Very Mushqil | SPJIMR

Very Mushqil

Sarabjeet D Natesan

Author: Sarabjeet D Natesan

Date: Mon, 2016-10-31 15:30

As a young first year student in Mrs Malhotra's Microeconomics class at Delhi University, the first lesson I learnt was that of Opportunity Cost. Explained through the ever popular Guns and Butter analogy, it made me understand that there is a cost attached to everything you do in life. And that is what you give up to do it. To make it easier to understand, If you have two choices - either an apple or an orange - and you choose the apple, then your opportunity cost is the orange you could have chosen but didn't. You gave up the opportunity to take the orange in order to choose the apple.

Sadly, I did not learn this lesson for life. At the insistence of my children. I am a repeat habitual offender. I do not learn from my previous mistakes.

Now if we are assigning blame, I wish somebody had forced Karan Johar to attend Mrs Malhotra's Microeconomics class instead of Miss Briganza's Literature class on Romeo and Juliet. Maybe, just maybe, we would have been spared the drivel called ADHM. First of all, it sounds like some kind of a disorder. (Let me tell you that the viewers definitely come out of the theatre with a mental disorder.)

Growing up (once again), we were told that going to 'vilayat' was the dream of every respectable Punjabi. Vilayat being Eenglaand. Getting the British visa involved tales of heroic and mythological proportions. Once you were lucky enough to get into Eenglaand you had to find work there, for you see, no one feeds you, clothes you, provides you alcohol, and gives you foreign trips, for free.

UNLESS you are a character in KJo's movies and you just happen to meet a super-rich boy whom you try to rescue from the clutches of money grabbing dumb yet a smart beautiful girl who does a number on your educated yet stupid MBBS (could be) match fixed by your father all the way from Lucknow.

Then, of course, I know of no one luckier than Ayan Sanger. From one friendly beauty to another bombshell beauty, who is waiting with bated breath to get a call from a much younger guy whom she met on a flight! Obviously, the great Amitabh Bachchan is irritated with his bahu. I would be too. I think Ms Saba did this role just to spite her in-laws.

Then, of course, there is this whole cancer angle. Once again in the days of yore, filmmakers would make characters get cancer, consumption, make them deliver babies without showing them pregnant, make two flowers touch to allude to a kiss metaphorically. I think Karan Johar has grown up watching the same movies. However, there are no flowers here only physical relations, binge drinking, characters with the emotional intelligence of a teaspoon are all there and yet KJo falls back on a simple homespun tale of getting rid of vital characters by giving them some vague cancer to move the story forward. My Goodness, Anushka looks a very well taken care of cancer patient at the end stage. I wish the cancer society had thought of protesting against the movie rather than the MNS.

Karan Johar is a smart man. He knew right from the word go that there is nothing in this movie except the tension of signing Fawad Khan. He must have gone to at least ten temples, and a few mosques, thanking his lucky stars for the foresight to have signed Fawad Khan. Instead of grovelling and getting tons and tons of free publicity playing the hapless victim, he could have easily re-shot the five and half second long minuscule scenes with another actor. But then the movie would have completely flopped. As it should rightly have.

To come back to Opportunity Cost, I wish KJo had used the time and money and resources and etc. to do something else. As should have I, first watching the movie and wasting my time and missing out on a great Diwali party and then taking the past half an hour to write about it. I wish that after this, he will leave the difference between Friendship and Love alone. He is thoroughly confusing the younger and for that matter even the older (Ms Saba types) generations!





I agree with Dr. Sarabjeet here. Karan Johar really needs to move away from the typical Bollywood drama he has been feeding us with since years. With the growth of urbanization among the youth of India, they are becoming more and more demanding with the kind of content they want to pay for and see. Also, with the availability of all types of movies at the click of a mouse, the audience is much more aware of the worth of each penny they are paying for on the bigger screen. The film producers should start making movies keeping the millennials in mind as these are the audiences who will generate the maximum positive word of mouth and buzz for movies on platforms with high reach such as social media and will indirectly become brand custodians. These audiences have the power to sometimes influence 1000 people simultaneously by the virtue of a single status update on Facebook. Thus, film makers need to be extremely mindful of these highly influential audiences. We agree that at times film makers can bank upon such stars in your movie as Ranbeer, Aishwarya and Anushka but are these millennials really star struck? I believe the answer to this is a strict no. I have seen them search for logic in all movies these days irrespective of the star cast of the movie and leave movie theatres in the middle of a movie no matter how expensive the ticket is. This certainly proves that this audience does not mind paying extra or letting go of the money only on the condition that it gets to see good content on the big screen. A hot looking Ayan Sanger and a hot Saba no longer have the old mesmerizing and blinding effect on their audiences. Mind you Karan Johar! I hope you come out of the 90s era soon and start investing the mullah in movies where we need to apply some bit just some bit of our brains.

