There should be a disclamer to anyone wanting to watch Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, don’t go into it expecting or hoping for a queer love story; that is not what the movie is about.
But if you are a queer individual, you might find yourself relating to some of the trials and tribulations Sweety (Sonam Kapoor) goes through over the course of the movie, especially if you belong to a family that is conservative about non-heteronormative relationships.
The plot itself does not introduce the queer twist until about halfway into the story; it begins with your “normal” protagonist Sahil (Rajkumar Rao), who in the fashion of a “normal” protagonist, believes his love story to have begun upon a chance meeting with Sweety in a small theatre where his play is failing miserably. Sweety, while being on the run from her brother, takes time to chat and mention that it’s obvious the play’s writer has never been in love, which of course causes Sahil to immediately fall for her. Were this a “normal” (read: hetero) movie, this would be the meet-cute needed to propel the love story between Sahil and Sweety.
At this point, Sahil does not possess the same awareness that those of us who know about the queer twist do: this is not his love story. He takes what seems to be the most logical decision and moves to Sweety’s hometown in an attempt to woo her. The ‘siyappa’ (trouble) is set to roll.
The first half of the film follows Sahil’s misunderstanding of his one-sided relationship with Sweety, believing the tension in their relationship to come from their religions. The siyappa continues until Sweety not-so-subtly lets him know that she is in love with a girl, leading to further siyappa where the now-ally Sahil attempts to get Sweety’s family to come around to her relationship through a play.
The non-normative queer relationship is juxtaposed by another non-normative, inter-faith relationship. The differences in religion are used by her family to object to Sahil courting Sweety (all being unaware of her actual relationship). However, they, and especially her father Balbir (Anil Kapoor) are ready to accept Sahil after a point, but her being a lesbian is what causes the tension in the end of the second act of the film. It is not “normal”.
That is what the movie is about, really. As Sweety, Kuhu (Regina Cassandra), and Sahil act out the titular play in the last act, they want to convey that the play (and the movie itself) is about breaking down the “normality” of heterosexuality; it is for every Sweety in a closeted place and space to realise there is nothing wrong with them, that what they feel is normal after all.
While not a queer love story, it is a queer film through and out, attempting to normalise the “abnormal”, a lesbian couple. You don’t get to see much of the development of the relationship between Sweety and Kuhu, save for a short montage in the middle, but then again, the goal here not their journey in getting together, but finding acceptance from Sweety’s family.
If Sweety’s journey from being closeted (with more than a tinge of internalised homophobia) to accepting herself and finding acceptance from her family (at the very least, her father) resonate with you, so will the movie.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5