Let's get one thing straight. You are not exploring virgin territory with AISHA. 'Emma', the Jane Austen novel, has been adapted on film and television in the past. Although first published in 1815, almost 200 years ago, director Rajshree Ojha and writer Devika Bhagat transport the characters from this novel to present-day New Delhi. But the essence remains the same: A simple plot and an equally simplistic love story.
Unlike most love stories that weâ€™ve witnessed on Hindi screen, thereâ€™s no heavy-duty dramebaazi in AISHA, no major hurdles to cross, no parental opposition to encounter, no major conflicts to solve. The director and writer remain faithful to the novel, which prompts you to ponder, wish the relationships were so uncomplicated in todayâ€™s times.
But there's a flipside as well. The film runs a little longer [although the running time is 2 hours] and gets painfully slow in some portions. Besides, AISHA lacks the depth of passion and that could be because the makers were trying to make something lighter and breezier. Sweeping the minor complaints aside, AISHA is watchable for two factors mainly: Neat performances, especially by Sonam Kapoor and Amit Trivediâ€™s super musical score.
Final word? The romantic buried inside all of us may respond to AISHA well.
Aisha [Sonam Kapoor] is a girl with a simple diktat -- everyone's business is her business. Arjun [Abhay Deol] is a boy with even a simpler set of beliefs -- Aisha should mind her own business. Caught in the Delhi upper class world with its own set of social rules, Aisha navigates her world with a great sense of style and even greater optimism.
Caught in her web are her best friend Pinky [Ira Dubey], the small-town girl Shefali [Amrita Puri], the West Delhi boy Randhir [Cyrus Sahukar] and the hunk Dhruv [Arunoday Singh]. Aisha will make sure everyone dances to her tune. And all Arjun wants to do is disentangle that web and get Aisha out of an impending sticky mess.
Director Rajshree Ojha and writer Devika Bhagat introduce the principal characters at the very outset and within minutes, you know their traits as well. The entire first hour is filled with the assorted characters interacting with one another and technically speaking, there's hardly any movement in the story. In fact, the first hour is more of a collage of incidents and moments put together on a beautiful canvas.
But the wheels start moving towards the post-interval portions, when the lead characters [Abhay, Sonam] suffer from pangs of jealousy and the remaining characters find themselves at crossroads as far as relationships are concerned. From this point onwards, AISHA gets more and more engaging. Note the confrontation sequence between Sonam and Amrita, which leads to a bitter outburst by the latter. Note the sequence when Sonam professes love for Abhay at a marriage reception, only to realise later that she had walked into a wrong venue. Note the finale, which is very Mills & Boon type of culmination. Well penned and well executed sequences!
Director Rajshree Ojha has handled several moments well, but how one wishes she would've spruced up the proceedings by coming straight to the point, instead of depicting Abhay and Sonam in sulking moods in several sequences of the second hour. Also, from the writing point of view, Cyrus and Ira Dubey suddenly realise that they are made for each other. Why this sudden pyaar? Didnâ€™t they detest each other? Loving the same musician doesn't imply you are made for each other! There had to be a scene or two to indicate that they are drawn towards each other.
The production design [Shruti Gupte] is impressive. The film bears a striking look all through. The styling of all characters is up to the mark. The costume designers [Pernia Qureshi and Kunal Rawal] deserve full marks for choosing/making the trendy outfits. Diego Rodriguezâ€™s cinematography is appealing. Music composer Amit Trivedi is in form, displaying his versatility in various numbers such as â€˜Shaamâ€™, â€˜Suno Aishaâ€™ and â€˜Gal Mitthi Mitthi Bolâ€™.
AISHA is sure to open eyes to the talent of its leading lady Sonam Kapoor, who gives face, form and expression to Aisha. She displays the essential characteristic of an actress who has the ability to shift quickly and effectively from one emotion to another. She can cry, look wistful and deliver a biting line with equal believability. Abhay Deol is a complete natural and the fact comes to the fore yet again as you watch AISHA. Although Sonam has an author-backed role, Abhay underplays his part well and registers a strong impact in several scenes.
The film is supported by a fine [read talented] cast. Also, one of the delights of the film is the cleverly written supporting roles. Ira Dubey is spunky, a damn good actor. Amrita Puri is a revelation, a powerhouse of talent. Cyrus Sahukar is first-rate. Arunoday Singh acts his part well. Lisa Haydon [as Aarti] is underused in a small role. Anuradha Singh is classy. M.K. Raina [Aisha's father] is efficient. Anand Tiwari [as Saurabh] is competent. Sameer Malhotra and Vidhushi Mehra [Aisha's brother-in-law and sister, respectively] have nothing substantial to do.
On the whole, AISHA holds appeal for the youth mainly and there is a strong likelihood that this segment of movie-going audience will fall for its charms. From the business point of view, the makers have recovered a big chunk of their investment from the sale of Satellite Rights and Music Rights and recovering the balance amount from India theatrical, Overseas and Home Video should be a cakewalk.