Love, songs, and the devious draw of the drink! The only three things returning with Mohit Suri’s vaguely dissimilar Aashiqui 2 are:
1) The poster image of a young couple, supposedly cuddly, under a jacket. 2) The half-wit tagline “Love Makes Life Live” and 3) A fleeting glimpse of the lead’s insecurity, imported from Rahul Roy’s character’s, named, Rahul Roy.
A better title, at least from what one may guess from the film’s middle act, would be “Abhimaan 2”. However, give it a chance; and that goes double ditto for the album.
Mr. Suri’s film takes some getting used to, but when the senses finally fine-tune to Aashiqui 2’s orientation, the enterprise becomes less cumbersome – even when the interest curve dips.
While Mr. Bhatt’s Aashiqui was about cute, sappy and somewhat unattainable love, Mr. Suri’s Aashiqui entertains none of the stereotypical evils from the 90’s – gone are girls hostel supervisors like Tom Alter and media scoundrels like Homi Wadia. The villain here is a lack of self-control and a bottle of rum.
Aashiqui 2’s straightforward opening begins on concert day and Rahul Jaykar (Aditiya Roy Kapoor), a self-afflicted, creatively bummed out pop-star tethering on career suicide.
Rahul, desensitized by liquor, is fashionably late, sans reason. An uproarious crowd, and his manger-cum-friend (Shaad Randhawa)’s push later, Rahul performs “Sun Raha Hai” (debutant Ankit Tiwair is the voice and the composer) – a rocked-out sad solo single, custom crafted for album sales, and one of six best tunes in the movie (the album has eleven songs).
Rahul, for some inexplicable rationalization, has lost his muse at the peak of his celebrity. A short fuse with another striving singer later, Rahul runs over Arohi Shirke (Shraddha Kapoor).
Arohi is a bar-singer, working for pennies under a contract. She also sings Rahul’s songs, but in a different beat (her version of “Sun Raha Hai” is an easy on the soul version by Shreya Ghoshal). Rahul, smitten, frees Arohi from contract, brings her back to Mumbai and pushes her into professional music.
As it usually happens in romantic dramas, conflict attack in intermissions; some more pedantic than others, as Mr. Suri’s direction, and his immaculately framed scenes balance shifty performances within a repeating story thread and a succession of songs – which, during the movie, sound tonally repetitive, unless heard off-screen (“Hum Mar Jayeingay”, “Meri Aashiqui”, “Piya Aaye Na”, “Chahun Main Ya Na” are valuable assets, whose only flaw is singer Arjit Singh’s unwarranted aping of Atif Aslam).
Ms. Kapoor’s Shraddha, though neatly laid out on paper, as one half of the pair, is adequate. Her appeal, though, comes from a lack of Vishesh Film’s routine sexed-up sensuality.
Mr. Roy Kapoor’s Rahul fares better, with a genuinely good core; his alcohol dependency, on the other hand, is a dangling McGuffin that gratuitously slogs the film’s running time.
Twenty minutes less, a little dimension to the supporting cast (Mahesh Thakur is fine in limited capacity, and Salil Acharya is wasted) and any other conclusion then the stamped upon finale, would have made Aashiqui 2’s day.
By the end, it’s the cliché – and rigid defeatist mindset – that breaks these characters, not the alcohol. I bet this line gives comfort to the multi-billion dollar beverage industry.
The film stars: Aditya Roy Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Shaad Randhawa, Mahesh Thakur, Salil Acharya, Shubhangi Latkar, Chitrak Bandyopadhyay, Shekhar Shukla, Gagan Gupta, Bugs Bhargava, Gaurav Sharma. Directed by Mohit Suri. Produced by Bhushan Kumar, Mukesh Bhatt, Krishan Kumar. Written by Shagufta Rafiqui. Music by Mithoon, Jeet Ganguly and Ankit Tiwari. “Aashiqui 2” is rated U – even with a slight under-the-covers scene that necessitates – and substantiates – for love these days.