An Old Fashioned 90s film, Just Like Its Title

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga – 2019

There have been a number of movies about the LGBT community made in Indian Cinema. From an ‘Aligarh’ to a ‘Margarita with a straw’ there have been films which gave you a glimpse into the minds of the people belonging to the community, but it is the first time that a mainstream Hindi film with veteran actors (by veteran I mean Anil Kapoor, Rajkumar Rao and Juhi Chawla) have brought the topic of alternate sexuality to the forefront. This intention of the filmmaker deserves an applause and is worthy of appreciation but unfortunately good intentions necessarily do not make good films.

Firstly, lets talk about the story and the screenplay. The major flaw in the film is the predictability with which the story unfolds. The trailer of the film had enough suggestive shots to indicate that it is not an “usual” love story between a guy and a girl. Hardly was there anything unexpected in the “most unexpected romance of the year”. The characters are written very superficially. The most complex and well written character is of Rajkumar Rao, a man hit by unrequited love but who plans and plots to get her lover with the woman she loves. Juhi Chawla’s character has absolutely no point in moving the main plot forward and the sub plot of which she is a part of does not merge well with the main plot. More than once it comes as a hindrance in the flow of the story. The dialogues however are well written and give a sense of the place where the story is set in. This film like most of the mainstream Hindi films suffers from hasty resolution and the mandatory ending monologue by Anil Kapoor seems forced. It is hard to believe a man who was talking about “badnaami” and “ummidien” to give a full fledged monologue about the normalcy of homosexuality in just seven minutes of run time. The change in the character is rushed and uncalled for. Another major issue was that Shelly Chopra Dhar played safe by hardly showing any kind of physical or emotional intimacy between the lovers probably to not make the mainstream audience uncomfortable. The writing could have been more daring and the characters needed more depth.

The film boasts of some good performances especially by Rajkumar Rao who is pretty convincing and does complete justice to his character. Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla are also decent and deliver what the character demands of them. Sonam K Ahuja does a good job but the performance could have been more layered and convincing.

The cinematography of the film is outright boring and repetitive. There have been no attempts to do something new with the taking and only stock shots have been used. Long, Mid, Close and some extreme wide drone shots here and there, that is all what you should expect from the visuals of the film. A fast track towards the end of the film looks out of place and does not abide by the visual language of the film. The color palate used in the film is of pink and yellowish orange and goes well with the mood of the film.

Shelly Chopra Dhar in her directorial debut takes a great decision of bringing in a queer romance to the mainstream but I hope the execution was better and much more layered for the audience to take back something but it surely deserves the credit for being a good attempt if not anything more.

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