Thursday, November 24, 2016

Court Judgements Citing Films

Law and courts have been a staple theme in films. From the early days, courts have been shown frequently in films. Cinema is also abundant with lawyer characters. Since law is a significant part of our daily lives, it has had an impact on cinema. Conversely, it is worth investigating if films had an impact on law. The following paragraphs try to explore some real life court cases which involve some kind of inspiration from a film. There are numerous cases, often frivolous, involving films, but the following include only those where the judgement referred a film or a character from a film to make its point clear, while the case has little connection to that film. To clarify, this is not about films that are based on real life cases (there are plenty of those), but about those where the judgement used a film to make its point. 
In 2011, the Supreme Court bench of Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra dismissed the appeal of a man, accused for brutally murdering a sex worker, in the case Budhadev Karmaskar v. State Of West Bengal. The Supreme Court converted the appeal into a public interest litigation on the rehabilitation of sex workers. The judgement asked for the compassionate treatment of sex workers. It gave examples of characters of prostitutes with a golden heart from literature. It, then, also cited Sahir Ludhianvi's poem Chakle sung in Guru Dutt's Pyaasa (1957). The judgement said, "In the novels and stories of the great Bengali writer Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyaya, many prostitutes have been shown to be women of very high character, example, Rajyalakshmi in Shrikant, Chandramukhi in Devdas, etc. The plight of prostitutes has been depicted by the great Urdu poet Sahil (sic) Ludhianvi in his poem Chakle which has been sung in the Hindi film Pyaasa, Jineh Naaz Hai Hind Par Wo Kahan Hain." It is a thoughtful judgement, and also quotes a sher by Mirza Ghalib and Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. Justice Katju refers Pyaasa again in another similar case involving some women who were asked to vacate their house because of indulging in singing and dancing as the police believed they were prostitutes. The court directed the police to not forcefully vacate the women, and again asked for humane treatment of prostitutes. The court, in its order, said, "The plight of prostitutes in India has been vividly depicted, and this poem has been sung (with some modifications) in the Hindi film Pyaasa. Hence, the approach of society towards the prostitutes must change, and sympathy must be shown towards them as it must be realized that they are not necessarily women of bad character but have been driven to the profession due to acute poverty in their family." Sahir's poem is also referred in other cases, such as the one involving the death of a man while in custody of the Delhi Police, that also caused a political controversy.
Sahir Ludhianvi makes another appearance in two other cases related to dowry harassment. The cases involved women complaining against their husbands, and in both the cases, the women lost. Dr. Kamini Lau gave the judgement in the cases. She quoted Sahir, and advised the women to get out of discordant marital relations. The court said, "Taaruf rog ho jaaye to usko bhoolna behtar; Taalluk bojh ban jaaye to usko todna achcha; Wo afsaana jise anjaam tak laana na ho mumkin; Use ek khoobsoorat mod dekar chhodna achcha." It is better to forget one's particular identity if it becomes diseased and to break one's relation if it becomes a burden. The story which cannot be concluded properly, should be abandoned at an honourable stage. It is a beautiful message on letting go. Though the court does not mention the film, these words are from the famous song Chalo Ek Baar Phir Se from the film Gumrah (1963), directed by B.R. Chopra. The movie is about the conflicts of a married women, when her lover comes back to her life. There is an interesting personal connection of Sahir Ludhianvi with the song, and is beautifully explained here.
Most recently, in 2016, there was the highly controversial case Kanhaiya Kumar v. State Of NCT of Delhi. Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested and charged with sedition for raising anti-India slogans at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. The Delhi High Court granted bail to him, and made critical observations on the people who indulged in the alleged sloganeering. The order began by quoting the song Mere Desh Ki Dharti from Manok Kumar's Upkar (1967) to describe the love for motherland. It reads, "This patriotic song from Upkaar by Lyricist Indeevar symbolizes individual characteristics representing by (sic) different colours and love for motherland."

