Love Aaj Kal 2020: An Internal Character Drama About Modern Women Dressed Up As a Love Story

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.

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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.

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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.

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Plot in 4 Paragraphs:

There is a past and present storyline, and they both have a firm interval line, so I’m gonna do 4 paragraphs for clarity.

In the past, Karthik is a med student who sees Arushi Sharma when she drinks water on the balcony outside her dance class and falls in love. He follows her around town, and at the boy-girl social for their schools, he dances with her. Finally he asks his friends to bring her to the “ruins” outside town where couples meet, starts to tell her how he feels, and she kisses him. Just then a cop comes by and yells at them, Karthik is insulted and slaps the cop, and is arrested. Somehow the whole town knows he was arrested with Arushi and her family is furious. They meet one more time and Karthik asks her to elope, but her mother catches them together. Arushi is sent away to Delhi by her family, but Karthik walks out of med school and hops a train to follow her. In Delhi, he finds a job as a restaurant manager and they meet every day between her hostel hours and his work. But then in a moment of weakness, he sleeps with a co-worker. Arushi doesn’t find out, and he starts sleeping with many other women. Eventually the guilt gets to him, and he wishes Arushi would just find out and break up with him. But she has such faith in him that nothing he does will stop her. Until finally she comes to him and says she is going to Bombay. INTERVAL

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In the present, Sara is a young woman living with her permissive mother and trying to get a career as an event planner going. Karthik is a young software programmer on the Aspergers spectrum. Sara sees him at a club and falls in…something at first sight. She crosses the room to grab him and kiss him, and he takes her back to his place. But stops as they are about to have sex because he thinks this could be more than just a hook-up. He puts it badly because of his Aspergers, Sara is upset and confused and storms out. Karthik tracks her through social media and figures out that she works out of Randeep Hooda’s cafe and goes to rent workspace there too. Sara confronts him, he offers to go away if she says so, and she stops short of that. He offers her rides on his motorcycle when she needs to go places and she finds herself seeking him out over and over again. She is also listening to Randeep Hooda tell the story of his past perfect love and it is softening her to Karthik. Eventually, they have sex, and in the middle Sara starts to sob because she realizes her whole life is about to change and she is scared. The next day she is offered her dream job in Dubai and deletes the email because she can’t leave Karthik. Her mother is furious with her, reminds her that she (the mother) was trapped in a love marriage and never had a career or independence and hates her life, Sara shouldn’t give in to love and should be career focused. Sara then learns from Randeep that his first love didn’t work out and, with it all in her head, goes to meet Karthik’s parents and has a breakdown at the dinner table, telling Karthik he is in her way and asking him to go away. INTERVAL

In the past, Arushi goes to Bombay and Karthik hides to watch her train leave, too ashamed to even talk to her. He spends years working crazy hours and moving up in the world and having a string of sexual encounters with the many available women in Delhi. And then one night he finds himself calling the woman he is with by Arushi’s name. It keeps happening, and he finds himself looking at the old photo he still keeps in his wallet over and over again. He is longing for her, and then an old friend tells him she is running a cafe in Bombay. He takes off immediately and goes directly to her. Only to see through a window that she is pregnant. He smiles at her, and waves, and leaves without saying anything. It was years ago, and he is still broken by it. In the present, he sobs telling the story, admitting that it isn’t Arushi he misses so much as the person he was when he was with her, the real self that he has lost somewhere along the way. He looks for that self in every young couple he sees (thus explaining why he was Karthik in the flashback, Randeep’s mind’s eye placed present Karthik as himself in that story, and in the final section some slight CGI makes Karthik look more like Randeep, and his behavior is less Karthik-like too).

In the present, Sara’s career takes off right after the break up. She moves out of the cafe space and into an office, and then gets a permanent corporate contract. She tries to get over Karthik with a series of boring dates with people she doesn’t care about. And then one night she goes out with an old boyfriend, he buys her shots until she is drunk and a little sick, then in the car refuses to take her back to her place, she either has to get out on the side of the road or go home with him. Sara gets out, sick, and calls Karthik. He comes immediately, holds her hair while she throws up, gives her water, takes care of her and takes her home. She begs him to just stay and hold her, he refuses and tells her that he doesn’t want her just in this moment of weakness, he wants her to decide she really wants him, no compromise. The next morning, he tells her that he has finally found a project that excites him, he is going away for 2 years to the Himalayas to work on a water planning project. They say good-bye. Sara continues to be sadder and sadder, and work harder and harder. And then one morning her mother wakes her up, excited, the head of her company came by the house and proposed marriage for Sara to his son. Sara is stunned, her mother always told her not to get married, and now she wants to marry her off? Sara rushes to Randeep at the cafe to try to figure out what to do next, and Randeep tells her the sad end of his story, the love he lost and has never recovered from, and Sara rushes off to find Karthik. She travels through the mountains hunting him, and finally finds him, waiting for her.

