Bollywood Movies

Shahid Kapoor and Kriti Sanon shake up the love story in new Bollywood film

February 6, 20244 Mins Read

Hot on the heels of Fighter, director Siddharth Anand’s big-budget riff on Tony Scott’s Top Gun is the Hindi film industry’s second big-ticket movie of the year.

Writer duo Aradhana Sah and Amit Joshi’s directorial debut, Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya, is also the first major Bollywood film to hit cinemas across the UAE this year, after Anand’s aerial action drama found itself barred from release in the GCC.

In Sah and Joshi’s film, Shahid Kapoor plays Aryan, whose relationship – and eventual marriage – with Sifra (Kriti Sanon) is thrown into disarray when he discovers that she is a humanoid android. Although the logline might give it the broad label of a sci-fi romantic comedy, Kapoor – who was in Dubai on Saturday with Sanon – feels uncomfortable pigeonholing it.

“The romcom tag tends to give a different idea,” Kapoor tells The National. “This is a very wholesome, family-friendly film with a lot of genre elements. It’s high-concept, sure, but you could say there are aspects of romance and comedy.”

The actor, who has an extensive history with love stories having kick-started his career with the coming-of-age romcom Ishq Vishk (2003), wanted to return to the genre with something exciting.

He explains: “It’s not like I didn’t want to, but when a genre gets popular, everyone’s trying to make that kind of movie because they think that’s what works. But that’s what kills it, you know?”

With Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya, Kapoor feels that he and the makers have “found a way to bring it back that feels very fresh and different”.

Sanon expresses similar sentiments, saying she’s excited to do something “quirky” and “one of its kind”. She plays a humanoid android whose maker names her Sifra, which stands for Super Intelligent Female Robot Automation.

“There’s a very fine balance between her humanity and artifice; how human can she be for Aryan to fall in love with her, or for you to buy into this love story and root for them?” she says. For the narrative to work, she adds, the audience needs to develop a sort of cognitive dissonance, keeping in mind the pre-existing knowledge that she’s not human after all.

“There are certain things that Sifra can do that can be very human, but at the end of the day, she’s a processor. So how she reacts and responds need to look like the feedback is coming from a chip. The simulation needs to be believable.”

To prepare, Sanon says her process included digging through her film library to find similar characters. “Spike Jonze’s Her was the closest I could find, but that’s just a voice. Sure, it’s a great voice, but it was a lot tougher trying to reconcile her as someone with a face, body or expressions. So I went with what I could do and how I’d want to play it.”

In an instance of art imitating life, Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya will be released eight years after the first public launch of roboticist David Hanson’s Sophia, called a “social robot”. The humanoid also publicly appeared during the film’s press conference and later at a fan event at Dubai’s Global Village.

Sanon, who revealed during the conference that Sophia may have been one of the film’s inspirations, muses on humanity’s relationship with technology.

“We’re spending a lot more time with phones than with people,” she says, “But we’re kind of not realising how rapidly the influence of tech is growing in our lives.”

Kapoor agrees, pointing towards social media among the many aspects of technology that are more projections than reality.

“We’re normalising a lot of things these days,” he says. “We’re in the era of normalisation. But we have to know how far we should take it. It’s a question I hope the audience asks themselves after the credits roll.”

Teri Baaton Mein Uljha Jiya also stars Dharmendra and Dimple Kapadia and is produced by Dinesh Vijan under his studio Maddock Films. The film will be released in cinemas across the UAE on Thursday.

Updated: February 07, 2024, 7:51 AM

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