You will be redirected back to your article in seconds
Back to IndieWire

‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ Review: Bollywood’s Karan Johar Struggles to Tell a Good Love Story

Karan Johar's unsubtle romance isn't a total wash, but it's just good enough to make you wish it were better.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

“Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”

If you walk into a Karan Johar film expecting subtlety, the joke is on you. The director has made a successful, nearly 20-year career out of using his films as vehicles to showcase stunning places, gorgeous people, and grand emotions. His unabashed preference of style (often over substance) and lavishness over logic has come to define his brand of cinema, so much so that audiences not only let him get away with it, but even look forward to his inflated-in-every-way productions by now.

READ MORE: Bollywood Star Ajay Devgn on 25 Years of Challenging Industry Expectations

But even being adequately prepared isn’t enough to keep us from feeling drained from his latest release, “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.” A film that Johar has admitted has been heavily inspired by his own experiences with love and rejection, its story follows Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor), an aspiring singer who hasn’t yet experienced the heartache required to give his voice much gravitas—until he falls hard for the sassy and spirited Alizeh (Anushka Sharma). Still reeling from a past breakup, Alizeh has little interest in making Ayan anything more than a close friend. Ayan’s disappointment turns to full-on heartbreak when Alizeh returns to her first love, Ali (Fawad Khan), as he realizes that while his attachment to her is unwavering, it may never be reciprocated.

But even while watching Ayan’s steadfast pining for Alizeh, it’s difficult to amass enough feelings of our own towards their relationship, thanks in large part to the fact that their interactions are based on little more than a mutual affinity for spouting off lines from Hindi movies. Ayan and Alizeh bond over bantering that borrows heavily from movie scripts, dancing to Bollywood playlists, and recreating famous scenes from 80s hits. It’s as though the Johar, along with co-writer Niranjan Iyengar, molded the screenplay around how many cinematic quotes (many, cheekily, borrowed from Johar’s own previous films) could be crammed in, regardless of whether they truly propel the narrative forward.

As a result, the connection between the two leads seems affable, but nowhere close to capable of spawning Ayan’s deep dive into lifelong devotion. While the entire first half balances on a rickety foundation of recycled dialogue, the film swerves to a different sort of superficiality in the second act, as Ayan finds temporary solace in the arms of poetess Saba (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), whose ornate Urdu even compels Ayan to ask, at one point, whether she rehearses her conversations in advance. The non-illusion is complete with a preposterous twist in the third act, thrust in as a convenient but highly unsatisfying way for Johar to rush the 155 minute running time to a conclusion.

While “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” is a disappointing platform for the much-anticipated reunion of Kapoor and Sharma, who last starred together in the colossal belly flop that was last year’s “Bombay Velvet,” it’s their presence, incidentally, that keeps the film from entirely falling apart. Whether they’re volleying quips or sharing tears, there’s a natural, easygoing chemistry between them that makes up for—even elevates—some of the contrived comedy and melodrama; after an unsatisfying string of performances in recent films, Kapoor, in particular, stands out for delivering expressions that capture the pain of a broken heart in a way that the film’s dialogues fail to do. Though most supporting cast members (and a few celebrity cameos, typical in a Johar production) feel like wasted talent—Khan has a total of maybe 10 minutes of screen time at best—Bachchan is resplendent in a performance that’s both understated and scene-stealing, lending a welcome air of maturity to a story that at times feels like the visual representation of a diary Johar may have kept in his angst-filled twenties.

READ MORE: ‘Mirzya’ Review: Lush Bollywood Romance Spans Disparate Time Periods With Unease

In the capable hands of actors who can siphon the nuances from a screenplay soaked in cliches, “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” has many shining instances that reveal the poignant story Johar intended to tell. But those few genuinely heart-wrenching and chuckle-worthy moments aside, inconsistent tonality, uneven pacing, and far too many self-referential winks dilute this tale of unrequited love before it even has a chance to fully develop.

Grade: B-

This Article is related to: Film and tagged , , ,


Dhaval A Shah

ADHM, what karan want to tell, if he does not want to marry don’t do, but why he just want to make fun of marriage and relationship, hero does not have any aim, if a heart breaks after doing sex with so many girls a man turns singer, what a idea, worst, what he want to show to Indian community, this type of film should be banned, they are going to spoil new generation, sex drink no value of parents , making fun of friends marriage life, doing sex with a divorce, what a hell movie, second shock by Mr Kapoor after rock star, he is going to be next abhishak bachhan , how muslim community accept this movie all characters are Muslim and doing lot of drinking and se…, How can karan show this? Worst, worst, arjeet is making use of his singing ability in a wrong way, he should thing bout it.


    Hi Dhaval,

    I agree with you Karan Johar always make a hypothetical movie and some times he forget his responsibility towards society as a film maker. He forget that young generation is following glorified characters shown in the film.

    And YES Ranbir Kapoor is going to be next Abhishek Bachchan.


ADHM is a mixture of Rockstar, kal jo na ho, kabhi alwida na kehna.