That was long, but it’s all really important! Let me start with the idea of the past-present connection. Randeep starts his story by saying that Karthik reminds him of himself, and there is one distinctive moment in the past that is the same, the heroine approaching the hero and saying that she knows he has been following her, what does he think of himself? But she isn’t asking him to stop either.

As the story unfolds, however, it is clear that it is SARA who is filling the beats of Randeep in the story. She is the conflicted one, the faithless one, the one who is torn between his/her personal growth and a love story left behind. It is Karthik and Arushi who are ever faithful, ever patient, and eventually go away because they are driven away. This is a fascinating flip on audience expectations, that Sara can have the same ambition and sex drive and issues with commitment as a man, and that Randeep can have the same lingering misery of lost love as Sara.

It’s really Sara’s movie. The past story is important, for Sara to have that vision of dreamy perfect love to drive her towards Karthik, and for her to learn the messy reality and be driven away again. It’s also just an interesting story. We have so many dreamy love stories of a guy following a girl in a small town, leaving everything to be with her, etc. etc. But this film takes it a step further, asks what happens once they leave the small town and grow apart. And then even further, asks if such an important relationship ever really fades away. Fascinating ideas, but they only matter because of the effect they have on Sara’s story, and on women’s stories in general.

Sara’s character unfolds slowly for the audience. We start seeing her confront Karthik and tell him off, but end by carefully avoiding telling him to leave, and then turning and letting a smile slip out as she walks towards the camera. And then we cut back to their first meeting, in the club, when the soundtrack cuts to a beating heart as she sees him, it’s not just a bar hook-up, there is something powerful for her even just seeing him across the room. It’s still powerful when he stops her and she stumbles out, it’s not just an awkward moment, it’s something deeply upsetting for her. But only after she has started to soften and Karthik is driving her all over Delhi on his bike, do we meet her mother, the real key to her character.

The Mother-Daughter issues in this film are lovely. Sara’s mother is, frankly, HORRID. In a very specific mother kind of way. She is miserable about the state of her life and sees her children as part of what has trapped her, while also seeing them as a second chance to live her life over again. She fell in love in college and eloped, her husband got an overseas job, she was stuck back in Delhi with two little babies, she is still stuck back in Delhi left to ask her husband for money for anything. And so she puts this on her youngest daughter, that her daughter has to be a success, that her life will be destroyed if she gives in to love, that love is death to any woman. And yes, this is part of the unfairness of being a woman. After giving her commitment virginity (see this post for more!) to her husband, she was stuck. No more school, no more jobs, just trapped at home with kids. Couldn’t even divorce him and be free, stuck tied to a man who she didn’t want.

But on the other hand, it’s also Sara’s mother just being a TERRIBLE MOTHER. We see in a post-interval flashback all the yelling and bitter lectures Sara has heard her whole life, the way her mother used her as an emotional dumping ground and left her afraid of happiness, or to trust any man. Not to mention the fact that the film is careful to make clear that her mother is miserable because she has made herself miserable. The youthful love marriage and then being trapped with an absentee husband and two kids, yes, that wasn’t her fault. But they live a very comfortable life now and all her mother seems to do is sit home and stew in her regrets and obsess over her daughters. She could get a divorce and a settlement and live free but slightly less luxurious. She could get a freakin’ JOB and stop putting all this pressure on her daughters to have the career she couldn’t. Imtiaz is a careful director, he wanted us to see their nice house, the spoiled rich woman beauty of Sara’s mother, the way she seems to always be sitting in a chair in their front room and never going anywhere else. Right from the start, we feel the disconnect between what she is telling Sara (“I wish I had my independence, you protect yours”) and how she is acting. And so we are less surprised than Sara when her mother reverses herself utterly and encourages Sara to marry for money. She isn’t interested in her daughter’s happiness, she isn’t really concerned with “freedom”, she just wants anything that breaks the pattern of her own life and career success of a fabulous marriage will both make her feel good about herself.

