Film: Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga

Director: Shelly Chopra Dhar

Cast: Sonam K. Ahuja, Anil Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao, Juhi Chawla, Abhishek Duhan, Akshay Oberoi, Regina Cassandra, Madhu Malathi, Brijendra Kala

Rating: 3.5

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Lagajaise mainstream Hindi films have finally started to embrace the subject of homosexuality in a dignified manner.

The movie came as a whiff of fresh air but if you have already watched the trailers, you would already be aware of half of the plot. However, the reason you might want to give your 120 minutes to this unconventional romantic drama is for the audacious attempt.

Without pulling any punches on the audience, the director, Shelly Chopra Dhar, and screenwriter, Gazal Dhaliwal, use a comical narration to ease us into the theme of the same-sex love story.

Although the film unfolds with Sweety (Sonam Kapoor) and Sahil (Rajkummar Rao) bumping into each other in the most ‘hero meets heroine’ settings, the audience can be expected to be fully acquainted with where it’s leading. The guy intensely falls in love with the girl and heads to her town to confess his undying love only to find out a life-altering truth about her.

There is absolutely no discrimination with the storyline though it revolves around the tale of two women’s courtship. It flows as a quintessential Bollywood romance we have seen for ages, even though there’s a slight alteration. Here, girl meets girl, the family gets involved, and the “siyappa” (as Sonam says in the film) erupts.

Sweety, a small town girl who dreams of a fairytale love story, shuts herself in a cocoon after realising her sexual orientation. Sonam’s portrayal of the character, who has kept her ‘secret’ tied up in her diaries, is quite convincing. She brings a certain vulnerability to the character, which makes the viewers feel connected to her while they get an insight into her ‘not-so-normal’ life. However, we only witness a few glimpses of her early life, which doesn’t do justice to the daily struggles of the LGBTQ+ community.

Later on in the film, when Sweety unveils her ‘secret’ in front of Sahil, his drunken laughter and the giggles in the theatre (where I watched the movie) summed up the attitude of the hoi polloi to homosexuality. However, Sahil eventually realises his mistake and seeks to be compassionate.

Growing up in an orthodox family, which refuses to even accept an inter-religious marriage, Sweety fears the consequences of coming out. Her life takes a turn after she meets Kuhu (Regina Cassandra), the love of her life.

Anil Kapoor, as Balbir Chaudhary (Papaji), a prestigious businessman who is unaware of his daughter’s sexual nature, does the utmost to get her hitched with Sahil. Abhishek Duhan as Babloo (Sweety’s brother) is the only one aware of the ‘truth’ and makes every effort to cure his sister of the “bimari” (homosexuality).

Rajkummar Rao, as always, succeeds to impress the audience with his convincing portrayal of a man in love who eventually learns the ‘truth’ about the one he loves. Amid all this, Juhi Chawla (Chattro) steals the show with her quirky performance and makes the audience crave for a longer screentime for her. Overall, every character is well-defined.

But Regina hasn’t got her fair share of screentime, which does affect their (Sweety and Kuhu) loosely-knit yarn.

The makers have swiftly dodged any intimate scene between Sweety and Kuhu and played it safe with the subject. However, they do lay out a few affectionate moments to show the warm chemistry between the characters.

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga deals with homosexuality and acceptance in a society which flinches away at the mere mention of it. The film has gently turned over a new leaf for forthcoming mainstream movies on the LGBTQ+ community.