To make decision-making easier for their users, Netflix has recently started sharing a list of ‘Top 10’ movies or seasons which are trending in different countries. According to a blog post from the company, the Top 10 row will be updated every day with “the most popular titles within a subscriber’s country, and the position of the row will also change depending on how relevant the shows and movies in the list are to their interests.”
As of Friday (May 1) night, the top three things trending on Netflix are Diriliş: Ertuğrul, Love Aaj Kal and Extraction, while the two films are also the top two in the Movie Category. While we all know that Diriliş: Ertuğrul is a hit among Pakistani audiences, Extraction and Love Aaj Kal are new additions to the streaming service.
Like any other Pakistani who grew up on Bollywood films, I couldn’t resist watching Love Aaj Kal. I mean Imtiaz Ali, Sara Ali Khan and Kartik Aryan — bring it on. As for Extraction, because for the most part, my job does require me to keep up with the latest trends, I decided to step out of my usual romantic comedies/dramas zone and watch something different and see whether it was worth the Netflix hype.
Let’s start with Extraction. The Chris Hemsworth action-thriller has been creating a buzz since he went to India for its shoot. A day before its release, Hemsworth on social media had said that “making this film was one of the most exhausting but rewarding experiences I’ve ever had on a set.”
He further said: “We set out to make the most insane, intense action film and I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved.” Unfortunately, the film only made me insane with the amount of bloodshed it had it in. To be honest, I’m generally not a big fan of action films but I do enjoy them from time to time. The two-hour-long film, which I finished in three sittings, was just a Bollywood film on steroids given that a lot of actors [for example Randeep Hooda, Pankaj Tripathi] in the film were from India.
The film is focused around Tyler Rake (played by Hemsworth), a black-market mercenary and former Australian Special Air Service Regiment soldier with a troubled past. From Rake’s first scene in the film, one can tell that he is the sort of person who likes to challenge and see death in the eye. Except for a few glimpses from his past, Rake’s character isn’t adequately developed. Anyways, Rake is hired by a fellow mercenary Nik Khan (Golshifteh Farahani) to rescue Ovi Mahajan Jr. (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the son of India’s biggest drug lord (Pankaj Tripathi), from Dhaka, Bangladesh who has been abducted by Bangladesh’s biggest drug lord, Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli).
The film is just one, long and bloody action sequence. There are limited dialogues and the characters just run through the narrow streets of Dhaka as they try to escape Bangladesh’s most notorious drug lord. They jump from building to building, kill countless people on the way and lockdown an entire city. The ending is as abrupt as the beginning – there is no character development or plot development. So unless you want to see only action, I’d advice you to skip the film altogether.
Now onto Love Aaj Kal. If I had to sum up the film in one word, or two, I’d say half-baked. The story, the characters, the plot, everything about the film is half-baked. The film follows the same premise as Imtiaz Ali’s first Love Aaj Kal, which had two love stories running side by side.
Zoe (Sara Ali Khan) is a free-spirited but ambitious girl who wants to make a career. She is bold, speaks her mind and does what she feels like, which sometimes gets a bit over the top. Veer, on the other hand, is a sensitive guy who looks at life differently than Zoe. The two meet in a club and while Zoe just wants to have a one-night stand, Veer decides that it’s not right because Zoe is “special”. How he decided that within an hour is beyond my understanding. Zoe gets annoyed with this and leaves his house and goes back to her life. Except Veer starts stalking her, not in the 90s way by singing songs and all, but by getting a spot at the co-working space where she sits. Soon the two grow closer and get into a relationship but Zoe’s mother who wants her daughter to become independent first urges her to not give up on her career for marriage. This confuses Zoe who then breaks up with Veer. The breakup scene was so ridiculously cringed that you cannot help but wonder how Imtiaz Ali even came up with it. What follows afterwards is a typical Bollywood story of how two people who are meant to be together will find their way back to each other. In between all this, Raghuvendra “Raghu” Singh, who is the owner of the cafe where Zoe works, narrates his 20-year-old love story to Zoe to help her understand her own feelings and make her decisions.
What I did not like about the film was first Zoe’s character. It was highly irritating and Sara’s acting was also terrible. Especially the scenes in which she was drunk or crying. In fact, her own dialogue basically sums up her acting: “Tum mujhe tang karnay lagay ho“.
It appears that all the attention was paid to Zoe and Raj’s character because Veer’s character was highly underdeveloped. We don’t understand his profession, neither do we understand why he spends his days just buzzing around Sara – does he not have his own life. And to top it all, his insecurities deriving from his parent’s relationship are summed up in a rap song, which is more confusing than explanatory.
While the plot did have its heart in the right place, the film was not engaging enough. It lacked the humour [like in Jab We Met] or simplicity [Highway] which Imtiaz usually beautifully weaves into his films. Sorry, Imtiaz, I really did try my best to like the movie but it just wasn’t happening.