Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, or: Papa Don’t Preach, I’m Keeping My Sweety

This week’s pick is only 2 hours long which is a blessing in comparison to last week but still waaaaay too long to get to the fucking point. Like, I get it, not everything is easy to come right out with but c’mon. Can we all just try to be a little more succinct?

Some love stories are not simple, Sweety’s is one such story. She has to contend with her over-enthusiastic family that wants to get her married, a young writer who is completely smitten by her, a secret that she harbours close to her heart.

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Director: Shelly Chopra Dhar • Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 5.5/10 • My Rating: 2.5/5

My Review

Sweety (Sonam Kapoor) is something of a catch. A kindhearted babe (what else?), she’s bound to marry a good man and live her best life just as soon as her father, Balbir (Anil Kapoor!) can find a decent one worthy of her. At a wedding she gets talking to Kuhu (Regina Cassandra), who’s brother is smitten with Sweety from across the room.

One day, by chance, Sweety waltzes into the life of struggling playwright Sahil (Rao). The pair have an impromptu chat about true love until Sweety is forced to flee the scene because she’s being chased by a strange man. Sahil goes with her and gets her to the Metro, where the pair are separated and Sahil ends up in a fight with her pursuer. At the police station afterwards, he learns that the dude is Sweety’s brother, Babloo (Abhishek Duhan). As the son of a famous film director, Sahil manages to use this connection to get released from custody and on the way out, he learns were Sweety lives, which is a town somewhere outside Delhi, where he lives.

With the help of set chef (personal assistant AND actress?) Mrs Chatro (Juhi Chawla), Sahil manages to cook up a plan to go to Sweety’s hometown and track her down. Which isn’t creepy at all. Here he starts to court our heroine but things are tricky since Sweety’s brother has stirred up trouble by telling the family she’s been sneaking off to see her Muslim boyfriend. Terrified she’ll have a difficult life and bring shame on the family by dating outside their religion, Dad grounds Sweety. Little does he know her real secret is far more scandalous.

(Sweety BTW is a big believer in the harder the obstacle, the more epic the love story – a sentiment I always believed myself before I learnt the hard way. I appreciate that we all need to learn from our own relationship mistakes but man, is that a pile of steaming love propaganda.)

So Sahil mistakes Balbir for the family chef and passes him a note for his girl. Balbir, it should be noted is a keen chef but his mother gives him constant shit because it isn’t a man’s role. When he watches cookery shows, she mocks him for becoming a woman. Which is kind of rich as he already works in fashion but okay, ma. So Balbir already understands what it’s like to have stifled dreams, something he might want to bear in mind later on.

This review is going to be very long if I don’t refine it just a tad – Sahil eventually gets back in touch with Sweety – and in with her family via the power of the fake acting class (that old chestnut) and they assume he’s the Muslim boyfriend. Drunk and in love at a family party, Sahil tells her how he feels – and she’s forced to tell him the truth: she’s in love with Kuhu!

When Shahil laughs at her, it seems all is lost. But Sweety is the bigger person and the two form a solid friendship when she tells him the whole story. She goes in hard about her feelings of isolation growing up, how she had believed nobody would ever love her – until Kuhu, who wants them to go and live in London together.

While a true friendship blossoms between the two, Balbir also connects with kooky divorcee Chatro. The pair bond over their love of cooking and Chatro, it turns out is rather a modern woman. When she tells Balbir that she’s happy with whatever her children choose do – marry or not – as long as they choose kind partners, he’s inspired – and grants Sweety his blessing to marry Shahil.

Which she considers for a second until he assures her he’s going to sort everything out, once and for all. Well, a fake play about lesbians ought to do it (with Sweety and Kuhu in the starring roles, naturally). But when the truth inevitably outs, will Balbir be man enough to stand beside his gay daughter?

My Comments

Oh fuck I cried at the end of this and because – *spoiler* – of course Daddy comes through. Sweety’s journey is heartbreaking and sadly I would think, only too common. The message is lovely and at the end, the fake play seemingly touches the life of a young girl in the same situation as Sweety was. In turn, I would think this movie could help a lot of people and is an interesting addition to the LGBT+ world cinema cannon.

Unfortunately, it’s a bit boring in places and I think that might just be down to its mammoth run-time. The performances are good and Anil Kapoor is a delight, as always. I adore the older women in this, grandma especially and Chatro is a breath of fresh air. Her dream is to act and she seems unperturbed every time someone tells her she’s no good.

