Directed by: Shelly Chopra Dhar
Starring: Sonam Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Rajkummar Rao, Akshay Oberoi, Regina Cassandra
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Drama
Release date: 01 February, 2019
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Some love stories are not simple, Sweety’s is one such story. She has to contend with her over-enthusiastic family that wants to get her married, a young writer who is completely smitten by her, a secret that she harbours close to her heart and ultimately the truth that her true love might not find acceptance in her family and society. Resolving these issues proves hilarious, touching and life changing.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (lit. How I Felt When I Saw That Girl) is an upcoming Indian Hindi-language coming-of-age film directed by Shelly Chopra Dhar. The tagline as shown on the released film trailer and poster is ‘The most unexpected romance of the year’. It stars Sonam Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, and Rajkummar Rao, and also features Akshay Oberoi, Regina Cassandra, Brijendra Kala and Madhumalti Kapoor in supporting roles. Produced by Vinod Chopra Films and distributed by Fox Star Studios, the film will release on 1 February 2019.
Principal photography for the film began on 29 January 2018. The teaser of the film was released on June 27 2018. The trailer of the film was released on 27 December 2018. The film title is based on a superhit song from 1994 film 1942: A Love Story. Remixed version of the song is also used in the film.
On 24 December (Anil’s Birthday), Anil Kapoor presented the first look poster and announced the trailer date of the film. On 26 December, Sonam Kapoor and Anil Kapoor put out a 2nd poster of the film and said that the trailer will arrive the following day. The official trailer and theatrical release poster were released on 27 December 2018. Another poster with ‘upside down look’ terming it as ‘rethink the way you look at love’ unveiled on 8 January 2019. The title track of the film was launched on the same day.
Music is composed by Rochak Kohli and lyrics are written by Gurpreet Saini.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga Movie Trailer:
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga Movie Review:
The grandmother’s name is Gifty Chaudhury. Played memorably by Madhumalti Kapoor, she is quite the package: a matriarch who orders her son out of the kitchen, and tucks all objects of importance inside her cavernous blouse. Yet the name exhibits a certain mindset, one where women of the house are considered presents and trophies, objects of adornment as opposed to action. When Gifty’s son wants to marry off his daughter — named Sweety — his wishlist for a groom includes the word ‘gundeya,’ to imply toughness, as he wants a man who can take care of his girl.
Sweety has other ideas.
Directed by debutant Shelley Chopra Dhar and co-written by her and Gazal Dhaliwal, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga is an admirably progressive drama that intentionally binds itself within mainstream convention. It looks like yet another Punjab-based comedy about big weddings and eligible girls, but the trappings have been kept in place to comfort an easily offended audience while selling them on the big idea of accepting a same-sex relationship.
This is an uphill climb in a country where homosexuality was decriminalised only last year, and is still widely regarded an aberration. This film’s syntax, however, is anything but radical. Instead, here is a film so preoccupied with masala that the heroine’s father is intoxicated by the scent of kasoori methi.
Balbir Choudhury, an affluent manufacturer of undergarments, is called the ‘Mukesh Ambani of Moga,’ a small Punjabi town. He happens to be played by Anil Kapoor, who unforgettably lost his head 25 years ago, to the song giving this film its name. His daughter Sonam plays his on-screen child, Sweety, repurposing that great RD Burman song to remind us that it isn’t only boys who fall for girls.
The start is straightforward. It is hinted Sweety has a secret lover, and there is speculation this might be a Muslim man, which would predictably cause much consternation. Now enters unsuccessful young playwright, Sahil Mirza, who optimistically imagines himself to be the rumoured paramour. This is all shadow-boxing, first revealed through a clumsy childhood flashback and later by a pained Sweety herself, who tells Sahil about her lover. The film takes too long to get here, especially when you can sense the swerve coming. Then begins the true drama — featuring the staging of a drama, no less — and this is done with sensitivity and empathy, an ode to those who feel like others.
There is much self-awareness on display. The first song is the frequently remixed and overplayed Ishq Mitha, and it’s a smart move to make a family let their hair down to a song they — and we — would know. When Sahil casts a play starring the Moga residents, he asks Balbir to play Sweety’s father, justifying it as a “real father-daughter connection.” The film itself adheres strictly to Hindi film tropes, from lovely sequences featuring Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla looking longingly at one another, right down to a Babuji-Simran ‘go for it’ endorsement straight out of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge.
The performances are quite entertaining. Anil Kapoor is in top form as the father who finds himself challenged by extreme unfamiliarity, while Rajkummar Rao is suitably over-the-top as the ‘filmi’ writer trying to be arty (and failing), both as a person and as an artist. Sonam Kapoor makes sure Sweety appears anguished, but there isn’t much personality to the part — we never get to see what she’s like, or even what she likes. Then again, this could be an attempt to universalise the character so more people may identify with this simple, sad girl. The bright-eyed object of her affections, Kuhu, played by Regina Cassandra, remains even more of a cipher.
This is a film about the way parents love their children. Sahil’s mother only makes video calls to him — perhaps because that makes it harder to fake a brave face. She also gives the writer sterling advice: that to write one’s own truth.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekhi Toh Aisa Laga concedes the unlikelihood of entertainment to change bigoted minds. When Sweety performs in Sahil’s play, we see disgusted and intolerant audiences get up and leave. Yet I was struck by the image of an old man, sobbing as he leans on the empty bench in front of him, reserved for VIPs who have left. There will be plenty who leave their seats unconvinced, but this film will make some wonder — many of whom may never have considered it. This could have been a bolder and more explicit film, but sometimes cinema should work like a street play. Sometimes we need to preach beyond the choir.