Rang hara Hari Singh Nalve se,
Rang laal hai Lal Bahadur se,
Rang bana basanti Bhagat Singh,
Rang aman ka veer Jawahar se.
Mere Desh ki Dharti sona ugle
Ugle heere moti mere desh ki dharti.
In 2004, Gauhati High Court gave a judgement in the State Of Assam v. Holiram Bordoloi. The case involved the brutal killing of three persons by the said accused. The crime involved a scene similar to Ramesh Sippy's Sholay (1975), and the judgement cited the scene of the amputation of the arms of Thakur by Gabbar Singh in the film, It said, "Other victim was pulled out from his house and he was cut in such a cruel manner that both of his arms were amputated as if the accused was trying to re-enact the scene played in the famous Hindi movie Sholey (sic)." In 2005, a judgement described the atrocities committed on a woman by her family using the example of the film Sargam (1979). The court wrote, "She (the appelant) was threatened that she would be assaulted with firewood as shown in Hindi movie Sargam." Sargam, directed by Kasinathuni Viswanathis, is the story of Hema (Jaya Prada) and Raju (Rishi Kapoor). Hema is ill-treated by her stepmother, who wants to sell Hema in the guise of getting her married to a much older man. Raju, a musician, comes to her aid out of compassion, and assists her achieve her goal of becoming a dancer. The film also had the popular song Dafaliwale Dafali Baja. 
In 2007, the Madras High Court gave judgement in a case involving cheating in examinations using technology, in a teacher training college. The court wondered if the students got new ideas from films or if it were the films that depicted real life moments. The court cited Raj Kumar Hirani's Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. (2003) as an example where cheating using technology was depicted. The Madras court began its order by saying, "The facts projected in the writ petition herein depict the modus operandi of the heroes of the films Vasool Raja MBBS (Tamil) and Munnabhai MBBS (Hindi). One begins to wonder whether our youth gets ideas from the movies or the movies are portraying the real life situations. While such debates may continue, the degeneration to which the petitioners have descended to, will shock one and all." In another similar case in 2012, involving a medical college, where a similar cheating methodology was used, the Madras High Court cited the film again in its order. The order's first paragraph read, "Whether the movies like Munna Bhai MBBS and Vasool Raja, MBBS is based on fact or fiction? The question in this case reflects the story line of the film in which the hero of the film uses a hi-tech device for copying in the examination and get his MBBS degree. The present case also showed that the petitioner and seven others have used similar techniques for writing their examinations." Munna Bhai must be feeling proud that he has inspired many a student by his shenanigans. 
In a highly frivolous case that has to be only read to believe its absurdity, the order mentioned a film of Shah Rukh Khan. The case concerned the release of Homi Adajania's Finding Fanny (2014), that starred Deepika Padukone in the titular role. The petitioners sought a ban on the film because they believed the word Fanny will hurt the feelings of citizens of India especially immature brain of minor children. The court disagreed with the petitioners and cited other examples where the word Fanny had been used, such as Fanny Price (in Jane Austen's novel Mansfield Park), and Aunt Fanny (in Enid Blyton's The Famous Five). It goes on to mention King Uncle (1993), starred Jackie Shroff, Anu Agarwal, and Shah Rukh Khan. Anu Agarwal's character was named Fenni. The order said, "In the Hindi movie, King Uncle, released in the year 1993, the name of the lead female character was Fenni Fernando pronounced as Fanny only and the said movie also had a song with the lines of Fenni Ne Mujhe Bulaya. It is, thus, not as if the Indian movie viewers would be exposed to the name Fanny for the first time." Not sure about people, but the court remembered the film and the song. 

