Ae Dil Hai Mushkil NO SPOILERS Review

I put up my Spoilers review first, for once, because I wanted a place for people who had already seen the movie to discuss it.  But now it’s time for a review for people who haven’t seen the movie yet, and are curious what other people think about it.  But NO SPOILERS.  Because the plot is very carefully constructed to build point to point, and if you do decide to see the movie, you should try to go in fresh.

Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that this is a very very good movie.  And a very fresh movie.  In every way, from the performances to the dialogue to the filming style.  Although the dialogue and film style is what really makes it soar, for me.

The dialogue is really fantastic.  There are a ton of film references, for one thing, which I always like, but they don’t feel forced or “cute”.  They feel natural, the way people really talk, throwing in quotes and allusions in the midst of a regular sentence.  But it’s also clever and detailed and written differently for each character.  Ranbir and Anushka have a certain rhythm when they speak, natural and comfortable right off the bat, finishing each other’s sentences.  Ranbir and Aish never quite connect like that.  She takes the lead in all their conversations, directing what he is allowed to say and do.  And while she is all cool and poetic in how she talks, it kind of forces him onto his back foot, makes him hesitate to talk, and start and stop sentences, and more often just react to what she said rather than adding anything new.  And Fawad is intense, speaks only a few words, but makes them count.  And then there’s Lisa Haydon’s hilarious character, who has her own very specific dialogue, a mixture of English and weak Hindi, and a babble with no real content to it.  I haven’t heard this kind of confident dialogue since, I don’t know, maybe even Dil Chahta Hai?  Yeah, it’s that good.


The performances are amazing too.  Ranbir, sure, he’s the centerpiece.  But he isn’t actually the strongest performance, or the hardest role to play.  I am very impressed with him, don’t get me wrong, especially the way he transitions through the years.  And his willingness to appear young and foolish in the beginning.  But Anushka has a much harder part.  She doesn’t get many big speeches or revealing moments.  She has to tell us what is going on in the character’s head through little expressions, tiny moments.  And she has to make her character complicated and flawed, but still someone we can love just as much as Ranbir does.  Fawad does a good job as well, but he just has to be shockingly attractive and bearded, which is well within his abilities.

Image result for fawad khan ae dil hai mushkil

Aish… okay.  It’s a perfect role for her.  Way way back when this film was first announced and it was rumored to be a remake of Doosra Aadmi, I said that if it is like the original, and Aish’s character is a seemingly sophisticated woman who is above petty emotions, but is actually hiding some deep emotions, it could be great casting.  And that’s more or less what she is.  A character who uses her surface relationships and clever dialogue to protect herself, to hide her feelings.  And all of Aish’s cosmopolitan manner and practiced performance techniques, all of that, ends up just supporting her character as someone who doesn’t like to let people all the way in.

And then there’s the filming.  I’m guessing Karan changed cameras, like the actual physical object he was using, for this film versus his others.  There is so much more motion and quickness to it.  Little glimpses of life and moments that flash by before you can grab them.  And then other moments that just last and last.  There’s one close-up of Ranbir I remember that felt like it went on forever, I kept waiting for the cut that never came, because I didn’t want to be pulled that much into his pain.  It also probably has to do with this cast, especially Ranbir.  Ranbir is such an intense actor, so in the moment, so fresh.  He shines with these close-ups, and with all the almost improvised character moments that happen earlier.

And yet that fresh camera style is combined with the classic Karan mastery of mise-en-scene.  I’ve mentioned before that I think he in inherited more of his uncle Yash’s technique with that, than Yash’s own son did.  The costumes, the set design, the color palette, they are all on point!  For instance, notice how Ranbir’s look changes from beginning to end of the film, while Anushka’s stays more or less the same.  Even to the point of wearing a similar outfit at one point towards the end to exactly what she was wearing in her first scene.  Anushka’s character knows herself and who she is all along, Ranbir’s doesn’t.  The film is filled with little things like that, stuff you don’t consciously notice as an audience member, but which registers on some level and tells you something you wouldn’t really know otherwise.

So, yeah, see this movie!  Really really well-made film.  And with a fresh take on an old story.

11 thoughts on “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil NO SPOILERS Review

  1. Most of the other (non-spoiler) reviews I have read say that the first half is great, but that the second half really kills the movie so that overall it becomes just so so. What are your thoughts on that?


