Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jab Tak Hai Jaan 

Last Love Letter

It is with a twinge of sorrow that one refers to Yash Chopra in the past tense.  He was a filmmaker who foresaw and set trends in Bollywood and his love stories were personally signed valentines to his audience. 
Veer Zaara held the essence of everything he stood for, but since a filmmaker can never let his creativity atrophy, he made Jab Tak Ha Jaan, which, unfortunately, turned out weak, soppy and derivative—in short, not up to the standards he set for himself. Aditya Chopra’s story borrows from The Titanic, The Vow, Hurt Locker and maybe Hindi film memory-loss chestnuts like Amar Deep (1958) and Prem Bandhan (1979) and some of YRF’s own productions like Dil To Pagal Hai.

The script is full of contrivances and old-hat devices like detailed diaries conveniently left around for the right person to read. And what it to be said for the ‘ideal’ heroine, who pines forever for her lost lover.

Rich London girl Meera (Katrina Kaif), has the habit of striking bargains with Jesus in an always glittering but abandoned church.  Samar (Shah Rukh Khan) is a busker, waiter, odd job man in London.  Of all the people in the city, Meera picks the street singer to teach her a Punjabi song for her father’s birthday.  Like Jack in The Titantic,  Samar takes the heiress to the underground of dance and booze, she never encountered and unleashes the “gali ki gundi” in her.  There is no rich-poor issue at all, so there was no reason for Samar to be an impoverished, struggling ‘young’ man, just Bollywood force of habit.
For the flimsiest of reasons—laughable really—Meera leaves him.  Samar, recovering from a life-altering accident, heads straight to the Indian army and into the bomb squad in Kashmir, for The Hurt Locker bits. There, in his bearded and grim avatar, is meets the annoyingly shrieky documentary filmmaker Akira (Anushka Sharma), who wears the tiniest of shorts and thinnest of tops when everyone else in winter clothing.

She falls for him too, but like “today’s generation” is cool and shrug-y about love, her ambition being to bed men with all accents. Then she summons Samar to London, he goes reluctantly and had another accident, which results in “retrograde amnesia”  (people in the cinema laughed!).  He remembers Meera and forgets Akira, who, however, does all she can to help—including bringing Meera back.  By this time the film is already too long, you know where it’s headed and are wishing it ends quickly. The music does not have the Yash Chopra magic and Gulzar’s lyrics are kind of lost in Rahman’s compositions.

There are touching Yash Chopra moments, but nothing to beat his own tear-inducing sequences from past films.  Shah Rukh Khan’s charm keeps the film running on empty. Katrina Kaif looks pretty and manages to pull off a couple of tough scenes, while Anushka Sharma looks too scrawny and tries too hard. Jab Tak Hai Jaan is worth look only because it marks the end of an era.  It’s heart-breaking that Yash Chopra won’t be making films any more.





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