Film, Hindi, Review

Jab Harry Met Sejal

One way to summarize the film: This is Imtiaz’s weakest film since Love Aaj Kal, and barring Dear Zindagi, it is Shah Rukh’s best film in the last 5 years.

As a filmmaker known for unconventional cinema within Bollywood confines, JHMS is a surprising deviation for Imtiaz Ali. It has promise and premise – two characters on a European vacation trying to break the stereotypes they represent. But the film barely scratches the surface of this idea. To see Anushka’s Sejal trying to establish that a Gujarati girl can be sexy, and Shah Rukh’s Harry trying to show that a Punjabi boy can be sensitive, becomes repetitive after the first 30 minutes.

(Not to mention that both stereotypes are mildly offensive to begin with. But respecting the director’s past sensibilities, we will leave it at that for now.)

So the film feels incomplete, because it makes no effort to show why either of them are bent on proving the point. There is a hint on SRK’s past that promises a deliciously dark backstory, but it fizzles out lamely in the narrative. And Sejal has nothing at all. Specifically, this is where it becomes Imtiaz’s weakest film. All of his recent films have been wonderful character explorations, often over plot driven stories. Indeed, it is becoming his signature. JHMS has a thin plot and no characters, leaving it in a limbo on the kind of film it is supposed to be.

The acting is solid by both Shah Rukh and Anushka, and some of their scenes provide the only positives of the film. The Gujarati accent is very much a put on, but she is consistent with it through the film. What makes her performance work are minor details like her costumes, certain hand gestures and expressions that mark out her character. Shah Rukh works his Harry well. He is not a happy person, and he brings out the gloominess of his character just about right.

The way the film ends is a clue to what could have gone wrong. It is, to use a cliché, a sell out. One cannot imagine Imtiaz Ali writing a film to conclude on such a basic, predictable note. This is a film that was born to be something else, but marketing heads and PR gurus contrived it to be a different animal. What a waste.


Hindi, Romance, Drama, Color


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