Yash Chopra’s last hurrah

Jab Tak Hai Jaan

Jab Tak Hai Jaan

Movie name: 
Jab Tak Hai Jaan
Cast: 
Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma
Director: 
Yash Chopra
Rating: 

Beauty resided in the eye of Yash Chopra. His women are enigmatic, in pure white ensembles or in bridal gold red, and are presented in flawless close-ups.

They are bathed in soft sunrays and in incandescent moonlight. Here was a master director who defined the enchanting heroine.
Love, according to the late director, knows no seasons or reasons. And it’s this romanticism which is the calling card of his last hurrah Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Jilted by the woman he adores, the hero is reduced to a restless, doom-laden figure. This is the imprimatur of Yash Chopra’s oeuvre in general, and particularly so in the case of the travails faced by his love birds here. At the outset, Samar (Shah Rukh Khan) is a London busker and oddjob gadabout. Meera (Katrina Kaif) is an NRI tycoon’s snooty self-centred daughter. Despite their disparate temperaments and social statures, attraction’s inevitable.
Wonderful. Every shot, abetted by cinematographer Anil Mehta, has a silken edge and meticulous craftsmanship. Indeed, when Samar invites Meera to discover her “inner self” by letting her inhibitions down at a grungy nightclub, you’re once again witness to the director’s patented solo dance (a la Chandni). The choreography rocks, the zingiest seen in years, climaxed with Samar joining her on the dance floor. Truly, that number alone is worth the price of a ticket.
Next: The no-nonsense manner in which the couple admit that they have fallen in love is refreshing. Plus there are vignettes of intimacy at the Tube stations, undulating meadows (aaah!) and perennially empty church pews lit up by a thousand candles. All visually caressing.
Now here comes the rub. The director’s youthful spirit is inadequately served by the mediocre, derivative screenplay co-authored by Aditya Chopra and Devika Bhagat. Indeed, the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker seems to have inspired Samar’s change of profession from busker-cum-restaurant-waiter to a one-man bomb squad defusing explosives in Ladakh. He has quit London, you see, after losing out on Meera for convoluted reasons, to join the Indian Army. As for the aforecited “inner discovery”, ulp, that sequence reminds you of Leonardo Di Caprio leading the aristocratic Kate Winslet to freak out among the lesser privileged in Titanic.
More: An interlude — extremely warmly shot — in a vineyard with Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh takes you back to the veterans Vanessa Redgrave-Franco Nero discovering bliss in an Italian vineyard in Letters to Juliet. Moreover, as the story progresses, the hapless hero Samar suffers from “retrograde amnesia” — that “yaaddaasht bhool gaya” syndrome which can be traced to scores of Bollywood brain-tremblers of yore, as well as Hollywood’s memory-loss flick The Vow.
Truly, what kind of a retrograde screenplay is this? More irksomely, the entire plot hinges on a vow made by Meera. Following a road accident, she has promised the lord above that she will sacrifice her love for Samar, if he survives his injuries. Oh dear, it’s one of those archaic “love jaaye par kasam na jaaye” dilemmas here. Clearly, Yash Chopra deserved a more digestible storyline. Honestly, the material of Dil To Pagal Hai and Veer-Zaara were far more in sync with the times.
The effort to incorporate a “modern” element in Jab Tak Hai Jaan is contrived. It results in the creation of Akira (Anushka Sharma), an aspiring documentary filmmaker for Discovery Channel. Ahem. She’s bikini-proud, sports micro-pants in winter, says “What the f” and brags that she would like to sleep around with men with all the different accents of the world. Aiiyaaaa! According to her, boyfriends are to be treated like sex objects.
Predictably, Ms Akira becomes the third end of the classic triangle: Bomb expert is nursing a broken heart. His Lady Love, Meera, has become a zombie of sorts in central London. And our Akira (no, she is not named after Kurosawa, it is pointed out helpfully) is videographing a documentary on the bomb hero. One unhappy man, one unhappy woman, one very happy woman form the triangle which, sorry to say, isn’t a patch on the Silsila trio.
Result: the second half drags majorly. Vis-a-vis the character of the hero’s Muslim friend from Pakistan, that strikes you as mere tokenism.
Gratifyingly, there’s still an undeniable emotional charge to Jab Tak Hai Jaan. After all, it’s a master director’s last hurrah. Whatever the flaws may be, Yash Chopra and his romantic rhapsodies will be missed. Plus, there are redeeming factors like the one-to-one conversations of the hero with the two women. And the last 10 minutes or so of the three-hour megathon mist the eyes, and do stay for the end credit titles. Poignantly, they catch the energetic director’s last days at work.
On the music front, A.R. Rahman’s score adds class to the enterprise. Sharmishta Roy’s set designs are sumptuous. And the sharp editing by Namrata Rao during the film’s first half is exemplary.
Of the cast, Shah Rukh Khan handles the buoyant as well as sombre aspects of his character with psychological acuity. He’s first-rate. How you wish to see him more often on the screen, because that’s where he belongs. Katrina Kaif looks drop-dead gorgeous and acts capably too. Anushka Sharma, despite over-enthusiasm, succeeds in enacting a ditzy but empathetic go-getter.
Quite a few of the film’s aspects are of superior quality. Now only if the content had matched the form!
Bottomline: You may not be completely satisfied this time but there are several super moments which leave a lasting impact. Unmissable.

Comments

More: An interlude —

More: An interlude — extremely warmly shot — in a vineyard with Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh takes you back to the veterans Vanessa Redgrave-Franco Nero discovering bliss in an Italian vineyard in Letters to Juliet. Moreover, as the story progresses, the hapless hero Samar suffers from “retrograde amnesia” — that “yaaddaasht bhool gaya” syndrome which can be traced to scores of Bollywood brain-tremblers of yore, as well as Hollywood’s memory-loss flick The Vow.
Truly, what kind of a retrograde screenplay is this? More irksomely, the entire plot hinges on a vow made by Meera. Following a road accident, she has promised the lord above that she will sacrifice her love for Samar, if he survives his injuries. Oh dear, it’s one of those archaic “love jaaye par kasam na jaaye” dilemmas here. Clearly, Yash Chopra deserved a more digestible storyline. Honestly, the material of Dil To Pagal Hai and Veer-Zaara were far more in sync with the times.
The effort to incorporate a “modern” element in Jab Tak Hai Jaan is contrived. It results in the creation of Akira (Anushka Sharma), an aspiring documentary filmmaker for Discovery Channel. Ahem. She’s bikini-proud, sports micro-pants in winter, says “What the f” and brags that she would like to sleep around with men with all the different accents of the world. Aiiyaaaa! According to her, boyfriends are to be treated like sex objects.

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