When it comes to combining the qualities of jealousy, rage, alchoholism and morbid self-pity in a character, the Bhatt banner of films has always been a step ahead. Most of the time, these irascible, helpless characters are women—unless the male lead is played by Emraan Hashmi.
In Aashiqui 2, co-produced by the Bhatts under their Vishesh Films banner and directed by Mohit Suri, the protagonist on an alcohol-induced downward spiral is the man. And I missed Hashmi. Aditya Roy Kapoor, who plays Rahul, a musician at the ebb of his career, is one of the worst lead actors I have seen in a long time. His timing is never right, and his body language and dialogue delivery are oafish and klutzy. Shraddha Kapoor as Aarohi, the Rahul discovery who scales the peaks of the music world as a Lata Mangeshkar-inspired singer (the bumbling music company head repeatedly calls her “The nightingale of India”) and is an unflinching lover through his darkest hours, has moments of extreme awkwardness too, but she shines just by being paired with Kapoor.
When we meet him first, Rahul is a mercurial showman on the verge of a breakdown. In Goa, he meets Aarohi, a lower middle-class Mumbai girl with a dulcet voice. He helps her become a musical sensation in Mumbai, but his own career keeps dipping. He hates himself and is unable to handle Aarohi’s success. Despite Aarohi’s attempts to shun the spotlight and help him get back on his feet, his fall is inevitable.
Shagufta Rafique’s script and dialogues are dead from the word go. Some of the most insufferable moments are about how heinous alcohol is—the writer even suggests hitting the gym and “following a diet” are the best panacea for alcoholism. Odd platitudes like that fill the script.
The music in Mahesh Bhatt’s Aashiqui (1990)—of which Aashiqui 2 is supposed to be the 2013 mutant—launched the careers of Kumar Sanu and Nadeem-Shravan. Here, the music by Jeet Ganguly, Mithoon and Ankit Tiwari has some soul and melody, but because the same songs are used repeatedly to shrill, punctuative effect, the impact waters down soon.
By the end of the film, the yawning hadn’t stopped and despite the unintentional humour, a throbbing ache had enveloped my head. I wish it was because the rancour and morbidity of the fading, self-loathing rock star was disturbing.
Aashiqui 2 released in theatres on Friday.