Joined: 26 July 2007
Joined: 22 September 2009
In a perfect world, this film would have been called (Unending) Days Of Samar.
A bomb defusal expert who embraces fatality on a daily basis hoping he'll be blown to smithereens, Major Samar Anand is a stubbled Aviator-clad army-man who seems to like nothing better than tight black tee-shirts and singing folksy Punjabi songs in his quiet-time. And yet death, like a taxicab at rush hour, isn't easy to find when you want it. When you don't, on the other hand, it'll come along and bowl you right over.
That, in a nutshell, is the whole point of Jab Tak Hai Jaan, a Yash Chopra drama that treads very familiar territory slickly ' and a fair bit too slowly ' but does so with an old-world sincerity that somehow makes most of it bearable. Rather like its leading man, who is often made to balance entire scenes on his dimples, grinning so wide his eyes appear closed. There are times in Jab Tak Hai Jaan when it's hard not to feel embarrassed for Shah Rukh Khan having to work with material this tedious ' and yet he, despite the exaggerated show of youngness, manages inexplicably to charm. This is his film, and, against all odds, he works it well.
We open with his Samar ' first-name on badge, unlike any of his awed onlooking Army peers ' clinically disarming a bomb, then riding off through the hills on an Enfield and reading from a leatherbound journal. Loner. Got it. Then, as if enough time has been wasted on fatigues, Anushka Sharma emerges, strips off her clothes and plunges into the river, a course of action which thankfully leads away from her incessantly shrill character and heads toward Khan and Katrina Kaif.
Chopra always had a thing for the most luminous of heroines, and the exquisite Kaif, with her neo-classical face and her immaculate bearing, is clearly and unsurprisingly the girl this film centres around. Her Meera is a rich girl living in a caricatured London ' where even saucy dancing waitresses speak with a Hogwarts accent ' who spends her life earnestly bribing God with personal sacrifices: chocolates, fur coats, cigarettes. Khan, now a busker who wears checkered shirts and moonlights too much, agrees to teach her a Punjabi song if she teaches him English. Like a Lord, he says. She giggles.
Sure enough, her warbling is soon sloppily dubbed over with genuine vocals, while Khan's looking decidedly dapper in a tux. She's taught him how to say Salmon; he's made her forget how to pronounce Roger, the name of her fianc. Trouble is predictably around the corner. Oh, and somewhere in the middle of all these lessons, Katrina's learnt to dance, and this she does with such fluidity in an instrumental segment that it genuinely appears improvised. Even Khan, the most spirited dancer in our cinema, takes a backseat.
Borrowing little moments and ideas from many a Yash Chopra classic, this one plods on interminably, taking its time to tell us that every romance has to wait its turn. And clearly so must every intermission. The director, in a charming interlude, justifies and almost celebrates the idea of sincere, passionate infidelity, but soft-pedals drastically, as he picks one of our all-time warmest and most iconic on and off-screen couples for the job.
Despite his very name evoking a pleasant season, things soon get messy for Samar Anand. On one hand is a naive girl who believes in a vindictive god, and on the other is an overachieving girl with daddy issues. The latter, as played by Sharma, overacting to the hilt, is intolerably painful. I wanted to hurl something at this ridiculously hyper-chirpy thing, though something perhaps less cruel than Chopra's obvious step-daughterly treatment of her character, dressing her in bottom-flattening jeans and making her appear a complete dolt. And while Anushka can indeed play spunky, she needed here to tone it down several notches.
As did Chopra who, after a while, abandons all reason. Two London cops look at a bomb on a train, a man who refuses to identify himself shows up and bizarrely starts spouting specifics (about a bomb he can't see), and they step conveniently aside with a "maybe this guy knows what he's talking about." We don't look to a 183-minute melodrama for subtlety, but stuff like this is hard to look past. Especially when it is so easily fixed.
Katrina is the film's big surprise, providing a solidly competent performance in a role that could well have been reduced to farce. The lazy screenplay makes sure she kisses more than she gets to speak, which isn't a bad thing because she turns out pretty good with the silent moments. The actress brings a tenderness to the proceedings and emotes strongly, making sure her character ' while unlikely, untimely and irrational ' ends up real enough to root for.
And yet it's not her film. Or even Yash Chopra's, really. Jab Tak Hai Jaan is all Shah Rukh, all the time. His character seems larger than the film, and Khan himself is in fine form even when the script deserves far less. There are times he seems out of place, certainly, but these are made up for by times where he grounds the narrative with one glare, with one scowl, with one kiss. The dude abides.
As a swan-song for the master director, Jab Tak Hai Jaan might only be a middling effort. But then, sometimes, all we need is a Khan-song.
