Thursday, November 17, 2016

Johar's stumbling "Dil" narrowly manages to eke out a hearty message


by Nahil Naqub

Whether overhyped or not, it's not easy ignoring a product of Karan Johar - whatever it is. Yet when it comes to "Ae Dil Hai Mushkil", the auteur's uncharacteristic fumbling makes the viewer feel that he could still learn a lesson or two - on taut screenwriting - from masters such as Rajkumar Hirani ("3 Idiots") and Imtiaz Ali ("Highway").

I fell asleep half an hour into the movie, and not because it felt like I was seeing a mix of "Tamasha" crossed with "Queen" and "Before Sunrise". So I had to devote a second day to deliberately watch the movie while on a coffee binge. In fact, you can largely ignore the first half of the movie - before the "intermission" - and still not miss Johar's unique message; that the basis of all forms of human relationships is a 'friendship of sorts' that does not necessarily translate into 'ishq' or romantic love.

We have heard too often the old story that Indian audiences feel a movie inadequate if a movie is not at least 3 hours long, but Johar's 2 and half hour movie does not warrant the lengthy segment covering Ranbir Kapoor's "relationship" with Anushka Sharma. Indeed, one feels that the first half of the movie is too loud and unnecessarily chatty - not to mention sidelining Aishwarya Rai's appearance only in the second half, making us feel that it was just another special appearance like Shah Rukh Khan’s.

If not for the first half’s frustrating script, Johar could have covered Anushka’s relationship with Ranbir within a not-so-long segment - and possibly save himself from criticism for the film being one of this year’s worst. There are alternate ways humans express sudden brainy philosophies (like short films), and the message of “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” definitely feels like a sudden inspiration that hit Johar in the heart one fine day - only to fall victim to a failure of his imagination to express the message appropriately on a visual medium such as a feature length cinematic film.

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