Movie Review : Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016)

Rating : 3.2/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2016
Running time : 2 hours 38 minutes
Director : Karan Johar
Cast : Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Fawad Khan
Kid rating: PG-13

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil reminds me of Jude Law’s “Closer”, which was touted by some as a love story for adults. Ae Dil is then, a love story for adults in the Indian context. I found Closer dispiriting and not a pleasure to watch. Ae Dil fares better, but I’m having trouble gunning up much enthusiasm for it.

Ayaan Sanger (Ranbir) is a super-rich dilettante who meets lovely Alizeh (Anushka) at a party. Neither of them have any compunctions hooking up, despite being in relationships with other people. The anticipated roll in the hay turns into a friendly chat/pub-hopping session, and the two eventually become good friends. In their friendship, Alizeh is the stronger individual, brave and bindaas. Her only weakness, she tells Ayaan, is her ex-boyfriend Ali. When Ali turns up wanting to patch up, Alizeh and Ayaan’s friendship is severely tested.

The first half of the film is spent building up Ayaan and Alizeh’s relationship. It is full of supposedly smart quips, which sadly land only some of the time (hence the supposedly). I think Johar went for sharp and edgy but it just came through as trying too hard. The second half got better, but not by much.

Ae Dil is not your usual Johar-fare. This time he’s gone deeper than before, and me thinks lost that balance of slick and thoughtful that he had had going for him. Still I’m ready to go down the garden-path with this director hoping he’ll taking it somewhere meaningful. He doesn’t. Story-wise, Ae Dil may not be what I wanted, but seemed believable enough, right up until the very end, when Johar shoehorns medical melodrama into the film.

ADHM is a sad film about unrequited love. Ranbir, Anushka, Fawad and Aishwarya are the four coolth-oozing vertices of this narcissistic merry go around, but despite their charismatic star-power, I can’t really feel for any of them. I get that Ayaan, Alizeh and Sabah (Aishwarya) are decent people in their own right, and I feel perfunctory sympathy at the emotional ups and downs each one suffers in their quest for amore. But the sympathy I feel is only skin deep; I haven’t quite connected with any of them. And for this I blame the limited character development. We get to see each of these four only in “love-situations”. We don’t get to see what these people are really like, what they think, what redeeming characteristics they possess if any, and why we should be “on their side”, so to speak.

Ranbir Kapoor has a face made for sad love stories, and he makes good use of it. Anushka always seems honest and real in her portrayals. Fawad is impressive in his little screen time. I don’t consider Aishwarya much of an actress but, all things considered, she did good here in the itty-bitty part she had. Also, she looked gorgeous.

This love-tale featured 4 good-looking charismatic people, and they did what they were asked to do. However Johar has them so wrapped up in their own little love/lust filled worlds that they aren’t humanized enough to be real people we can relate to. There is enough anguish in this film’s situations to power a 100 melodramas, and yet it goes untapped.

Despite all the beauty, the hipness, the slow crooning of love ballads, this film fell short of what I was expecting. Bummer!

Kidwise: Some love-making etc. but nothing explicit.

This entry was posted in 2016, bollywood, directors, drama, rating-PG13, romance. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Movie Review : Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016)

  1. Linda says:

    Thanks for a well thought out review. Other then enjoying the great looks of these actors, I am getting tired on the glamour. I am enjoying more common man stories of late.

  2. As usual, love your reviews although I don’t think I would be as generous.

    *spoilers ahead*

    I completely agree with you, the thing that left me frustrated about this movie was the limited character development. Each character was so one-dimensional that I felt Johar wasted the 158 minutes on too much gloss and not enough substance. I felt for the lead characters and wanted to explore their turmoil and personality development over the time span shown. But Johar did not deliver. Ali remained in his DJ outfit and persona the whole time and the avenue of how he had become Alizeh’s ‘tabahi’ remained unexplored. I got a glimpse of Ayaan’s jealous and vindictive side but again, there was no climax to it. No background to Alizeh’s relationship with her estranged family either (yet an entire village attends her wedding?)

    Aishwarya was beautiful to look at. But beyond her intro scene, her performance was not natural – how shall I describe it . . . . if you’re trying to look sexy, you had better be thinking about sex instead of looking sexy. She was doing the latter, too self aware. Her breakup scene was a complete let down.

    The imagery was divine and I loved the recreated 80’s bollywood mountain top scenes, lots of little nods to other movies / pop culture / actors (albeit overdone). I generally don’t care for the music/songs but I didn’t mind them as much in this movie and I even enjoyed Bulleya with it’s sufi vibe.

    Johar could have stripped back the glam factor by half, spent the effort on completing the character arcs and achieved a more believable story (why is it always rich kids in foreign locations?).

    • amodini says:

      Precisely – Johar did not deliver. Johar does the glitzy, glam thing well, but he is a less thoughtful director than say an Imtiaz Ali, and it showed here. Aishwarya strikes me as ice-maidenly, detached. Also like SRK, her real life persona always seems to overwhelm her screen character. It seemed such a waste, these good-looking hip folks and all for nought.

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