The ApunKaChoice movie review of Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Jab Tak Hai Jaan is Yash Chopra’s final tribute to love. Not the mutable love that changes as often as relationship statuses on social networking sites, but LOVE as the undying, unfading, unmitigated connect between two people, as was once the Bollywood staple with all the fluff and melodrama thrown in. It’s the love that tortures and torments but also heralds redemption. It’s the love as purists claim to know. It’s the love as Yash Chopra showed us through the films he made Jab Tak he had his Jaan.
Here, the legendary filmmaker takes an overlong story and screenplay cobbled by his son Aditya Chopra and Devika Bhagat, and transforms it into a celluloid romance that, though not without flaws and slack, is nonetheless a roller-coaster of emotions. Love in this tale is a tempest and no smooth sail is destined for the bravehearts who set forth to journey together, or apart.
The film opens beautifully in the present day Leh, where Samar Anand (Shahrukh Khan), an officer in the army’s bomb disposal squad, diffuses a bomb in a market. Samar is no ordinary officer. He never wears a bombsuit for protection, and flirts with death every day and walks away unscathed. He is called “The Man Who Cannot Die”.
And though one sees an uncanny resemblance between Samar Anand and William James of the Oscar winning The Hurt Locker, Samar in JTHJ has a love story with a festering wound that propels him to walk into danger and willingly put his life on the line.
Akira (Anushka Sharma), a rookie documentary filmmaker looking for a big break with Discovery Channel, chances upon Samar’s diary and gets to know of his past.
A flashback to 2002 shows us the young and strapping Samar grub for a living, doing odd jobs in London. He meets and falls for Meera (Katrina Kaif), a rich businessman’s daughter engaged to a man of her dad’s choice. Samar’s charm and vivacity rubs off on Meera and sooner than she could realize she’s in love with him too. But there’s a problem. She’s a girl given to making vows to Jesus Christ in a London church and it’s one such vow that drives a wedge in this love story.
Silly though it may sound to pivot the entire drama in a love story upon a vow made by a woman who herself admits to being a dunce by the story’s end, Yash Chopra does his best despite being hamstrung by a mess of a story by Aditya Chopra. True, the film breezes by in the first half, the second half is well-nigh a drag and a test of the viewer’s patience with a gratuitous retrograde amnesia angle squeezed in.
Yet, all credit to Shahrukh Khan and Yash Chopra for making the farfetched fable seem convincing. Jab Tak Hai Jaan has a few masterstrokes by the late filmmaker that all but steal one’s breath away. A dance sequence between Shahrukh and Katrina Kaif in a seedy London den is the highpoint of the first half. There’s a finely executed sequence of Katrina’s reunion with her estranged mom (Neetu Singh). The second half starts off well, but slides into banality when our hero loses a part of his memory. What follows is the film’s writer’s blunder. The less said about it, the better.
Shahrukh Khan and Anushka Sharma stand out with their performances. Particularly notable is the farewell scene between Samar and Meera. In one fell swoop and chameleonic change of facial expressions, Shahrukh transforms from a buoyant, happy-go-lucky Samar to a seething, searing, angsty lover. Anushka Sharma is a riot when she’s her breezy, chirpy self. But with equal ease she brings forth the vulnerability of her Akira. Katrina Kaif is plastic for the most part and springs to live only in the aforementioned dance sequence.
A R Rahman’s music is nothing to hum home about, while Anil Mehta’s cinematography captures London, Leh and Kashmir with equal aplomb.
To sum it up, Jab Tak Hai Jaan is a film high on emotions. It’s a buffet of Yash Chopra brand of romance, of myriad emotions like love, angst, separation, longing, hurt and redemption. It could have been a masterpiece if only God and retrograde amnesia were kept out.