Jab Tak Hai Jaan

Actors:Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma
Genre: Romance, Drama
Rating: 3/5

Written by crown prince of Bollywood romantic drama, Aditya Chopra, JTHJ is no less a complex saga of undying love, moral fight, time lapse (a decade, to be precise), a love triangle, set partly in London & partly in Jammu & Kashmir, and is interspersed with trademark Yash Chopra elements such as a god-fearing girl, a wild child, Punjab-ness, a dance off (sort of), exquisite locales, Gulzar-ish poems, unflinching conviction in relations, extreme sacrificial tendencies, friendship beyond trust, remorse , loneliness, and watch the movie for the full list. But JTHJ also fits the mould of YRF’s new-age style of film making with the cussing (almost), the kissing, the premarital lovemaking, the elevated role and ambitions of women in today’s society, the acknowledgement of moving on with another individual as a viable life option, yada, yada, yada. While, JTHJ very much remains a typical YRF film, in that you don’t expect to see the mind-numbing banalities of pedestrian life. In other words, parts of the script are a stretch and may not connect well with everyone. So if you are the type who’d get hung up on a hypothetical-yet-possible scenario of a rich biz whiz of a girl falling in a love with a butler-who-speaks-Butler English (and who loves her to bits), this film may rib-tickle you right from the word go. JTHJ takes many such leaps of faith into the archetypal ideal world of YRF cinema, and most will seem passable to those who can treat this film as a film.

SRK proves once again that he’s the quintessential lover, but not nearly a boy. His age shows in the second half of the film & the script does not belie so. SRK’s make-up artiste has done a brilliant job of making SRK appear younger where needed in the plot. SRK, playing Samar Anand, is generally gentlemanly and turns on his familiar charm,. Taking the character through a couple of phases in life, SRK makes them both look different – the besotted lover and the stoic army man. SRK, in most of his earlier films has played a lover who is yearning for his lady, but improvises Samar differently. Samar does not brandish his confidence verbally that he can get his woman (even if she’s someone else’s now, as has been the case in most SRK films), nor does he show his yearning/brooding openly. The already rib-tickled viewer would probably ask why anyone would really take things lying down and not be a go-getter. Samar is purely about conviction (bomb diffuser, hello?) and some about self-respect. SRK plays the ordinary small-towner as-is, with a zest you want to see in them for  making a life in a big city, and SRK also easily pulls off a few cheeky jokes –  good stuff. Most of YRF’s films have had SRK’s character providing his perspective disapproving of the other protagonist’s thought/action, in the pre-climax via seemingly high-handed dialogue, but SRK always makes it all look convincing. Such as this one in JTHJ “Agar tum kisi insaan ke liye mujhe chod deti na toh us pe taras khaake maaf bhi kar deta , par khuda par kaise taras khaaoon?”. SRK is easily one of the few indispensable parts of JTHJ.

With each film, Katrina seems to be picking up a new acting skill. Katrina’s real-life London upbringing helps her play the Brit-born Meera quite naturally – Hindi with an accent, most importantly and how she carries herself as miss goody two-shoes. Her role is substantial, and has two main shades – the madamoiselle who shows up at the church to give up a bad habit in return for having a wish fulfilled by God, who serves the needful every week, and there’s the other Meera, the una chica loca, the girl gone not-so-wild but likes to dress down, party up, make out in the telephone booth, go all the way on a building terrace, etc. Katrina does really well on both counts, and with a chance to show off her dancing skills, she proves she’s got it. Clearly, Sheela & Chameli were not a testament to her dancing skills. If there is anything lacking, it’s a need for more graphic facial expressions from Katrina, who sometimes appeared blanked out. Otherwise, Katrina very much looks the part, which is a really nice complement to SRK’s character. YRF cinema is never complete without a bubbly girl in the cast. Anushka fills this gap as Akira who, an intern with the Discovery television channel, while video’g Samar the army man’s day-to-day, falls in love with him and also plays light-bearer to his future. As one would expect this signature YRF character to potentially unfold, the flying spirit of this vivacious girl is slammed onto the ground with the turn of events. How Anushka portrays these two opposite sets of emotions easily, is commendable. Specifically, the exchanges between Akira & Samar are exemplary, especially those when Samar acknowledges Akira’s love for him but does not want in. If anything, Akira could have been better-etched, because a sudden need for sacrifice as a trait in Akira does not appear very convincing. Not for someone who claims to be from the instant make out, instant break-up generation. But overall, Anushka is confidence personified and very impressive.

Director Yash Chopra has painted a beautiful picture for the hopelessly romantic, but if you don’t get lost in the hues and don’t notice how they look together, JTHJ will seem like an abstract painting. Yes the film stands on shaky ground script-wise; the characters live in Utopia where nothing is impossible. But YC has extracted great performances out of the three protagonists. YC has woven each frame with right background music, beautiful locales and the grandeur and cinematic dialogue (some Urdu, some Punjabi) so the intended mood of a scene and the experience is not lost. But YC fails in some of the details, which is also partly a Screenplay issue, written by Aditya Chopra. Eg. If the first church prayer scene formula worked in DDLJ, it does not in JTHJ – could be how the characters were involved in it, could be the timing of the scene, or could be the relevance, anyway. While the central plot is simple, the scene-to-scene progression is pretty stretched out in the first half of the film, replete with jetsam that could have been done away with. The second half has more content, and is paced well.

Cinematography by Anil Mehta is reflective of his impressive resume. It may have been a challenge for Anil to capture the essence of the characters, their look, and mood of the scene against the picturesque locations such as Leh, Ladakh or London, and Anil fares extremely well. The images of London, as captured by Anil, the seasons, the landmarks, the average denizens’ public lifestyle, the countryside of the west and the images of India in Jammu & Kashmir, are vivid & indelible. Music by A R Rahman plays a decent role in the film; the theme music, and songs Challa & Saans too have been used as background music to move the story along. Yet, Rahman does not really hit the spot this time around.

Why 3/5:
JTHJ, despite appearing run-of-the-mill on paper, is an artistic journey driven by heartening performances and good cinematography. The star power adds to the required appeal, but also, no one else conveys the ideal better than does Yash Chopra. The 3 points are for the overall plot, the treatment of the characters, the performances, and the cinematography. While, some sudden twists do make you scratch your head. Yash Chopra’s contribution to JTHJ is nothing like that of Heath Ledger to The Dark Knight, but that would be like comparing apples & oranges. And that’s the point really, if you are not fond of eating apple, don’t eat one.

2 Responses to “Jab Tak Hai Jaan”
  1. Varsha says:

    Very Apt review! “Lover and not a boy” is what the director seemed to have missed. A better choice in my opinion could have been showing a younger actor playing SRKs character in the flashback ( ala Love Aaj kal).

    • Sunny says:

      Agree. A younger actor for a younger SRK would have been cool, but the idea would not be original, would it? Ishq Shava clearly showed SRK’s age (reminded me of the Anil Kapoor-Anjana Sukhani nightclub bit from Salaam-e-Ishq).

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