OF LOVING, LOSING AND LEARNING
Ayan falls in love with his soulmate, Alizeh, but she doesn’t reciprocate the feeling. Later, a relationship with Saba helps him realize Alizeh’s value in his life, irrespective of their relationship status.
There’s a lot of good news, and only a little bad news, so let’s start with the former. With Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Karan Johar has let go of the “candy” but retained the “floss”, resulting in a beautiful-looking film that isn’t bereft of logic.
Ayan (Ranbir) and Alizeh (Anushka) strike up a friendship after meeting at a bar. They’re Bollywood-crazy goofballs who sing cheesy ’80s songs, poke fun at each other’s partners and fit into each other like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. But Ayan wants more from the relationship.
Alizeh on the other hand is still reeling from her break-up with Ali (Fawad) and a chance encounter makes her slip back into his arms, leaving Ayan distraught. Ayan then finds solace in a (mostly physical) relationship with Saba (Aishwarya), who helps him get a new perspective on one-sided love.
This is Karan Johar’s most grown-up movie yet. He has come a long way from “Pyaar dosti hai,” (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai) to “Pyaar mein junoon hai, par dosti mein sukoon hai” (ADHM). In the first half, there’s a getting-to-know-each-other arc which reminds you of Before Sunrise; there's also a slight Imtiaz Ali flavour lingering through the movie (strong female characters help a broken boy find himself). There’s no celebration of heartbreak; there’s no pausing-for-laughs, there are no convenient coincidences.
The laughter comes from genuine chemistry between the leads. The sadness comes from real consequences of heartbreak that Johar has always shied away from, but not this time. Karan, the writer, overpowers Karan, the director here.
Anushka Sharma plays the most well-rounded character with abandon; she's remarkable. Ranbir's portrayal of the clumsy, turned-down one-sided lover is heartbreaking; his honesty comes through yet again. Seeing Aishwarya in the role of a confident seductress is a welcome change.
On the downside, there’s a bizarre twist in the last 15 minutes that could have been replaced with a scene or two of good conversation, but if you have an appetite for melodrama, you might just like it.
That said, you usually come away from a Karan Johar movie dreaming of singing sweet tunes in the Alps; but ADHM makes you realize just how cold it is, up there. Go watch it for a relatable portrayal of modern-day relationships.