One of the most thought-provoking judgements by any Indian court is by the Calcutta High Court on the issue of copyright in 2003. The case involved Karisma Kapoor's television series, Karishma—The Miracles of Destiny, that aired on Sahara One. The suit was filed by Barabara Taylor Bradford, author of the book A Woman of Substance claiming that the show was a copy of her book. The court ruled that her lawyers had failed to establish conclusively that it violated copyright law. In a detailed judgement, the court explained the meaning of copyright and cited Satyajit Ray's film Ganashatru (1990) to make its point. The film, starring Ray's favorite actor Soumitra Chatterjee, was based on a play called An enemy of the people, written by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The title Ganashatru also means enemy of the people. Ibsen's play is the story of two brothers. One, a scientist, who discovered that the new baths built in his town are infected with a deadly disease and instructs the town to close the baths. However, his brother, who is also the mayor of the town, did not believe the report and refused to close the baths as it could cause the financial ruin of the town. Ray adapted the play to an Indian setting where a doctor discovered that the serious illness befalling the citizens of his small Bengali town may be due to a contamination of the holy water at the local temple. His brother who looks after the temple refused to take action as it would threaten the temple. The court compared the play and the film in the judgement, and underscores that the central theme might be the same in both the play and the film, but they are based on an idea, and an idea can be borrowed. It said, "A superficial examiner would say from a comparison of the play and the movie, that the film has been copied. That might be the reaction of the layman, no doubt. But it is not a copy, according to the copyright lawyer. Although the central theme is the same, it is but an idea. The idea is novel and no doubt the idea is central to the creation of a dramatic conflict. Once the idea of this conflict is conceived by a dramatist, it becomes much easier for a future dramatist to write a play on the same theme." It is a really fascinating judgement explaining the intricacies of copyright law, and also refers Shakespeare's Othello.

The above citations are by no means exhaustive. They are plenty of other cases, but challenges in search make it a little harder to find the relevant ones.

As a court order mentioned, it is often worth wondering if it is art imitating life, or life imitating art. Even judges are not immune from the magic of films, after all, they are humans, too.

Dialogue of the Day:
"Joker agar baazi bana sakta hai, toh joker baazi bhigaad bhi sakta hai."
—Rahul, Yes Boss

1. Budhadev Karmaskar v. State Of West BengalLink
2. Kanhaiya Kumar v. State Of NCT of DelhiLink
3. State Of Assam v. Holiram BordoloiLink
4. S.Ganesh Ram v. The Vice ChancellorLink
5. P.Sumangala v. The DirectorLink
6. Nandini Tewari and Anr v. Union Of India and Ors.Link
7. Barbara Taylor Bradford v. Sahara Media Entertainment Ltd.Link
8. Radha And Ors. v. State Of U.P. And Ors.Link
9. State v. Sanjay KumarLink
10. State v. Aman SahiLink
11. Rabia @ Mamta and Anr v. NCT Of DelhiLink
12. Smt. Sheetal Raju Malhotra v. Raju Roopnaraian MalhotraLink

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil—Of Unrequited Love

At an early point in Karan Johar's Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Alizeh (Anushka Sharma) brings a cactus plant for Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) and tells him about her severe dislike for flowers. She says flowers are overrated. "Pehle rang se impress karte hain, phir khushboo se; phir rang dhal jaata hai, khushboo udd jati hai, aur kya reh jaata hai." She, then, goes on to praise the thorns. "Maarte hai, marte nahi, aur unhe murjhaane ka khauff nahi hota." Thorns do not need to be afraid of wilting. Alizeh does not want to be a flower of a bouquet but prefers to be a thorn—raaste ka kaanta. The only other instance that I remember where a character does not like to be called a flower is the one from Agar Main Kahoon from Lakshya where Romi playfully chides Karan by singing, "Mujhe phool na kehna, woh murjhaate hain." When Ayan becomes a musical sensation, he is seen around a bunch of cacti. He collects those thorns, and keeps them with him as souvenirs. At a later point, Ayan compares love to a slap, and something as gut-wrenching as cancer. And, then, one wonders is it the same Karan who in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna told us, "Phoolon ki apni bhasha hoti hai, khamosh rehkar bhi kitna kuch keh dete hain." It is the same person who told us in Kal Ho Naa Ho that love means the songs of Yash Chopra, and that everything becomes beautiful in love, and life becomes so colorful. Even in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, the characters who indulged in infidelity got their love at the end. This film, on the other hand, seems to be made by someone who has evolved from a saccharine overdose to bitterness and pain.  