    • There’s definitely a tonal shift, but to me it felt like that might be on purpose. We are following the journey of Ranbir from a thoughtless young man to an adult, and we are following the shifts of his relationship with Anushka. So the start of the film, the first hour or so, is all about their meeting and hitting it off and everything being just wonderful and happy. And it has to be really really happy for us to understand why he reacts the way he does after that and why the relationship is so important to him. But then as the film goes on, the relationship gets deeper than just laughter and good times, and Ranbir becomes a less superficial person and begins to want more than just good times. Have you seen Hum-Tum? It kind of felt like that film, in a way, we are seeing a relationship and two people evolve over time through a series of separate interactions. And the beginning is the “fun” part because there isn’t anything at stake yet, and they are young and immature and kind of funny. But as they mature, the film matures as well.

      For me, if the whole movie had been like the first half, it would have been a super fun watch and one of the funniest films of the year, but there wouldn’t have been any depth to it. The second half takes effort, it isn’t all good times, but there’s a purpose to it, and it’s what makes the film worthwhile.

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. Just got back from seeing ADHM, and I’m looking forward to reading your full summaries. I’m just posting on this non-spoiler review to say how much I enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed moments in KJo’s other films–in particular parts of K3G, KANK, and the entire first half of MNIK. But every one of his movies also has just painfully bad (to me) moments, that kick me right out of the story. This movie didn’t have those–there were some of the same cheesy and playful moments but it was nice because it was like KJo winking at us. And yes, so many movie references. I got a few, mostly related to other KJo or SRK movies, but I’m just a Bollywood beginner, so I’m looking forward to getting more of them later. I’m looking forward to a re-watch to explore the layers and nuances in all the performances as well as the dialogue as you say. Finally–I want to see the movie of SRK and Aish’s marriage SO MUCH! 🙂


    • I’m so glad you liked it! I thought it was just a really really good movie, but the reviews (both in the “real” world and from my commentators here) have been mixed.

      And ditto on the curiosity about SRK and Aish’s marriage! There are rumors that, after seeing their chemistry in this, Karan is thinking about doing a movie with them opposite each other. I hope it is a spin off of this! A prequel or a sequel where they get back together or something!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It really would be great to see SRK and Aish do another film together, in part because I really like his chemistry with actresses closer to his age. I’ve been reading reviews of ADHM and while I think some criticisms are fair, and the movie definitely has some flaws, it seems like some people are confusing liking or agreeing with the characters for liking the film. I think Ranbir’s character is an asshole, straight up, with some very charming attributes. But I think he and Anushka’s friendship is real and deep, and he tries not to be such an asshole because of how much he cares about her.

        What I like about the movie is that it artfully shows, through so many different lenses and characters, that love can make you act like an asshole, can make you act like an idiot, can make you lose self respect. That love doesn’t solve all problems and sometimes people are better off without each other, even if they love each other. As SRK said about some other movie–maybe even a KJo one–the movie may not be about reality, but it is about truth.


        • I love that “may not be about reality, but is about truth” quote! It sums up exactly how I feel about this movie, and loads of others. So what if the clothes are too fancy, and the apartments too big, and there are huge song sequences? All of that is just there to support a human universal story, one that most cinema verite style films couldn’t accomplish as successfully. In a way, all this luxury is sort of stripping things down to the essential emotions. If it was “realistic”, you wouldn’t just be watching a movie about a love triangle/quadrangle, you would also have to see them worry about bills and health problems and passing their classes. Which would distract from the real story, the emotion at the heart of it.

          And yes to the reviewers not realizing the characters are supposed to be flawed! I wonder if that might be the biggest price of the Fawad-free edit? From the trailers, there was supposed to be a double date with Fawad and Anushka and Aish and Ranbir. That would have to be when we see the cracks in Anushka’s relationship, and Ranbir being optimally jerky, right? If it had been included (hopefully it will be available on the DVD), then I wonder if all the little hints through out the rest of the film (Anushka’s casual abrasiveness, Ranbir’s selfish attitude towards Lisa Haydon and basically everyone else) would have all been tied together a little more clearly for the reviewers?

          Liked by 1 person

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