Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga

wogma rating: Watch when on TV/online (?)

quick review:

Ultimately, falls into the category of stories that one of the film’s own characters describes: superficial. While doing so though it has some adorable moments, despite giving away way too much in its trailer. And of course, since it is issue-based, it cannot resist a predictably preachy climax.

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Director: Shelly Chopra
Running time: 120 minutes
Genres: Romance, Social
More Movie Info

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga - Preview

It looks like any ol’ story about family pressurising a woman to get married because she is of the marriageable age. And, comes the “angle”. You suspect it for about 30 seconds while watching the trailer and then it is confirmed in one passing shot. Oh well, so much for not giving the story away.

Or let’s hope the story has a lot more to it. That would be a good way to enter the theatre anyway especially since the film does look like it is trying to weave the “brave” topic in a mainstream story where the issue is germane to the story rather than the story being about the issue.

Other than that it would be good to see Juhi Chawla back on screen. Even if she comes across as silly and annoying in the few seconds, she has in the trailer. The rest of the cast seems to be doing their usual bit.

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga releases on 1 February 2019.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga has a lot to say. Over and above its central theme – which evidently, I am more interested in letting viewers discover for themselves while watching the film than the makers – the film makes many a passing comment really well. But, it slips in making its key point and writes its main character so superficially that the entire writing comes across as clumsy. It does score well on some of the lighter moments though. And of course, the guts that it takes for a mainstream film to take on this topic is applaud-worthy in itself.

The lady herself makes you think her nasal, annoyingly enthusiastic character is cute.

The film takes on a subject like homosexuality by its horns. First, it goes ahead and sets it up in small-town Punjab. And then it makes it about lesbians rather than gay men. Taking it further, the film touches upon some aspects of homosexuality smoothly steering clear of making it on-the-face. A perspective that I have often heard, for instance, is in situations when some people are trying to convince parents of the acceptability of inter-religion/inter-community matches. The arguments go, “well, look at it this way, at least he/she likes someone from the opposite gender,” making even the most objectionable matches, palatable.

Then you have the articulation of the gay person wanting to run out of India, which is quite the dire truth. However, this is still only a cursory glance at the situation. The details, the internal struggle of all involved is missing. Also, whether it does the topic a disservice by not talking about sexuality but calling the attraction “liking” is arguable. But, since the aim is clearly to create awareness, I see a certain advantage in not making the movie “hot”.

Other than the issue of homosexuality too, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga makes subtle but strong commentary about the society and its attitude towards gender, accepting differences, parenting and so on. From a man being admonished for his interest in cooking to the irony of a male cook being celebrated, from a parent going overboard to show his acceptance of a boyfriend to a parent talking to his child without taunts only after the child has achieved success, the movie makes some smooth remarks about some everyday issues. Interestingly, the bits related to Sweety’s dad (the protagonist’s dad) make his transition believable.

A lot of the humour is also subtle yet hilarious, and even when it’s not subtle, it brings a broad smile. And yet, not everything is capitalised on or makes sense. For instance, the cute grandmother could have been fleshed out better, and the whole thread related to the domestic helps’ interaction with each other seems extraneous. These bits that don’t work make the film stretched through and through.

I tried to watch the first half while imagining that I had misunderstood the big reveal given away in the trailer, and yet felt it dragged on too long. I was bracing myself in the second half for the spiel on the acceptability of homosexuality and “live and let live”, and I was disappointed to find it predictably in place. While I was enjoying the lighter, better bits, I had a knot in my stomach. It wasn’t because I was concerned about the characters or wondering how the conflict will be resolved. But it was because I didn’t want the makers to mess a relatively well-built build-up go to waste. And unfortunately, that is what happens. The drama within drama feels like a cop-out.

Even while this is happening most of the performances keep you engaged. While Rajkummar Rao can hardly do anything wrong, I really enjoyed Anil Kapoor’s enactment of his character’s acceptance of his parents' decisions about his career. His chemistry with Juhi Chawla in the scenes where they flirt is adorable. The lady herself makes you think her nasal, annoyingly enthusiastic character is cute. Her chirpy but mature character is written quite well too.

I tried to watch the first half while imagining that I had misunderstood the big reveal given away in the trailer, and yet felt it dragged on too long.

It is Sonam Kapoor’s timid Sweety that gets shortchanged. While her submissiveness is acceptable as a character trait, the way she is written seems unconvincing. She is introduced as a romantic at heart, but that doesn’t lead anywhere. She might be intentionally acting awkward, but her posture just doesn’t make you believe that she is sorry for herself or doubting her decisions.

Her act, when combined with the fact that that the big reveal is not really a big reveal, makes the film a superficial attempt at addressing homosexuality in a mainstream film. A necessary attempt, a good attempt, but still a superficial one.

