There are love stories. And there are romantic sagas helmed by makers like Yash Chopra and Imtiaz Ali. Imtiaz Ali -- in particular from the present league of storytellers -- has tackled modern relationships most adroitly. His brother, Arif Ali, now makes his big screen debut with a contemporary love story LEKAR HUM DEEWANA DIL. Like his brother, Arif too offers a realistic take on relationships, peppering the film with witty, charming and delightful moments. For most parts.
Although Arif does make an earnest attempt to narrate a story that's distinct from films of its ilk, you can't help but notice the influence of Imtiaz's works in his directorial debut. Let's not be grumpy -- one tends to be motivated by the celebrated works of your peers -- but there are times when you feel that the film is scattered [it lacks a foolproof screenplay; more on that later]. Nonetheless, what you cannot deny is that LEKAR HUM DEEWANA DIL has got its heart in the right place.
Let's enlighten you about the plot before we proceed forward. Set in South Mumbai, Dino [Armaan Jain] and Karishma [Deeksha Seth] are young and restless who wish to live life on their own terms. When Karishma's family mounts pressure on her to get married, she and her rebellious best friend Dino realize that they are made for each other.
Being the rulers of their destiny, they elope to forge a lifetime of love, fun and freedom. But they are yet to learn that life isn't that simple. And sometimes who you love the most can become the biggest problem. Dino and Karishma go through friendship, disillusionment, conflict and heartbreak, until they realize true love.
There's a boy. There's a girl. Romance blossoms. They face roadblocks. There's heartbreak. They drift apart. Ultimately, all's well that ends well. Arif uses the time-tested template to narrate a story, but, let's not overlook the fact that a mere outline with the usual tropes can never make an out of the ordinary film. Thankfully, Arif cushions the proceedings with sparkling moments in the first hour, but the writing slips in the post-interval portions.
Much like his brother's films, Arif keeps his characters identifiable and their conversation real. It's like sitting in a café or eatery and overhearing the conversation of the lovers and presenting the lovey-dovey talks/bickering in the most compelling manner. The episodes that lead to the lovers drifting apart is, perhaps, the best part of the enterprise, for the screenwriting does pull out several aces at this point.
LEKAR HUM DEEWANA DIL loses luster when it's time to iron out the disagreements and end the squabble [post-interval portions]. You know how the story is going to terminate, but the road to culmination has pointless curves that seem annoying and superfluous. Like, for instance, the sequences with the marriage counselor [Gautami Kapoor] appear ludicrous. Additionally, the love angle involving Armaan's elder brother [Sudeep Sahir] looks like an add-on. Furthermore, the constant bickering between the love birds could've been persuasive. As a matter of fact, there are times when you feel the emotions are more surface-level than heartfelt.
Mercifully, the film gets its act right towards the finale. The conclusion is unconventional, but it fits beautifully in the scheme of things, since the lovers do think from the heart, not mind, and this aspect comes to the fore fittingly at this juncture.
The soundtrack by the maestro [A.R. Rahman] takes time to grow, but is extremely likeable when you watch the songs on the screen [never mind the spate of songs in the first hour!]. 'Khalifa' is, without doubt, a chartbuster, while 'Alaahda' [soulful], 'Mawwali Qawwali' [foot-tapping] and 'Tu Shining' [lovely] stay on your lips. The DoP [Laxman Utekar] captures the beautiful locales with dexterity.
LEKAR HUM DEEWANA DIL depends completely on its lead actors. Also, Arif combines the sparkle and adrenaline rush of impulsive liaisons with serious take on relationships, giving ample scope to the first-timers to make an impact. Armaan has the charm that should help him establish a substantial fan-following, but more importantly, he is definitive and confident for someone who's facing the camera for the first time. Deeksha, who has featured in a couple of South Indian films prior to this film, has a pleasant screen presence and also handles her part confidently. In fact, she underplays the dramatic portions delightfully.
Kumud Mishra [as Armaan's father] is, as always, effective. Rahul Shetty [as Deeksha's father] does a fair job. Anita Kulkarni [as Armaan's mom] is first-rate. Rinku Karmakar [as Deeksha's mom] is perfect. Rohini Hattangadi is super. Sudeep Sahir, Varun Badola and Gautami Kapoor are decent.
Akhil Iyer [as Deeksha's prospective spouse] contributes to some light moments. Prabuddha Dayama [as Armaan's best friend] stands out with a natural act. Darius Shroff [as Armaan's lawyer], Jaywant Wadkar [as Deeksha's lawyer], Shravan Mehta [as Armaan's friend] and Zuber K. Khan [as Deeksha's suitor at the start of the film] are satisfactory.
On the whole, LEKAR HUM DEEWANA DIL has several wonderful moments and genuine sparks that stay with you. The film should appeal to its target audience -- the youth.