How many times have you watched a movie or read a novel, where a sexy woman is out to "trap" a rich guy? Yes, there exist women who seduce men for money. "Seduce" as in "to cause someone to do something that they would not usually consider doing by being very attractive and difficult to refuse" Let me remind you, confused or not, it's a choice they made!
In Ae Dil Hai Mushkil that choice is made by Ayan, Ranbir Kapoor's character. He finds Lisa played by Lisa Haydon incredibly sexy and is repeatedly shown unable to keep it in his pants. Men can't help indulging in sex at the first sight of a female body, you know! Yet, the fault lies squarely at the door of the woman!
No, I refuse to use the misleading, sexist expression "femme fatale". It's been used too long to demonize women. It's time we discarded it. Although the sex is consensual, Lisa is portrayed as vacuous and practically unable to speak. Yet there are allusions to how she's out to get Ayan's money. Now now, Karan Johar, you really need to make up your mind- is she stupid, or is she smart?
Ayan has no compunctions in kissing and coming on to Alizeh, played by Anushka Sharma. This, the first time he meets her. Obviously, loyalty is not a value he sets great store by. Yet, one act of unfaithfulness by his girlfriend and he dumps her. What was that about sauce for the goose thingy? Forget it!
Let's be clear, this is the umpteenth movie in which Ranbir Kapoor plays a guy coming of age, and the characters are so cliched you'll be deluged with repeated bouts of deja vu. To confound matters further, Karan Johar is yet to sort out his friendship-versus-love dynamics. Dude, it's 2016. For god's sake, you've done this for twenty-odd years now. Get over it!
Besides, a selfish man-child who refuses to grow up and throws tantrums at the drop of a hat, Ayan expects others to pick up after him. That's our hero, the man you're supposed to root for! Not only does he insist Alizeh fall in love with him, he chases her all around the globe in the effort. She invites him for her wedding and he manages to become the centre of attention there, too! He throws a hissy fit and walks out on the wedding day, making it a memorable day for the bride, indeed! This being Bollywood, however, all is forgiven. Conveniently for Ayan, yet again, Alizeh steps in to pick up after him.
The worst is yet to come, however. Ayan shows his most despicable side when he finds Alizeh struggling alone, dying, and comes on to her! Yes, dear readers, sexual harassment and stalking as love trope is alive and thriving in Bollywood.
The very frame in which we are introduced to Saba, Aishwarya's character, would have set a million alarm bells ringing for any woman. She's sitting by herself reading a book. Our hero forces himself into her space because he can't sit alone! Where any woman would have called security, Saba smilingly indulges him. Men feel entitled to women's space, time and attention. Men often end violently and horrifically the denial of such attention. This is rape culture and the movie promotes it.
To attempt to look for feminism in a Karan Johar film is futile, when it doesn't even pass the Bechdel Test. It is peopled with super rich people whose lives run without a hitch. They need not worry where the meals or housing or the education of the next few generations will come from.
You see, I left out Alizeh's character till the end. There really isn't one. We know nothing of who she is, what she does. We vaguely hear of parents, but don't meet hem either. She doesn't seem to have any friends either. Alizeh is another in a long line of women who seem to exist solely for the benefit of the men around her. She also shelves her life to trot all around the globe, wherever her husband's work takes him. Need we tell you, that relationship was doomed from the start?
Anushka Sharma has put in her considerable acting skills on display, and she comes across as effortless. But I'll repeat my earlier advise to her- make your own goddam movies, Anushka! We want to see well-etched characters, not a sidekick for our hero to hang his emotional towel on, and maybe wipe with.
Aishwarya looks still, unruffled, and bereft of emotion like a slab of marble just surfaced from under a glacier. She too seems to exist in a vacuum. Although she's portrayed as a no-nonsense person at first, yet she too ends up picking up after Ayan. Such a charmer our boy is.
Women's work holds up men's world. It's time we gave it a rest.