Sara’s despicable mother messed her up, but the world today for a working woman in India also messed her up. She is ambitious and she loves her work and she is really really good at it. The reality is that a woman who loves her work will have a hard time when she falls in love. In the past, this wasn’t even a question. Arushi in the past just waited for Karthik/Randeep to propose and marry her. That was her life. She was in Delhi, then Bombay, but there was never a possibility that her life plans were anything beyond marriage. But in the present, Sara is presented again and again with the “accepted wisdom” that love will ruin her life and she should be practical, and career-focused. Even her friend encourages her to take the rich engagement, because love fades but security is forever. Once again, the film is saying that the woman of India today is living life like the man of the past. In the bad ways as well as the good, Sara no longer has the luxury of just giving everything up for love, she is expected to think for herself and look at the big picture and make wise decisions.

One of my favorite scenes is early on when Sara is interviewing for a big contract and undoes a button on her blouse before going into the conference room. The interviewer asks her about it, pointing out that the cameras outside the door caught it. Sara hesitates, and then says “so what?” She feels better about herself when she looks good, it wasn’t for them, it was for herself. That is the fight Sara has to have over and over again in the world. Her dressing sexy is for herself. Her going out to clubs and having fun is because she wants to. It has nothing to do with the men of the world around her. But the interviewer judges her, and her date has expectations of her. No wonder she is so skittish with Karthik, takes his initial pulling back from sex as an insult, is cautious in starting a relationship and, worst of all, assumes that if they are going to be together he will expect her to sacrifice everything without even talking with him. This is the reality of the world for a young woman like her, men keep wanting her to be something different from what she is and who she wants to be.

Lets look at Karthik for a second and why he ISN’T like those other men. He’s on the spectrum, but it’s really a very tiny part of his character. It lets his character say exactly what he is thinking and be completely honest, but it doesn’t change his feelings or motivations or any of that. He isn’t like those other men mostly because he loves Sara, and so he doesn’t judge anything she does. But he also gets a tiny bit of backstory. While Sara grew up with separated parents and a bitter mother, Karthik grew up with parents who were together in public and separate in private, who had agreed to a compromise marriage. He doesn’t want that. He falls in love with Sara right away, but he doesn’t want her to change or give up anything because he has seen what happens when a couple doesn’t really want to be together. And maybe because he is on the spectrum, or maybe just because of who he is, he is not interested in any other women or any other romance. The implication is that Sara is the first woman he has ever been interested in. After they break up, a co-worker comes on to him and he explains that he just doesn’t want anyone besides Sara. The film removes that area of tension, on purpose. Karthik really is there for Sara, whenever she wants. All Sara has to do is decide that she is ready to want him. The conflict is Sara’s and hers alone.

I think this is a really brilliant movie about all the reasons women run from love, especially in the modern world. But I can also see the basic underlying issue that might make it not work for some viewers, the same issue there is in most Imtiaz films. He has a very particular perspective on romantic love.

In an Imtiaz film, romantic love is a form of Sufi transformation. He isn’t saying that “every couple who falls in love is like this”, or that “every transformative experience is through love”. Just that for these particular characters, romantic love is not just love but is something that shifts in their souls in one moment of time.

Like every Imtiaz romance, the soul shifts and the mind catches up later. Sara sees Karthik across a club and the world drops away. He rejects her, and she is destroyed. He reappears in her life and she warns him off (because it is common sense) but stops short of telling him to leave and can’t stop smiling because he is there. Karthik gets in a fight after seeing her with another man, frustration and misery coming out in random anger. But the important thing is that the next morning Sara sees him arrive at work with a bandage on his forehead and sprints across the room to grab his face, check the injury, get reassurance it isn’t serious. Sara is a practical modern young woman, obviously she isn’t going to start a relationship with this stranger. But all those practical surface level thoughts disappear as soon as she sees he is injured. When they finally have sex and Sara stops in the middle, sobbing hysterically, we understand what she means when she says it is the end of everything. Giving in to him, being with him that way, will destroy who she was in the past and turn her into someone different. That is the kind of connection they have.

Sara being torn about leaving Karthik behind isn’t just a silly love story, it is a question of acknowledging herself as a person with a soul, with a deeper need than pure practical career ambitions. Karthik is her everything, with him she is changed into something new, without him she becomes nothing (which is what the love song says). That’s the story Imtiaz likes telling in his films, how people need to answer the calling of their souls when they hear it.

I could go on and on with the smart things in this film (the way Sara nails her interview because Karthik texts her in the middle, the way Salman Khan posters are used to show past-Karthik’s increasing sleaziness, the way sex is a silly meaningless temptation in the past and in the present becomes something deeply meaningful), but just trust me, if you can make that initial leap of believing in a love at first sight that is soul changing, you will like this movie.

