Photo source: IMDB

I'm a big fan of Bollywood, having grown up on the impromptu dance sequences and over-the-top professions of love. In what feels like a world full of brown people who are now jaded by these things, I love them because they offer me an escape.

As a kid I lived and breathed the movies by people like director and producer, Karan Johar. I was and still am touched by the humor and heart of his work—the family drama, the sweeping romance and even his more political works (like his social commentary on the effects of 9/11 on Muslims in My Name Is Khan).

This weekend saw the release of his latest offering, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. I'm not going to spoil any part of it for anybody, but I will say it's perfect. I'll be damned if I let its one or two stupid plot devices sour any part of it for me! The movie made me tear up at least three times (I would have cried, but I didn't want the aunty sitting next to me to judge me).

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is the perfect blend of what we remember from yore and what we have come to know to be slick, new Bollywood. It's a movie celebrating the diaspora in all its youth and nostalgia. It moves from London to Vienna to all across Europe, with a brief stint or two in India. Its characters are played by the now and future of Bollywood. Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) is a student who becomes best friends with a girl he meets while partying, Alizeh (Anushka Sharma). She has a complicated past with her ex, scruffy DJ Ali (Fawad Khan). Ayan too has a love interest in the form of an older woman, the divorced poetess Saba (Aishwarya Rai).

It's certainly a new breed of movie. The majority of the characters are Muslim, though that's only really relevant as far as their use of Urdu. The language really gets to shine in this movie. Fawad Khan is an up-and-coming Pakistani actor who plays his part with style, and they all jam to EDM-infused dance numbers right alongside dramatic ballads before big weddings. Little bits of old Bollywood like that bleed through with the help of Rai, who has been on the scene since the '90s, and a surprise cameo by the long-standing King of Bollywood himself, Shah Rukh Khan. The audience came alive as the movie made fun of clichés, like how cold it really must be to dance in a sari on top of a mountain.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is a movie about finding, cherishing, and navigating friendship and love. People might criticize it for its lack of reality—no one really talks like that, or it's convenient that Ayan and Alizeh are both from wealthy families that can afford all their gallivanting across Europe and nights out in fantastic clothes—but I think the suspension of belief that Bollywood requires is the best part. That's what makes it so fun and beautiful.

They laugh at the same things as me, make the same movie references, sing the same old songs, dance, drink, talk and worry about the same things as me. It's a movie that really richly and warmly creates the cinematic space that I've been looking for this whole time.

I'm left marvelling at its words more than its glam, and I'll cherish that forever.

comments powered by Disqus