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Posted at: Feb 1, 2019, 4:47 PM; last updated: Feb 1, 2019, 5:30 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW - EK LADKI KO DEKHA TOH AISA LAGA

It feels right and warm

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Film: Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga

  • Cast: Sonam Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Rajkummar Rao, Akshay Oberoi, Regina Cassandra
  • Director: Shelly Dhar Chopra
It feels right and warm
A still from Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga

Nonika Singh

The apex court may have recently knocked down archaic section 377 and granted legitimacy to same sex  relationships. But what of society? Well, same-sex love is not exactly everyone’s idea of romance, and is certainly not a subject we often encounter on screen. But as ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha moves’ into the not so familiar territory, it deals with the discomfiting issue with a lightness of touch. Both deft and somewhat on the surface.

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Till the first half, in case you have not seen the trailer (and not read this review), the surprise the film throws up might take you off guard. But even if you are clued into the basic theme of the film the manner in which it takes you to the closely guarded secret of Sweety Chaudhry (Sonam Kapoor) is engaging.

Of course, her inner world manifests only post intermission and then too her angst and pain is rather cursory than deeply felt. Indeed, the pining of the main protagonist never gets reflected fully amidst humour, song and dance. 
Like most Vidhu Vinod Chopra films, this one which marks the directorial debut of his sister Shelly Dhar Chopra too entertains, couches a significant message in its fold and doesn’t follow a preachy tenor except for few bits in the end.

What’s more, it races to half way mark like a breeze. Characters played by solid actors like Seema Pahwa are well rounded and fleshed out. It is not just Anil Kapoor as ‘Mukesh Ambani of Moga’ who is suitably impressive. Raj Kummar Rao the suitor turned friend of Sweety is as the character and script demands the effective support system, if not the pivot or the backbone.

What has our funny bone tingling, however, is Juhi Chawla as the irrepressible caterer Chatro who wants to be an actor. She is, to put it in her own words, “mind shattering”, and a delight from the word go. Even though the whiff of romance between her and Anil’s character is a tad too familiar, there is nothing  jaded about Juhi. She is refreshing and almost makes you wish more script writers would pay heed to her bubbling talent. Of course, dialogue writer and also cowriter Gazal Dhaliwal not only gives her but most characters crisp dialogues that are often a tease. 

Then there is Sonam Kapoor looking fetchingly pretty, playing her part almost as if she would any other which is fine for the idea is drive home the new normal in sexuality. We may not agree with Sonam’s onscreen brother Abhishek Dhuan’s obdurate ways (fine act) but are in consonance with her real one Arjun Kapoor’s take on her. It indeed takes guts for an A-lister actor to enact a part that goes against the mainstream grain.

Despite the brave choice in choosing a subject that is slowly coming out of the closet one has the nagging feeling that the director also tries to play it safe. And we are not just talking about how a film about alternate sexuality doesn’t really go into the forbidden sexual zone. For the film is essentially about acceptance of people which society deems strange/ queer even sick. The making of the play within the film is a reminder how a subject like this can be broached through art.

Well, the film may or may not succeed in knocking down blinkers that many of us wear while viewing the LGBTQ community but does challenge many prejudices not necessarily sexual alone. Why Anil’s secret forays into kitchen is itself a statement. So is the title of the film. Overall, unlike an Aligarh the film may not shake/stir you from within. But as Rao as Mirza says; iss natak ko dimaag se nahi dil se dekhiye, if seen with feeling it will evoke just the right emotion and touch the right chord.

nonikasingh@tribunemail.com

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