The on-screen alchemy between Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma in 'Jab Harry Met Sejal' works in parts. What doesn't is the movie itself, which lacks the soul, and clever subversion
Anushka Sharma and Shah Rukh Khan in 'Jab Harry Met Sejal'
'Jab Harry Met Sejal'
Director: Imtiaz Ali
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma
I guess a romantic comedy is the hardest genre to pull off, and thereby even harder to sit on a high horse, and pontificate over. Frankly, either the penny drops. Or it doesn't. Everything else is mental master-bhashan!
To top that, this film's basic proposition itself is so far out, if you may, that you ought to take a major leap to get on the ride at all. Even the characters here say it, to your face, that it's not easy imagining that a girl—perhaps a Gujarati diamond merchant's daughter—travelling in a family group, will lose her engagement ring, and then leave everyone behind at the airport to practically retrace her entire trip across Europe, trying to find the ring that she could've lost anywhere. I'm sorry? "It's emotion," the girl reasons. "This is getting far too silly," the hero rightly mentions.
The hero being a tourist guide—a profession that I believe will be the first to lose out to artificial intelligence, if it hasn't already. He's forced to chaperone, drive this Gujju dame all around the continent, eyeing various swept up floors, instead of making phone calls at these locations to realise that, no man, you can't find a frickin' ring like that. Aise kaise? Picture hai, bro!
Not just that, this is a musical-travelogue, directed by Imtiaz Ali, who after 12 years of entertaining audiences within the same genre, is now being accused of being repetitive! You knew exactly what you were walking into, what else is a rom-com, but a Harry type who meets a Sally (or Sejal) variety—s*** happens, before they choose to be together for good. Or not. Furthermore, didn't Tolstoy say something on how all great stories (which is where all other stories flow from) are about two things: man goes on a journey; or a stranger comes to town?
What's merely surprising is that up until now, while Imtiaz had robustly championed urban romance, often setting it among the supremely rich, he'd never done a film with Shah Rukh Khan—the original post-90s, poster-boy of Raj-Simran kinda semi-realistic, romantic fantasy-comedy. Maybe he couldn't have, since all his films, barring the reasonably fine Love Aaj Kal, has been about one character 'adulting', the other being ever so juvenile ('Jab We Met', 'Tamasha', 'Rockstar' etc)—both being very young, and at the cusp of what's called 'coming of age'.
This is Imtiaz's first film with SRK, and that's the only novelty. SRK, in his 50s—although he doesn't quite look it—plays Harry, which may be short for Harinder, or some such, since he hails from the pind in Punjab. Sejal is more the quintessential Imtiaz heroine—earthy, feisty—quite finely attempting the Gujju twang. She's upset over the fact that even a womaniser like Harry isn't interested in her. That's funny. Harry can't handle this woman who's piled on to him, but he carries on nonetheless. This is bizarre. The on-screen alchemy between the two, no doubt, works in parts.
What doesn't, I suppose, is the movie itself, which lacks the soul, and clever subversion, before it inevitably begins to descend into the climax that you know it will. I'm not humming any track from the movie in my head right now either. Nor can I recall a moment that blew me away. Sure, there were some decent ones.
This sucks, given this film is from a mainstream director with very strong sense of notes and visuals, who's used a star mainly as a tool to drive home his point about pain, loneliness, and love. Screw the story. That's not what we go to movies for anyway. It's okay if we've seen all of it before. Did I feel anything at all? Nope. Damn.
Watch 'Jab Harry Met Sejal' trailer