38 thoughts on “Love Aaj Kal 2020: An Internal Character Drama About Modern Women Dressed Up As a Love Story

  1. My goodness there is so much to unpack in this film. I almost commented right after Sara’s meltdown in front of Kartik’s saying, Maragaret, you have lost your mind, this movie is terrible; why in the world would you ask me to watch this movie?! But, I am so glad I did not, because I would be wrong. First, Sara’s mother is horrible and frankly emotionally abusive! Ofcourse having been brought up by such a mother makes Sara manic, traumatized, and a wackadoodle in a relationship. Of course she is terrified of feeling any intimacy and cried the first time she had sex with Kartik, not because of the sex but because she realized she was fallling in love. It makes total sense that the early-relationship butterflies and romance that should make someone giddy are absolutely terrifying to her. Her mother has literally been brainwashing her 25 years that the early-relationship feelngs are the poison that sucks you into a dark hole of misery. On that note, I really wish Imtiaz had shown Sara finally moving out of her mother’s house. That girl is going to need a lot of distance and tons of therapy to heal.

    Other than that, I loved Karthik character, and really wish – like you – that Imtiaz just would have stated that he was on the spectrum. One of my favorite Karthik scenes was with the flirty cooworker. It’s just so honest and sweet. He tells her she is cute but she is wasting her time because he is still in love with Sara, and then still asks her out for beer as friends.

    I also loved that they showed Sara being excellent at her job and enjoying it! Women can be smart, accomplished, and well-to-do and still be a mess when it comes to love. One doesn’t have to seep into the other. I also liked that there wasn’t a neat solution at the end: Sara still doesn’t know how she is going to balance it all, if she even wants to, or if there even is such a thing as balance. But she and Kartik will figure it out one day at a time.

    There is so much more, I am not covering, but overall, it is a brilliant movie, but also really really heavy. I am not sure I can watch this one over and over again.

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    • Thank you for agreeing that Sara’s mother is way WAY over the line! Just a terrible mother, damaging and cruel and unloving. Hey, that’s another piece of the Sara puzzle, isn’t it? Karthik and Randeep are the first two people in her life to actually give her unconditional love. Something that should be the birthright of everyone, but her mother has always made it very clear that her love comes with conditions. More than that, has trained Sara to think this is normal, that love always comes with conditions, that is what love IS. And then there’s Randeep telling her this story of love that survived everything, and at the same time giving her that love, listening without judgement to her struggles the way her mother SHOULD be doing and isn’t. And Karthik, who is loving like a normal person, with his own desires and needs but also an awareness that he doesn’t have the right to assert those desires on Sara. Sara’s fighting towards self-realization is partly just because she has that firm ground of love and approval for the first time ever.

      Sara is saying that she is afraid Karthik will be like her father and she will turn into her mother, but actually it is fear that Karthik will turn into her mother, isn’t it? She was raised by a person who controlled her and expected her to follow whatever whim came along, and now she is afraid that falling in love means changing one jailer for another. You are right, it is emotional abuse. Her mother turns on a dime from loving to angry, and Sara can never predict which way she will go or what will set her off. She compartmentalizes to try to keep herself safe, stay in control where she can stay in control, but anything that comes close to her mother and her relationship with her will make her fall apart.

      There’s also the normalization of society that lets this kind of abuse hide. It’s “normal” for a husband to work overseas while his wife is alone with the kids, so that isn’t a red flag to anyone (although the result was Sara and her sister being trapped with this horrible woman and no balance in parenting). It’s “normal” for a modern young urban woman to talk about her career and not having time for romance, no one sees it as a red flag that Sara is legitimately terrified of romance. Her friends don’t see what is going on with her, because everything she does fits with a modern career woman kind of template. You have to get really really close, like Kartik and Randeep, to see that there is something unhealthy going on at the center of it. The film makes us see all the small moments of life for a modern woman so we can understand the “normal” side of it, all the pressures that make a modern young woman decide to press “hold” on romance for a bit, and then unpacks how Sara’s situation is not that at all.

      On Tue, Apr 28, 2020 at 11:28 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yes, her mother’s love came with conditions, but it was far worse. She never knew what was going to set her mother off. She was the child, the caregiver, and distraction to her mother’s emotions. It was terrifying to see her mother oscillate between berating her to complimenting her to going back to berating her to casually while justifying her actions the whole time.