- meeta, a part of the audience

30 reviewers(?) - 15 yays 11 so-so 4 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Urmimala Barnerjee, Bollywood Life : ...ELKDTAL is definitely a thought-provoking film and its triumph lies in telling a tough subject with a certain amount of humour and lyricism. It can be watched with families without any hesitation. Bollywood has surely found a good story teller in Shelly Chopra Dhar. And lastly, everyone would want a BFF like Rajkummar's Sahil Mirza after this film... full review

Thumbs up, by Soumya Chauhan, DNA : ...: DO NOT MISS 'Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga'. Let's take this story to the smallest of towns. Let the Sweetys in every village and every town know that they are normal!... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...And everything is dealt sensitively without resorting to any sort of crudeness or titillation.... full review

Thumbs up, by Madhuri v, Filmi Beat : ...It's commendable of a mainstream leading lady like Sonam Kapoor to take up the role of a girl whose sexual orientation drives her into a shell and how she battles her inner conflict to accept who she is. The actress delivers an earnest performance though there was a scope of improvement for her in a scene for two. Read more at: https://www.filmibeat.com/bollywood/reviews/2019/ek-ladki-ko-dekha-toh-aisa-laga-movie-review-and-rating-sonam-kapoor-anil-kapoor-rajkummar-rao-282258.html... full review

Thumbs up, by Anna MM Vetticad, FirstPost : ...But the lasting memory from Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga is of Anil taking a scene that could have been maudlin, insufferable and loud, and turning it into a heart-wrenching passage of acceptance, self-realisation and personal growth... full review

Thumbs up, by Vishal varma, Glamsham.com : ...EK LADKI KO DEKHA TOH AISA LAGA is all about universality of love, the power of acceptance. A heartfelt ground breaker in Bollywood’s same-sex love stories. EK LADKI KO DEKHA TOH AISA LAGA enjoys the ecstasy, confronts the danger and celebrates the beauty of love.... full review

Thumbs up, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...There is much self-awareness on display. The first song is the frequently remixed and overplayed Ishq Mitha, and it’s a smart move to make a family let their hair down to a song they — and we — would know. When Sahil casts a play starring the Moga residents, he asks Balbir to play Sweety’s father, justifying it as a “real father-daughter connection.” The film itself adheres strictly to Hindi film tropes, from lovely sequences featuring Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla looking longingly at one another, right down to a Babuji-Simran ‘go for it’ endorsement straight out of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge.... full review

Thumbs up, by Ananya Bhattacharya, india today : ...Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga is a precious film. It is an important film for the times we live in. It will not be a blockbuster. But it might just make you change the way you look at love. If you choose to let your 'dil' take precedence over your 'dimaag'.... full review

Thumbs up, by Subhash k jha, India West : ...Brave and beautiful this film should embolden other bolder explorations of alternate sexuality in our cinema. This one does seem a little chaste, the closest the same-sex lovers come to physical intimacy is a clinical embrace. But hell, it is nonetheless a big leap ahead for our cinema as far as matters beyond the heart are concerned.... full review

Thumbs up, by Mohar Basu, MiD DAY : ...Commendably, Dhar manages to keep the film from becoming preachy. But, what she achieves with this feat, she instantly loses when Sweety says Saahil must be a saviour for others like her. It is offensive, given that it treats heterosexuals as the all-powerful, while the unique as those who need rescuing. Despite the faltering and the flaws, this one is a hit for every romantic. It’s never too late to celebrate love without labels, right?... full review

Thumbs up, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...eviate from its primary purpose, which is to deliver entertainment. It does the latter well enough and yet does not overly dilute its off-kilter vision. No mean feat that.... full review

Thumbs up, by Priyanka Sinha Jha, News18.com : ...Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, if embraced by the audience could prove to be a turning point both in Indian cinema and society by opening up forbidden conversations about the female identity and feminism in the post-modern era. It could well be a definitive step forward in women’s emancipation story.... full review

Thumbs up, by Mike McCahill, The Guardian : ...The soaringly meta second half does everything it can to encourage Sweety to make that truth public, now with Sahil as an ally, effectively rewriting Hamlet’s The Mousetrap for a happier ending.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rachit gupta, Times of India : ...In-depth Analysis Our overall critic’s rating is not an average of the sub scores below.... full review

Thumbs up, by Ritika Handoo, Zee News : ...verdict: Book your tickets to know her 'secret' which might solve many puzzles around you.... full review

So-So, by Bobby sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...In short, EK LADKI KO DEKHA TO AISA LAGA isn’t any well-written or well-made film made on a bold taboo subject. And that’s because the makers willfully conceived it as a too careful, subtle and unconvincing comic family drama, instead of a powerful revolutionary film eyeing at the box office.... full review

