Ek ladki Ko Dekha Toh Kaisa Laga? Well, honestly, “accha laga”! The film handles the issue of same-sex love tenderly, with a dash of humour, emotion, and some drama. It would be right to say “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga” is perhaps the first mainstream film which addresses the same-sex love story in a relatable and easy-going manner. Yes, as the film’s lead protagonist ‘Sweety’, played by Sonam Kapoor says, ‘Har love story mein koi siyyappa toh hona hi hai,” – there are some twists in this tale too.
Filmmaker Shelly Chopra Dhar does a brilliant job. She is also the co-writer; she handles the subject sensitively and unfolds the story in a simple yet effective manner. Set in Moga, Punjab the story revolves around shy, sensitive and lonesome Sweety – whose medium of expression is her diary and drawing book. Fleeing from her brother, Sweety runs into struggling playwright Sahil Mirza, played by Rajkummar Rao. Watching his play, she tells him his story lacks depth since maybe he hasn’t experienced true love. Her lovelorn expression tells us that she has, but with who you are kept guessing!
As Sweety silently suffers her brother’s wrath, he threatens her with ‘I know your secret, and how it would destroy the family.’ When the playwright finally manages to trace her to Moga, and expresses his love; Sweety says, ‘Main ek ladki se pyaar karti hun,’ and he is left so stunned that he breaks out into laughter. You can’t help but grin at the irony of his situation!
But, eventually he becomes the confidante – as Sweety expresses her turmoil through her growing years, being regarded as ‘abnormal’ and ‘ bimar’. How her situation would bring the family disgrace, as she is caught between family honour and her desire to lead her life; and ultimately you end up empathising with her plight.
A few years ago, Kapoor and Sons gave us Fawad Khan’s character announcing to his mother, ‘Main aapka normal beta ban ban ke thak gaya,’ as he announces his sexual orientation. But, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga goes a step further into the small town, traditional set up of India, and their innate biases. Also, silencing all those who had announced remedies to cure homosexuality and calling it a ‘western influence’ or a malady which needed immediate cure; the film proved that there was nothing unnatural being in love whatever be the gender.
Anil Kapoor as Sweety’s father, whose heart lies in the kitchen and cooking lights up the screen, Sonam brings out her character’s helplessness with ease. Rajkummar Rao, well he is brilliant as usual playing the struggling playwright and the man whose love goes all wrong with the perfection he brings to all his characters. But, can I save the best for the last, Juhi Chawla is brilliant as the caterer with aspirations to act; she is a class act.
But it would be unfair to reserve all the praise for just the leads, the ensemble cast from Sweety’s brother, her grandmother and the ‘staff’ are a delight to watch! Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga is like a breath of fresh air, its easy to watch, makes the point effectively.