        And yes, the facade is just what the world saw and noone besides Randeep and Kartik saw the vulnerable little girl inside. Similarly, I just read some reviews of people commenting on Sara’s bad acting, and I completely disagree. She portrayed the character perfectly. The confident instagran-pose facade (besides when she is working, when the confidence is real), the manic feelings of emotions due to years of trauma, the vulnerability… everything.

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        • Yes! Sara’s performance was amazing! It looked like bad acting much of the time because it was “bad acting”, it was Sara-the-character acting like she felt something different than what she was really feeling.

          It was fascinating to see her character/performance contrasted with Kartik’s, wasn’t it? On the one hand, someone who is almost off-putting because they never “pretend”, whatever they are feeling is honestly presented on their face. And on the other hand, someone who is always pretending, who is off-putting because it feels like there is nothing real there somehow, like it is all poses. It has to be that powerful immediate love connection between them to bridge that gap. Sara gets increasingly honest with Kartik, and he gets better and better at reading through to her true emotions. And of course just based on the trailer and moments in isolation, both of them looked like they were giving bad performances. Because they were such GOOD performances that there was a purposeful build to them, scene by scene they revealed new aspects of their characters, and one scene alone can’t possibly convey that.

          Randeep too, despite his stupid face, at the end we realize he has been using the same kind of facade as Sara in his own way. He’s older and less traumatized, but he also is playing the “cool dude who doesn’t care” and his performance starts to gain more and more depth and layers as he opens up to Sara. If you just saw his first few scenes, it would look like boring bad model type acting. But by his last few scenes, you can see that “bad acting” was the mask he wears as the cool coffee shop owner so no one can see the person inside.

          On Tue, Apr 28, 2020 at 12:07 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Agree with everything! Everyone has acted so well and it has been spectacularly built up.

            It’s weird that in this movie, I loved Kartik’s character but did not find him physicially attractive. And, I think that was the point right? Sara is definitely not supposed to fall in love, and she is definitely not supposed to fall in love with an awkward, kind of grungy looking, nerd who is on the spectrum. Karthik played that so well.

            I really likes Randeep’s trajectory and acting from cool-dude to broken-dude, too. Oh poor Randeep, I always like him.

            But, is it just be or is this movie really heavy?! I am now especially sad about not being able to watch JHMS on Friday. I will try to see if I can join you for a few minutes in the beginning though because I need something light and fun and sexy after this.

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          • Yes! The miss-match of them as a couple was perfect. Especially because they were in that bubble and blind to it. Kartik didn’t think of himself as not worthy of Sara, and she didn’t see him as less attractive than she is. We just get a glimpse of how they look to outsiders, Sara’s Mom’s blind disapproval and Kartik’s parents blind approval because “finally” there is a girl who can stand their son. But between the two of them, it was all meaningless, they were just each other.

            By halfway through the movie I had stopped even seeing Sara as attractive. Which I think was part of our journey? She starts out as this happy young vibrant person in short shorts. But when we begin to see how much of that is put on, how her outer appearance is a shield, I stopped seeing her face and body as “pretty” or “ugly”, but just as a reflection of how she was feeling inside at any given time.

            It is really really heavy! I agree! Especially the ending which isn’t even “fa-la-la, we are together and happy forever!” but instead is “misery and disaster are a given, let us grab our moments of joy where we find them”.

            Maybe we think of it as a therapy session it is more hopeful? Sara goes from so traumatized she doesn’t dare do anything off the path to finally taking a leap into the unknown, and that alone is a triumph, we don’t have to see all the other work that follows it.

            On Tue, Apr 28, 2020 at 12:49 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Oh it is very hopeful. I actually like how it ended. I think the ending is just the beginning of their journey. It would be fascinating to follow this couple and see what happens next. Sara might always keep work first, Kartik may be a stay-at-home dad, they may live-together and have children but never get married because of their parents, so many possibilities.

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          • They could even separate again and then come back together. I could believe Sara’s therapist (Dr. Jug, of course) helping her to see she has to learn to love herself fully before she can accept Kartik’s love, and therefore take that job offer in France or where ever for 2 years, make close friends, read books, just sit and be by herself, and call and Skype Kartik, and then come home and be with him as full person.

            Or I could see your version, Kartik has been able to make the contribution to the world that he wanted, and now he is happy just following Sara around through life until something else sparks his interest which might not be for years later.

