Love aaj kal, a vindication of the past?

Publié le 7 Avril 2010


Face from the past

For once I thought I’d jump back to the present and enjoy a little contemporary Bollywood.  So I pored in my box of unwatched movies and saw Love aaj kal (Imtiaz Ali, 2009) with the alluring eyes of Deepika Padukone smiling at me with their healthy skin and smart brows. And well, good ol’ Saif in the bargain – couldn’t be too bad, I thought. (And what the heck!) So: verdict? Not too bad. But in fact the movie was a confirmation (and not a condemnation) of my love for goldies! This "contemporary" movie (with Rishi Kapoor's voice perhaps) seemed to tell me: "Yves, don't worry, your time isn't wasted by watching old movies"! 

Rishi Kapoor Here’s the synopsis (thanks bollywooddeewana): Jai ( Saif Ali Khan) and Meera (Deepika) are a modern hip couple who live in London, when work and life opportunities arise, they decide to spilt up, however they still remain good friends, they even have a break-up party. At the end of the party Jai meets Veer Singh (Rishi kapoor) who's surprised at Jai's casual manner over his split, he tells him about how love meant a lot more in his days, and in a series of flashbacks the love story between a young Veer (played by Saif Ali Khan in a turban) and Harleen (Giselle Monteiro, not Shweta Gulati, bollywooddeewana), whom he sees and falls in love with at first sight, the movie then keeps going back and forth showing us Love Today between Jai and Meera and Love Yesterday between Veer and Harleen.


Harleen Kaur… I think all of us guys have such a name at the back of our memories, a name half remembered, half forgotten, but full of raw emotions and infinite desires like a rediscovered yellow-tinged photo! The movie’s charm starts here, with this name. And Giselle Monteiro’s wide doe-like eyes lend their softness and their wistful nostalgic immaturity to this evocation of long-ago first love. My relationship with Bollywood was a love-at-first-sight too, so it figures!  Dependable Saif Ali Khan in a double whopper role does a good job. Also I like Rishi Kapoor, his teddy-bear chubbiness, his sparkling eyeballs, his strong screen presence, everything! Age hasn't estranged him. I was very pleased at seeing him again. You’ve guessed that his part of the story conquered my affections immediately, at any rate more than the superficiality of the “modern” story, even if I felt that this modernity is exaggerated  in order to appear modern, and shouldn’t be reduced to it so quickly! But that was my first impression.

Young Veer Admittedly, the film “shows how, despite the time differences, love is essentially still "the same” today as it was yesterday (that’s what the wiki page on Love aaj kal dutifully tells us, and they’re probably right, that’s the “message”…) But wait, isn’t this the corniest “message” about romance? Do we need to be told that “love” will always remain the same? Ha! Who cares? Let me just tell you that some of that message isn’t perhaps so useless, and first because the modernity the film (that some bloggers find so Americanized) isn’t as cliché as all that. For instance I found the moment when the two flashy young things meet up again (after having split up, because you see, love should be more like a partnership today) rather cool, and most of all, I appreciated the suggestion that  a marriage could be terminated after the wedding had been celebrated! Are there other movies where this happens? Because in all those I can think of, once the fire-walk is done, finito! No young woman normally dreams of rebelling against the rule she has willy or nilly accepted! But here, Deeps tells her Vikram she cannot stay with him, that there’s something unfinished with Jai… Pretty brave, even if the film might pass as unrealistic here, in fact, because all the Indian husbands I have seen in such movies would say: on my dead body first. So we do have something very “modern” here… I wonder whether this evolution is in fact possible in reality! Are we in “modernity”, or in wishful thinking? Well, depending on how you look at it, the plot might be avant-garde or simply weak story-writing. Difficult to say, maybe.

New life What seems to me rather clear, on the other hand, is the film’s acknowledgement of “traditional” love-making. Because for all Jai’s reflection (while he’s in San Francisco – rather uninspired section, I found) and realization, what his return to Meera really boils down to is not much more than an affirmation of Veer’s principles. We do not really have two lines converging towards the same point (Jai's and Veer's), but one line imposing its direction to the other. Today’s version of love can boast some value (a certain freedom, a certain frankness), but on the whole, what is said here is that the old fashion, yesterday’s love, was greater, safer, and kinder. Veer implies that when he suggests that young people have too many things to think about, whereas they only had one: love, and life wasn't fulfilled if you hadn't loved fully. It’s the old unfair battle of essential vs. incidental. The old way understood love as essential; today, it’s one among a number of concerns. And don’t tell me that’s wrong because Jai finds himself pairing with Meera in the end. The entire movie suggests on the contrary that Veer’s story has made Jai understand the futility and unimportance of love seen as just an expendable “occupation”.


