Aisha, merrily tooling around in her cute yellow Beetle, maxing out her father's credit card, looking posh and chic. Aisha is beautiful and young and comes from a well-to-do family. She loves to draw, but her passion is matchmaking, a hobby she pursues to everyone's distraction. One of Aisha's childhood best friends, the level-headed Rajun, constantly scolds her for meddling in other people's affairs; Rajun's remarks always fall on deaf ears. Aisha loves playing Cupid. Her latest project is a mousy Punjabi girl, Shefali, and the film tracks Aisha's indefatigable attempts to find Shefali the right guy. When, really, the project Aisha needs to take on is herself. It's the matchmaker who needs to do some growing up. Her life falls apart.
It's clear that Jane Austen has a strong following in Indian cinema, and that her stuff translates pretty well. Regarding Indian cinema, the best adaptation of her works, by far, is KANDUKONDAIN KANDUKONDAIN ("I Have Found It") which reworks SENSE & SENSIBILITY. BRIDE & PREJUDICE is a colorful hybrid of Bollywood and Hollywood. (And both of those films star the glorious Aishwarya Rai.) AISHA is Bollywood's take on EMMA, and while AISHA isn't as clever and inspired as CLUELESS, its stunning and leggy star, Sonam Kapoor, provides looks and a measure of substance. Sometimes, a striking presence alone can carry a movie. Aisha, all up in everyone's business, is shallow and snobbish and judgmental. But Sonam Kapoor infuses her with a core of sweetness and vulnerability. She makes Aisha likable despite her excesses. I only wish Abhay Deol ("Arjun Burman") had gotten more face time. The film really comes alive when Abhay and Sonam are in the same scene, picking a quarrel with each other.
It's not a traditional Bollywood picture. Although prominent in the opening and closing sequences, saris are few and far between. The viewer can't help but take cues from the bright and breezy visuals. The sleek modern fashion - dare I say, Westernized fashion? - plays a strong supporting role, establishes that mood of glamour and entitlement. AISHA, in essence, is about India's young and privileged at play. We observe scenes in which the girls hang out in pricey boutiques and trendy nightclubs or holiday out in the wilds but sleep in luxurious tents. These folks think nothing of flying out to Mumbai or Delhi on a whim. This would all be very boring if only I could take my eyes away from Sonam Kapoor. Mostly, you have a sense of where the story is taking you. While Aisha's friends play romantic musical chairs, it's fairly obvious from start which guy was meant for Aisha, this guy who's been the one grounding element in all her life. It maybe shouldn't have taken as long as it did for the film to get them together. But what's a Bollywood film without its drawing out the love story as long as possible? In the end, Emma grows up. I mean, Aisha.
What I've got is the 2 DVD set. Disc 1 has the feature presentation which comes with English sub-titles. Disc 2 has the following bonus material (which are mostly in English): the "Making of the Movie" featurette (00:21:24 minutes long) and "Look & Styling," a segment focusing on the film's fashion sense and costumes and the costume designers' breaking down of each character's look (00:18:53).