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

Published: October 31, 2016

Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016) PHOTO: IMDb

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

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 necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • wb

    What did you expect from a bollywood movie? Fawad Khan is a perhaps a good actor. But, he’s also not good enough.Recommend

  • Asif

    Sometimes critics can be too hard on the movies. I guess maybe it depends on his mood while writing. If some new theme and creativity is introduced in movie….they say ‘that old charm is missing’. If that old charm is refreshed and rehashed….they say its just too much of a cliché. Better ignore critics sometimes and just enjoy the movieRecommend

  • AllahKhairKareMiyan

    As Per two nation theory..and wars which pakistan had with India..1 pakistani muslim=10 hindu’ per pakistan 2 dialogues of fawad khan = 2hours of other rest of hindu actors…film earn 200 crore than..20 crore because of indian actors and 180 crore because of fawad khan..amen..Recommend

  • Mumuamma

    I agree with you … it was a super feminist film. The women got to call all the shots. They defined friendship and decided when to stay, when to walk away and what the limits and boundaries were. There was no silly bromance and unlike those other films you mention, no rom-com ending. And I believe the plot twist had nothing to do with it — after all Alizeh never sought Ayan out even after she left Ali. She, like Saba, knew how to live by herself. It is actually quite unlike any Bollywood film I have ever seen in never making dosti concede to pyar. All that glitters is not gross.Recommend

  • shiva the destroyer

    who watches bollywood anyway?

    honestly speaking….Indian and Pakistani movies nd soap operas are just disasters….

    they can only make cheesy boring love storiesRecommend

  • hp kumar

    These guys canot excel in education and you expect creativity from them.Evict them and bollywood would be a great place.They have created their own space and they occupy different reality.They choose middle east and pakistan as a market any day over India.When they found that indian viewers were more intelligent than before and questioned mediocrity,they were forced to increase their horizon.Instead They imported actors from pakistan in order to maintain status quo.Gone r the days of khans.This is new India having aspiring middle class.Its about time bollywood went hiring spree for commoners.We want great script and new faces.Sons and daughters of earlier days actors must go away.Recommend

  • Ahmad

    Hollywood FAN i guess.Recommend

  • Ahmad

    Well I watched it a day ago – On internet Ofcourse- and TBH I like those 5 minutes of SRK appearance, SHUD Urdu & That poetic Style, Thats That!Recommend

  • Jor El

    Most of the films coming out of bollywood r pure thrash … n yet it behaves as the flag-bearer of the indian film industry … Recommend

  • Yasir

    he recited two verses and messed them up too… i wonder if producers hired any good urdu expert for the movie with so much urdu poetry in it.Recommend

  • Yasir

    spare pakistani short dramas, they are a treat and socially very spot onRecommend

  • rumi52

    I wasn’t going to comment but seriously aren’t people embarrassed when they write and believe the whole One Pakistani Muslim soldier = ten Hindu Indian soldier. If that was true Kashmir would have been part of Pakistan years ago. By the way its this superiority complex and lack of respect for non-Muslims that is to blame for the lack of progress among Muslims. Muslims think they are entitled to everything because they are Muslims and if they don’t get then it is everyone else’s fault. Go and read a book on the early Muslims and how they respected their enemies and won battles because they actually had strategy and respect for their enemies, they didn’t expect to win battles just because they were Muslims, they used their brains.Recommend

  • shiva the destroyer

    pakistani soaps are nothing but rip offs of Indian soaps which entertain the backward and less intelligent viewers of both nation

    hence you like themRecommend

  • Yasir

    really bro? when does pakistan need to rip off from an industry which relies heavily on rip offs of hollywood? you gotta set your story straightRecommend

  • Ahmad

    Can’t Do anything about It mate if you don’t Like him. Still You gotta admit their movies are Better than Ours.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    Nothing but another trashy Bollywood movieRecommend

  • Allah Rakha

    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.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    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 attentionRecommend

  • Yasir

    i didn’t say i hate him, but that was a technical flaw bro, their movies are better no argument over that.Recommend

  • shiva the destroyer

    Simply because Pakistan cannot make their own movies/stories….pretty much like BollywoodRecommend

  • Yasir

    pakistanis are making their movies with their own stories. name any one, which has been unofficially or officially a rip off. just name itRecommend