So-So, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, EK LADKI KO DEKHA TOH AISA LAGA makes an important commentary on same-sex relationships in India and is embellished with some fine performances. But the narrative is very convenient to make any emotional impact. At the box office, its appeal will be restricted to niche urban multiplex audiences.... full review

So-So, by Arnab Banarjee, Deccan Chronicle : ...At best, ELKDTAL is out-there! But not quite!... full review

So-So, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...While the ensuing so-called progressive, break-out fracas is entertaining, the mode adopted is entirely stereotypical and conspicuously melodramatic. The ‘acceptance’ drama also, comes a little too easy. The film does spend some runtime trying to explore the young woman’s psyche but because of the contrivance meant to delay the revelation, it feels long-drawn and ineffective. This is by no means a sensitive or deep portrayal of a largely unacceptable love. Also, the songs, music, performances, and direction are too regular to be distinctive. This film feels more like just another fashionable ‘cause celebre’ that filmmakers cling-on to when the familiar family drama formula begins to pall.... full review

So-So, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga is entertaining as a film but fails to live up to the huge promises made by the promos. A brave attempt and full marks for the implementation. The very strong supporting cast and uproarious dialogues keep you attracted towards it.... full review

So-So, by Mohar Basu, MiD DAY : ...Commendably, Dhar manages to keep the film from becoming preachy. But, what she achieves with this feat, she instantly loses when Sweety says Saahil must be a saviour for others like her. It is offensive, given that it treats heterosexuals as the all-powerful, while the unique as those who need rescuing. Despite the faltering and the flaws, this one is a hit for every romantic. It’s never too late to celebrate love without labels, right?... full review

So-So, by Pankhurie Mulasi, Movie Talkies : ...Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga Still[/caption] The film may appeal to people in the metros but I doubt it will have any takers in small towns however, if this film can change the mind set of even one person, it would be a victory in itself.... full review

So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...This one may not achieve what 3 Idiots did for parents of en Read more at:... full review

So-So, by Manisha lakhe, Now Running.com : ...A pretty girl is in trouble when she bumps into a young man who rescues her. Or does he? As in all love stories, he chases her down to a small town in Punjab. Will her secret destroy her family, or will she be accepted for who she is? Charming but superficial film about gender identity... full review

So-So, by Anish Mohanty, Planet Bollywood : ...Barring a few surprising turns, the film trudges along a smooth albeit predictable path.... full review

So-So, by Sukanya Varma, Rediff : ...Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga wishes to lend itself as a significant voice of change and support towards the LGBT community, but its woefully apologetic tone regarding individual choices repeatedly negates it when characters -- both traumatised and enlightened -- spew things like, 'Yeh janam se hi aise hai' or 'I wish I was normal'.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...The ensemble is solid, but neither Ahuja, who has been upping her game in her last few films, nor the usually dependable Rao, have the desired impact: at least he’s always trying something; I didn’t buy her at all. The two who stand out are Duhan as the brattish brother, and Cassandra, who shows spark. The rest get swept under the flaccid writing. What this film needed was more sharpness, more acuity, more honesty. It could then justifiably have been called ‘2019: A Love Story’.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shilpa. Jamkhandikar, Reuters : ...What works for Dhar’s film are the honest performances, especially by the reliable Kapoor and Rao, who inject the film with energy. That energy is solely lacking in Kapoor Ahuja, who puts in a rather insipid performance as a young woman trapped in her identity and desperate for a way out. Not that the script affords her much, but even with what she has, she squanders the chance to depict the real struggle of women in small-town India and the prejudices they must deal with daily. She is the film’s weakest link, and the reason why this story falls short.... full review

Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...Chatro’s encounters with Balbir are among the movie’s sweetest scenes, and work more effectively than the stilted interactions between Sweety and Sahil. Abhishek Duhan makes the best of the unlikable Babloo. His reactions to his sister’s plight are discomfiting but also the most consistent and believable in a movie that is part rom and part com and never comfortable in either zone.... full review

Thumbs down, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...Perhaps the overtly righteous sense of cause — no doubt significant and much needed — becomes too much of a burden and gets the better of the filmmaking itself. ELKDTAL might be bringing a “new story” to Bollywood but plays out too flat, lightweight and facile to be of any consequence. Tell us another love story, please.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: One slap and a threat of violence
  • Language: None said out loud
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None. The theme is homosexuality, but sexuality isn’t expressed other than terms of a person “liking” someone of the same gender.
  • Concept: An attempt to overcome social taboo against homosexuality
  • General Look and Feel: Bright and chirpy

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

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Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga - Cast, crew, links

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Running time:
120 minutes
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