Love stories have always been an integral part of Bollywood and Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga is definitely a great addition to that list. The film takes an unconventional route when it comes to the subject of the story. As many of us guessed after watching the trailer, it is about same-sex relationships and everything it entails, especially in an Indian society. But that’s not all. It also talks about communalism, the pressure of expectations taking over ones dreams and people not being able to be their true selves. We have seen many love stories on the silver screen and this is one of the few that takes a right step towards progressive thinking.
The movie begins with Sweety (Sonam Kapoor) running into Rajkummar Rao as she is trying to run away from her brother. The short chase that begins with them being strangers, ends with Rajkummar aka Sahil Mirza, who is a playwright in the film, falling for Sweety. After the serendipitous meeting, Sahil tries to find the girl he fell for, as you’d expect from any love-struck hero in Bollywood. After a few attempts, he finds her and the drama that comes with her i.e. her family. It’s a typical Punjabi family who are loving but conservative and stick to the rules of the society. So much so that an inter-caste marriage is also not something they would support. However, Sahil still finds his way into Sweety’s life and house and confesses his love to her in a drunken state. Everything changes once he does because her response holds a truth that is far more complicated than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer would be. The build-up to that very moment seems too elaborate though. It is post this moment that the story finally steers towards the object of Sweety’s deepest secret and her journey towards opening up to the most important people in her life.
Coming to the cast of the film, the central characters played by Sonam, Rajkummar, Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla make the screenplay more entertaining. Talking about Sonam’s character, the actress’ demeanour as a shy, quiet girl, translates quite well on the screen. She plays the character with honesty and it makes up for a few weak scenes too. Anil in the role of Balbeer Singh Chaudhary plays his part of a loving but concerned father very well. By profession he is a rich garment factory owner but his heart is set of his life-long dream of becoming a chef. He is entertaining throughout the film and the chemistry between the real-life father and daughter feels heartfelt. Juhi, who plays Chatro, is Balbeer‘s love interest in the film, both bound by their love for cooking. The seasoned actress’ portrayal of a talented chef who dreams of becoming a famous film star someday and is ‘mind-shattering’ (you will get the reference when you watch the film). Abhishek Duhan, who plays Sonam’s brother, Babloo Chaudhary is true to his character throughout the film. His character is confined to seeing the world in a certain orthodox way and he does justice to his role with the portrayal of this angry young man persona. However, the highlight of the film has to be Rajkummar. He is endearing, funny and entertaining at the same time and drives the narrative quite well. The story line doesn’t allow too much screen time to Sonam and her love interest played by Regina Cassandra which is why the chemistry between them seems to be a little weak. But in the little screen time that Regina does have, is enough for us to want to see more of her.
First time director, Shelly Chopra Dhar has handled the subject in a sensible way and managed to make it consumable for the masses. It may not be as bold or out-there as other film that speak about the homosexuality and/or same-sex relationships but there’s enough potential to call it a step forward in Indian cinema. It encourages progressive thinking in many ways. The tagline of the movie says, ‘Set Love Free’ but the story and the various underlying topics make me believe it is more about setting people free. As you watch the characters and realise their dreams, you will understand why.
The characters feel real, their worries, struggles and reactions, although not always the most favourable, aren’t unimaginable. Props to the director for bringing that out. We’re all fighting our internal battles and sometimes all of us need an open heart with acceptance. The climax tends to slip into the happy-ending zone which Bollywood loves but in a film like this it could resonate with hope. The script has its heart in the right place even if it has a few loose ends in the story.
In the end all I’d like to say is, Ek movie ko dekha toh aisa laga that it is brave, entertaining and has its heart in the right place.