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is primarily the story of Ayan, an MBA student in London who wants to be a singer like Mohammad Rafi. He meets Alizeh, who has run away from her home in Lucknow to come to London. Ayan and Alizeh meet in a bar, and become friends but the problem is Ayan is attracted to Alizeh, while she wants to keep their relationship at the level of friendship. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai told us that love is friendship. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil tells us that friendship is a type of love. Alizeh loves Ayan but as friends and not as lovers. Pyaar mein junoon hai, dosti mein sukoon hai. Ayan struggles to find a name for this ek tarfa pyaar, and the film is the story of this unrequited love, and how he copes when this love is not reciprocated. This incomplete love is complete in itself. Adhoora hoke bhi hai ishq mera kaamil. It does not get divided between two people, and only he owns it.  Ek tarfa pyar ki taaqat hi kuch aur hoti hai, auron ke rishton ki tarah yeh do logon mein nahi batati, sirf mera haq hai ispe. Unrequited love, or one-sided love has always been a theme in many Karan's films. In Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, after Rahul runs to Tina to say that he loves her, Anjali comes back crying to her hostel, and says, "Mera pehla pyaar adhoora reh gaya, Rifat Bi." In Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Naina talks about her adhoori prem kahani. In numerous interviews, Karan calls himself the brand ambassador of one-sided love, and heartbreak, and has said that this comes from his own personal life where his love was not reciprocated. I cannot help but think of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who has said the same thing many times. During the release of Bajirao Mastani, Sanjay Bhansali said all his films are about one-sided love, and his characters will never get together in the end because he does not have love in his own life. His art completes his life. While it is not fair to compare two filmmakers whose sensibilities are like chalk and cheese, it must be said that it comes from a deeply personal space for both of them. The art they create is a way of expressing and completing their lives. Perhaps, that is why Ayan becomes a better artist when he channelizes heartbreak into the art of music. 
Adhoora Ishq
In the film, there is an early point when Ayan tells Alizeh that he cannot stay alone. He keeps on hugging Alizeh tightly as if he does not want to let go of her. There is a lovely moment in Channa Mereya where Ayan holds onto a pillar with his mehendi-filled hands. The object of his affection is getting married to someone else. All he can do is try to hold on to something because he can't be alone. Later, after the dinner scene, he runs to Alizeh's room and tells her he wants to let go. When he comes out of the building, he kneels down, starts crying, and looks for some support. Since there is no one to do that, he again holds onto the pillar. Alizeh is hugging Ali; on the other side, Ayan is hugging a pillar. Pauline Phillips has written, "Loneliness is the ultimate poverty." Here is a man who flies in private jets and has every possible thing in life, and he is let go by both the women in his life, and all he is left to do is hold onto a pillar.
Ayan hugs the pillar.
In a recent interview, Karan mentioned that his favorite scene of all his films is the dining table scene from Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna because of the powerful dynamics of the scene. In Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, too, there is a cracker of a dinner scene in the film, also a throwback to the dinner scene in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. Alizeh comes to have dinner with Ayan and Saba. Initially, they talk about beauty and speak some poetic lines. And, then, Ayan says, "Cheese," and for a second, it made me think if he meant cheesy. Of course, they are the kind of people who have wine and cheese, but at an earlier moment in the film, they joked about a double entendre, I always stand up for you, and usually made fun of the poetic dialogues, which made me think like that. Alizeh tells Saba that she is as pretty as Noor Jahan, and then, a song by another Noor Jahan, with lyrics by Faiz, starts playing in the background. Mujh se pehli si mohabbat mere mehboob na maang, aur bhi dukh hai zamaane mein mohabbat ke siwaa. It is a lovely song, and Alizeh repeats mujh se pehli si mohabbat, and Ayan completes by saying mere mehboob na maang. It is a charged scene, and then, seeing Ayan's reaction, she puts cheese in her mouth, as if her feelings are like the undefinable flavor of cheese—bitter, sweet, salty—whatever one prefers to call. Then, they move to dining table, and there is a lot of tension in the air. Their silence speaks volumes. The scene is also important for positional dynamics. Alizeh and Saba are seated opposite each other, and if Alizeh is dressed in white, then, Saba is dressed in black (with patches of white).
