A dark relationship drama that revels in the discomfort of its audience and characters.
Aadish Keluskar’s grim and unusual relationship drama Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil has an IMDb page with an English title: Lovefucked. And it’s the kind of title that sums up the film; coarse, aggressive, and about the darker side of romance and relationships. It’s an increasingly uncomfortable film available now on Netflix, but perhaps one that would have been better served among the thumbnails by that provocative English title.
As things stand, Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil is unlikely to find much of an audience on the streaming platform and will probably alienate the viewers it does attract. In it, Khushboo Upadhyay and Rohit Kokate play a young-ish couple who cavort in the back of a taxi and steal whatever romantic moments they can along the beaches and in the rented lodges of Mumbai.
But their supposed romance is always underscored by oppressive misogyny. It begins in subtle, naturalistic ways, gradually intensifying as the 106-minute movie progresses. It’s easy to imagine how confident, forceful men prey on women who respond to attention and affection — even if it is feigned. Its relative mundanity is what makes it so believable and terrifying. Most of us know or have known someone in just this kind of relationship, probably on both sides.
Some of the dialogue’s power is sapped in being subtitled; that swell from every day back-and-forth banter to something more sinister is less evident in the written word, and slightly apart from the physical performances. But the effect is there, as is the point, which is to trace a thin line between a relationship that works and one that doesn’t; banter that stings and words that cut deeply; protection and control; giving to someone and being taken away from in return. Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil is a film that many people won’t watch or persevere with if they do, but it’s also a film that should probably be seen. Perhaps its place on Netflix will help that happen.