I’m diverting from my single minded focus on reading and reviewing SFF Books just this once. It’s after all a Shah Rukh Movie release – that people all over India have been waiting for close to a year now. It’s a ritual and we pay our respects to the King Khan of Bollywood once again bright and shining on the big screen. Bringing together the trio of Masterclass genius Rehman, Gulzar and Yash Chopra, Jab Tak Hain Jaan was touted to be the biggest release of this year; Diwali release, assured block buster, 100 Crore club ( it’s ridiculous, the ease with which so many movies these days make it to the 100-crore elite club, huh?)
I probably saw the first look trailer a few months back – Gulzar’s sublime poetry voice-overed by the intense voice of SRK as he himself, looking super bad-ass in military fatigues complete with dark goggles and unshaven mean and smoky looks riding a bullet set against the beautiful landscape of ladakh and complimented by the eclectically mesmerizing background score of AR Rehman. It was enough for me to cancel all appointments for the night of Diwali and set reminders to buy advance tickets to watch this sure-fire runaway super hit movie.
Well. That was then. We all know how Bollywood is getting up there on par with Hollywood in packaging the movie in slick 2 minute trailers that leaves you panting for more and sadly disappoints as the reel expands into a full 2 hour ( or MORE!) movie. The final result is super disappointing, to say the least.
If you like colorful terms, well here: Colossal Disaster of Epic Proportions.
Let’s get more specific. The movie follows the fate of two star-crossed lovers who are too stubborn and egoistic to just settle down in life accepting things as they are. Inane promises made to the “upper-wala” and to oneself keep them apart throughout the movie. One becomes a daredevil soldier who defies death and is known as the “Man Who Cannot Die” while the other pines away in London. Throw in a lively spunky gangly teenage kid who fantasizes about “having sex with men from all over the world with different accents”, has her life ambitions to be part of the discovery channel team and of course falls head over heels in love with the older mature mystery man after reading his diary. A neat little love triangle, you say?
Ha ha! A Yash Chopra movie always has to have one but due to series of Die Ex Machina events happening, it all gets resolved happily. Like for example, an accident that happens twice to the same man. And one of the ladies is happy to let it all go in the hope that she gets him in the next birth.
Anyways, a torturous first half happens in London where Shah Rukh tries hard to play a peppy street musician and Katrina Kaif plays the princess in the castle. Meera (Katrina) a rich snooty kid about to get engaged to her “best” friend discovers love and happiness when Samar (SRK) takes her out one night to experience the movie “STEP UP 3-D” in real life. An eye-sore of a dance and probably one of the weakest songs of this movie ( Ishq Shava) later, the lovers realize and squash their love because of promises made to God. (“Sir Jesus”) – a meaningless sequence follows where Meera discovers her mom who had ditched her father for a wine-toting poetry-spouting lover boy and ran away when she was twelve. Setting her mom as the shining example in life, she decides to free herself and let it go. ( And she actually lets go of pretty much most of her sharm and haya as well – deciding to romp around cold London streets in skimpy clothes, doing an impromptu strip dance in the London tube trains, romancing inside phone booths and roof tops..Phew! Hot, sure. But did we need that? )
Part two takes us back to the lovely lush landscapes of Kashmir and Ladakh – this was the best part of the movie lit by the sunny presence of Anushka Sharma, who plays the wannabe-discovery channel reporter who wants to cover Samar who is now a bomb- squad specialist in Indian army. She’s perky and as chirpy as a chipmunk on a sugar rush. She brightens up the screen effortlessly since this is a part that’s tailor made for this tall actress. The movie shifts back to London after Akira (Anushka – “Tum Japanese ho?”) finishes shooting the documentary and wants Samar to come for a day to meet her sponsors in Discovery.
After this, the movie goes on a downward plunge with no brakes as Yash Chopra puts us through torture after torture. The story of how the star crossed lovers destined to meet and part again plays out to form the climax. In terms of acting, Shah Rukh as the badass die hard Indian soldier is a mature understated act of master class. Katrina looks a little worn out and gets to mouth meaningless prayers and promises (when she is not stripping of course!) Anushka as I said, is a saving grace.
There are no other characters in the movie. Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh play the older couple so much in love and have a blink and miss appearance. Anupam Kher is wasted. Nobody else merits mention.
It’s two and half hours or more of a long drawn out love story – of a man spurned because of faith and who decides to embrace death since he has to prove a point to break his lover’s faith in God. Really?
Watch the trailer. It’s a full FIVE stars trailer. Buy the music CD for the genius of AR Rehman combined with the ethereal poetry of Gulzar. If you’re hell bent on watching, then maybe you should step out to buy popcorn during the first half of the movie, come back to watch the beautiful Kashmir captured in the second half, jive to Jiya re and then go back home feeling good about yourself.
And hey Happy Diwali!