Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) befriends Alizeh (Anushka Sharma) at a bar after a quarrel with his girlfriend. They try to hookup but he fails miserably. Instead, Alizeh chooses to hang out with him for the night, enjoying various other venues in his company. They get better acquainted with each other and even decide on double dating with their significant partners. Lisa (Lisa Haydon) portrays a convincing bimbo who eventually breaks the relationships for both parties, thus giving Ayan and Alizeh the opportunity to take a break and travel to Paris where the fun and joy of their new found friendship takes a different course for Ayan. Predictably, he falls in love with Alizeh but the feeling isn't mutual. Therein appears Ali (Fawad Khan), Alizeh's ex boyfriend who she still misses terribly even though she celebrated her breakup a few nights ago at a party. Mysteriously, she decides to leave with him, abandoning Ayan at the drop of a hat by Ali. These unusual circumstances are too much to cope with for our rom-com hero. It only gets worse for him when Alizeh invites him to Rajasthan for her wedding with Ali. Ayan struggles to maintain a celebratory composure through most of the events but his love for her shows true form when he suddenly breaks into singing Channa mereya. This emotional melody rises to another level with its timing in the screenplay.
Right after his abrupt departure, Ayan encounters Saba (Aishwarya Rai) on his flight back home and shares his plight. Months later, they meet up in Vienna and a new love story begins. This one is far more steamy and sensual with Aishwarya looking her ravishing best. Unfortunately though, for our confused Ayan, his heart is divided and most of it is still yearning for that friend he left behind. They reconnect but it's not all that pleasant. Break up, patch up, break up and it's all going around in a sad circle for him. The story of Ayan and Alizeh isn't over just yet as Karan Johar drags it into yet another stage. By the time it's all over, we realize that it has been a mushkil safar if not totally a suffering.
Karan Johar repeats some of his narrative inconsistencies and lack of character detailing. Similar to his prior films, we have no idea how a young MBA student can afford to fly in a private jet and take numerous vacations without any support from his family, friends or stable lifestyle. Alizeh's past relationship is also confusing as she dances to a breakup song in celebration and a few minutes later, abandons all that she stood for and is smitten for the very lover she detested. Saba is an urdu poet by profession and that justifies her lavish lifestyle in Vienna of all places. Add to that, the lack of nuance in the story of 2 people who grow from acquaintances to inseparable friends. Johar's only credit should be the first half of the film when Ranbir and Anushka are at their natural best and when the script is far more engaging and enjoyable. The almost saddened, frustrated tone of the second half is what brings the film crashing down.
Pritam's music is refreshingly melodious and peppy when it needs to be. The title track is of course a trademark Arijit Singh rendition whereas Bulleya is elevated with Shilpa Rao's mesmerizing vocals. Breakup song and cutie pie are necessary fun songs in the first half but it's Channa mereya, brilliantly written by Amitabh Bhattacharya and sung by Arijit in a melody that conveys Ayan's feelings in the best manner possible.
Aishwarya Rai returns to a glamorous form and is most mesmerizing to behold in any outfit. Fawad Khan though brief in appearance, leaves a good impression and it's a pity that talents such as his will be left across the border due to inane politics. Anushka Sharma clearly brings the screen to life with a vivacious performance. She is clearly among the best female actors of her generation along with Kangana. Ranbir Kapoor has hit a wall. Ayan is almost his 9th character of a struggling lover whose immaturity, lack of understanding, stubbornness and inability to redirect his energy to love elsewhere, leads to a frustrating story. Ranbir's character is at the center of the film's story and he does well to carry such a burden but it soon becomes predictable. If he doesn't pick up roles like Rajneeti, Rocket Singh or Barfi, his hard work and likability will degenerate rapidly. Discredit for this also goes to the director and story writer who fails to enrich India's current darling.
ADHM is a fine example of how an Indian film can make big money at the box office with a stellar cast, exemplary music, glamorous looks and just a half decent narrative. It's just a shame to see Karan Johar return to his director's seat and deliver a mediocre film under a big banner. Watch it for the actors and the music but don't expect to walk out with tears or heartfelt joy. Those were long gone before the yawns took over.
- 6.76 on a scale of 1-10.