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The end of a brand of film-making!
Nov 14, 2012 04:54 AM 2511 Views





Jab Tak Hai Jaan has not got mass appeal. In fact, as a Yash Chopra film, it is definitely one of his lesser commercial products. There is a subdued understated tone throughout the film that doesn’t shout at you, just caresses your feelings with an effervescent touch, like a forlorn lover. Let me flesh this out.

I was sitting in the theatre, enjoying the film but I kept hearing “Where is this film going?” “Nothing is ‘happening’ in the film!” “The story isn’t progressing”, from those around me who were perturbed by what they were watching. Most were utterly disappointed. They wanted to ‘whistle’ at the dialogues by SRK but could find no suitable moments, they wanted to clap at punchlines but were left searching and they wanted to ogle at Katrina…in that pursuit, perhaps, they were partially successful. It was in these moments that it hit me. The public these days demands ‘wham bam thank you mam’ kind of cinema. They want action, they want a ‘villain’, they want item songs, cursing that indicates supposed ‘realism’ and what not. They not only want these elements, they almost expect them from a Hindi film. If a film doesn’t give them these, even if it is in small amounts, they will be ‘disappointed’.

And in these moments, I was glad that Yash ji wasn’t amongst us anymore. I was glad he wasn’t around to see this. And I’ll not be surprised if JTHJ flops miserably. In fact, I almost expect it. This is a film which majority of the people won’t ‘get’. That’s because its narrative arc is dependent on its characters and how they develop. Its Dickensian in that aspect, like David Copperfield and Great Expectations (remember how many trials and tribulations David had to go through before David and Agnes were united in the end?) It’s not a film that you can take your kids too. In fact, they will be bored as hell and will not rest, destroying your enjoyment of the film as well. This is not a film you can take your partner to, for it is not about ‘romance’ or ‘young love’ or the process of falling in love either. This film doesn’t make you feel ‘mushy’ inside as they say or gets you in the mood for ‘romance’. No! Not at all. Do not be under that misapprehension. This is an intense, brooding examination of what love is and how it stands the test of time and you are better off watching this alone, with your own dangerous musings for company. It’s very much a ‘mood’ film. If you are happy, this film will make you sad ad depress you. If you are depressed, this film will do the opposite and uplift you. But the best mood for this film? Anger! If you are angry about something, go and watch this film and you will learn so much about anger. It’s not a ‘young love’ film, but a ‘mature’ love film, with stubborn characters that are strong of will. People have always held that I’m a 50 year old living in 20 yr old body and this film seems to have verified that. I loved the ‘maturity’ of the film. It was refreshing and quite unique. This is very much poetry on screen. It plays out like a lyrical ballad – it has highs and lows and it takes its audience through them. As someone who enjoys writing and poetry, I took a lot out of some much understated lines. For example: “Bomb toh sirf ek baar maarega. Zindagi toh humein roz thoda thoda maarti hai”. This is a very poignant moment when SRK says this to Anushka. Now, you cannot clap at this, you cannot whistle, in fact it doesn’t really choke you up either. But give it moment and reflect on it. There is so much pain in that line. And then you start thinking about your own life and the days when life has killed you little by little… There is something to be said when films can get audiences thinking about their own lives like that. Or perhaps it was just me… Now that I’ve cleared some misapprehension that people might have about the film, a word about the film itself and the performances.

The songs, even though might not have come across well as an album but with picturization on screen, they work wonders. Challa, Heer, Saans, Ishq Shava, Jiya Re all fit the mood of the film perfectly. The songs are a bit lopsided though, with most of them appearing in the first half. See how Heer playing in the background surmises the inner turmoil and emotions of SRK and Katrina and special mention to the choreography of Ishq Shava, which was sublime. The dance euphoria just before the song started reminded me a bit of that Dil toh Pagal Hai dance off, however, Kat is not an ounce of what Madhuri or even Karishma was in dancing. Still, Kat moves surprisingly gracefully, supplely and with great purpose. SRK also shows he’s still got a spring in his step.

The intimate scenes between SRK and Kat were handled so well that they didn’t appear ‘intimate’ at all. Yash Chopra certainly knew how to keep things current in terms of love scenes, yet without any indication of vulgarity. In fact, all the intimate scenes are very well shot and edited and SRK and Kat looked very comfortable in them. There are also plenty of kisses between SRK and Kat but observe the adorable ‘pecking’ system that Yashji adopted as opposed to the serial kissing ‘eating your face off’ system that Emraan Hashmi employed in the Bhatt films and beyond.

The detailing in all the scenes and songs is just marvellous.

Cinematography, as always has been a standard to beat in a Yash Chopra film and the film is worth a watch in the theatre just for plain aesthetics and how colourful it looks on the big screen – very vibrant colour schemes! Shahrukh gives a very restrained and understated performance which is uncharacteristic of him in recent times. In fact, this is one of the most ‘un’SRK like performance he’s given, where he’s actually playing a character and relies on his “stock” mannerisms only scarcely. He plays a younger and an older version of himself. I preferred the portrayal of the older character better, with the brooding look he’s got going in the film. Even those who might not particularly like SRK’s style and have criticised him in the past will agree that he brings a dignity to the role of Major Samar Anand that not only serves our army comrades well but the restrained tone of the character reminded me of the earlier days of his career when he was taking on challenging roles. He should do these types of roles more often. They don’t match his flamboyant personality, but a few roles like those in Swades, Chak De and now this in recent times show that he can still play ‘characters’ with élan. Katrina does well and her broken Hindi regime actually suits her character here as she plays an NRI girl in the film. Kat was really stretched here to play a ‘character’ and stand tall in the emotional scenes and she holds herself surprisingly well. She’s developing into a decent actress and she should start doing roles which allow here to explore her acting range more as she’s more than capable of it. Of course, Hindi films do not have strong female parts that often and it’s a treat that in this film, both female leads had equally strong parts. But strong female leads have been a forte of Yashji since eternity so no surprise there.


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Jab Tak Hai Jaan