Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Review: Signature Johar Film with Well-Written Characters

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil review

The last time I saw a film in Sydney was over a year ago. Dil Dhadakne Do. The theatre was near-empty, it being a week day and a morning show. It was one of the best films of last year but I’m not sure how much of a draw Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh were for the Indian audience outside. But a Friday night and a Karan Johar film is as huge here, as in India. It was a packed house for Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and with stars like Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai and a festive weekend, this was bigger than anything I’ve seen so far.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is a signature Karan Johar film. There’s prettiness galore, good-looking faces, stunning locales (Paris, Vienna), profuse lavishness, song-and-dance, mush, cheese and relationships! And who better than him to deliver it all in one package (after Yash Chopra).

But what’s different this time is he’s more invested in his characters. They’re more real. The depth and intensity is palpable in their conversations, their silences, their expressions.

It took me a while to warm up to Alizeh (Anushka Sharma) and Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor). The first few minutes take some getting used to.

Ranbir infuses charm and freshness into yet another winning performance. His Ayan is a sensitive, obstinate, ‘private jet’ rich, Mohd. Rafi-idolising (It’s no surprise then that the title of the film itself is a line from a hit Mohd. Rafi classic Ae dil hai mushkil hai jeena yaha) 25-year old, who dreams of becoming a singer. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is Ayan’s account of the story, but Karan Johar lets Anushka Sharma take the lead here. A perfect fit, Anushka shines in the role. She’s bubbly and vivacious and equally restrained and sober where required.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil review

Our Bollywood-smitten duo get along like a house on fire, who don’t shy away from dropping cliched filmy dialogues in every situation.

There’s little for Fawad Khan to do but it’s no surprise he delivers, while Aishwarya does what she’s good at. Look pretty. She’s not even pretending to try any different. Her part deserved someone better.

Spoiler starts. The film felt unnecessarily stretched in the second half with the whole cancer bit woven into the climax. It could’ve neatly wound up before that. Spoiler ends.

Musically, the title track is one of the best songs of the year. I’m not a fan of Bulleya but there’s a beautiful reprised version of Channa Mereya by Arijit at the end of the film. The film is a treat for music lovers with occasional reprised versions of old Hindi melodies throughout the film.

There’s a scene towards the end where Anushka and Ranbir dance to a medley of old hindi classics. Har pal yaha of Kal Ho Naa Ho felt so forced and cheesy.

Despite minor aberrations, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is an engaging watch. I’d recommend it once.

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