Jab Tak Hai Jaan is a romance that does woo you at times you least expect it. But for most parts it doesn't let you forget that it is after all a film.
People do crazy things when they have faith - whether that belief lies in love, God or anything in between. And we shouldn't be surprised to have Yash Chopra explore this theme, when he has picked romance as the genre. Unfortunately though, only few times in the film do you want to change your belief that this is only a film, far far from reality. Very few.
Sure, it might not have aimed at being real at all. But it doesn't sweep you off your feet in a fairy tale like manner either. In my mind, it will stay as the last film made by the man who made films that had characters who were human, who had emotions like you and me, who had stories that absorbed me. Nothing more, and fortunately nothing less. Only unfortunately, this time around I have seen them too many times on screen. And they are telling me their story instead of playing it out.
Shah Rukh Khan doesn't let you forget that he is Shah Rukh Khan. So much so that you can predict the expression he is going to have as a reaction to whatever just happened. Yet, the way he looks at his woman is something only the rare woman cannot be charmed by. The rest of his body language though is as annoying as it has been in almost every other film.
Katrina Kaif too, doesn't allow you to think of her as a woman of great faith, like her character is supposed to be. Fortunately for her though, the rest of her character is something that we associate with her instantly, London-bred desi who has it all. Though that works for the casting bit, it doesn't say much about her acting skills or that of the writer's creativity.
Anushka Sharma plays her characters bit of chirpiness and forced seriousness. But then again her character must be the most superficially written. More like a representative of today's youth. More like a stereotype of today's youth – shallow, self-centered people waiting to be taken into the depths that real life is about.
You are spoonfed adjectives that you are expected to associate each character with. Samar (Shah Rukh Khan) is the stud, looks-at-death-in-its-eye, poet, romantic. Akira (Anushka Sharma) is the bubbly, exuberant, let-the-devil-care, woman of 2012. Meera (Katrina Kaif) is the enigmatic, guarded waiting-to-be-swept-off-her-feet, whose faith in her God is as unshakable as her namesake.
After this initial exposure, you are waiting to be completely sucked into their stories. But it doesn't happen. It shows promise every once in a while, but doesn't come through. The story itself is more or less predictable. And the theme of undying love is dealt with pretty much the same way.
Yet, it has a few moments of charm, a few moments of genuine chemistry between the characters. It has a couple of the quintessential Yash Chopra woman-to-woman scenes that I so admire, even if they are nowhere close to the ones in Silsila or Lamhe. Yet, it has the 'aawww' for the romantically-inclined. It has moments that make you want to fall in love for the first time , all over again. But they aren't taken through to the climax. I must say though that the runtime at 3 hours didn't bother me. That is a huge plus considering I start getting fidgety around minute 120.
One thing that bothers me though is that, in their attempt at making a story that rings true in today's time, the young and hip seem to define a lot of their love in terms of physical attraction. The sexual tension for those brief moments (before the camera angles and music all go melodramatic on us) while done well, seem pivotal to the relationships. This seems a little out of character in the film.
A bit of that might be brought back into balance because the film does seem to address the youth of today. It is indeed telling us all to believe. To believe in love. To have hope that it will come to everyone, when the time comes.
Yet, the only driving force behind recommending this film is as a tribute to the director. Something, I'd watch for the sake of completeness - that I have tried to see all his films. But, I'd still go back to a Trishul or a Deewar or a Kala Pathar or a ...
- meetu, a part of the audience
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