At the very start, sincere thanks for the real sarcastic yet learning read. This piece of blog, in my opinion, apart for being a very enjoyable read has opened avenues to a broader discussion. What is the future of commercial cinema in India? To be very specific what will Indian movies in the future look like? Cinema through the years in India has had several layers to it. One popular classification of cinema has been mainstream and parallel. Mainstream being all about showing what the consumers wants and Parallel being, what I would like to call, cinema for cinema. There have always been directors like Prakash Mehra, Yash Chopra, Yash Johar and Ramesh Sippy, but then again in parallel cinema there have been Ritwik Ghatak, Satyajit Ray, Govind Nahalani and Guru Dutt. Then came the 90’s with the likes of David Dhawan making movies limping in dearth of content and yet commercially viable. Next, the 2Ks arrived changing the taste of the Indian viewer as per many experts. Films like Dil Chahta Hai (Farhan Akhtar) came through. And here we are, completing the second decade of 21st century. But has the viewer really changed? Films like ADHM still prove that we, Indian cinema goers are still mesmerized by the grandeur of larger-than-life and far-from-cinematic movies, driven by buzz created by petty controversies when it comes to cinema. What would happen to the directors of content based movies (exceptions like Anurag Kashyap or Vishal Bharadwaj are not considered in this scenario) with the commercial viability of parallel cinema going further down day by day? Moreover, with the advent and prosperity (!) of piracy that the film industry is plagued with and globalization of film industry, parallel filmmakers would be hit more than ever. They would face the most difficulty in financing their productions. It scares me sometimes to think what if we end up watching films like ADHM only, say ten years from now in India? We can only hope that the Indian viewer would change its preferences when it comes to cinema and let cinematic art live and grow in India. Fingers crossed!

One of the most hilarious read ever, thank you Professor for sharing your thoughts on this topic, it completely resonated with me as well! I would like to enumerate that Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was a cathartic experience for Karan Johar as claimed in his interviews, a confounding chapter drawn out supposedly, from his own sombre life! A story that the masses could have definitely been spared from and not sparred with since it did not do any justice to the sheer magnitude of talent casted in the film, to euphonious soundtracks nor to his 'rich' repertoire in the cinematic field. The movie characters certainly lacked profundity; storyline being devoid of social fabric to depict a canonical, cogent tapestry of modern Indian society. Whether this was a deliberate attempt to continue appeasing the NRI audiences alone or to woo our acrimonious neighbours by introducing and safeguarding Fawad Khan in the movie through numerous publicity stunts prior to release, is a question which only KJo can answer. However, its safe to conclude that he certainly missed the plot this time! The mindset of Indian movie goers has been changing drastically over the past few years and is a reflection of their circumstances. Be it watching 100 crore plus revenue earning blockbusters such as 3 Idiots, Bajrangi Bhaijan, PK, Dangal, Baahubali or most recently Toilet-Ek Prem Katha, the audiences are no longer enthralled by mindless entertainment alone but connect with the ones that elucidate social messages, engage greatly on moral, virtuous and spiritual grounds impacting their personal lives. In marketing hues, as the product progresses through a sequence of stages from introduction to growth, maturity and decline in the product life cycle, the Indian movie audiences thus seemed to have matured or evolved ever since by being selective in buying movie tickets as well. Through the underpinnings of aforesaid immensely successful, grandiose presentations of cinema, cantilevering super hero protagonists or stories dwelling in exemplary content, propagated through excellent reviews, word of mouth on a large extent; entertainment aspects of run of the mill stereotypical movies such as ADHM have been curtailed. Whether Karan Johar wakes up to smell the 'Koffee' , recognises his 'Dharma' to produce and direct veritable movies thereby deciding not to embark on a journey to offer superfluous, candy floss entertainment to preferential audiences further is something 'mushqil' that only 'Kaal' will tell but until then it would be 'Kabhi Khushi, Kabhie Gham' for the rest of us, his avid fans!

Dr. Sarabjeet has been bang on ,with her thoughts for ADHM . I completely resonated with the fact that as viewer and a Great Bollywood buff , I was waiting eagerly for this movie but in vain. With the relentless promotions & pulchritudinous star cast , it really caught my attention .Lets talk about the female brigade , its was a good wait for all Miss world fans , Mrs. Aishwariya rai Bachan , who left no stone unturned to look fabulous in her new “fit “ skin , but failed to polish her acting skills . Apparently her shayaris were so lifeless , it felt as if she had mugged it up just to finish the shot . On the contrary , Anushka Sharma did a good job as far as her acting skills are concerned but poor scripting & almost no mindfulness in the story by the “Damad “ of Indian film fraternity , Mr. Karan Johar , lead to her down fall in the movie . Ranvir Kapoor faired well as an actor but , with his image of a Chocolate boy did not really go away , probably he needs to dig in deep and try some new roles which will help him know his own potentials as an actor . The only part which really had sense & connection in the movie was dialogs by Shahrukh Khan , in just two minutes he proved himself to be a stupendous actor and he knows very well that he is good at what he does . This leads me to the fact that , the viewers now have become more smart than they were earlier. They too have evolved in their thought process & choices in movies just like the film industry has evolved . With movies like Dangal , Bahubali , Toilet ek premkatha , the directors also need to think out of the box , and put something that gives the audiences , some food for thought .

