Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga is about love, family, acceptance, dreams, and art. Particularly the transformative power of art.
Tl;dr: It’s really great, go see it.
Sweety (Sonam Kapoor Ahuja) is a lesbian. The movie hides this for quite some time (why doesn’t she want to marry? Independence?? She’s in love with a Muslim boy??? No, she has a girlfriend), playing it as a surprise, but. . .that’s the main point of the story. Sweety has known since she was teenager that she likes girls, and she has a clandestine relationship with a woman, Kuhu (Regina Cassandra), who lives in London. Her brother knows her secret, but thinks its a disease. Her father is blissfully unaware and just wants her to marry because she’s a young woman in her twenties.
As a teen, Sweety was teased for being different; she befriends a gay boy and later sees her brother beating him up. So she turns to her journals, to writing and painting, to deal with her loneliness.
While hiding from her brother, she meets playwright Sahil (Rajkummar Rao, which fine, he’s going to be in every movie now, I like him). Sahil comes from a famous Bollywood family, but wants to succeed on his own merits as a writer. He’s talented but lacking true inspiration–until meeting Sweety.
Sahil’s friend and caterer Chatro (Juhi Chawla) wants to be an actor, even studying and teaching others. Sahil laughs at her, even tells her she’s not a good actress, but she pursues her dream anyway, because she loves it. She later explains to Sweety’s father Balbir (Anil Kapoor) that she wonders how her life would have been different if she hadn’t married; that she’s divorced now and enjoying her life, and tells her children to do the same.
Finally, Balbir is a successful businessman, running a large clothing factory. But his desire was to be a famous chef. His mother refused. While he continually says it’s okay, he’s had a happy life, he still sneaks in to the kitchen to cook.
Our art sustains us, helps us, transforms us–and others.
Before the big reveal about Sweety, the movie plays at being a conventional love story: Sahil loves Sweety, she doesn’t love him, how can he win her over? He never can. When she feels her most hopeless and desperate, she says she will marry him. This hurts: the audience knows neither person will be happy. Forcing Sweety into such a marriage, into such a secret life, will destroy her, her husband, and probably her children as well.
Sahil decides to write a play, with Sweety, Balbir, Chatro, and others in the starring roles. Since this movie is still in the theaters, and you should really go see it, I won’t say much more, other than I found myself literally bawling.
The movie is centered on Sweety’s struggle, but is about the acceptance of all kinds of love: Balbir first thinks his daughter is in love with a Muslim. “I have nothing against Muslims,” he begins, “it’s just that. . . .” But he is able to change his mind. Balbir’s mother doesn’t want him to cook, it’s women’s work, but she is able to change her mind. Sahil is in love with Sweety, but he is able to become her friend and help her even when he knows love/sex/marriage is off the table. Balbir and Chatro have a romance as well, showing that older people can feel love, and that one can be happy after a divorce and after being widowed.
I am heartened, as well, to see so many big name actors in this film. I agree with the message that art can change us, and change us positively. Additionally, the movie has a female director, Shelley Chopra Dhar. I hope to see more of her work!
Go see it!