Joined: 26 July 2007
New Delhi: 'I'm going to kiss you now, and I do not think you would slap me," superstar Shah Rukh Khan says to Katrina Kaif at London's Charing Cross station waiting to catch a train home. Well, ouch. Would you believe that in a magical career spanning over two decades, the man has never kissed a lead actress in any of his films?
He chose to do it in a film that could well be the best role he has ever played but unfortunately with an actress who is 20 years younger than him and the awkwardness showed.
In the first half of the film, played out mostly in flashback, Khan makes his living doing odd jobs in London. He shares a flat with a young Pakistani man and plays the guitar by the roadside for lunch money.
Then he meets Katrina, who plays rich NRI girl Meera in the film, while shovelling snow outside a church and he is instantly smitten. The eternal love story that spans a decade after that is a study in inspired moments quilted with the downright absurd. Shah Rukh has given his career's best performance. His is the shoulder the film rests on, not Katrina's or Anushka's. And he carries the burden well. But he could have had a little help from Katrina, who does nothing to bridge the gap between the awkward and the sublime.
Yash Chopra, the director of Jab Tak Hai Jaan, was bordering on 80 when he started the film. He is the master of old world romances that were full of intrigue, moments of conflict and heady charm. But perhaps he failed gauge the depth of love in the 21st century and in the process trivialized and generalized it to a cringe-worthy 'make-out-break-up' model.
Shah Rukh, who's restrained and mature as he goes through two complex roles, goes to pieces when he's paired with Katrina, one of the loveliest faces in cinema at the moment. He is 47 years old and it shows in the first half as he tries to woo her.
It's commendable that Chopra, despite his age, tries to remodel his traditional heroines from the underplayed sensuous to the modern day 'cool'. Katrina smokes a cigarette outside her own engagement party and the other is a tomboyish, over-excited little thing.
But a series of awkward kisses captured mostly in long shots and covered up with locks of hair falling over the face of the two actors are the only moments of intimacy between Shah Rukh and Katrina.
Chopra belongs to a different era, we understand that. Perceptions about reality have shifted within filmmaking over the years. But 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' has a soul of the 1960s trapped in a body from 2012. Shah Rukh, who keeps both actresses grounded in the film with a remarkable performance, unfortunately comes across as staid and out-of-place in his romance with Katrina.
The rubbing of toes signifying a heavy make-out session leading to sex, does not work in the day and age of gritty, realistic films. You can argue that Yash Chopra's romances are from a different era and that's why they are special.
It could have been more believable had Shah Rukh been paired with someone close to his age, such as Kajol.
But in the end, what you see on screen is about as real as it's going to get. And the tentative kisses and willing acceptance of a fate thrust upon him by Katrina in a juvenile promise to god, just does not make it.
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Joined: 26 July 2007
One so desperately wants to applaud Yash Chopra's swan-song for all that he's given to Hindi cinema down the years. But try as one might, one can't help but feel that Jab Tak Hai Jaan (JTHJ) is not quite the epic love ballad that Yashji wanted it to be. Sure, there's the A1 mounting with stunning locales, there's the strong cast and brilliant technical crew with money spent on the production like water but ultimately the weak and (highly) illogical storytelling lets the film down ending in a 179 minutes dreary experience that just seems to go on and on and on and...
The biggest problem with the film is the central love story of Samar and Meera. This should have been the soul of the film but it simply fails to touch you. It is the weakest element of the film and is plain boring with its main conflict totally unconvincing. The film appears archaic and caught in a time warp in many places and the reason for Meera backing out of the relationship makes her look silly rather than us feeling for her spiritual side and her unwavering faith in 'Sir Jesus', at the church that seems to have only the two of them at all times. In fact, Meera's character is extremely weakly sketched out and even the adventurous (gali ki gundi) side to her is never utilised properly. The fact that Katrina can't act makes things even worse. This is one film where her acting deficiencies are solidly exposed and even that smile can't save her. Her breakdown sequence on the bench is plain embarrassing.