Shameema Adam

We from South Africa live in western county but value our culture and showing muslim girls drinking and sleeping around before marriage is disgusting, and unacceptalbe we don’t understand why Karan had to portray Anushka Fawad and Dr Faizel Characters as Muslims it was totally un neccessary, they could belong to any religion. our youngster watch bollywood movies and its totall unacceptable to portray girls drinking freely and hop from bar to bar and is definitely not the norm what the film portrait. totally unacceptable!!!! Why Karan portrait the characters as Muslim beats me……


    OMG it is just a movie weather the characters were Muslim or Hindus what does it matter . Humans are just that Humans why do you have to bring religion into this no one religion is superior to the other . Thats how division is created and we really dont need that. Please keep religion out of it and stop living in a fantasy world every one has a weakness sometimes it is just behind closed doors .

      Fahad Jahangir

      Iam so glad that there are people like Sofia who accepts the realities of lives. This film gives us the view that the world has changed and liberal values are growing even among highly conservattive societies and that is a reality. Many people who pretend to be from conservative background are often indulged in sexual congress behind closed doors. The world has changed and hats off to Karan Johar for making a masterpiece reflecting the society today. We are literally not living in the era of romeo or juliet or heer ranjha. Please people give freedom a chance


Simply brain washing and spoiling the next generation, now if this is how the bollywood goes than they will be bringing sex openly in houses and the relationships will show lust and no commitments. They are spoiling the Future generation in the name of social liberalization.


worst movie ADHM I hve ever seen.We wasted our money and time on this movie where actor and actresses r holding glass of drinks only and there is no acting


    agree with you ranjana


Guys pls dont waste your money on this most stupid movie of recent times .. and TOI should stop misleading people into getting fleeced by giving stars ..This movie doesn’t deserve even 1 star..


ADHM is a typical bollywood gloss and Karan Johar is a typical film merchant. If only Karan can write good subjects like how well he talks….Ranbir Kapoor is going to be a wasted ‘super’ talent if he continues to choose such characters which borders dangerously on annoying and immature (aka ‘endlessly waiting to mature’) Karan could do good to Bollywood if he continues just as a producer. Take off his limitlessly hyped up production values, his films mostly will have nothing to feel good about. Self contradictory characters (ask him and he will hide behind ‘evolution), oversmart attitude, confusing values and over the top take on life. Briefly put Karan’s concept of ‘pain’ in life is simply not what typical pain in a typical life is all about. The faster he understands this, the better for the audience. Or else just have to hear the songs, watch the trailers & promo interviews and focus on other things in life!!!!! ADHM – better to wait when it is on satellite channels.




very vert bad movie..highly chem between lead pairs


ADHM is a disappointing masala movie with no clarity in story. Role of Aishwarya Bacchhan was unwarranted and had little substance.Such a popular brand name was misfit for such a useless role. It was a directionless movie and the movie maker thought the entire audience can be fooled with such type of movies.

A.m. Muses

Worst indian movie ever seen

Channa Mereya

its a very karan johar kind of film for sure. the music is the best from ae dil hai mushkil especially channa mereya. Arijit Singh adds soul to all the songs he sang in the movie.


One of the worst movies I have seen. It was a total disappointment. I think the director is a confused person and the movie is an extension of his mind. With such talented stars including the guest stars, this movie should have been much better than this.

Mihai Grey

Not even deserve to watch single time. Must avoid.


Anushka Sharma & Ranbir Kapoor both are good actors but yes I do feel that story lacks somewhere.


Not even deserve to watch single time

Larry Bone

Karan Johar’s films are difficult because the main characters are wealthy and often have peculiar thoughts and act oddly. And it is incredibly difficult to discuss Pakistan and India through 2 characters and unrequited love. But I think the film does a brilliant job of exploring unrequited love relationships that have to turn into difficult friendships which are difficult to relate to unless you’ve been in one. I better understand a friend who will text everyone else but not me. And send me a short email for no reason at all sometimes and then disappear. And I totally have to let her be herself like the Anushka Sharma character. Maybe it’s cliche and most people think only losers have those kinds of relationships. But it is a real thing. And some friendships no matter how tenuous are better than being alone. I thought that sort of feeling really got across in how Karan’s characters’ polarizational emotional differences drove them further away from each other. Which speaks to the Pakistan India divide on a higher thinner emotional wavelength sort of like Virginia Woolf in To The Lighthouse where the mind grasps what the heart cannot bear which is where the mushkil figures in. And its something one doesn’t expect from a film so it can be difficult to relate to. Just like trying to understand Pakistan Hindi things.


