Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil [2016]

MPAA (UR would be PG-13)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing
FilmiBeat listing**

AccessBollywood (K. Gibson) review () review** () review**
IndiaGlitz review**

Hindustan Times (S. Kushal) review**
Indian Express (S. Gupta) review*
The Hindu (N. Joshi) review**
Times of India (N. Bhave) review**

The Guardian (M. McCahill) review
The Variety (J. Leydon) review 

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil [2016] [IMDb] [FiBt] (story, screenplay and directed by Karan Johar [IMDb] [FiBt] dialogues cowritten by Karan Johar [IMDb] [FiBt] and Niranjan Iyengar [IMDb]), opening on 300 screens in the United States (hence basically in every major U.S. city) on the same day as it did in India, this Diwali release -- India as well as China have their own "Holiday Seasons" ;-) -- this really should be a MUST SEE in the West for contemporary film-lovers, ESPECIALLY FOR COLLEGE AGED YOUNG ADULTS.  I say this because there is simply NO WAY that a Westerner could see this movie and NOT have his/her view of contemporary India (and contemporary Indians) significantly, even _radically_ changed / deepened.

Indeed, this past summer, still living in Chicago, I had embarked on a self-plotted "Indian Film Tour" because I was simply exhausted with the extremely _limited_ portrayal of India / Indians IN WESTERN FILMS (seem Slumdog Millionaire [2008] or even the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel [2011] [2013] movies.  In Western cinema, to this day, India is almost _always portrayed_ as CRUSHINGLY POOR and Indians as "nice, perhaps even 'bright people' WHO WE SHOULD SIMPLY FEEL SORRY FOR."  NOT seeking to negate _at all_ the CRUSHING POVERTY of perhaps today 80% of India's ONE BILLION PLUS POPULATION, there are still 200-300 MILLION INDIANS today who are NOT POOR, often NOT EVEN CLOSE TO POOR, indeed RICH and even at times (as in one of the most memorable lines in the dialogue of the film) not merely "First Class Rich" but "PRIVATE JET RICH."

And so then it is, this film is UNAPOLOGETICALLY / BREATHLESSLY about the "Richer India / Indians" -- again 200-300 million of them -- WHO _even to this day_ (save for the occasional "Harold and Kumar" movie) GENERALLY DON'T APPEAR IN WESTERN FILMS (except perhaps as an occasional exotic oddity / villain).  

The film is about a circle of bright, educated, rich Indian young adults, all in their mid-late 20s, all living / having grown-up in London (many Western young adults would see them in, or even _teaching_, their classes), all of them feeling very much Indian both in language / custom even as they've naturally seen / incorporated various expects of their "life outside the old country" into their lives.

Notably when the story begins, the two central protagonists in the story Ayan (played by Ranbin Kapoor [IMDb] [FiBt]), Hindi, and Alizeh (played by Anushka Sharma [IMDb] [FiBt]), Muslim, are involved in relationships that previously, "in the old country" would have been seen in somewhat "simply not done" scandalous light: Ayan was in a casual relationship with a Western, (half)-Brazilian girlfriend (of two months) named Lisa (played by Lisa Haydon [IMDb] [FiBt]), Alizeh, okay had been set-up by her family "with a good catch" Dr. Feisal (played by Imran Abbas [IMDb] [FiBt]), a medical doctor, but actually was very much in love with an Indian born DJ (!) named Ali (played, notably, by Pakistani actor/heartthrob Fawad Khan [IMDb] [FiBt]).

Meeting randomly one night in some London hot-spot, Ayan and Alizeh quickly fall very much for each other -- he in "love", she in "like."  And the rest of the story unspools from there ... a story that could HONESTLY BE CALLED a CONTEMPORARY / INDIAN "JANE AUSTEN-ISH" TALE.  For remember folks that in Jane Austen's stories, the main characters were ALSO _breathlessly_ / _effortlessly_ / perhaps as one thinks about it _obscenely_ WEALTHY.  But the characters were, of course, MORE than "just their money," with quite relate-able concerns, THAT ALL OF US COULD UNDERSTAND. 

And here it is as well.  HE _loves_ HER, SHE _really likes_ HIM (as a Friend) ... and the Story, which follows them for a number of fairly significant years of their lives, asks the famous / perennial question: Can two young attractive people, male and female, find happiness ... being ... "just friends"?

A lovely, lovely story and again one that young Westerners REALLY OUGHT TO SEE.  You'll never see your Indian friends / classmates (even if you "thought you knew them") the same way again ...

Great job!

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