The presence of a Pakistani actor was the least of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’s problems

Unrequited love can be a fascinating subject to explore but it needs deft handling – which this film fails to deliver.

Amit Nangia October 31, 2016
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (ADHM); where do I start? First of all, there is disappointment. Not so much with the movie, because I expected very little from it, but with the four star ratings given by NDTV and The Times of India (TOI). Secondly, disappointment regarding the fact that, in this day and age, such immature and ham handed execution of a film is not just being accepted, but is getting lapped up eagerly in this country.

The movie itself is pretentious, artificial and inauthentic. It’s trying too hard to be edgy and sophisticated, but is actually just a pathetic rehash of key elements from recent movies like Rockstar, Love Aaj kalKatti Batti, and some others too, I’m sure.

There’s nothing original or fresh and neither is there anything that stimulates you.

The characters’ emotions are contrived and their reactions to the situations are frequently exaggerated, inexplicable or clichéd. Everyone is running away from something or someone and, with all that running, it may just as well have been a sports movie. In fact Milkha Singh is even referenced at one point in the movie, and the irony is hard to escape.

Now coming to the actors; Ranbir Kapoor really needs to break out from the rut he’s gotten himself into. His character is part immature boy-man and part psychotic, angst ridden, brooding man, similar to how we’ve seen him in so many other movies. The Ranbir Kapoor of Raajneeti, who brought in a different dimension and flavour, is being thoroughly missed.

Ranbir Kapoor.Photo: IMDb

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is trying too hard to play a goddess and comes across very fake. The Botox speaks louder than her histrionics and she falls well short of exuding the mature sensuousness that her character requires. Perhaps all the censor imposed cuts took a toll on how her character shaped up for the audience, but the end result was disappointing and at times cringe-worthy.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Rabir Kapoor.Photo: IMDb

Anushka Sharma was good in parts but equally annoying in others. Again, her character is a vibrant and fun loving girl, which is something she’s done frequently, so no breaking of new ground there either.

Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma.Photo: IMDb

Unrequited love can be a fascinating subject to explore but it requires deft handling – which this film fails to deliver.

On the positive side, there are some pretty funny moments that actually made the audience laugh out loud. The portrayal of Aishwariya as a confident, older woman in control of her sexuality was also a positive in the context of conservative Hindi cinema.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.Photo: IMDb

The locales in Europe are beautiful, but that brings us to another problem. Karan Johar’s habit of juxtaposing typical Indian themes with foreign locations seems rather patronising. It’s almost like airbrushing the blight of urban Indian life. It’s okay if it’s done in one or two movies, but if it becomes the norm then it is more of a crutch than a prop. Escapism should have its limits, especially in cinema that aspires to be grown up and serious. Johar wants to grow up from candy floss, and has probably avoided the bright pink, but he still can’t resist a darker colour of it.

In hindsight, one has to say that the presence of a Pakistani actor was the least of the problems for this movie. It got undone by its own mediocrity. It’s nowhere close to being a classic or the masterpiece that it purports to be, and that masquerade is actually the bigger problem.

Fawad Khan.Photo: IMDb

Of course, India as a nation is highly tolerant of mediocrity. We tolerate corruption, shabby infrastructure, shoddy workmanship, and administrative incompetence. It’s therefore not surprising that people would be lining up at box offices across the country to get an eyeful of the beautiful faces, exotic locales, and an earful of some generic middling music, without much expectation in terms of a tight narrative, real acting, and originality.

Nowhere else in the world but India do elements like music and location contribute to get the cash registers ringing and, until the time we don’t become more demanding, Bollywood will keep serving us this pedestrian fare that contributes to keeping India dumb.

All in all, it’s an eminently avoidable movie for a discerning audience that places more onerous demands on the cinema it consumes.
Amit Nangia The author is a learning and development professional with a background in finance and human resources that informs his commentaries on geopolitical and socioeconomic trends. He tweets as @amitnangia06 (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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liberal-lubna-fromLahore | 3 years ago | Reply | Recommend Indian movies are a joke compared to the content and caliber of our movies. So much hype over this nonsense? Please. Granted I watched this shiz just because the hoopla surrounded it unconsciously made me want to watch it but thats about it. Oh and some scenes were emotional but only in that brief moment of a bollywood movie watcher where I teleported to their Indian world and Indian lifestyle and Indian way of thinking. After throwing away my tear soaked tissues, I made a promise to never watch bollywood films. And dont even me started with all this screaming over fawad? Dude you're not special. 5 years from now, you will be replaced by a younger dude. I dont get human beings. " Fawad! Fawad ! oh my god Fawad! " like give it a rest. There are 7 billion people on this planet and why should only fawad get the screams? Everyone deserves attention
Allah Rakha | 3 years ago | Reply | Recommend There's nothing to discuss.. it's a waste talking about Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.. lot of hype..but all got wasted because of this Pakistani actor (Fawad Khan).. Thank God.. Karan Johar won't be going with more of these jokers from Pakistan. This made movie even more worse by including him, I believe, Randeep Hooda would have been a better choice as a DJ or even from acting per se.
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