White and Black
Mujh se pehli si mohabbat, mere mehboob na maang
When Saba questions Alizeh as to how can she not fall in love with such a charming man like Ayan, she replies that he might be charming for her, but when she met, he was a child without a pram—bina pram ka bachcha. She had to console him when he cried like a baby whose toy is lost after his girlfriend cheated on him. This was the same question that almost everyone who watched Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna asked from Maya as to how can she not fall in love with someone like Rishi. To think about it, the story of Alizeh and Ayan has many similarities to Maya and Rishi. Maya used to always argue with Rishi that he was an immature kid. She was never attracted sexually to Rishi. The only reason she agreed to get married was that he was her childhood friend. Who knows if Ayan and Alizeh got married, their situation after a few years might become like Maya and Rishi. Sitting on a park bench before her wedding, Maya has her doubts, and she meets Dev who tells her that he also married his friend Rhea, but he does not know if he loves her. Alizeh is so sure about her feelings that she just does not feel attracted to Ayan. After Maya tells Rishi about her affair with Dev, he flies into a rage, and the first question he asks her is if she slept with Dev. The first question that Ayan asks Alizeh when she calls him from Lucknow is if she had sex with Ali. The reactions of both Rishi and Ayan are similar that they care a lot more about the physical aspect of the relationship, more than the platonic friendship. Tahir and Saba's relationship also had shades of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, where Saba hinted at his infedility. Rishton ki geeli zameen par log aksar phisal jaate hain. People often slip in relationships. In fact, Saba is the only person in the film who does not cheat or thinks of cheating. 
Rishi and Ayan are compared to kids

Dinner Scenes
The first time we see Saba, she is at the airport, reading a book by Toni Michelle. Ayan offers her a bunch of grapes, and asks her if he can sit with her because he does not like to sit alone. She tells him that she is a shayra, and reads his eyes. Jo aankhein keh deti hai, unke aage lafzon ka darja kya. Bade wafaadar hai aapke aansun, aapki ijaazat ke bagair bahar bhi nahi nikalte. They talk to each other during their flight, and she hands him her book Shab-E-Firaq with her poetry, and her number. Ayan and Saba develop a sexual relationship. It is interesting that the film does not make any moral issue out of Ayan having sex with Saba even though he is still in love with Alizeh. He tries to make Alizeh jealous, and carries a lot of emotional baggage. Notice how Ayan is always with a backpack. At the airport, the only thing he carries from Alizeh's wedding with him is a small bag (with no suitcases). Back in London, at their sukoon ghar, he has a small bag. His emotional baggage does not make him a celibate. He distinguishes this by saying when heart breaks, it is time to listen to the mind. Jab dil toot jata hai, usse behtar advice toh dimaag deta hai. At one point, Ayan says that there are two characters—love, the hero, and friendship, the heroine. Ayan was the love, the hero, and Alizeh was friendship, the heroine. Saba could be called the third character—sex—played by someone who is one of the most beautiful people in the world. Ayan calls her a painting and she is truly a painting. When Ayan tells her that he needs her, she says she does not want to be any one's need. She calls herself khwaaish (fantasy) instead of zaroorat (need), while Alizeh calls her love Ali as zaroorat
Both Saba and Alizeh can read Ayan's emotions, much better than he knows himself. They both can read his eyes. Like Alizeh instantly recognized Ayan's emotions in Channa Mereya. Or, when Saba tells him that she saw love for Alizeh in Ayan's eyes after the dinner. Interestingly, the meaning of both Saba and Alizeh are related. Saba means soft breeze, while Alizeh means wind. Both of them also are very clear about their own feelings. Ayan's scenes with Alizeh reflect a certain kind of childish frivolity. The very fact that both of them live their childhood fantasy with each other reflects this. Saba, on the other hand, was mature, and helps bring a maturity to Ayan about life. She takes him to meet Tahir who talks about one-sided love and after speaking to him, he gets the courage to call Alizeh. She is the one who tells Ayan that she is walking away from him. Mohabbat se door chale jaana, woh humare bas mein hai. It is after this, he runs to Alizeh to tell her that he wants to go away. Saba tries to make him a man from the bina pram ka bachcha. She has no regrets in life. She knows that she is not a well-respected poet, and she says that beauty fades (kind of ironic given she is so pretty herself), but it is one's personality that remains eternal. She is clear that she is not looking for a serious relationship, and walks away when she realizes that someone she has started loving does not love her back. I really wish there was more of her in the film.