            Are you really curious about Sara’s older sister? She married but seems to always be hanging around the house. Did she marry young to escape and then was drawn back into the household? Did she just never get the same kind of abuse as Sara? Should she end up married to Randeep Hooda in a complicated healing of two hearts through love way that would be completely within the theme of this movie?

            On Tue, Apr 28, 2020 at 1:42 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Okay I finished it and still thinking about it but it’s safe to say that I liked it! I thought it was way better than the original LAK partly because I thought the message of “learning from past mistakes” was better than “I had to struggle for love you got it easy kid” but also because I felt like the whole career over love idea just works differently for a female character. I feel that because women for the longest time weren’t allowed to work or have any independence there can be a sort of overcompensation in the present where a woman is told to *only* care about work which isn’t necessarily healthy! I honestly don’t know what to make out of Sara’s performance but I don’t think I’ve given up hope on her yet! Kartik was really weird for me because I loved present day Kartik and found his love story with Zoe really sweet yet for some reason I never liked past!Kartik for a single moment. Granted he ended up being a huge jerk so I felt like this didn’t detract from anything. Also I know that you don’t like Randeep but I thought his “stupid face” was amazing in this movie and thought he really anchored and pulled everything together. The past story was so surprisingly bleak yet I felt like it was to the movie’s benefit. It made the happy optimistic ending with the present couple feel earned.

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    • Interesting with not like Past Kartik, do you think maybe he put that in his performance on purpose? Some tinge of insincerity that made us not trust him? Past Kartik of course isn’t even really “Kartik”, it is Randeep through his self-hating present looking back at his past self. So there should be something kind of wrong on the inside straight through.

      The career over love idea was such a great fit for the woman character! Especially in this way, as part of the early pre-marriage love story. Love Aaj Kal 1 might have been really interesting if it was about Saif as a married man who is fighting with his wife about his job. Because that kind of career struggle, the idea of putting the happiness of yourself and your family above career success, that feels uniquely male. The struggle between giving everything up for love versus being ambitious is all woman.

      Agree that Randeep really did a great job. He felt old in just the right way, Not necessarily wiser than the young people, but worn down by life despite his handsomeness and hip clothes and all of that. I’d forgotten until I read your comment that we end on his storyline, the last shot is him looking up at her window, a tribute to all those perfect loves that don’t work out.

      On Tue, Apr 28, 2020 at 1:56 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Oh I didn’t like 90s Kartik in the sense that I found his performance kinda bland. And yes! I loved how Randeep brought up that he’s so fixated on his past love that he tries projecting himself onto younger people who are in love.

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  3. Well this is me being too greedyπŸ˜„ but please consider detailed scene to scene review of the movie if you find enough people who appreciate the movie. Also something on why this feels better than the 2009 version which in itself a very unpopular opinion, the kind of opinion which will attract disgusting and judgment looks from the other folks.πŸ˜…

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    • Let’s see how many more people we can suck in to watching it first! Filmikudhi is a convert, there’s you, and me, and I am working on some other folks. Scene by scene still seems unlikely, but I would LOVE to put up separate character analysis posts for Sara and Randeep and Karthik or something like that.

      On Wed, Apr 29, 2020 at 1:08 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Please do one on Veer, loved his eccentric but intense and surprisingly deep antiques. He became one of my favourite imtiaz heroes, also I feel one of the most weirdly cute one.

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    • Wooo-hooo! Angie, I expect a reaction from you in approximately 2 and a half hours.

      On Wed, Apr 29, 2020 at 3:51 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • 😦 Unfortunately, they told me the servers are almost full and only paid members can watch now. I must wait till morning, which is not that bad because it’s almost 11 p.m here and I’m sleepy and would not be able to focus.

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        • You aren’t a paid member? It’s so worth it, best money I ever spent. Not like you should do it now (go to sleep!), but just in general, it’s worth doing.

          On Wed, Apr 29, 2020 at 3:58 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. So I finished the film. And I really like Sara, and I really liked her relationship with Kartik. But I was not swept away by her relationship with Randeep. Hot 40’s something guy isn’t going to hit on the psuedo confident, obviously sexually active girl of legal age… really? He has nothing better to do than chat her up? He owns the unusually empty cafe, which he never seems to actually do any work in- How many bored cafe owners do you know? Okay I know two, but they aren’t bored, they are busy busy busy – for not very much money. I can buy that Randeep is curious about their love story, I understand how he sees the self that he doesn’t hate in younger people. But he can’t, or doesn’t, turn his sexuality off, and it is a well known guy trick to get the girl by talking about the true love you missed out on- she then imagines herself in that love’s place and ta da – boy gets laid. Randeep is untrustworty, untrustworthy, untrustworthy. And Sara, after getting him to stop work to entertain her leaves him crying – that was the only time I actually thought she was a selfish… even if he was untrustworthy.