Mam, I could not stop laughing after reading your take on Ae Dil Hai Mushkil! I had the same feelings when I was watching the film with my friends. We see Karan Johar moving from “Pyaar dosti hai”( Kuch Kuch Hota Hai) to “Pyaar mein junoon hai, par dosti mein sukoon hai” ( Ae Dil Hai Mushkil). We all can make fun of whatever is shown in romantic movies, but we also have to accept that certain section of the audience likes watching such movies. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil had made a collection of around Rs. 112.5 Crore(Net) in the domestic market and Rs. 86.50 Crore (gross) in the overseas market. This made it a Box Office hit. I agree with mam`s take on the storyline of the movie, but somehow I could relate to the characters of the movie. This may be because of the brilliant acting of Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai. Maybe that is the reason the movie worked at the box office. But, the story had nothing in it that made me feel it was a great movie. But, from a producer`s point of view, it was a profitable venture. So I cannot completely blame Karan Johar for such a movie. Every director knows what great cinema is what cinema is commercially viable. Unless we stop watching films which are no brainers, lack content; we cannot prevent such films from being made. One can argue that a director has the social responsibility of making cinema of high standards. But for that to happen he needs the backing of good actors, producers willing to shell money on such movies and in the end the backing of an audience willing to watch such movies in theatres. Majority of the audience in India want to watch a feel good movie. A movie with good looking actors, having exotic locations, peppy songs etc. They want to enjoy themselves while watching a movie. Cinema with high standards may not always be enjoyable. According to me, there is only one director who has understood the mind set of Indian audiences very well and is making movies which are both commercially viable and of a high standard. He is none other than Rajkumar Hirani. He has directed 4 movies till date namely –“ Munna Bhai MBBS”, “Lage Raho Munna Bhai”, “3 Idiots” and “PK”. He is in true sense modern day film genius. All his movies had compelling stories which have achieved cult status and were also commercially successful. In fact, his last two movies remained the highest grosser movies in Bollywood for a considerable time. In the recent times, the audience has also evolved. In 2017 movies with poor storylines were abandoned by audience be it “Tubelight” or “ Jab Harry Met Sejal”. The movies that worked in 2017 include “Hindi Medium”, “ The Ghazi Attack”, “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha” which were of a high cinematic standard. The filmmakers should be encouraged by these trends and make films high on content. High content movies will ensure commercial success and it can also evolve the audiences of today.

The legendary Satyajit Ray once revealed that he saw the Italian neorealist masterpiece ‘Bicycle Thieves’ and came out of the theatre determined to become a filmmaker. He created ‘Pather Panchali’, first of the famed Apu Trilogy, with amateur actors, at actual shooting locations, and with a minuscule budget. Now imagine aspiring filmmakers of today coming out of the theatre after watching ADHM. They would be under the ridiculous impression that to make a successful movie, all you need are a few simple ingredients: a cast made of famous ‘actors’, exotic locations, a half-baked story, and an overblown budget to get the first two. Now, imagine those same filmmakers watching a movie like Aligarh. A movie far superior in quality which didn’t even pull in 1/10th of ADHM’s box office collection. And this, in my opinion, is the problem with Bollywood. Lines drawn between mainstream and parallel cinema have become as dangerous as international borders and the general audience’s continuous fascination with mindless entertainment has been far more detrimental to Hindi cinema than could be imagined. If one of our friends suggests to us a Bollywood movie, our first question would be to ask who is the celebrity star and not about the story. When actors become bigger than the story and quality, silver screen apocalypse is nearby. People would argue that the failure of Aligarh and the success of ADHM, Chennai Express, or Kick can be attributed to the fact that it is an art style movie and not masala/popcorn which the audience like. To them, I say ‘Sholay!’ Masala movies used to have brains. Sholay also had famous actors, big budget, and a plethora of songs and yet, it still stands the test of time. No one can forget the scenery chewing acting of Amjad Khan, infinitely quotable dialogues, balls to the wall action, and the story (though inspired from Kurosawa’s classics) which launched a thousand, inferior imitators. Being a masala movie is no excuse for a sub-par finished product. And the sooner Bollywood understands this, the better it would be. Yes, as audience, we crave entertainment. Majority of us go to movies to escape from the frustration of our ordinary lives and we crave it in a format which should never resemble real life. And after decades of being fed on movies from Karan Johar, David Dhawan, Rohit Shetty school of film-making, we have unconsciously lowered our standards. A movie like Rockstar is lauded where the lead actor does nothing but scream at the screen and make painful expressions. We have forgotten that we deserve much better. Blinded by exotic locations, catchy songs, and actors who look like runway models (with the same stoned expression to depict every emotion), we have lost our hunger for truly good cinema. Fault is in both supply and demand. To revert this, we need to show some love to movies which may not have stars but which definitely have actors. If people start being smart, film producers will have to follow. After all, it is our money which runs the giant machine of Bollywood.