And I’d say that the trick of having Saif play young Veer in the flashback sequences serves to prove that point: because otherwise, it’s a rather strange choice, no? Why else have Jai impersonate young Veer fighting for his love? The only plausible reason that I can think of is because Jai’s projecting himself as Veer, because he’s taking a personal interest in the chacha’s story. And also because the film can tell us that young people must not forget how love used to be all-important, in previous Bollywood movies – er, I mean, in former times. Even Meera, what’s her job? She’s a fresco restorer; she works as a rejuvenator of old artistry, old representations which time and neglect have reduced to bad repair. Isn’t this a fit symbol? Jai the bridge engineer and Meera the fresco mender: so much as to say, our present depends on our links and our faithfulness to the past, to what the past held as most precious and most beautiful.

Okay, I’ll take this as a justification for my addiction to Raj Kapoor, Bimal Roy and Satyajit Ray! Clever, huh?


Living beauty  Friends


Saif  Dance

Rédigé par yves

Publié dans #Film reviews

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<br /> <br /> You're right, I didn't finish my original review. Oops. But I've gone back and amended it now! I pretty much said what you said, but in fewer words. Bookmarking your site now!<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
<br /> <br /> Thanks and do come back.<br /> <br /> <br /> yves<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
<br /> <br /> Hi Yves<br /> <br /> <br /> Interesting thoughts on Love Aaj Kal. I too get the impression that you liked the movie! I saw this movie on the big screen and liked it for the reasons you have listed here.<br /> <br /> <br />  I too like to see old movies and have a few to watch including Anupama. I recently saw Bandini and also commented on it on your blog. I do tend to watch recent movies too. I think it<br /> provides for an interesting mix of movie experience as well as variety. There are quite a few good new movies I would recommend if you are interested and am sure you will like them too!<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
<br /> <br /> Hello,<br /> <br /> <br /> Yes! I am indeed interested! You know, my love for old movies hasn't been rationalised; I don't even know how or when it started. I used to watch the flashy masala stuff at the beginning, at then<br /> somewhere along the line, perhaps Raj Kapoor was mentioned to me, and maybe he introduced me to all the rest - but there is so much out there that i'm partial no nothing really. I just have a<br /> limited amount of time, I suppose, and so the classics are a more a guarantee that I won't waste it!<br /> <br /> <br /> cheers<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
<br /> <br /> Hello Yves, thanks for your review.. of a new(age) film!!! And even if you prefer oldies, you seem to have enjoyed the film like I did Your analysis is great! Just love it! Can we expect more<br /> review on new releases?<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
<br /> <br /> Hi Astia,<br /> <br /> <br /> Thanks for dropping by, and much thanks for the encouragement: I too hope I could do more recent releases! But the oldies are SO good! (just wrote about Anupama, and loved it!)<br /> <br /> <br /> cheers<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
<br /> <br /> "I appreciated the suggestion that  a marriage could be terminated after the<br /> wedding had been celebrated!" - Me too! That certainly was quite daring, considering that even now, filmi wives arent allowed to leave their husbands - not even when the hubby<br /> is abusive (like in Life In A Metro). Plus, there was no suggestion that Jai-Meera or Meera-Vikram had a platonic relationship. That may be a small step for mankind, but its a giant leap<br /> forward for Bollywood!<br /> <br /> <br /> Overall though, Rishi was my favorite too. And I liked Saif in the flashback part. In the "modern" part, I thought that he was playing his signature role (clueless modern youth) for the umpteenth<br /> time...<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
<br /> <br /> Hi Bollyviewer,<br /> <br /> <br /> Well, we concur on a number of things, I'm pleased to notice it! Glad you appreciated this movie too. Er... how realistic would you say it was? <br /> <br /> <br /> <br />