It is a family affair this weekend, as Bollywood film producer Anil Kapoor is set to release his latest project, Aisha, with his two daughters, Rhea Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor. As the only wide Bollywood release this week, Hindi film fans will most likely fill the multiplexes to watch this flick about the lifestyles of the rich and elite, sans Robin Leach or Shari Belafonte. Opening in multiplexes worldwide on August 6th, the romantic comedy also stars Abhay Deol. Based on Jane Austen’s acclaimed women-centric novel, Emma, Rajshree Ojha’s Aisha is every bit as witty and empowering as the book, though the film attempts to make the British author’s story palatable to India’s younger generation.
In staying true to the feel and vibe of the book, Aisha has all the characteristics of a cheesy romance novel, which is a good thing for audiences who eat that type of storytelling up like smooth ice cream on a hot and dry day.
Playing the title role of Aisha is Sonam Kapoor, the fictional character who is a member of Delhi’s well-to-do elite class. Heavily influenced by the family members who raised her — her father, elder sister, and aunt — Aisha regularly has Cupid-like urges in playing a charming matchmaker. Ironically enough, Aisha herself is single — not for shortage of interest but instead because of a lack of time and a maternal-like tendency to care for her father.
Sonam’s portrayal of the titular role is indeed everything Jane Austen fans have come to expect of any of her characters adapted for the big screen. Likewise, Arjun (Abhay Deol) is equally consistent between novel depiction and film adaptation — he is well-educated (business degree from Wharton) and holds down a rather secure and well-off job.
The story picks up when Aisha works hard to find a perfect match for Arjun, starting with the titular character’s best friend, Pinky Bose. When that doesn’t work, Aisha starts working down the list, becoming more and more involved with finding the perfect match for Arjun. Of course, no Bollywood film is complete without a twist. The twist in Aisha is that, in working so hard to find the perfect match for Arjun (among other people), Aisha begins to realize that she is running out of time to set herself up with that ideal man.
With that realization, the real story is revealed and the ultimate question is posed: in focusing so much on assisting others find love, does one lose out on love themselves? The answer is played out through an intelligently chaotic love triangle.
Overall, the story is bubbly and energetic. Despite debutant director Rajshree Ojha’s urging that Aisha is not at all a “chick flick,” it is nearly impossible to label this film otherwise. After all, the story revolves around a strong female lead, and the plot delves neck-deep into roman
ce, let alone the fact that Aisha is based upon the work of a popular female-themed novelist and snuggly fits within the romantic-comedy genre.
While it fair to predict that most men would avoid watching this film unless they are with a member of the opposite sex (hence refuting Ojha’s claims that Aisha is not a chick flick), one thing is for sure: Anil Kapoor is accurate in calling this film made by youngsters, for youngsters. A feel-good movie of sorts, Aisha is sure to captivate the segment of the movie-going population that matters most to Bollywood’s box office numbers today.
As for acting performances, Sonam Kapoor finally steals the show after a series of promising but unfulfilling performances. Even though she is featured in a film produced by her father and sister, Sonam was finally given a role to demonstrate her on-screen presence, and she did not let down in playing the titular role. In fact, expect Sonam to be approached for many more films featuring a strong female lead, especially since she is both perfectly relatable to, and in the age range of, Bollywood’s largest fan base.
Opposite Sonam is Abhay Deol, who is somewhat awkward at times but plays the part as best he can.
Adding to the film is decent cinematography and a beautifully memorable wardrobe. Amit Trivedi’s musical score is first-class, as some of the film’s tracks are already hitting the proper notes with fans.
All that is left now is to determine whether audiences will walk away from the film feeling fulfilled after all the positive buzz surrounding this week’s release.
Aisha hits theaters worldwide on Friday, August 6th. Buzzine Bollywood recommends this film.
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