Brother Babloo can suck it as the only family member who can’t cut his sister a god damn break. It’s 2019 bitch, deal with it. But, my main criticism, beyond the length, is that there are not enough songs (a fact I am expecting with stick in Jill’s craw too). What we do get musically wasn’t even subtitled so we could enjoy the lyrics, which are always the best bit.

What does Jill think of this Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga? Would she dip herself in honey and throw herself to the lesbians or shun it forever? Find out here.

Pariah (Film) Review

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I’ve a feeling this may be the last in our Big Gay Blog Collab series for a while, as we’re pondering moving back into horror for upcoming Halloween (best season ever!). We settled on this choice (Jill’s) in the hope that we’d go out with a bang. A big arthouse-y, emotional bang that is.

So, did it live up to expectation – or did it turn out to be as limp as the lettuce I bought last weekend and should have chucked out by now? Let us see.

*spoilers*!

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Pariah (2011)

Director: Dee Rees
Stars: Adepero Oduye, Kim Wayans, Aasha Davis

IMDB Synopsis: A Brooklyn teenager juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression.

My Review:

Alike is a young African American lesbian who hangs out in strip clubs with her friend, Laura who is openly gay. She’s a virgin and kind of shy, despite Laura’s best efforts to get her in the game. She’s a studious girl with a talent for poetry and she also has a distinctly ‘boyish’ style much to the chagrin of her mother, Audrey who’s forever trying to get her into pretty blouses and skirts.

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“This is my disapproving face.”

Audrey just doesn’t understand Alike and has deep suspicions about her sexuality, though she doesn’t say anything directly. Instead she sends her husband Arthur, a police officer in to see what’s what. Trouble is that Arthur is by and large an absent man, obviously with something extra going on the side and often late home. Basically, he’s one step short of having a flashing neon sign pointing at his head saying “Guess what? I’m cheating!”. As a result the parents row all the fucking time and in those moments, Alike and her annoying sister, Sharonda are thrown together as a unit.

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“You like Hanson too?!”

Audrey pushes Alike to become friendly with her friend’s daughter, Bina, not least because she thinks Laura is a bad influence (being a big bad dyke an’ all). At first Alike is not at all into this arrangement, but gradually the pair begin to bond over music and share a kiss. Laura in the meantime is pushed to the side and she doesn’t really like that, which makes you think that maybe she’s into Alike herself.

Arthur, on his police rounds, visits a store opposite the strip club that Laura and Alike frequent and one of the employees makes a flippant comment about his daughter being gay. He damn near loses his shit but it does plant a seed in his mind. Up to now he’s been pretty lax about Alike’s dress and attitude as they get on well. Basically, Arthur still thinks Denial is a river in Egypt.

Later on he chats to Alike and makes the assumption that she has a boyfriend when she starts talking about someone liking her. She doesn’t correct him though it’s clear she wants to. Later, after a party, Alike stays over at Bina’s and they do it. The next morning Alike is full of the joys of Spring but Bina is as cold as December and snaps at Alike that their night of passion does not mean that she’s a lesbian.

Alike is devastated and takes herself home. That night there’s an explosive argument on the home front and the truth comes out, leaving Alike badly beaten and outcast. In the aftermath, comfort comes from an unexpected source and Alike is forced to make a serious life choice.

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The future’s bright. Or is it?

Question section! Will it all work out in the end? What will Alike do with her life and her writing? Will her family ever come round? Will Laura ever profess her love for Alike?

And will Bina change her mind? Not that she deserves a second chance, the horrible cow. All these questions will be answered, or not even crop up at all, if you view this for yourself.

My Thoughts: 

I just didn’t feel this one. Perhaps because I went it expecting to feel everything, I’m not sure. All I know is that it took a little while to get going and then all the ‘action’ was in the last half an hour.

The performances were banging, I’ll give it that. Alike was likeable and all the main characters, including Audrey managed to make me feel for them. Even when the parents are letting their daughter down in a heartbreaking way, I felt sympathy for them. I want to believe that Audrey was just worried and would come round eventually, as many parents do (and some don’t, which breaks my tiny heart).

As for Arthur, he becomes (*spoiler*) a surprisingly positive element, despite his duplicitousness (also he’s very handsome). I would like to have seen more from Sharonda though, her brief scenes (including the dildo scene) are hilaire.

All in all, it’s very moving and hopeful in the end but moody and slow on the journey there.

My Rating: 3/5 – *Shrug*

I just wasn’t that into this, but what did my blog wife Jill think? Only one way to find out, eh?