Tired of pretentiously 'different' love stories that end up being the same? Then "Break Ke Baad" is just for you. It doesn't promise to be different and it isn't. It is like every other love story ever told in Bollywood. Boy meets girl, falls in love, differences lead them away from each other (called a 'break' in this case), eventually realise their mistake and how they're meant for each other, run back into each other's arms. Closing credits roll. Now this is a format that will probably not change for another century. But what's refreshing here, is the portrayal of a shiny, young bubblegum generation grappling with relationship issues. And although the style is casual, the issues are just as real and relatable.
The film is about Abhay (Imran Khan) and Aaliya (Deepika Padukone) who went from school friends to kissing teens to dating even before they learnt to flirt. Abhay is every girl's ultimate fantasy. He cooks, he's unpredictable, believes in commitment and marriage, never gets angry or upset and agrees to anything his girlfriend wants. In many ways he's like that inflatable punching toy (without the red nose). While Aaliya is a free spirit, who wants to be an actress and wants to do many things in life but marriage doesn't feature in any of her plans. Even with their radically disparate views on life, they manage to cling on to their relationship for a good 10 years before they opt for a break.
But this movie is not just about temporary break-ups or how time away can get a couple to appreciate each other better (as you would've expected). It feeds on the alluring idea of exploring the unknown within us while following one's dreams. And that is exactly what Aaliya wants to do. Having dated just Abhay ever since, her life feels incomplete and she needs a break. Not necessarily to date other people but to experience a different life in an unknown world. Gold Coast tourism board and an Australian university come to the rescue with some not-so-subliminal in-film advertising and Aaliya is on her way to the land of beer and beaches (and to pursue a course in mass communication) for a year.
Abhay, who hardly understands the point (or concept) of the break, continues to call Aaliya regularly, leading to very believable telephonic fights that transpire in every long-distance relationship, over the most frivolous things (Who's that screaming next to you? What kind of a party is it? etc). Anyway, in true spirit of keeping it real, these frivolous fights mature in an ugly way when Abhay lands up in Australia, unable to contain his suspicions. The result in obvious: Aaliya can't stand it and calls for a permanent break-up.
While Abhay and Aaliya have parted with their relationship, they still live under the same roof of a beach house (in different rooms) along with Nadia (Shahana Goswami), the landlord and Cyrus (Yudhistr Urs), the horny clown-cum-restaurateur. In their respective roles, Cyrus adds the required comic relief while Nadia offers the much-needed mature advice. And this is the part of the movie that strikes gold with everything coming together in a beautiful way.
Abhay and Aaliya do a great job of ignoring each other and diligently invest themselves in their passions. While Aaliya finds herself in theatre, Abhay dabbles with half a dozen odd jobs to eventually get a kick out of cooking. Abhay's telephonic confidante and divorced aunt Pammi (Lilette Dubey) brews up some rather witty one-liners while counseling her nephew. While Aaliya's mother, Ayesha (Sharmila Tagore) is too practical to offer any advice that her daughter wouldn't care for.
The screenplay is brisk and respects the audiences' level of intelligence and attention. The music is hummable but doesn't make or break the film. The multiple shades of blue make the Aussie waters every cinematographer's fantasy and a rather convincing tourist proposition.
How the story concludes is no surprise but this film proves an important point. Despite a predictable end and an obvious plot, relatable characters and the style of story-telling can actually make an otherwise mundane film into a rather pleasant watch. The moral of the story: before finding the one for you, go find yourself. Break up and smell the coffee, I say!