Childhood and Maturity
On being asked by Ayan as who Ali is, she replies, he is "meri tabahi." I am not sure if that too was a signal of her death. She always wanted his love. She does get that love. During their Paris tip, she tells Ayan that she loves hotels. She even got that. As after being married to Ali, she says, "Hotel ko ghar bana liya hai." But she still did not feel happy. She was suspicious about Ali's philandering. Given that none of the five characters in the film were happy when they were together at some point, it fits the film's theme of one-sided love being complete in itself, and that it does not need to be divided. Maybe, also some kind of realization that people are happier when they love someone by themselves.
Meri Tabahi
When Ayan and Alizeh travel to Paris, Ayan says he is getting the same feeling of being satisfied like when he has bhurji ka paratha. It is as if his heart's stomach is satisfied. One of my most favorite pieces of writing in recent times is a post on The Lunchbox where the author underscores the point that one of the motifs in that film was that food was a symbol of nourishment. We all crave for physical and emotional nourishment, and every character in that film wanted nourishment. Hence, Ila's mom asks for parathe when her husband dies. This is a similar emotional nourishment that Ayan craves. Dil ka pet bhar gaya. If Ayan talks about nourishment of the heart, Alizeh gives pyaar ka pani to everyone in the party. She craves the pyaar of DJ Ali. When Ayan is going to Alizeh's wedding, he drinks the same pyaar ka pani before he reaches her place. 
Dil ka pet bhar gaya
There is a moment in the film when Ayan says that he was not a popular student in the film, and every body used to call him a weirdo, ajeeb, introverted, but none of this mattered to him. He preserved his personality, and some day he hoped that he will find someone who will understand his madness, after all love is someone who you can be silly with. He meets Alizeh in whom he finds this shared love of being madly in love with films. Their talk is going to be all filmy; they make promises by saying Sholay ki kasam. Even the hotel that they stay in Paris is called 'We Are All Mad Here' and their room has hero written on the wall.This is an autobiographical moment where Karan has said numerous times, that he was called names in school, and he used to secretly dance on Hindi film songs, completely different from the ethos of the society he grew up in. The entire first half is sort of his tribute to his filmy love. 
Weirdo Ayan saves himself for Alizeh
In the first few minutes of the film, there are explicit references to Karan's own films, including Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and Kal Ho Naa Ho. Ayan and Alizeh bond over their shared love of films. They discuss tacky cinema of the eighties, such as Maqsad and Himmatwala. Their playlists are called Cheap Thrills and Jolly Good Bollywood. They go to Paris and live their filmy dream of dancing on snow-clad mountains. The song that they play is Mitwa from Chandni. Ayan wants to be a singer like Mohammad Rafi, so, there are some of his songs from An Evening In Paris.  He also sings Ruk Ja O Dil Deewane from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. There is a lot more dialogue-baazi from other films. The only non-Hindi film that is mentioned is French film Priceless, and is actually the story of a gold digger. In a parallel world, Joey from Friends must be feeling happy that his way of writing help as pleh is used here by writing love as evol in the sukoon ghar. Love tedha hai. Should not it be love ulta hai?
