Movies

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: Youthful fun in parts

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MUMBAI: 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' deals in romance and music, something that Karan Johar is good at. What is different here is that this film is not about the usual pursuit of love till the families object, then agree and all ends on a happy note. 

The film is also not about sacrifices made in the cause of love. The film is supposed to be about contemporary romances where the characters falling in and out of love are on the rebound, the sufferers of failed love. Ranbir Kapoor's character, however, is a bit different, he seems to fall in love with anybody on two legs wearing skirts.

The film has mostly music-oriented characters in that Ranbir Kapoor is an aspiring singer, Fawad Khan's character is a DJ while Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's is a shayera. The film is splashed with a generous dose of old hits used to fit in the situation. The film is also peppered with cliché-ridden dialogue from old films for fun.

Ranbir is the son of a rich father with even a private jet to his command. In the UK to pursue a course in business management, he meets Anushka Sharma at a pub. 

Acquaintance made, Anushka leads him to the pub’s loft with ideas of her own. As kissing begins, Anushka finds Ranbir clumsy and is instantly put off. Anushka has however taken a liking to Ranbir and plans to meet again as friends. 

Ranbir is accompanied by his live-in girlfriend, Lisa Haydon, and Anushka is with her family’s choice of a suitor for her, Imran Abbas. The film being about fickle or uncertain relationships.

While Ranbir keeps falling deeper in love with Anushka, she looks at him just as a friend so what if they share the hotel room and bed. That is when, while at a pub, Anushka spots her ex, Fawad Khan, the DJ. Old love is rekindled and they decide to tie the knot. Ranbir is dispatched home heartbroken.

Ranbir is at the airport where he meets Aishwarya, a divorcee. After some romancing with Ranbir, Aishwarya realizes that she still loves her former husband Shah Rukh. 

The film starts off with promise and is breezy while Ranbir chases Anushka as most of it is light banter between the two with the use of popular old songs. Come the second half and his romance with Aishwarya is mostly insipid. It is towards the winding-up that the film loses track totally as it gets into a rut bringing in cancer as a compromise conclusion.

The script follows the formula once the initial novelty of modern day Muslim characters played by Anushka, Aishwarya, Fawad and Shah Rukh, living a trendy European lives, ride the merry-go-round of relationships. 

Direction shows the Karan Johar’s touch in ambience, music and locales but lacks solid control once the script falters. Dialogue, especially the one-liners, is effective. 

The music is a plus point with some good lyrics as songs like "Ae dil hai mushkil...", "Bulleya…, Channa mereya…" and the Breakup song have popular appeal. 

Cinematography is good. Editing wise the film sags often.

Ranbir is cast in a role he has been doing wittingly or otherwise through most of his career; here he lives that role. Anushka excels. Aishwarya is okay. Shah Rukh, Fawad and Lisa Haydon have small parts to be or relevance.

Producers: Hiroo Johar, Karan Johar, Apporva Mehta.

Director: Karan Johar.

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai, Anushka Sharma, Fawad Khan, Lisa Haydon with Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt in cameo. 

Shivaay...Uphill task! 

Shivaay is an action thriller. Actor Ajay Devgn wields the megaphone and, when that happens with an actor’s home production, his aspirations as well as ambitions exceed his range as an actor as well as his commercial potential in most cases. 

Also, when it comes to nurturing such an ambition, the inspiration tends to come from foreign films. If one maker finds inspiration in a popular theme, many others would have too, leading to the theme being exploited threadbare leaving no novelty in the subject.

Ajay Devgn's character is that of a mountaineer. He is a sought-after trekker with explorers from all over coming to him. On one of his expeditions, Erika Kaar (a TV actor of Polish origin), is among the climbers under his wing. The climb and attraction between Ajay and Erika are rising on the same scale.

As is the norm in any such risky situation, women are the first to be seen to safety and Erika should have been among them. But, not having her with Ajay would have stalled the progress of the narrative.

The romance in a suspended tent has its effects and Erika, who was packing up to return to her native Bulgaria (in the film she is from Bulgaria) is now pregnant. While Ajay is very keen to have his child, having no family to call his own, Erika wants to have none of it since she has responsibilities of looking after her mother and kin back home.

Erika agrees to deliver the child on the condition that, once delivered, she will return home and have nothing to do with the child ever again. The girl child, Abigail Eames, is now eight years old. She is speech impaired but is bent on seeing her mother. 

She is a stubborn child and also apple of Ajay’s eye. He takes her to Bulgaria but Erika is nowhere to be found. Bulgaria seems to be notorious for kidnap and trade of children and Abigail is kidnapped. Ajay’s attempt to save her results in one long action chase but the kidnappers foil his attempts. 

Most of what follows now is action and stunts to save Abigail. There is some attempt at creating melodrama at the end, just as there is some in the beginning of the film, but it does not quite work out.

Shivaay tells a familiar story seen on a regular basis in many films and on crime-based television serials. Coating it with romance, adventure, emotions, locations and stunts worth millions don’t change the essence. What it does is to stretch a predictable story to an old-fashioned 172-minute length.

The scripting is loose and allows a lot of liberties without logic. Like, Ajay’s expertise with mountaineering was expected to be used extensively to save the girl considering it takes a lot of footage initially. However, it has just one brief sequence when it is used. 

Direction by Ajay Devgn himself shows no spark, no moments of genius; instead, it borders on routine. The penchant for locations and stunts is well justified by cinematography team. Songs have no place but are inserted anyway. The editing is slack.

This is an Ajay Devgn film all the way and he tries to be at his expressive best with the cameras going in tight close-ups on him. He is good in action as always. Erika Kaar is good in romantic scenes. 

Vir Das as a computer hack is bad and so is Saurabh Shukla as the Indian ambassador.

Shivaay tries to cram in too much and loses its grip on the narration in the process. It is certainly not an entertainer to regale the Diwali audience. Also, the film needs total acceptance to better Ajay Devgn box office average figures.

Producer/Director: Ajay Devgn.

Cast: Ajay Devgn, Erika Kaar, Sayesha Saigal, Abigail Eames, Vir Das, Girish Karnad, Saurabh Shukla.

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