When in doubt, the film simply goes back to older tried-and-tested YRF and Dharma Productions moments. The first half of the film sees a collage of such sequences - the Mother-daughter scene ala DDLJ, or Katrina smoking outside her engagement party and having Shah Rukh tell her she's not happy just the way he told Rani Mukherji so on her wedding day in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna and use of the same elements like the Church and the diary just to name some. Admittedly, the early bit of the second half does lift the film, thanks to Anushka Sharma's lively and winning act but then JTHJ totally derails once Shah Rukh reaches London - yes we actually have the old amnesia track rearing up its ugly head from the dead. From then on it is one tedious journey to the end. As it is, the film finds itself on old-wine ground right from its conception and struggles to find that brand new carafe to pour this wine into as far its execution is concerned. So like the heroines of DDLJ, Dil To Paagal Hai, Veer Zaara, the basic plot here too sees Katrina hitched to a man she doesn't love only to have SRK enter her life and turn her world upside down. It was thus all the more imperative that the love story be treated freshly and differently as we all know beforehand how it's all going to end but... Even the climax (if one can call it that) is flat and abrupt as if the makers feel it is now time for the film to end after 170 odd minutes, the final emotional wallop and feel good happy ending thereby missing. Maybe that is why footage of Yashji at work making the film has been used as the end title sequence of the film and while I repeat, one has to salute Yashji for his contribution to Indian cinema, this is obviously too manipulative for us to 'like' the film.
Forget the dramatic writing, the film is also surprisingly low on detailing and logic. In fact, there are far too many logical loopholes that leave you gobsmacked. The 2002 segment has a reference to the London Olympics in the background. Just because SRK likes to dare death to get him, he goes about detonating bombs without any protective suit and the army lets him. The army also coolly allows a 21 year old rookie filmmaker full permission to make a documentary on the detonation squad and Samar, the man who cannot die, in a sensitive and dangerous area. What's more, once he warms to her, he calmly allows her, a civilian, to film him detonating a bomb at extremely close quarters, and yes, you guessed it, she's not wearing a protective suit either. Talking of the bomb diffusing sequences, which totally lack tension, what was the old mobile model doing in 2012?! A thought here - did the Indian Army even see this script and have they seen the film to see their representation? And in the UK, how do the cops simply let Samar diffuse the bomb at the tube station? And there's more. Doctor Sarika tells Anushka and Katrina it is best not to shock Shah Rukh after his amnesia as it could hinder his progress and in practically the next scene she calmly tells him it's no longer 2002, it's 2012 and he's just lost ten years of his life; as if this would not shock him! Ah well... And the documentary that Anushka shows her boss she's made has the shot of SRK riding the bike in Leh as we pan with him taken from the film's opening titles and certainly NOT taken by Anushka.
Katrina Kaif notwithstanding, Shah Rukh and Anushka (naturally) come off best among the performances. Shah Rukh, without doubt, is one of the best ever romantic heroes that Indian cinema has seen. But now his age is showing, and while he still plays the different shades of his role well enough and with full conviction, he obviously comes off better in the 2012 portions. He is comparatively quite restrained and emotes particularly well with his eyes and is able to take you with the film to some extent. Anushka Sharma, it has to be said, is the surprise packet. She shows great spunk and spirit and has some of the best written and practically relevant dialogues in the film. It also helps that her characterisation unlike Katrina's is far more consistent. Her scenes with Shah Rukh are some of the better conceived scenes in the film. Anupam Kher is so-so and vanishes totally from the film after a bit, Sarika is wasted while Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh bring a lot to the table even in their small cameos. That Neetu Singh has aged so gracefully and beautifully, of course, helps!
While not at his best, AR Rahman's songs Challa, Saans and Heer are still well tuned. However, the songs are a little heavy in their poetry and use of Punjabi that makes comprehending their meaning a little difficult for normal audiences but it's still better to have songs with some deep poetic thought in them rather than much of what passes off as lyric writing today. The song picturisations though pleasant enough but lack that wow factor that used to be Yashji's signature, while the background score pretty much makes up most of the sound design. Sharmishtha Roy's production design is lush enough and the film has a certain scale, no doubt ,and like in any Yash Chopra film, the women are lovingly presented with enough thought gone into their costumes. The film is shot in some beautiful locations, which are extremely well captured by cinematographer, Anil Mehta. There is the odd editing flourish now and then like the cut to SRK having rescued Anushka after she goes underwater and the screen blanks out rather than have to show him do it but ultimately the length tells on the film. Still, I always say one cannot say the editor needed to trim the film as editors can only work with the material they have been given. And with this they have to give an overall pace and rhythm to the film with all its ups and downs, twists and turns.
All in all, JTHJ is not the ideal farewell for Yashji, just sporadically having traces of his signature. It is more appropriate that we continue to remember him for his older masterpieces instead.
