Hindi cinema, given its unique framework and form, has seldom lend itself easily to literary adaptations. But Jane Austen’s novels – with their romantic appeal and lush characterisation have been a hot favourite with desi makers too. Many years ago, there was the Rajeev Menon directed, Kandukondain Kandukondain, a wonderful adaptation of Sense And Sensibility in Tamil. The effect of Austen has been all the more profound on women – there was Gurinder Chadha’s curry musical, Bride & Prejudice, and now, there’s Rajshree Ojha and Devika Bhagat who have adapted Emma for the screen.
Now, Austen novels, for all their wit and acute sense of characterisation, have never had much of a plot. This is not a problem for filmmakers in the West who adapt her novels in their pure form. The novels have enough highlights to keep it engaging, and the period appeal is massive. However, to adapt it, and that too for a desi audience, requires some work. So are the Aisha makers upto it? They seem on track for a while, and it tickles you to see an out an out chic flick being attempted in Hindi. A whole song is dedicated to L’oreal products!
However, the film runs out of ideas once the screenplay exhausts itself working around the wafer-thin plot.
Aisha (Sonam Kapoor) is rich, fashionable and giddy-headed. Her partner-in-crime is Pinky (Ira Dubey). And together they have a rollicking time – shopping, looking for frivolous pass-time, and teasing their ‘too uncool for us’ acquaintance, Randhir (Cyrus Sahukar). They come across Shefali (Amruta Puri), a bumbling, small-town girl, who is actively looking for a husband. Buoyed by the success of her previous match-making attempt, Aisha promptly takes her under her wings and promises to find her a suitable match. She tries to bring Randhir and Shefali closer, because she believes they would be right for each other. The plan does not work, and ends in an unexpected match. All this while, Aisha’s family friend and relative, Arjun (Abhay Deol), is displeased with her match-making activities and admonishes her on several occasions.
The film realises that there aren’t enough strands to work with, and hence introduces two NRI types – Druv (Arunoday)and a desi Angelina Jolie, Aarti (Lisa Haydon) — each one meant to serve as rivals and ‘supposed’ love interests of Aisha and Arjun. But it starts getting predictable, and the second half is repetitive and long drawn. All this while, you could at least appreciate the understated, subtle treatment that Ohja gives to the narrative, but the last 30 minutes of the film goes haywire. Suddenly, everyone behaves out of character, and everything is spelled out loudly for the audience. There’s no clear build-up to the events or characters, so many of the later outbursts by Arjun, Shefali and Pinky don’t seem convincing enough. And the climax is just laughable.
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