The most striking feature of this Shelly Chopra Dhar’s film is the maturity which the subject is dealt with
While one sensible film Kapoor & Sons touched upon the issue with a light stroke of brush a few years ago, Ek Ladki Ko Dekh Toh Aisa Laga (ELKDTAL) is painted in vivid and bright colors. Rightly so, the first Hindi film to be talking about the same-sex love after the historic judgement of SC of India, it takes care of the issue the society is still struggling to come to terms with, with tender hands. In a need-of-the-hour of sorts, the film refreshes you with its positive energy, at times showing you the mirror and even shaking your soul up.
The story is set in Delhi and Moga, Punjab. In an affluent Punjabi family, Balbir Chaudhury (Anil Kapoor) a garment factory owner passionate about cooking is proud that his daughter Sweety (Sonam Kapoor) has topped her graduation. Just then, proposals for her marriage start pouring in, much to the discomfort of Sweety. What turns her off is a reason big than what is perceived. On the other hand, Sahil Mirza (Rajkummar Rao), a playwright from Delhi falls in love with Sweety in a chance meeting. Things are complicated further due to Mirza’s religion and Sweety’s preference.
Gazal Dhaliwal and Shelly herself have penned a story so powerful in its approach and context, that while watching it, you find yourself evolving. There is a build up to the issue- keeping a suspense element prevailing. Although the scenes crafted are dramatic but have a realistic appeal; that even if you don’t face such a situation at your home, you can feel the tension of those who do. ELKDTAL makes you uncomfortable in your seats thinking about your existence, at the same time making you learn about the issue mentally.
The actual scene where the fact about individual choice is revealed is beautifully directed. Only thing, you as an audience need to be matured enough. Also, the narrative of mingling stage drama in the script to link with reality, serves for an allegorical variety.
Primarily its aimed at father-daughter bonding revolving around several aspects that shape the thinking, ideologies, and resulting consequences of both. The elements that make it an engaging watch- a sweet love story, family bonding, angle of religion, the extended families and people from the clan interfering, emotional turmoil, will to love and live freely, taking a stand for oneself- are all presented in a realistic manner. Nothing seems fake or something that can’t happen in society.
One noteworthy part is the dialogues especially during the casual, emotional and insightful scenes. The dialogues although spoken within the characters by characters, an evident attempt is to direct them to the audience in a deep manner. This in its very nature is intelligent of the makers, to teach the society while they are also entertained with the drama.
Yes, there are minor hiccups in the screenplay, majorly in the haphazard shaping of the establishment. The secretive setting-up of the plot might put some off. But when you have such well-intention ed plot aimed at doing good not only for the society but also the industry from commercial angle, few hindrances tend to pass smoothly. The climax balances it out.
Anil Kapoor is a charmer. Film after film he proves he can make the actors of today run for money. He is so good that you can’t take your eyes off him. A typical Punjabi father, he blows life into the character. During emotional scenes or even when the character isn’t behaving in an ideal manner, you relate. All thanks to Anil. You forget its Anil on screen and you only see Balbir Chaudhury right up. Its an act deserving all the love and respect.
Sonam Kapoor too is very good, and she makes a confident mark as an actress. A lot of her character is made of up mental build-up. Sonam makes sure you believe in the character.
Rajkummar Rao is his portrayal of a matured young man is what every girl would dream of. The character has his share of story, baggage, his feelings- ans Rajkummar becoming one with the character is one of the best parts of the film.
Juhi Chawla is indeed evergreen. It is films like these that establish what fine actress she is. She gets a couple of sequences to completely dominate the frame, which she does with grace.
Abhishek Duhan, Brijendra Kala, and Seema Pahwa are also very able and commendable. Regina Cassandra is effective and effervescent.
The supporting cast too should be appreciated, even the actors with minor roles. They hold the plot together.
Music by Rochak Kohli is very good. It haunts your mind even when you’ve left the theaters. A lot of the film is conveyed through songs and background score by Sanjay Wandrekar and Atul Raninga. Music is deeply rooted in the storytelling, hence making you flow along.
Cinematography by Himan Dhamija and Rangrajan is appealing. During the emotional scenes, the camera aids the script well. The lighting could have been better though, especially in the outdoor scenes.
Editing by Ashish Suryavanshi is rightly placed. Its although a linear flow, but the pace and elements put together serve for a great lesson along with entertainment. You don’t feel bored even when there is too much emotional drama. Everything is made to contribute eventually to the narrative.
Production design is good, but could have been better overall in how the sets are made. It does seem to be happening around you.
In one line- this is the kind of film the society needs right now. A perfect blend of entertainment with moral teaching, ELKDTAL will shine vibrant in the list of intelligently executed quality films, for times to come. For those already believing in the cause and issue, the film offers logic. But it is strictly for those who don’t yet accept it as a way of leading the life. It gives perspective. A right one at that. A brave vision.