Yellow in Karan's films
There are implicit references to some other films (including his own) as well. Ayan helps Alizeh in wearing a yellow saree. At one moment, he puts his hand on her waist, quite reminiscent of the way Rahul took off the pallu from Anjali's waist during the basketball game in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The private jet flying Ayan is doing MBA, like Rahul comes from his helicopter in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. At one point, Saba tells Ayan, "Tumhari khamoshi sab kuch keh gayi," like Tina's letter to her daughter Anjali said, "Anjali ki khamoshi mujhe sab kuch keh gayi." In one scene, Alizeh says that cognac is not sharab, a throwback to the scene in Chandni. When Alizeh and Ayan talk at the terrace, the scene is like Ayesha and Sid talking on the terrace in Wake Up Sid. Alizeh wants to keep their relationship at friendship, but Ayan wants more, quidte similar to Riana and Rahul in Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu. "Yahi to problem hai, maine dost se pyaar kya, aur tumne pyaar se dosti."At another point in Channa Mereya, Ayan is walking back and crying while Alizeh is seen behind him. A similar scene was seen during Kabira in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, where Bunny walks back crying, unable to decide what his heart wants, while Naina stays behind.
Wake Up Sid and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
At some later point, Saba tells Ayan, "Mohabbat karna humare bas mein nahi hai, us mohabbat se door chale jaana, woh humare bas mein hai." When Anjali finds out that Rahul loves Tina in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, she packs her stuff, and walks away from his life. When Naina finds out Rahul is in love with Anjali in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, she chooses to go away from his life. When Aman gets to know that Naina loves him in Kal Ho Naa Ho, but he cannot have her as he is dying, he lies to keep her away from him. In Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Dev and Maya walk away from each other's life even though they are in love with each other. In Student of The Year, Abhimanyu and Shanaya's relationship had themes of the same one-sided love.
Ayan and Bunny going away from Alizeh and Naina
As the film relies a lot on Hindi film references, the subtitles provided another level of fun. Bewaafai ki brand ambassador becomes Gone Girl. Gillian Flynn must be happy. Aashiqui becomes Casablanca. Shakaal becomes Captain Picard. Madhuri Dixit becomes Wonder Woman. Pankaj Udhas becomes Charlie Brown, and my favorite one is when Lata Mangeshkar becomes Celine Dion. There is a lot to see as well. When Alizeh collects her stuff to go back to London, she carries the bag that has Shakespeare and Company written on it. At Saba's place, her bookshelf has Vanity Fair Portraits, which does not seem very surprising. 
Alizeh's Ali (Alizeh contains Ali)
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil also reminds one about the messy and complex Imtiaz Ali's films. Ranbir plays a singer in both films. In Rockstar, Khatana Bhai says to Janardhan Jhakar, "Toote hue dil se hi sangeet nikalta hai, jab dil ki lagti hai na, tukde tukde hote hain, tab aati hai jhankaar." In a similar moment here, when Alizeh hears Ayan singing Gaata Rahe Mera Dil, she says, "Tumhari awaaz me dard aur mohabbat ka naam aur nishaan hi nahi tha." When his heart gets broken, he will sing with emotions. In Love Aaj Kal, when Meera and Jai separate, they decide to have a break up the party. Here, Alizeh and Ayan dance and celebrate on The Breakup Song. In Tamasha, Ved has this hidden personality, which he does not share with anyone. He pretends to be someone he is not, and he meets Tara, who helps him embrace his true self. Tumhare saath hoti hun, toh main special ho jaati hun yaar, to socho tum kya hoge. Here, Ayan says he preserved his personality to be with someone who will understand him and finds Alizeh. In Tamasha, in the final scene, Ved and Tara are dancing with their headphones on and enjoying every moment. We don't get to hear the music they are listening to. Here, in the final moments, Alizeh and Ayan are also doing a ballroom dance with their headphones on, but the film tells us that they are listening to Lag Jaa Gale, Karan's favorite song. This is the same song that soothed the emotional turbulence of Dev in Bombay Talkies. While Imtiaz leaves it to the audience to connect with the film, Karan tells his state of mind.
