Can we be done with giving male leads extra screen time just because they’re male now?

[Read Related: Ten Bollywood Clichés That Need to be Retired Immediately]

The overwhelming thought I had as I stepped out of the theater was this: What would it be like if a young woman had made this movie instead? A lot has changed about relationships, marriage, and the way we view and search for love now (there wasn’t a single mention of dating apps in this movie!), and the premise of the movie is still fascinating.

The 1990s were also the most influential decade in defining modern romance, with the emergence of classic Bollywood love stories like “DDLJ” and “Hum Aap Ke Hain Kaun,” and it would have been interesting to explore how they impacted future generations. The next time producers feel the urge to give all their money to Imtiaz Ali, I personally vote they bet on the next generation instead.

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

The Romantics

If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking. 

I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.

— Smriti Mundhra

As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.

In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.

For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.


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At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.

In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.

By Nida Hasan

Managing Editor at Brown Girl Magazine, Nida has worked and written for several publications in a journalism career spanning almost … 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 ›

‘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 ›