The historic Section 377 decision of the Supreme Court of India last year, heralded a season of acceptance and love. Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s latest offering, “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga”, plays on this timely theme. Read on to know if it’s worth watching:
THE PLOT (spoiler alert):
Struggling theatre writer/ director Sahil Mirza (Rajkummar Rao), falls head over heels in love with Sweety Choudhary (Sonam Kapoor), in a chance encounter. He follows her to Moga, Punjab, to win her family in his favour. With some persistence, Sweety’s father (Anil Kapoor) accepts him; but Sweety’s sexual orientation lies the other way. Can Sahil help Sweety attain her family’s support and acceptance?
The film deserves applause for tackling a serious societal taboo in a mainstream format. Having grown up in the Indian capital, with ample exposure to a globalised world, the taboo against homosexuality was considerably lessened for me and my peers. My homosexual friends found acceptance in some aspects of life, if not all. However, I’ve never considered the plight of the LGBTQ+ community from small towns and cities. As I noted in my review of “Badhaai Ho”, the middle classes and small-town elite burden themselves with preserving an outmoded morality. This prevents them from accepting ideas alien to their traditional thinking.
This holds true for having different sexual preferences, exploring a new path in one’s middle age, or pursuing an unconventional career. Shelly Chopra Dhar, the director, explores all these themes simultaneously, in this film. Anil Kapoor’s dreams of being a chef are shot down by his traditional mother, who believes the kitchen is strictly a woman’s domain. Rao’s assistant, Chattro (Juhi Chawla), leaves an oppressive marriage after 22 years, to follow her dream of acting. Everything is subtly woven together, to make a truly engaging story.
The film is inspired by a story of P. G. Wodehouse, “A Damsel in Distress”, and is in equal parts funny and moving. I was entertained throughout. The well-cast acting ensemble is excellent, with the leads doing complete justice to their roles. Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Madhumalti Kapoor as a traditional Punjabi grandmother, Abhishek Duhan as an aggressively protective brother, Brijendra Kala and Seema Pahwa as the comic domestic staff; are exceptional in their respective roles and raise the bar high.
The costumes are designed to fit the surroundings of regional Punjab. The editing and cinematography is sharp, and the 2 hour long film never drags. The music is catchy, and the background score consists entirely of songs from Chopra’s other successful movies.
The film is very Bollywood-esque in its handling, and some aspects of it seem unlikely to ever take place in real life. This is, however, an effective use of the cinematic medium to spread an important message far and wide.
“Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga” is a new age love story, steeped in Bollywood tradition, and I loved it. To borrow a line from Rajkummar Rao in the film, “isko aap dimaag se mat dekhiye, dil se dekhiye” (roughly translated: “don’t watch it through your mind, watch it through your heart”). And isn’t that what Bollywood is all about?
Film Rating: 4.25/5
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