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by Piyasree DasguptaNov 14, 2012
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Jab Tak Hai Jaan makes life look easy. So easy that a self proclaimed 25-year-old, who looks 40, gets to kiss a girl who seems to have walked out of Vogue. You also believe that the latter, despite all her Mercedes and Gucci glory, can't keep her hands off a waiter who has an annoying habit of speaking like he is perpetually in an art of living class.
Life's so easy, that an aspiring documentary-maker, can walk straight into an army camp in Ladakh in barely visible hot pants and prance around shooting, presumably stuff, while there are people detonating bombs all around her. Also, if you have legs like Anushka Sharma's, you belong to a curiously privileged class who can dance around in beach volleyball attire while goats, men and children around shiver through layers of winter clothes.
You can also go from being freeloading floozies to Michelin-starred restaurant owners in no time, you can lose and get your memory back pretty much the same way you get back an iPod forgotten in the shorts pocket, and you can jump from age 25 to age 35 without half a cell on your face withering.
Logic is the biggest casualty of Jab Tak Hai Jaan. You could say, of course it is, in any Yash Chopra film, but there was always a story. In JTHJ though, what you get is a bit of Veer Zaara, only re-packaged with taller women with hotter legs.
Shah Rukh Khan here is Samar Anand. The film opens to tell you he is the Michael Phelps of bomb disposal in the Indian Army. We, predictably, are in Ladakh where SRK whooshes in, in all his week-old stubble and aviator glory to defuse a really dangerous bomb. With the kind of intensity one shows while restarting a PC, he picks on this wire and that, and whoops the bomb's arse ' or so says the thundering background music.
Cut to Anushka Sharma ' she with her washboard abs, endless legs and holding a perfect cover-girl pose in a bikini in Ladakh ' who is an aspiring documentary filmmaker assisting a Discovery Channel crew. She is also called Akira Rai. (Cue to gush, 'How quirky!'.)
So sidekick heroine stumbles upon hero's diary, where he has written down his 10-year-old love story, presumably with the lyrics of the songs he had sung with his girl and details of all the places they had made-out. Filmmaker Rai then bamboozles her way into the high-security Army camp to shoot a documentary on Mr Kick-ass bomb disposer, does cool military-ish stuff while managing to sport a perfect blow dry hairdo and also falls in love with hurt-in-love hero. Oh by the way, hero's ex-girlfriend, Meera ' Katrina Kaif with an absolutely drool-worthy wardrobe ' had left him ten years back. When Anand had an accident, Meera made a promise to Sir Jesus (cute god-next-door names for Jesus Christ), that she would dump her boyfriend if God makes sure that he lives. Hero lives. She dumps him, because she has promised God she will.
Hang on, yes, you're reading this right.
You don't question how a documentary titled 'A Man Who Cannot Die' has people gushing about it in London. It's important for the story to move on you realise. So, cynical Discovery people have to make sure that Akira was not shooting a Bollywood extra and demand bomb-stud Major turn up in London. He does, is knocked down again and lands up in a hospital again. This time, however, he doesn't lose a girl. He loses ten-year's worth memory.
And a lot of drama, sad song singing and cheesy dialogue throwing ensues. Unfortunately, this goes on till the film ends. And by the time it does, entry rules in Army camps in India have been successfully established as being as stringent as those in coffee shops, so the climax doesn't take you by surprise.
It's probably rude to bad-mouth the dead. But even the highest amount of respect for Yash Chopra cliches can't make Jab Tak Hai Jaan less of a burden on its viewer. If Shah Rukh Khan lip synching to a Rabbi song every now and then is not annoying enough, Chopra seemed to have completely lost the plot with the dialogues this time. The only times you're reminded you're watching a 2012 film and not some Rajesh Khanna-ish flick of the seventies is when Anushka Sharma talks like an average 21-year-old.
Unlike in a Dil To Pagal Hai from fourteen years back, you can no more sell Shah Rukh Khan as a traffic stopping dancer. Jumping around while juggling a fedora cannot be passed off as hot anymore. A Katrina Kaif in grunge glory and her new-found post-Sheila dancing oomph, for company, doesn't help Shah Rukh Khan's case either. And no amount of bronzer can make him look 25, which you are told he is for one whole half of the film.
You have seen everything Jab Tak Hai Jaan has many times before, just in other films. And probably with far better music than AR Rahman threw into this one.
