Coming out’ with a new age romance
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga Story: Sweety (Sonam K Ahuja) runs into Sahil Mirza (Rajkummar Rao) at a theatre in Delhi and for him, it’s love at first sight. While at that point she is running away in a chase, he decides to pursue her and shifts base to Moga, Punjab. Once he proposes to Sweety, the story unfolds as he finds out that she is in love with somebody else.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga Review: Love stories can get quite cliched, but when you talk about new age romance, the conversations can get pretty complex and interesting. ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ (‘ELKDTAL’) is an unconventional tale of finding love and acceptance. The film employs fair share of stereotypes to tell a modern and relevant story. The fact that it brings a still niche subject like homosexuality, to a mainstream movie, is one of its strengths. Thankfully, the progressive theme and emotional quotient of the movie, help it rise above a screenplay that lacks sheen.
The film starts off with the traditional boy-meets-girl setup, where Sahil finds himself carried away by emotion. A random, but pretty girl, Sweety, grabs his hand and pulls him into a chase. And the boy, as you’d expect, falls in love and sets off on a path to track the girl down and profess his undying love. Most of the film’s first half is spent in setting up this rather old-fashioned portrayal of courtship. The girl’s loveable, but conservative Punjabi family is also pooled into the story as the usual Beeji (Madhumalti Kapoor), Veerji (Abhishek Duhan) and Papaji, Balbir (Anil Kapoor) bring in the quintessential family drama. The film spends a little too much time setting up the deliberate, but misleading track that is in essence, building up to Sweety’s ultimate confession. Once she does come-out and reveal that the romance between the boy and girl won’t materialise, the film too, changes gears.
The second half, while still a bit predictable, engages in a sensitive and beautiful portrayal of a girl feeling trapped by her own emotions. The story’s track of a father coming to terms with the sexuality and the suppressed emotions of his daughter is touching. Though a bit theatrical, ‘ELKDTAL’ puts forth a progressive and important conversation around personal feelings and the true liberating nature of love. All of this plays out, in the most fun and entertaining fashion, which in a way is the strength of the movie, too.
The bulk of the entertainment comes through the performances by Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla and Rajkummar Rao. Sonam K Ahuja plays the central role and while she does manage to bring in the required vulnerability to her character, she doesn’t always convince you of Sweety’s emotional conflict. But, some staggering performances by Anil Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao add a veritable punch to the proceedings. The adorable romantic comedy between Kapoor and Chawla is a sure-shot winner, too. Supporting performances by Madhumalti Kapoor, Abhishek Duhan, Regina, Seema Pahwa and Brijendra Kala are all top notch.
Writer-director Shelly Chopra Dhar and co-writer Gazal Dhaliwal (who previously wrote Irrfan’s ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’) manage to spark off some pretty interesting ideas of love. Yes, their film deals with sexuality and seeking acceptance from the older and more-conservative family members, but at the core, ‘ELKDTAL’ talks about love being a universal feeling, one that cannot be shackled by societal norms and diktats. The writing isn’t all top-grade, but this film has its heart in the right place and sometimes that’s all that really matters.