    BUT the big failure of the movie is Kartik’s attempt at a double role. That failure may be due to acting, directing, or concept – but he is in no WAY similar to Randeep in presence or persona, and because it is Randeep’s story all the flashbacks were failures for me. So that was like half the movie. I could have cared cared less about Randeep/Kartik’s boring stalker love. It got a bit interesting when he started sleeping with everything that moved. At first I was like, “What girl would throw herself at Kartik?” -and then I remembered he was supposed to be Randeep, and I could see girls throwing themselves at super sexual Randeep, so okay I understood… I understood that if Kartik was trying he was unable to become super sexual like Randeep, and if he wasn’t trying it was the director’s or the concepts fault because the whole thing fell apart.

    But Sara was great.

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    • The translation I made for Randeep is that he is super rich and successful, does not need to “work” at this cafe (because he owns and profits from multiple successful restaurants), but does it because he is bored. So he is already set up as someone who would insert himself in a romance, make friends with Sara, and so on. The whole idea of him “working” at the cafe already indicates that his life is empty, he should be retired and enjoying his profits instead of making an excuse to go somewhere every day and talk to strangers.

      You know, I may have trusted Randeep more than you because of trying to control for prejudice? I dislike him so much (stupid face!) that I was policing myself into trusting his character. Like “Margaret, resist your unfair bias and force yourself to trust him”.

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      • You know my mistrust doesn’t translate into dislike, although it doesn’t translate into friendship either. But character wise – would Imtiaz think a man who sleeps with so many women is trustworthy? Is his character supposed to be trustworthy?

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        • I think his character isn’t supposed to be trustworthy. I think he is supposed to be incapable of forming a real connection to anyone, damaged and broken. But randomly he and Sara have a connection, he starts to see himself in her a little bit and Sara clings to this stranger who appears wise. Kind of like the Wise Addict type, he wants to be better but you can’t really rely on him for anything.

          I saw it as a really sensitive choice on Imtiaz’s part, in an industry where the default is to treat womanizers as either cool perfect hero types, or bad and evil, he has someone who never lied to the women he was with but also was never able to form a real connection with them, and that is tragic.

          On Thu, Apr 30, 2020 at 1:08 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • In real life he would have fallen in love with Sara, and then reverted to his standard ways and broken her heart. It is his watching her, without lusting for her, that I can’t accept. It could also be that the single 45-year-old men I know don’t form alliances with other 45-year-old women, the vast majority of their girlfriends are under 30. And these are friends, I’ve had conversations with them about it. Maybe I should watch it again, and try harder to see Randeep as something good.

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          • We do for sure see that Randeep only forms relationships with women his own age. The flashback shows only mature women (20s or so), and in the present day the one woman we see is at least 40. Maybe he is just a person that is only attracted to women his own age, so Sara would be someone he can’t see that way?

            On Thu, Apr 30, 2020 at 4:13 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I can’t believe a person, male or female, is ever really only attracted to people their own age. BUT also, when I saw the woman in his apartment my mind called out BS! I happen to be within six months of my husband, because we met in college, in the dorms – my oldest friends I met in school, so they tend to be my age. But now my friends are regularly 10 years older and 10 years younger than me. People are uncomfortable with older men with younger women because some men are predators, so my guess is Imtiaz wanted to remove that possiblity. But well, I’m not sure removing the possiblity is natural.

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  5. A quick comment before I will read the review and other comments: I just finished watching the movie and my first impression is: I liked it! I enjoyed the story and loved the conflict, liked Sara very much. But in my opinion chemistry between the leads was weak and I didn’t like Kartik. I felt he was acting almost all the time. The only exception being during dinner with his parents.

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    • Yaaaay, so glad you watched! And that Sara (and her conflict) worked for you. If that works, the movie works, you can hate Randeep and Kartik and feel nothing for them but still enjoy the film. But if Sara the actress and the character don’t work, there’s nothing there.

      On Thu, Apr 30, 2020 at 12:26 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I had in my mind the negative comments about Sara’s acting while I was watching the movie, but in my opinion, she was good. Ok in some scenes and very good in others. Like in the one you mentioned, when she hears Kartik will work in the Himalayas; She poses for him and suddenly has tears in her eyes. I loved this scene.

