Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga strikes a responsive chord and is an impactful movie that intends to teach a lesson about LGBTQ
Sweety (Sonam Kapoor Ahuja) says in one of the scenes that every true love story accompanies itself with “siyappa” (chaos). That reflects in the movie as she sort of skulks behind a curtain hiding her true self and when she does try to be with the love of her life, she gets entangled by all sorts of ‘siyappa’. Director Shelly Chopra Dhar’s Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga exhibits the life of a lesbian, her struggles to hide her identity in the name of keeping her family’s long maintained pride, and how she finally gathers the pluck to say that she can’t stay tight-lipped anymore. The best thing about the movie is how craftily it portrays that she actually is a lesbian.
The movie begins with mirthful scenes all around. Everyone is revelling in a marriage ceremony. There comes a suggestion from someone to Sweety’s father Balbir (Anil Kapoor) that the marriage ceremonies are great for finding the best match for his daughter and we see Sweety getting upset by that thought and going away. Kuhu (Regina Cassandra), a random girl at the ceremony, comes up to Sweety to recommend her brother. There is a typical Bollywood-style hero-comes-to-rescue-heroine scene when Sahil (Rajkummar Rao), a writer, winds up running off with Sweety who are being chased by Sweety’s brother Babloo (Abhishek Duhan). Sahil, even, asks her why are they running which negates the possibility of feeling have-seen-that-a-lot and you are not even irked by it and instead you find it funny. So, there is a palpable romance building up which is felt through Sahil’s continuous efforts to somehow meet her again and talk to her (like the humorous scene where he climbs up Sweety’s house, reaches the kitchen window and hands over a letter to Balbir assuming him as the cook). Not until moments before the ‘interval’ sign pops up on the screen that we know Sweety is a lesbian.
Post-interval, Gazal Dhaliwal’s exceptional writing comes to the fore as the narrative becomes more focussed. Whatever the inkling of movie’s theme that we get before the intermission actually gets clearer, revealed and elaborated in the second half of the film (Sweety’s love for one of her classmates in her school days; her paintings that had two women getting married which was even ridiculed by her schoolmates when found; her attraction towards Kuhu and how they stealthily met each other after falling in love during the marriage ceremony). It is Sonam Kapoor Ahuja’s beautiful portrayal of Sweety that enhanced the sentiments attached to the character.
Anil Kapoor is the undeniable star of the film. There is always something interesting happening every time he, as Balbir, comes on to the screen. His constant pursuit of lurking around the kitchen and trying to cook something in spite of having forbidden to enter kitchen brings a smile on your face. His romance portions with Chatro (Juhi Chawla) is outstanding and is one of the biggest highlights of the film. As a matter of fact, in Chatro’s words, Juhi delivers a “mind-shattering performance”. I could not hold back my tears when Balbir travels down the memory lane and finally realises what went through in his daughter’s mind all these years and comes out in support of her (Composed by Rochak Kohli and sung by the haunting voice of Kanwar Grewal, the Chitthiye song that plays in the background exemplifies the sentiment attached to this phase).
As I stood up and made my way forward to exit the cinema hall, I had two instances from the film fixed in my mind. One is when Sweety uncloaks her ‘love’ for women to Sahil, he laughs hysterically but later understands, apologises to her and even lends a helping hand. On the other hand, Sweety’s own brother Babloo remains committed to his stance saying that she has earned a ‘bad reputation’ for her family. Whether the film succeeds in bringing a change like in the case of Sahil or people like Babloo has no effect at all and are unmoved, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga strikes a responsive chord and is an impactful movie that intends to teach a lesson about LGBTQ.