From the sidelines, it often seems the rich and the beautiful lead charmed lives and everything that can possibly go wrong, goes wrong in the lives of the poor, down on their luck losers.
This has been especially true in hindi movies, in the 60’s the “gareeb kisan” had a poor crop, his bullocks would die, there would be no rains and to top it off, his wife/son/daughter would have an illness and he would grovel at the feet of the rich but wicked landlord. In the 70’s it was the poor mill/factory/railyard worker who would be the sole breadwinner in a family with ill parent, unmarried sister and good for nothing husband/brother in law and so on….you get the picture, the rich would go about the dirty business of enjoying their wealth and the ill fortune followed the poor and somewhat ugly folks.
Thankfully movies have changed- maybe movie makers have realised that they need to break the mold and reflect what happens around us all the time. Truth be told- everyone has problems and everyone faces challenges and just because a smart NRI living it up in NY or London looks great, does not mean they don’t face issues and their problems maybe different, but are not any less traumatic to them than a mill worker losing his job is to him.
Karan Johar keeps his movies to a narrow landscape that he knows well. Rich, beautiful and talented people, often NRI’s going through life, with what we dismissively call “1st world problems”. His movies are visual treats- stunning locations, impeccable costuming and gorgeous actors. The music is foot-tapping and lyrics sublime.
His clumsy attempt as messaging has evolved as well- In KKHH, he showed the protagonist setting her love free, she does not plot against the other woman or fight or die giving a soulful speech- she leaves his world and for all intents and purposes builds an alternate and full life, albeit sometimes reflecting on a lost love- which happens in real life too.
In K3G, the patriarch is unreasonable, his wife while living in opulence and luxury has no say in her life and is miserable, his ego and his pride make him quite unlikeable and he truly cuts off his nose to spite his face.
In KHNH, the beautiful family has a dark secret and we see that sometimes, forgiving a person’s transgression actually hurts more than anger or rage.
In KANK a rich, beautiful wife or a loving husband alone is no guarantee of a happy married life…… In all of these movies, the “villain” is within the characters- not outside. They don’t fight the establishment or a money lender or the dirty cops, they fight the demons inside them and come to grips, make amends- to the tune of beautiful locales and songs.
Minus the music, isn’t this a reflection of our lives. Don’t all of us fight our demons in some big or small way? Don’t we have problems, 1st world or otherwise, that are probably trivial to someone living in a war zone or a famine affected African nation, but for us it is the one thing that consumes us? Don’t we post happy, smiling photos on social media while often wondering why everything bad is happening to us? I will be the 1st to admit to often having that feeling!
ADHM is surely KJo’s most evolved film. The storyline is simple- poor, little rich boy in London, really wants to be a musician, but needs to do an MBA to please the emotionally distant father- he falls in love easily and get emotionally messed up when relationships fail. He meets an almost equally rich girl, who is the least favorite of 4 daughters and who is blind to her lover’s faults. They meet and while she wants to stay friends, he loves her with a passion. The whole film hinges on this- his love for the girl and her abiding sense that she needs to just stay friends. He abandons her a couple of times and she him a few times, but their strong connection for each other brings them back together each time, even if both do not get what they want.He does not force himself on her, stalk her creepily or turn into a devdas. Which is what really happens, Bollywood’s warped portrayal of unrequited/one sided love has messed with many young people!
In the end the “hero” realises he needs to be there for her, at her terms. Again no villain, just internalising. And the realisation that even though he has done everything right, he has everything any “normal” girl would like, he still does not win the love of the one woman he wants. Alizeh too, pretty and likeable, but she too fails to keep the attention of her love, he cheats around and she finally finds her dignity and walks out. Happens all the time!
Ranbir is spectacular in most parts, some overacting but largely good. Anushka as Alizeh is phenomenal, she looks natural and her easy dialogue delivery just lifts the script. Ash is ethereal, but her part is underdone. She could have done with a bit more meat on her plate- the dinner scene with her, Anushka and Ranbir, Ash takes out the top honors- no dialogue but the eyes say it all. Fawad Khan is great eye candy but totally no scope for his talent.
The production values are stellar, Anushka’s costumes look awesome, while Ash looks more like a lawyer than a poetess! A few corny scenes- but loved the fact that Ranbir is shown freezing on the slopes while singing- one of my abiding peeves that heroines always wear slinky chiffons and sing in the snow, while the hero wears heavy jackets!
Pritam’s music is good, but repetitive. Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics are awesome.
As always the editing is poor, the movie could easily have been tighter and about 25 mins could have been chopped off- not every single club in Paris and London needed to have been covered. Over-analysing by all 3 leads.
The final 20 odd minutes, were interesting. Ayan finds Alizeh, but she is dying with cancer. His reaction to her shaven head is insensitive, but the next day, he shaves his head too- for her. She is the sick one, but he falls apart and she consoles him- I wonder how many of us can relate to that, happens all the time!
Even though she is ill and he is there for her, he still is angered by her failure to see him as a romantic partner. He berates her, then feels bad, again sounds familiar? Just because someone is sick or troubled, it never stops us from feeling bad at something they do.
I think much of the movie, minus the melodrama will resonate with the young- if it reinforces the messages that you can just be friends and it is not the end of the world if your love is one-sided then not bad at all!
Rating: 3.5/5 ( would have been a 4, if the editing was better!)