Love Aaj Kal is a film about a woman, Zoe (Sara Ali Khan), who avoids anything that could lead to feelings of love. She is determinedly uncommitted and noncommittal; her parents' separation, years before, interfered with her admitting she wants anything more than a causal fling.
Zoe could probably just keep hanging with random guys forever, but in the line of duty she meets a handsome and super-nerdy software engineer, Kartik Aaryan's Veer. She falls head over heels in love with him, but because she doesn't see herself as the type who could settle down with just one person, she proceeds to make everything complicated.
Zoe's insecurities are partly understandable because they also come from the fact that she has grown up with a non-working single mother and a sister who has had a complicated past. But there's a bigger, more serious problem with Love Aaj Kal, and in fact with almost every Imtiaz Ali movie-- his stories always start with his protagonists actively rejecting what’s expected of them and end up being the ones in which the comforts of conventional partnerships are what we should all aspire to. Love Aaj Kal is basically a conventional and cliched film dressed as a progressive one.
From Socha Na Tha to Tamasha, all his films represent the youth as a generation lost and unsure of what to do with itself, consciously denying the conservative societal values, but the problem is that their lack of regard for rules and establishment last only for a very brief period of time.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being in a stable relationship, but suggesting that it’s the only way is what makes this whole film extremely regressive and problematic, even though it pretends to be interested in exploring casual sex and non-monogamous relationships via Zoe and Randeep Hooda's Raj, respectively. I'm done with Imtiaz's concept of creating characters that react to situations and then letting those reactions define who they are as people. He never lets his characters grow organically.
In addition, Love Aaj Kal's most painful moment takes place when Zoe deliberately unbuttons the first button of her shirt to impress her job interviewer. Is this scene meant to show a liberated woman who derives her confidence from looking sensuous? Or are we meant to find it funny that Zoe is unwittingly making a spectacle of herself? I'm pretty sure the filmmaker would claim he intended the former. So then, I must tell him that there was no need to zooming during the scene as it has only perpetuated the negative stereotypes about women who are career oriented.
Lastly, Love Aaj Kal fails for me terribly because it only pretends to empower women. In fact, it makes you want to hate women more because it's too much invested in punishing its woman protagonist to achieve perfectness in life, rather than letting her enjoy the messier parts of young womanhood unapologetically. I think it's about time that Imtiaz hired a woman writer (just a suggestion).
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