Karan Johar’s latest directorial venture, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, is a mangled mess of emotions and relationships. Johar seemingly thrives in this space, although his previous films used dollops of black and white to depict human relationships. With age, Johar’s style of filmmaking has matured. Evolved, even. But, his ability to tell stories has deteriorated, and how.
ADHM isn’t a film about unrequited love. It’s about unreciprocated love. At the very crux of the plot lies an unfeigned friendship between Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) and Alizeh (Anushka Sharma), birthed out of a fling but tempered with deep-lying affection. Both these individuals share a remarkable comfort level that quickly breaks their walls and gravitates them towards each other. However, while Ayan grows increasingly fond of Alizeh from a romantic perspective, Alizeh views Ayan as her ‘bestest’ buddy.
Johan builds the rest of the film on the flimsy foundations of this relationship. Fawad Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan play largely incidental roles that don’t directly impact the plot in any conceivable manner. The entire movie comprises of loosely strung random episodes in which Ayan constantly proclaims his love for Alizeh and the latter repeatedly turns him down.
If the persistent repetition wasn’t annoying enough, Johar deliberately throws in an entirely unnecessary twist which makes this movie all the more vexatious. To make matters worse, Ranbir delivers one of his weakest performances till date. His cold, perennially stoic expression make him unrelatable. He has played this role of a ‘coming-of-age, immature, emotionally underdeveloped young man’ so often, that you’d expect a high level of mastery from him in ADHM. We get none of that.
Anushka, on the contrary, is stupendously good as the emotionally torn Alizeh. The inert frustration of not being able to convince her best friend, that her (platonic) love for him is stronger than her (romantic) love for her beau is displayed to near perfection on every occasion. She battles tirelessly as Ayan throws his tantrums and routinely disappears from her life. She remains a friend until the very end, loyal and faithful.
The first hour of the film is a complete write-off. Johar doesn’t invest in character development sufficiently, which makes empathizing with the leads that much harder during the intense scenes. The songs are a saving grace but are amateurishly inserted into the timeline. This is comfortably Johar’s worst film till date. The cast on show deserved better. Far better.