It is till date one of the most sarcastic and hilarious review for the movie “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, thank you professor for your sarcastic but honest review. My reaction completely resonates with you regarding this torture (read as film's) plotline. Coming from Karan Johar, I thought movie will be at least entertaining (Ok yes, I like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, you can start judging me now) or so I thought. The movie’s story line pretty much disillusioned me from the beginning. However, the portrayal by the lead actors was absolutely brilliant. Although the film is an over –exaggerated melodrama with a lot of unnecessary dialogues, song and over dramatization, the characters in the movie still manage to touch the heartbeat. ADHM is a concoction of love, friendships, feelings, heartbreaks and emotions. I actually loved how KJo portrays human behaviour & nature. It's all about running away from love & everyone has their own route. They are not reciprocated the way they wanted so Ranbir, Sharukh & Aishwarya are all human behaviours of escapist in a love story. Movie subtly describes how escape is very easy way out, be it qutting a job or ending a relationship. KJo tried to do something different in this movie, he moved deeper into human behaviour and reactions to emotions. I can connect to the characters of movies as they are very realistic in their feelings. The story revolves around a heart broken guy, Ayan, which we all (read millennials) have been at some point in our life. Alizeh, the girl who is trying to balance both love and friendship. The characters of Ayan and Alizeh are very relatable with Ayan being the friend zoned guy and alizeh being a friend who cares deeply about Ayan but couldn’t love him. Enters Sabah, a middle aged super-hot Urdu poetess, trying to escape from his failed relationships and finds solace in young and charming Ayan. Ayan, who couldn’t stop loving Alizeh, finds a rebound in Sabah. A lot of our generation has been through these phases of loving someone who doesn’t loves you back, a one sided heart break and chasing that person beyond rationality as one can’t fathom the fact to live without him/her. Though I agree, the cancer scene was totally uncalled for. As cliché as it may sound, although heart breaks are very painful, life doesn’t stops. KJo should have just let story move on, with Alizeh finding man of her dreams and Ayan in a happy relationship with someone else. This way we could had our very own version of 500 Days of summer.

Leafing through this blog your article occur to me as a momentum breaker and prompted me to opine on it. I think many in the audience will certainly concur with the points been made by instantiating ADHM. I too agree with your content but that’s what Bollywood stands for, drama, action, humour and showbiz. Further if you want a bollywood blockbuster all recipe lies in a stardom of its cast. If one sign lead like Aishwarya rai, Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma then film makers can undeniably backed by following of movie’s cast. Being a huge fan of Ranbir Kapoor, I will also go watch his movie, regardless of reviews as sometime it depends on the acting of an individual also. We know from the past experience that they are good actors and always performed great when it comes to portraying themselves. Exemplifying Karan Johar albeit critical critiques on his movies he has been able to cater the need of masses whether today or when we compare him with his starters KKHH or DDLJ (all-time favourite). I also believe that it’s not always necessary to have a storyline with some dramatic scene like actress or actor dying sympathetically, which is not needed at all. The sway in demand and mindset of people over the past few years which seemingly shifting towards movies like Hindi Medium, Toilet Ek Prem Katha which somehow overlaps common man’s sphere of life besides highlighting social issues. Biopic certainly have gained much required attention which they never witnessed before like Sanju, MS Dhoni or Padman which are based on true life events .Coming back to our original substance of the day ADHM which in spite an average repetitive script was a blockbuster hit with a collection of more than 100 crores in India. Though there is a shift of audience to a better cinema but one cannot change the perception of people concerning Bollywood with some magic wand. I will feed this idea by an instance with a colleague when I was working, a typical Salman khan fan so conventionally reviews, feedbacks does not matter to him and always watches his movie that too on first day and first show. So, beholding this miscellaneous scenarios it’s evident although people are preferring good content movie over just big star cast or say typical bollywood whether be it the reason show business they market or an alternate remark is this cinema relieve them of monotonous chores of daily life and these movies in turn endorse fantasies of masses. Film makers should also think out of the box and put before the public movies which are both entertaining and worth the time devoted by people on either side of screen.

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