Rating: 3 stars
Joined: 01 December 2009
Joined: 28 October 2012
Joined: 26 July 2007
It helps enormously that the waiter is played by Shah Rukh Khan with charm turned on high-beam. In any case, you don't go to a Yash Chopra movie to delve into realism or the messiness of relationships. You go to partake in a fantasy of swooning, idealised love - and Jab Tak Hai Jaan delivers plenty of that.
This film has all the elements you would want in a Yash Chopra film - gorgeously shot locations in the UK and Kashmir, lavish songs and three inherently noble lead characters who struggle gallantly against their individual obligations.
But what Jab Tak Hai Jaan does not have is a coherent plot. Through a series of unconvincing story twists, the waiter becomes a major in the army - a bomb-disposal expert, no less.
We first meet Samar Anand as he is about to defuse his 98th bomb. He does this without any protection and has therefore been dubbed the man who cannot die.
Another girl, a feisty filmmaker named Akira (played by Anushka Sharma), comes into his life, but another series of clumsy plot twists then takes him back to London, where his first love (played by Katrina Kaif), waits.
The story by Aditya Chopra is grossly over-written and borderline ridiculous. At one point, when Akira is looking for the major, she is told, 'Sir goes for quiet time after defusing a bomb.' The major is sitting by the river, singing loudly.
The Hurt Locker this certainly isn't. And yet, despite the wobbly narrative, Jab Tak Hai Jaan works as an ode to epic romance. I didn't buy into the story, but I bought into the heartfelt performances.
All three - Shah Rukh, Katrina and Anushka - are top-notch. And ladies, take note: Shah Rukh is easily Hindi cinema's most dashing army officer since Balraj Sahni in Haqeeqat, and with this film, he finally breaks his no-kissing rule.
You also have to admire his ability to play the romantic hero. We've seen him do it for two decades but he still makes it compelling.
Jab Tak Hai Jaan is too tangled to transport you. At almost 180 minutes, it also requires enormous patience. But I recommend that you see it. Because only Yash Chopra could make heartache so attractive and ennobling that his characters wear it like a badge of honor.
Joined: 26 July 2007
Love conquers all in the late director Yash Chopra's swan song
Your affection towards Jab Tak Hai Jaan is likely to be directly proportionate to your faith in love. If you happen to be a cynic in the matters of the heart (read pragmatic), then the much-anticipated Yash Chopra's directorial swan song will grate on your nerves. But for those who are willing to suspend belief for more than 170 minutes and stomach a weathered 47-year-old Shah Rukh Khan cavorting around as a 20-something, guitar-strumming lover, you are good and ready for Jab Tak Hai Jaan (As Long As I Am Alive).
The legendary filmmaker, who died last month, has stuck with his tried and tested formula of weaving fantastical love stories.
As always, there are intense lovers, beautiful London and Ladakh locales and bucket loads of emotions flying all around.
The first half of the film introduces you to the perky-yet-poor Samar (Khan) and a spoilt princess Meera (Katrina Kaif). His English is faulty and her grasp of Punajbi leaves a lot to be desired. An unlikely friendship (class no barrier) crops up and they decide on a barter deal. He will teach the UK-bred Meera a Punjabi song that she can impress her daddy dearest with on his birthday and she will teach him some posh English. But what they don't bargain for is to fall in love.
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Sounds familiar? Well, that's because this story is old as the Swiss Alps featured in Chopra's epic romances.
Without giving the farm away, Meera, who has a propensity to make juvenile deals with the almighty, strikes a seemingly ludicrous deal with God when Samar's life takes a near-fatal twist. The London-educated, empowered business heiress turns into this simpering, sacrificial lover.
However, the second of half of the film in which Khan plays the tortured lover and a fearless bomb disposal army leader in Ladakh redeems the romance. For starters he acts his age and his brooding turn is supported well by Akira (Anushka Sharma), an ambitious journalist who is on a mission to trace a man who has defused more than 100 bombs. The transformation of how the happy-go-lucky waiter Samar becomes a brave soldier is left to our imagination.
Sharma steals the show with her bold act. If you were to compare the two women: Kaif plays the archetypal ethereal, unattainable Yash Raj heroine, however it's difficult to relate to her and her child-like beliefs. Sharma's character was more grounded and modern. In the end, don't beat yourself if you find yourself rooting for Samar and Akira who enjoy fabulous chemistry rather than the born-to-be-together soulmates Meera and Samar.
Once again, Khan lives up to his description of being the king of on-screen romance. Trust him to make star-crossed lovers look fashionable. Watch Jab Tak Hai Jaan if you are in the mood for an never-say-never love saga.
Joined: 01 October 2010
First public response video: http://bit.ly/PRdV8M Everybody is loving the film & we love that! Keep all your tweets coming in! #JTHJ
Joined: 02 November 2007
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