        My favorite part was Kartik’s and Sara’s conversation after he saved her from the street. Can there be something more romantic? This is my idea of love also – or it’s 100% or I don’t want it. Both from respect to this other person, but also respect for myself and my feelings. What’s the point of being with somebody if it’s only in 50% or less, or if the person stays with you just like this, or to keep the appearances? Sara only knows her own idea of how the relationships should be and is scared and confused by the things Kartik offers her. Such a beautiful scene and thought. Only for this part, the movie deserves more love.

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        • Yes! And it’s such a complex scene, because Sara is in terrible shape and just wants to be loved, and Kartik loves her, but loves her enough to want more for both of them. And to have faith that eventually she will come to him with a whole heart.

          On Thu, Apr 30, 2020 at 4:50 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. Saw this movie for the second time to love it even more! I liked how the working title of the film which was ‘reverse’ fits so well with every aspect of the movie. LAK 2009 had Veer Singh influencing Jai to about love and Jai wanted to be like Veer, the present wanted to be like the past. In this 2020 LAK, we again have ” Veer ” but in present with much purer notions about love and attachments, less inclination to physically pleasurable love like the Veer Singh in 2009, but here Raj wants to be like Veer, the past wants to be as the present.

    There are many other things I noticed like, earlier in 2009 LAK, Veer Singh and Jai had conflicts of beliefs but bonded over gender, in 2020 LAK, Raj and Zoe bond over similar beliefs and behavior (Raj being a future version of Zoe had Veer not come to her life) but they both differ in gender.

    Definitely one of the best films to come out in recent times by the best director!

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  7. Also, I feel Raj’s character is someway very similar to Imtiaz himself. Even in JHMS, there was Harry who used to see himself as worthy and confident by the number of women he sleeps with, I remember a scene where Sejal and Harry are about to have Sex and Harry refuses and Sejal makes him realize that you are not a womanizer as you see yourself to be! I have seen many interviews of Imtiaz where he deliberately calls himself ” morally corrupt ” just like Harry used to & just like Harry, I don’t think Imtiaz is a bad person but he seems to carry a lot of guilt for I don’t know what, maybe his own personal life had been like Harry, got separated from wife and now regrets it.

    In this film, Raj is Imtiaz, Sara is the audience and his fans who have grown up watching Jab we met and Love Aaj Kal, Raj being Sara’s storyteller, telling her ‘ fairy tale’ and suddenly telling her reality of that ‘fairytale’. In a scene I noticed, Raj was reading Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry which Imtiaz himself is a big admirer of and is seen quoting him on many occasions.

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    • I love your interpretation! You are so right with Raj being like Harry. I didn’t think about it. And both movies have in common the scenes in which refusing to have sex is an act of caring.

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  8. I finally saw this the other day and I really enjoyed it!

    I do wish they mentioned that Kartik’s character was on the spectrum in the movie. I saw your no spoilers review a while ago so I already knew going in but I don’t know how I would have felt about his character if I didn’t. But anyway I thought Kartik did a great job with the Veer role. I remember someone’s review saying that it seemed like he was imitating Ranbir but I personally didn’t see that at all.

    I think this is the first movie I’ve seen of Sara’s and I thought she did a really good job! This is only her third movie right?

    Poor Randeep keeps giving good performances but still can’t win your approval because of his face πŸ™‚

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    • Wow, imitating Ranbir? Yeah, I don’t see that at all either. To me he was so clearly playing someone on the spectrum, including little things like keeping his head down to avoid eye contact, and I don’t think Ranbir has ever played a character like that.

      And yes! Thank you! I also thought Sara did a really good job! Especially for only a third movie. It’s a tough role because her character isn’t instantly sympathetic, or even empathetic. But she builds and builds in her performance, and eventually it makes sense.

      On Mon, Nov 23, 2020 at 4:09 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • To be clear, I think it was something like “kartik aaryan is trying and failing to imitate ranbir” but still I didn’t see that at all.

        Yeah, her character isn’t instantly likable but by the end you’re definitely rooting for her.

        Do you know what Imtiaz is doing next? I’m really curious because I really enjoyed both JHMS and LAK2 but they didn’t seem to do well commercially so I’m wondering who’s willing to work with him now and if he’ll change the kinds of stories he tells.

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        • I don’t know, but I have hope he won’t change too much. JHMS was such a flop, and then he came back with LAK2020 which was the exact same kind of movie that had just flopped. So maybe he just doesn’t care, and is able to find the backers to support his vision.

          On Mon, Nov 23, 2020 at 11:56 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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