Love Aaj Kal 2020 Review (No Spoilers): Another Beautiful Imtiaz Ali Romance

Yep, it’s a good movie! And Karthik and Sara both do wonderful jobs, especially Sara. Once again, Imtiaz’s vision failed to be captured by the trailers.

An Imtiaz Ali romance isn’t really a romance. It’s a story of spiritual awakening, told through a love story. Unfortunately, that is really hard to capture in a one sentence plot, or a 2 minute trailer. But when you give yourself over to the whole final film, it can be transporting. This movie wasn’t perfect straight through, but there were moments in the middle where I found myself crying at the beauty of it.

Image result for love aaj kal 2020

I’ll get the bad out of the way first and then the good. There are a couple of scenes that were filmed so shockingly poorly, like a character’s head getting cut out of frame, that I almost wondered if it was on purpose. But I think it was just bad quick filming for some reason. There’s also no “plot”. Like most Imtiaz films, there is no real external obstacle to anything, it’s all about the character’s internal journeys. Prepare yourself for that. And finally he uses a lot of really dreamy techniques to fill in backstory, including coming back from the interval with a random stand up comic talking about relationships, followed by a song that shows the relationship stories of tertiary characters. It’s odd, and it may not work for you. But really, that’s all the bad! It’s a very solid film, and way WAY better than the trailer appeared.

Let me start by cranking through the things in the trailer you might have found off-putting. First, Karthik IS on the spectrum. That’s why he acts like that. The movie never diagnosis or labels him, but it is clearly how his character was written. So it’s not a weird bad performance, it is a performance that is doing what the character was written to do. Wouldn’t it be nice if the trailer makers had included one of his lines of dialogue that made it clear that was what was happening, and not that Karthik had somehow lost the ability to play a character?

Second, it’s Sara’s story. 100% her story. The reason she isn’t in the flashback, is because she is playing the “male” role in the flashback. They flipped the genders between the past and present, in order to give Sara more focus and agency, she is the one hearing the story and relating to past-Karthik. She has so many moments of beautiful silent acting and she nails each one. There’s a moment in the film when she cockily tells Karthik to look at her as much as he likes and then poses for him. But under the surface of her casual cool instagram ready faces, she lets just a tinge of real emotion shine through. Just a magnificent performance, and a real gift of a character for her.

Image result for sara ali khan love aaj kal 2020

Third, there IS a reason to remake this movie. The only thing shared between the two films is that a present day person learns love/life lessons by hearing the story of a past person. But the stories, present and past, are completely original. And the meaning of using the past/present comparison is radically different and, I think, far more interesting.

The original film was about a modern couple not realizing the privileges they had by being able to love freely where and how they wished. It was a story about a modern day man who had love handed to him learning from a past romance and a man who had to struggle greatly to keep his love. Men men men men men. It was a well-made movie, so the heroine was a clearly defined character as well, but it was definitely the story of the hero and his journey.

This movie is about women. Sara is the lead, and the fascinating story Imtiaz wanted to explore is how, in the present, Sara has the same options that Randeep Hooda (STUPID FACE. Sorry Randeep, I still don’t like the way you look) had in the past. He is exploring how love has changed, for women, in the past versus the present. The first one was about men learning they had to fight for love and take responsibility and blah blah blah. This movie is about how love can destroy a woman, in many ways, along with all the other obstacles they face in life. Sara is confronted in a job interview because she undid a button, she goes on a date with a man who throws in her face how much money he spent on her drinks and that she “owes” it to him to go home with him, and most of all she has Mother Issues in a way that is distinctly Mother-Daughter, NOT Mother-Son (or Father-Son either).

THIS is the twist! That this time, it’s the woman’s story

If you watched Tamasha and thought “wait, where’s Deepika’s story?” or if you watched Jab Harry Met Sejal and thought “this is more Sejal’s story than Harry’s and it’s brilliant”, then this is the movie you want. Imtiaz took the life of a young upper middle-class professional woman in urban India and showed all of it, all the mess and struggle and misery, along with all the freedom and happiness.

And love. It’s also a love story. Karthik’s character is just there to support Sara, but he is a good character. And the moments of love between them are truly beautiful, Imtiaz really makes you feel their connection and want them to be together. And understand, from both sides, why that is hard.

Really, watch it! Unless you don’t like dreamy love stories with great music and fabulous performances and heartstopping sex scenes.


19 thoughts on “Love Aaj Kal 2020 Review (No Spoilers): Another Beautiful Imtiaz Ali Romance

  1. Huh interesting that it seems to be focused on Sara’s character. If it’s more centered around the female experience within relationships then I might have to check it out. In the original LAK I thought the multi generation thing was interesting but I admit that I got a little annoyed with the whole “be a man and fight for your love thing” because that just doesn’t interest me and the lack of focus on the female characters in Rockstar and Tamasha definitely was a huge reason why I hated those movies


    • Yep, definitely good. If you do that Imtiaz slide where you look at romance as character growth and conflicts as internal, otherwise you will hate it and say “but nothing HAPPENS!!!!”

      On Sat, Feb 15, 2020 at 11:05 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  2. This movie is getting abysmal reviews and has already crashed badly at the box office. It’s going to be a much bigger disaster than JHMS. I’m starting to think the BW audience just does not like Imtiaz’s style. JHMS was an exception for me because I mostly hate his films too especially the Ranbir ones. Still, your positive reviews is making me wonder if maybe it’s worth watching.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This one, to me, felt like a continuation of the Imtiaz line from Socha Na Tha to Jab We Met to Love Aaj Kal to Jab Harry Met Sejal, not the Ranbir navel gazing artist films at all.


  3. I’m glad that you enjoyed it so much. I caught it last night with my husband and am sorry to say that I didn’t like it at all. Seemed derivative and kind of cliched and the acting left me cold. 😦


  4. I’m glad you decided to see this one and loved it because I saw World Famous Lover and it was really bad. Like so bad that it was funny. I actually can’t believe that the same guy who made Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju also made World Famous Lover. For me, I felt like Vijay Deverakonda himself wrote the story because it was so obvious that a guy wrote the movie if you get what I mean.

    Anyway, since I liked JHMS, I’m gonna look out for this movie when it comes out on streaming.


    • HA! You posted this comment as I was at the theater watching World Famous Lover. Which is, indeed, quite bad. But it was a fun adventure going to the theater and all, so I still had a nice time.

      On Sun, Feb 16, 2020 at 10:58 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • Lol, my crowd was half full but they seemed to hate the movie too so it wasn’t awkward when we were laughing when we weren’t supposed to be


          • Along those same lines, my Street Dancer 3D theater was sold out, and all of us were laughing heartily during Varun’s Dance of Torment.

            On Sun, Feb 16, 2020 at 9:36 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • Lol, that at least makes sense because you go to Street Dancer to see the dances, not for the plot or the logic


  5. The lighting reminded me of Eyes Wide Shut. The Green and Pink flowers are a recurring motif. Green and Red are the primary colors in the film (an ode to The Age of Innocence). The frames are impeccable. It misses it’s mark cutting between the two timelines. Story is the least of my concern. But, it is a beautiful film, unashamedly style over substance. We like it for very different reasons.

    But,I am glad someone likes it. It has been woefully murdered by the mainstream press. Your blog is nice..


    • I agree, the mainstream press seemed to have no interest in trying to understand what Imtiaz was doing. He wasn’t interested in making a straight forward romance, he wanted to do a mood piece that was about the visuals creating a story more than the script.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.