Jab Harry Met Sejal - Review

wogma rating: Even the keen, wait for DVD (?)
quick review:

A few lovely, honest moments; good performances but zero story doesn't work for this “boy meet girl” film.

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Wogma Review

The first half is uneventful but carries some charm. The second half is uneventful and is dull. Unfortunately, Jab Harry Met Sejal isn't one of those romantic films that let you enjoy the “nothing is happening” ambiance it carries. However, it has these moments between the lead pair that are honest - where they step back and warn each other; where they take an introspective look at themselves too. This honesty is so rare in romantic Hindi films that you could appreciate Jab Harry Met Sejal just for that.

Imtiaz Ali has the knack for writing a story that stands solely on its lead couple - the conversations they have, the chemistry they share. There are minimal extraneous characters, so you spend those two+ hours living, breathing, and feeling only what these two characters feel. So much so that when the side stories do come, they seem very out of place.

However, the situations this couple finds itself in as they travel from city to city are rather random. Aside from quaint Europe that can be captured beautifully, these situations seem to be written with the intention of exposing a little about the characters each time, and also why the other is falling in love with them. However, the broader stroke of “looking for an engagement ring that the lady has lost” is stretched too far. The metaphor that the search for the ring tries to underline with explicit dialogue also seem a far stretch.

What keeps the film alive is the snappy dialogue and the performances. For those of us who cannot handle the typical Shah Rukh Khan hamming, you will be happy to know there's very little of that. He has good control over the character. In fact, there were instances when it felt like he wanted to give an even better performance. But he remembered that he is Shah Rukh Khan who has an image to keep that would be shattered if he continued the good act. Very meta, I say.

Also, I have always liked this intensity with which he looks into the eye of the woman making her believe she is the only woman in the world. It always takes my breath away and transports me to the moment they are in. Jab Harry Met Sejal has quite a few of these and they don't get old. Unfortunately, Anushka Sharma's attempt to stick to the Gujrati accent, that her character supposedly needs, distract from her performance.

She does seem like that simple girl her character is making out to be – one who has maturely decided to stay innocent, even naive. So much so you wonder through most of the first half, “What is she playing at?” Harry too is trying to save himself from his supposedly misbehaving self. Characters with these contrasts are always engaging. The shift between their childlike chemistry to intense attraction flows smoothly too.

Jab Harry Met Sejal also evokes another part of a relationship that is rarely touched – the phase just before separation when the couple is together but start living the separation a few days in anticipation. The impending sorrow is brought into the present, marring today's togetherness. But, this finesse in writing is lost when it comes to the episodic situations and the overarching theme of one person completing another by making him/her a better person. “Loving someone as they are”, is for another film, I guess.

That aside, Jab Harry Met Sejal is also one of those films that has great music which shouldn't have made it into the film. They reek of commercial considerations rather than having roots in the story. The wedding song and the lovely duet, both seem so forced that they might as well have just started singing and dancing instead of trying to mask them with excuses to make them a part of the film.

That work instead could've been used to shorten the film and keep the film from being underwhelming. The kind of underwhelming where you are wondering which type of clichéd climax you are headed for. The only reason then to watch this one in the theater if you want to watch a film for seeing Europe on big screen.

~ ~ ~

p.s. I had the most amusing and amused person sitting next to me in the theater. She was laughing so loudly through the first half that I changed seats during interval. Almost like Janice from the TV series F.R.I.E.N.D.S, I exaggerate not.

Also, she couldn't stop saying, “Oh my God, so haaawt”, “so sexy” every time Shah Rukh Khan or Anushka Sharma came on screen. Though I changed seats, I was just so happy to see how much she was enjoying herself. She had come to have a blast and she made sure she did.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A couple of fist fights.
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: There is a continuous sexual undercurrent that is talked about a lot. A liplock and a pole dancing too.
  • Concept: Boy meets girl
  • General Look and Feel: Tasteful use of camera and lighting.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 2.5
  • Story: 2.5
  • Lead Actors: 3.5
  • Character Artists: 2.5
  • Dialogues: 3.5
  • Screenplay: 1
  • Music Director: 3.5
  • Lyrics: 3

Jab Harry Met Sejal - Movie Details

Jab Harry Met Sejal - Trailer

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Comments (1)

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Fan:

Raddi.

Indian languages at times have some fantastic vocabulary that allow to express a full detailed opinion with only one word. And "raddi" aptly and completely describes this Jab we met in Europe affair.

There ain't one thing worthwhile that I can think of in this film.

If it was supposed to be an intellectual film, then I question the stupidity of showing a 20 odd years old Sejal as a 60-year old Gujarati housewife with the accent associated with the 60 years old. And I question the jibe taken on JSK. Yes, thanks to the texting craze Jay Shree Krishna is shortened to JSK in text messages by many Gujaratis. But when it comes to speech, I have yet to come across a Gujarati in real life who does not say Jay Shree Krishna.

If it was supposed to be a commercial film, then I can ignore such blatant stupidities about accent of a 20- odd year Gujarati girl brought up in Mumbai and raised in an upper class society. I can accept it as innocent fun in a light film, but then I would have lot of difficulty to accept the weird ending in a commercial film - an ending where the makers tried to have intellectual pretensions.

Regardless of intellectual or commercial film, the ending of the film, keeping in line with the raddi tag, is complete bakwas. Yet another single word from Indian vocabulary beautifully expressing the situation.

SRK hams as always. Anushka, even though I am warming up to her as a producer, is still to impress me even once as an actress. Even though the heavily accented role that she was asked to enact by the makers is oddly attributed to a youngster, she does get the audible part of the accent correct. But the visible part is all wrong!! She had to make efforts every time that she put on the accent, her facial movements made it clear that it is not coming naturally to her.

As regards road trip through Europe, honestly there is nothing worth seeing. A less than 5 seconds glimpse of Zaans Schans, a long shot of Charles bridge, a close up of the Chain bridge making it even difficult to realise that we are in Budapest, and some lanes in Portugal. Watch a Hollywood film or a better Bollywood film than Jab we met in Europe to get a better view on Europe.

Finally, Bollywood needs to get over this false romanticisation of an upper class born and brought up girl meets lower class boy. Unfortunately in real life such combinations only generate sorrow.

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