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Aseem Chhabra who reviewed Jab Tak Hai Jaan in New York says, "The film belongs to Shah Rukh Khan [ Images ] who is charming and mischievous, displaying his dimples with each smile. And he is even more watchable when he is bitter and heartbroken."
There is a reality, as we know it, our mundane daily lives peppered with some joys. There is good cinema with its play on the reality as we know it. And we accept those stories, as unique commentaries on the state of our lives.
And then there is an alternate reality of Bollywood, where couples fall in love, with loud souring soundtracks in foreign locations, but fate keeps them apart and they make unreasonable promises and sacrifices to save their loved ones. The late Yash Chopra [ Images ] excelled in presenting us with that unreal reality, where human beings were principled people, essentially good souls, and for them love was everything. And they would give up all for that love, make sacrifices that made the audience tear up.
Chopra's swan song Jab Tak Hai Jaan plays in that arena, even though it is a relatively weak example of that alternate reality. But all his romantic musicals - films like Daag, Kabhi Kabhie, Chandini and Veer Zaara [ Images ] suffered with that same liberal dose of optimism, a reflection of unreal life, made to look appealing by good looking actors, songs, and a lot of tears and melodrama. Today those films remind us of our youth, when we got odd lessons of romance from songs like Kabhi Kabhie Mere Dil Mein, Mere Dil Mein Aaj Kya Hai, Janam Dekh Lo Mit Gayee Dooriyan. We are kind to those films, call them classics, although none of those films were really landmark cinema.
Jab Tak Hai Jaan has flaws a long convoluted plot, that takes its time to unfold, with implausible twists, and characters whose motivations and behaviors can only be justified if we believe in the statement: This is Yash Chopra's brand of cinema.
A singer, a waiter (Shah Rukh Khan) who barely knows English, becomes a major in the Indian army [ Images ] and an expert at defusing bombs. He has not one, but two road accidents, loses his memory in the second. And then a doctor in England [ Images ], suggests to Khan's character's former lover to pretend to be married to him. Such medical treatment does not exist anywhere in the world, unless the doctor is a graduate of the unreal Yash Chopra School of Medicine.
Hindi cinema has changed a lot in the recent years. Just this year we have seen exciting complicated narratives in films ranging from Gangs of Wasseypur, Kahani and Shanghai. But even until his last film, Chopra held on to his faith in the old fashioned way of telling stories. Fans of Bollywood have always been kind to Chopra's films. I would not be surprised that five-ten years from now JTHJ will be considered a minor classic each time we listen to or sing Challa or Saans!
In the three hour span JTHJ takes us first to Ladakh, then London [ Images ], back to Kashmir [ Images ], London and again Kashmir. There is no ugliness in this unreal alternate world of Chopra, no unpleasant sites, no complicated negative characters. Everything in JTHJ is clean and pleasant to the eyes.
The three lead cast members are all attractive looking and they glow under the watchful eye of Chopra and his ace cinematographer Anil Mehta. They dress nicely, and try to act well, although with varying degrees of success.
Among the two lead women in the film Anushka Sharma [ Images ] brings a spirited side to her performance. Her character may get a tad bit over-excited and sometimes annoying, but she is never boring. Katrina Kaif [ Images ] looks pretty, very attractive. But while she may have tried hard (including in her other recent films), she remains a limited actress.
Khan, is at his romantic best, but there are never any significant sparks between his and Kaif's characters, despite two kissing scenes. Alas we have to believe in this love, otherwise all of JTHJ can fall apart.
JTHJ is essentially Khan's film. Freed of the burden of wanting to be video game character or an international gangster, Chopra allows him to be just Shah Rukh Khan, the regular movie star who still has the magic in him. He is charming and mischievous, displaying his dimples with each smile. And he is even more watchable when he is bitter and heartbroken.
There are age issues, where the film first makes Khan appear to be in his mid-20s and then in his late 30s. But in the second half of the film the 47-year-old actor carries his age very well. With his stubble, aviator glasses, leather jacket, and motorcycle, Khan struts around with uber confidence.
JTHJ never gets tedious or dull. And that says a lot for an imperfect Bollywood film.
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Overseas Update: #JTHJ is ahead of #SOS by a BIG margin.
taran adarsh ?@taran_adarsh
#JTHJ India biz [15.23 cr nett] is *highest ever* for any film released on Laxmi puja day. It is also @iamsrk 's biggest opener so far.
#JTHJ and #SOS Wednesday trends: Biz shows a jump. Expecting BIG numbers. Fingers crossed!
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