“Ye Heer-Ranja, janam-janam ka saath-type wale log ye sirf kahaniyon mein hote hai, do jism ek jaan-type log, ye sab kya hai? Ye baatein humesha se logo ko confuse karti aayi hai.” It has been ten years, but Saif Ali Khan’s famous dialogue from Love Aaj Kal still holds the same relevance as it did a decade ago. The film that showcased the difference between two generations and their different approaches towards love in the two hours and nine minutes that it ran for, now has a sequel called Aaj Kal in the pipeline.
And though we await the release Aaj Kal with bated breath, it is the original film we can’t get over, especially because we can still strongly relate to the subject. We still see or live with people who are commitment phobic. We identify with the differences that we have with our parents when it comes to the idea of love, and how, only after a few failed relationships, we understand the importance of stability.
As Imtiaz Ali, who helmed Love Aaj Kal, entices us with the sequel that is due for release next year, we take a look back at the original film and why it was and still is a masterpiece. After all, Love Aaj Kal turns 10 today.
Bollywood has practically thrived on love stories and in an industry that delivers a number of rom coms every year, it gets difficult to stand out and present a story on the same subject. Imtiaz, however, nailed it in Love Aaj Kal. The director expertly straddled two very different generations, drawing parallels between the old world comprising Rishi Kapoor (with a younger Rishi played by Saif himself) and Giselli Monteiro, and the new and happening life of Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone. Love Aaj Kal had a little something for both generations.
Meera, Deepika Padukone’s character in the film, and Jai, Saif’s character, are two people with a run-of-the mill romance. They mutually break up because of their career priorities, but end up realising that they love each other after staying apart for a substantial period of time.
The parallels drawn between the two starkly different worlds, of Rishi Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan, kept the audience gripped through the film. In one scene, Meera asks Jai to leave her as she is about to get married and his presence doesn’t help her get over him. This scene is juxtaposed alongside a flashback from Rishi’s life, where Giselle tells him that she is engaged.
This one shot was enough to show that no matter the generation, the basic rules of love and heartbreak remain the same. As Imtiaz himself said in an interview with Hindustan Times, “I think the freshness of the film comes from its concept. The screenplay of a love relationship changes with time, but the basic rules of desire remain the same.”
Apart from a great storyline, Love Aaj Kal banked on its epic star cast. Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Giselle Monteiro, Rishi Kapoor and his real-life wife Neetu Kapoor were the people who steered this film forward. With his boy-next-door charm and movies like Hum Tum and Salaam Namaste in his filmography, Saif was a perfect fit to play the aloof Jai on the big screen.
Deepika, who was just two years old in the industry at that time, played the character of Meera with a lot of innocence. Rishi and Neetu were together on screen for a brief period, but their chemistry made people sit up and re-realise how excellent they are as actors.
Love Aaj Kal had these big stars, but it was Giselli Monteiro’s emotions and expressions that stole the show. She didn’t have many dialogues in the film, but she did her eyes do the talking, holding her own even in front of a seasoned actor like Saif Ali Khan. As Imtiaz said, “The other remarkable thing was that nobody could believe that the girl in the flashback, Harleen Kaur, a simple girl from Punjab living in Delhi, was actually a Brazilian model.”