Well the story of the movie lacks somewhere. Was just a one time watch.

vansh aggarwal

From the controversy, a movie emerges. A Diwali release from superstar Hindi director Karan Johar was always likely to attract column inches, yet Ae Dil Hai Mushkil has landed more than anybody anticipated: India and Pakistan’s latest impasse has made Johar’s decision to cast Pakistani actor Fawad Khan the hottest of hot-button topics. Risks of suppression were fulfilled with a video message within which Johar sheepishly revealed he’d misread the nationwide mood and, like numerous colleagues, pledged not in order to hire Pakistani creatives within future – a market climbdown some found disappointing, arriving so soon after final year’s bridge-building megahit Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

What’s odd would be that the movie itself turns away to not be some incendiary provocation, but squarely Bollywood trad, a globetrotting weepie unlikely to offend anybody however the most entrenched. This particular is the tale associated with Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) plus Alizeh (Anushka Sharma), Hindu and Muslim respectively, that meet as barhopping college students in London and relationship over 80s film recommendations and their cheating some other halves. Over several many years, the pair tour the particular continent, twirling from French cafe to Viennese nightclub, with Ayan’s burgeoning singing career shaping the narrative, and Alizeh’s DJ ex (Khan) standing between the pair becoming anything more than just good friends.

Johar’s insider status ensures the film never lacks for dazzling distractions: fun celebrity cameos, leads with a nice, bickering chemistry. Sharma’s terrific spikiness – neatly captured in Alizeh’s cacti fetish – draws something more resilient out of Kapoor’s generally drippy matinee-idol persona. It’s Ayan’s story, eventually – that of a large kid forced to grow up the hard way. Yet everyone’s solid work gets undone by a clumsily handled plot turn that suggests a failure of nerve around the central relationship. The real interloper’s name isn’t Khan but cancer, which proves as deadly for the movie since it is for any kind of of its characters.

The wider problem at this particular stage might be separating movie from furore. The movie’s message is the fact that Hindus plus Muslims can happily coexist. The message its producer issued a week ago suggested that will this might not actually become possible in the Indian of 2016, which – even before the chemo kicks in – makes the film’s questing confidence tentative at best. A person can’t completely blame Johar, who has seen their glossy bauble kicked close to as a political soccer, but his climbdown will seem like an acknowledgement associated with this project’s essential frailty; that, however polished its pieces and players, it stood no chance upon encountering harsh reality.

getanjali supra

Spread amid the lukewarm masala of lemonlryics musical comedy, passionate melodrama, and unsynchronized interests that is “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, ” presently there are teasing indications that will the movie has been much better had it been a lot more meta. Writer-director Karan Johar occasionally enlivens the dawdling song-and-dance with cheeky allusions to classic Indian movies — including a enthusiastic homage to “An Night in Paris, ” the 1967 vehicle for celebrity Shammi Kapoor, great-uncle associated with this film’s male guide, Ranbir Kapoor — and wink-wink send-ups of Bollywood tropes.

At one point, female lead Anushka Sharma outfits herself for a traditional dance sequence of lemonlyrics, but must seek advice from the Internet for instructions about how to wrap a sari. Johar also includes a jokey mention of “My Name Is Khan, ” his own 2010 terrorist drama, to amp the self-referential quotient. But even though you catch this joke and all the others, you may find yourself fidgeting as time passes and clichés accumulate while “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” — scheduled to open on more than 300 screens in the U. S. — charts the less-than-compelling relationship between Ayan (Kapoor), a well-to-do child in the hold of arrested adolescence, plus Alizeh (Sharma), a sharp-witted beauty who’s been significantly unlucky in love.

Right after a comically unconsummated 1st encounter, Alizeh insists that will she and Ayan stay nothing more — yet, on the other hands, nothing less — compared to very good friends that party hearty together. Correct from the start, it is clear Alizeh has great reason to doubt Ayan is sufficiently mature with regard to a long-term commitment: Once they catch his gold-digging sweetheart in flagrante with the girl family-approved beau, he, not really she, is the 1 who collapses lemonlyrics into the weepy wreck. Essential, Alizeh is philosophically opposed to romantic problems under any circumstances: “Love is passion, ” she tells Ayan, “but friendship is peace. ”

Alizeh contradicts herself, of course, when she reunites with a former lover, Ali (Fawad Khan), a successful DJ who once broke her heart and, truth to tell, behaves as though he’s fully capable of taking a few more whacks at it after they marry. For his part, Ayan finds solace, among other things, with Saba (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), an attractive poet who inspires him to pursue a pop-singing career. Everything leads to a third-act twist that is absurdly shameless, even by Bollywood standards. Unfortunately, Johar doesn’t show up to have intended this as another joke.

The particular performances are at greatest uneven, with Sharma pressing the feisty sarcasm company a tad too difficult, and Kapoor often erring on the side associated with annoying while trying in order to balance vulnerability and self-centeredness. (It’s a trick this individual pulled off much much better in 2009’s “Wake Upward Sid, ” which Johar co-produced. ) Bachchan appears to have wandered within from another movie, 1 where feelings are communicated in subtler and a lot more affecting fashion. When the girl takes her leave through “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, ” you may want you could opt for her.
and best songs available on

Preet Singh

Bakwaas film hai

Best Phones Under 10000

good movie with great peice of acting from cast.


flop movie…

neha sharma

LG have many subsidiary companies and operates all the subsidiary companies.

Pooja Rao

Love This Movie Script

Amisha Sharma

I love this movie. Nice love triangle.

Keeth patel

If it is little racy and give good to watch…


Why the hate guys? I agree that the movie was not the best but it was interesting. TBH, I liked it.


Nobody can stop from watching this film over and over.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *