×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’

Wink-wink references to other Bollywood features add spice to this lukewarm masala.

With:
Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Fawad Khan. (Hindi, English dialogue)

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4559006/

Scattered amid the lukewarm masala of musical comedy, romantic melodrama, and unsynchronized passions that is “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil,” there are teasing indications that the movie might have been better had it been more meta. Writer-director Karan Johar occasionally enlivens the dawdling song-and-dance with cheeky allusions to classic Indian films — including a spirited homage to “An Evening in Paris,” a 1967 vehicle for superstar Shammi Kapoor, great-uncle of this film’s male lead, Ranbir Kapoor — and wink-wink send-ups of Bollywood tropes.

At one point, female lead Anushka Sharma outfits herself for a traditional dance sequence, but must consult the Internet for instructions on how to wrap a sari. Johar also includes a jokey mention of “My Name Is Khan,” his own 2010 terrorist drama, to amp the self-referential quotient. But even if you catch this joke and all the others, you may find yourself fidgeting as time passes and clichés accumulate while “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” — scheduled to open on more than 300 screens in the U.S. — charts the less-than-compelling relationship between Ayan (Kapoor), a well-to-do young man in the grip of arrested adolescence, and Alizeh (Sharma), a sharp-witted beauty who’s been seriously unlucky in love.

After a comically unconsummated first encounter, Alizeh insists that she and Ayan remain nothing more — but, on the other hand, nothing less — than very good friends who party hearty together. Right from the start, it’s clear Alizeh has good reason to doubt Ayan is sufficiently mature for a long-term commitment: After they catch his gold-digging girlfriend in flagrante with her family-approved beau, he, not she, is the one who collapses into a weepy wreck. More important, Alizeh is philosophically opposed to romantic complications under any circumstances: “Love is passion,” she tells Ayan, “but friendship is peace.”

Alizeh contradicts herself, of course, when she reunites with a former lover, Ali (Fawad Khan), a successful DJ who once broke her heart and, truth to tell, behaves as though he’s fully capable of taking a few more whacks at it after they marry. For his part, Ayan finds solace, among other things, with Saba (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), an attractive poet who inspires him to pursue a pop-singing career. Everything leads to a third-act twist that is absurdly shameless, even by Bollywood standards. Unfortunately, Johar doesn’t appear to have intended it as another joke.

The performances are at best uneven, with Sharma pushing the feisty sarcasm business a tad too hard, and Kapoor often erring on the side of annoying while trying to balance vulnerability and self-centeredness. (It’s a trick he pulled off much better in 2009’s “Wake Up Sid,” which Johar co-produced.) Bachchan seems to have wandered in from another movie, one where emotions are conveyed in subtler and more affecting fashion. When she takes her leave from “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil,” you may wish you could go with her.

Film Review: 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil'

Reviewed at AMC Studio 30, Houston, Oct. 28, 2016. Running time: 155 MIN.

Production: (India) A Fox International Productions release of a Dharma Prods. production. Producers: Hiroo Yash Johar, Karan Johar. Executive producer: Marijke deSouza.

Crew: Director, writer: Karan Johar. Camera (color): Anil Mehta. Editor: Manik Dawar.

With: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Fawad Khan. (Hindi, English dialogue)

More Film

  • 'This Isn’t Spinal Tap': Dishing the

    'This Isn’t Spinal Tap': Dishing the Dirt on Motley Crue's Surprisingly Dark Biopic

    The new, eagerly awaited Motley Crue biopic, based on Neil Strauss’ best-selling 2001 book, “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band,” premieres today on Netflix after a seemingly endless 13 years in development hell. Those anticipating “a fun ‘80s music movie,” as Crue bassist Nikki Sixx puts it, will inevitably be stunned [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Box Office: Jordan Peele's 'Us' Nabs $7.4 Million on Thursday Night

    Jordan Peele’s horror-thriller “Us” opened impressively with $7.4 million on Thursday night. The figure easily topped Thursday preview numbers for “The Nun” at $5.4 million and “A Quiet Place” at $4.3 million. More Reviews SXSW Film Review: 'J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius' Film Review: 'Roll Red Roll' Projections for “Us,” Peele’s much-anticipated [...]

  • Beatriz Bodegas on Netflix Original: ‘Who

    ‘Who Would You Take to a Desert Island?’ Producer on New Spanish Netflix Original

    BARCELONA – “Who Would You Take to a Desert Island?” is the second directorial outing from Spain’s Jota Linares (“Animales sin collar”) a Netflix Original premiering on Friday, March 22 in competition at the Malaga Spanish Language Film Festival. Starring María Pedraza, Jaime Lorente, Pol Monen and Andrea Ros, the film is the movie adaptation [...]

  • Beijing Festival Unveils 'Max Max,' 'Bourne'

    Beijing Festival Unveils 'Max Max,' 'Bourne,' Kurosawa Screening Series

    The upcoming Beijing International Film Festival will give space to high profile Hollywood franchise movies with screenings of all films in both the “Mad Max” and “Bourne Identity” series. Classic Hollywood fare will also feature prominently in a line-up that, as usual, features an eclectic grab bag of titles. The local government-backed festival opens April [...]

  • J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church

    SXSW Film Review: 'J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius'

    Like 8mm films of 1960s “happenings” or videos of 1970s performance art, “J.R. ‘Bob’ Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius” chronicles a cultural footnote that perhaps should be filed under the heading You Had to Be There. The satirical-absurdist “religion” founded by some Texans actually caught fire among hipsters in the 1980s, influencing some [...]

  • 'Roll Red Roll' Review: Piercing Documentary

    Film Review: 'Roll Red Roll'

    “Roll Red Roll” is a piercingly relevant and disturbing documentary about an infamous high school rape case that took place in Steubenville, Ohio (pop. 18,600), on Aug. 11, 2012. Steubenville, the sort of Friday-night-lights small town that boasts signs that read “Kick off for Jesus,” is a place that’s good at keeping secrets. When the [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild, Hollywood Agents Negotiate With Deadline Looming

    The Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents have held a sixth negotiating session with a deadline for a new deal 16 days away — and it’s uncertain whether progress is being made. The Association of Talent Agents made counter-proposals at Thursday’s session that contain provisions for more accountability and transparency by agencies for clients [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content