When making my Filmi year 2009 post I knew I had missed out on Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, a romantic comedy (with emphasis on comedy) by Rajkumar Santoshi. The man directed by favourite Hindi comedy of all time, Andaz Apna Apna (discussed here), and based on what I'd heard of APKGK, this new film was also in the same vein of loud, hilarious comedy, but with a definite emotional center, too.
I was not wrong, glad to say. The story of Prem (Ranbir Kapoor) who falls for Jenny (Katrina Kaif) and the friendship/love that develops between them is a wonderful, twisty ride that doesn't let up speed and builds to the goofiest, loveliest of finales.
For a comedy that relies on loud comedy which may come off as gimmicky or simplistic, I think Ajab Prem.. has a pretty fantastically considered script. The pace is not that of many a loud Hindi comedy (think Priyadarshan's half-assed Hindi ventures), fast one moment and completely stuck the other; it flows nicely throughout and it's punctuated with a super-catchy, wonderful soundtrack (Tu Jaane Na sung by Atif Aslam is my favourite track). Unlike AAA, it doesn't parody Hindi films as loudly, though there's the occasional self-referential quip, including some hilarious references to AAA itself.
This is the first time I've really loved Ranbir in a performance, which is not to say I've loathed him before, but like a lot of stars, I think it takes a while for one to "get" why others like him so much. And in this movie, I simply understood. Prem may be a simple character archetype; the nice guy who sacrifices and does anything and everything for love, but Ranbir makes Prem seem real somehow, even in the fantastic setting of Ajab. Katrina Kaif is also in good form, though her acting still has plenty of room for improvement.
The only flaw of Ajab is the fact that it won't work for everybody; just like AAA is too loud, too extreme to be funny to some people. But I think those who it will work for, it'll be a tremendous watch. The kind of Hindi film that should be a more common experience than it actually is; a film that makes you laugh and cry, and then laugh through the tears.