Break up party
Tamasha and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
Alizeh's final death scene did not come as a surprise. It was kind of visible in the film's trailer that something would happen to her. Think of it, there is no single film of Karan Johar (excluding the short stint in Bombay Talkies) that does not have a character who dies or is dying. Tina (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai), Rahul's grandmother (Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham), Aman (Kal Ho Naa Ho), Samarjeet (Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna), Sam (My Name Is Khan), Abhimanyu's grandmother and Dean Vashishth (Student Of The Year)—all these characters died in his films. Alizeh's cancer, therefore, was kind of expected. At an earlier moment in the film, she said she always takes the middle path that is 'Zindagi'. So, it is kind of expected that Alizeh, who preferred to take the path of life, and who chooses thorns that never die, will be one who died first. Though the last thirty minutes went into something, I did not feel much about it due to conflicting signals. When Ayan gets to know that Alizeh is dying, he cries in the toilet, and Ayan's reaction gave it a feeling that we are supposed to laugh at it; or, perhaps, that was the very point, but I did not get it. The focus on the background score of Kal Ho Naa Ho at that point felt somewhat forced that we are supposed to cry. Even if death was the eventual outcome, the last twenty minutes could have been treated better.
Death in Karan Johar's films
The film's best moments are actually conveyed through the silences. Like the scene where Ayan struggles to come up with a name for his one-sided love, and his eyes speak. Or the dinner scene where there is so much tension in the air. Or, the scene with Tahir, Saba, and Ayan, where there is so much to think about. A particular word about music. It is beautiful, and I really like all the songs. Channa Mereya is fabulous. Tere rukh se apna raasta. Mod ke chalaa. Chandan hoon main. Apni khushboo chhod ke chala. A really sharp line. He is like sandalwood, spreading his fragrance everywhere wherever he goes. Some words are repeated in the songs and the films. Rooh and shiddat are some of them. There are at least three instances of shiddat that I recall. They should release the wonderful Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo. It is exotic, if I may use the word. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil must be one of the rare films where two songs play in the narrative back to back. As soon as Cutepie ends, Channa Mereya begins without any intervening sequence.
Chandan Hun Main
There is something sad about Ranbir's eyes, and he uses them to his best. Like the scene where he hits himself with a pot and then starts crying. He conveys pain beautifully. There is the remarkable scene when Alizeh calls him for her wedding, and he says, "Of course, aaunga main." It felt so personal, and I love that scene. Watch him in Channa Mereya where he dances like a dervish. Anushka as Alizeh was superb throughout, though there was some understated consciousness in a few scenes. Aishwarya Rai is lovely, and I wish there was more of her. Fawad Khan deserved a little better treatment, but he looks great even in the small role. It seems the song Cutepie was shot on him, but the political problems made the film shoot another version with Ranbir, though the new one was not present in the film. And, no one will say vatavaran without thinking about Lisa Haydon. Yes, Shah Rukh Khan. In one scene, he manages to convey the film's theme beautifully, one of the best scenes in the movie. More of such in another movie, please. 
Saba and Ayan 
It is kind of ironic to see some protests from the patrons of Mohammad Rafi who claim that the film insults him. The film is named after a line from one of Rafi's popular songs Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan, from CID. Karan got into trouble with the paper tigers of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) because of the use of the word Bombay in Wake Up Sid. Funnily enough, even this time, there is a Bombay connection. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahan, Zara Hat Ke, Zara Bach Ke, Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan. How fitting for a film that shares its title with this song.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is fabulous and frustrating at times, much like the feeling of love itself. Here's hoping for more madness and messiness.

Other Reading:
On Kabhi Alvida Naa KehnaLink

Dialogue of the Day:
"Dard dard ko dhoond hi leta hai."
—Saba, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

P.S.—I wanted to write this one better, but it actually came out worse.