Good : Acting performances , Good locations , Musical score , good concept , Unique direction ( treatment )
Weakness : ineffective handling of the complex concept , Below par screenplay , Few Bollywood clichés ( at times ) , disappointing climax
On the occasion of Friendship Day, I would like to tell to all my buddies that I do cherish the support & brotherhood that we have shared over the years. As Aristotle said "friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies". Even as this weekend that celebrated companionship, it also saw the release of Imtiaz Ali''s "Jab Harry met Sejal" with King Khan & Anushka Sharma as the lead pair. With such a deadly combination, the expectations are nigh high, but will it be a milestone in Bollywood's array of romantic movies???
Harinder Singh aka Harry (SRK) is a tourist guide in Europe, who is adept at his work but emotionally disturbed with memories from the past haunting him. His latest assignment was with a Gujarati family who were dropped off at the airport at the end of the tour. But before Harry could leave the airport, Sejal (Anushka Sharma) a member from that team stayed back & sought his help to find her engagement ring that she had lost during the tour. Though reluctant, he was eventually coaxed into helping her when she threatened him of complaining to the agency. Thus begins their search for the ring across the length & breadth of the continent.
It's been a couple of years since we had a movie from Imtiaz Ali, with the last one being "Tamasha". I have been a fan of his brand of film making which invariably focused on his distinct take on romance that is expressed through self discovery in a travelogue setup. As in the case of his previous ventures, he has scripted this one as well & it deals with the same topic. The biggest flaw with the movie is the script itself as it seemed more like a travelogue of exotic locations with scant regard for the characters. To put it bluntly, hardly anything happens in this 144 minute drag fest. The one aspect that deserve brownie points is the cinematography & kudos to K U Mohanan for it. The same applies to the stylist as well, who made sure that the protagonists looked good together. As for the music, there were way too many songs; some of which were forcibly inserted into the proceedings. Unfortunately for Pritam, none of his tracks actually registers while I wont out the blame of Aarti Bajaj's mediocre editing solely on her.
In recent times, SRK hasnt been able to juggle up the numbers at the box office in proportion to his star appeal. So is it because of his acting skills or choice of scripts? From my point of view, even though he isnt the most gifted artist around; he is beyond doubt the most charming one. To be fair to him, I actually feel his performance has been impressive in recent times ("Dear Zindagi", "Raees" & "Fan") but his choice of scripts has been pathetic for large parts. Even Harry will go down as one such misfire where the script slips worse than a banana skin. Anushka does capture our attention with her histrionics, though it seemed artificial & over the top at various instances.
Verdict: As per box office reports, "JHMS" was one of SRK's worst opening in recent times. It might sound harsh to the makers, but it's a welcome sign that more & more people are giving importance to content rather than the artists involved. With a rather non-existent script, this is more like a travelogue that you can watch in the confines of the cool theatre. In terms of the emotional baggage that is portrayed (no semblance to the story at all), it felt like the inferior sibling of "Ae Dil Hai Mushkil". In short, taking cue from their tagline "this movie is definitely not what we seek"!!!
Jab Harry Met Sejal is a romantic comedy film written and directed by Imtiaz Ali. When the name of the film was declared, lots of criticisms were there since it sounded similar to Hollywood film title ‘When Harry met Sally’. There is always a certain level of expectation from Imtiaz Ali. His directorial journey started with Socha na Tha which was not a great success but his further films Jab we met, Love Aaj Kal, Rockstar, Highway, Tamasha brought him in the league of critically acclaimed young filmmakers.
Jab Harry Met Sejal’s plot is very much familiar, we have seen it in previous films of Imtiaz Ali as well as that of Shahrukh Khan’s films. These days, it is very common in films that two Indian souls meet abroad, do engage in relationships without expecting to have any commitments. But slowly physical as well as emotional entanglement happens. And if one of them is already in a relationship, the confusion part also sets in. After the introduction of a few conflicts, finally these two souls meet. The plot of Jab Harry Met Sejal is so much similar. In fact Imtiaz himself has tried the same plot earlier. So, somewhere, Jab Harry Met Sejal does not click at all, soul is missing from the film. Imtiaz Ali is a brilliant director and the way he interprets his story, does character sketching is appreciable and we have seen some of his best works in the past. But Jab Harry Met Sejal is one of his weakest works. Somewhere, he has absolutely gone wrong in keeping the tone of the film very casual even while the characters are undergoing a process of self-discovery, trying to develop the power of discretion, distinguish between what their hearts and heads want, and finally the power of reunion is also diminished due to inconsistent and shallow screenplay.
The film begins with Harry (Shahrukh Khan), a Punabi tour guide in Europe, taking a bunch of travellers around and seeing them off finally. Although Harry explains passionately to the travellers in regard to the places, he takes a deep breath, a sigh of relief, when he finally sees them off. One of his client is Sejal (Anushka) who decides to give a miss to her flight when she loses her engagement ring. Her fiancée and family members leave whereas she seeks Harry’s help in looking out for the lost ring. Sejal speaks with typical Gujarati accent. Initial instances, where Sejal gives no option to Harry than to accompany her in ring-search, does generate some laughter. Then the whole film revolves around their journey of ring-search all through Amsterdam, Vienna, Lisbon, Budapest, Prague etc. And as it is quite predictable, during this journey both Harry and Sejal end up exploring their inner self as well as their need for one another. Harry is a loner, who has not visited his home in Punjab since last many years. He seeks solace by indulging in casual sex and a few pegs of alcohol. Sejal belongs to a business family in Mumbai and she feels that she has to finally settle down there itself with Rupan, her fiancée. During this journey, both Harry and Sejal realize that in spite of their lives apparently in a happy state, something is still missing. That is where Harry and Sejal understand that they complete one another.
I really don’t want to say that the film is absolutely bad. But the combination of Imtiaz Ali, Shahrukh Khan, Anushka and music of Pritam should have all together created a magical piece which did not happen ultimately. Instead of stamping the film in a particular category, let me list down “What Works” and “What does not work” in the film for your to decide whether you want to watch the film or not.
What does not work in the film:
Both Shahrukh and Anushka are actors who generally bring lot of charm to the screen by their presence. Their pairing in ‘Rab ne Bana Di Jodi’ and ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ did add value to these films, but sadly in this film their pairing does not do any wonders. And, this is indeed a sad thing that two actors and good friends off-screen as well are not able to put their chemistry into optimum level on screen (But I would certainly mention about them individually in “What works in the film” below).
Anushka is good in experimenting with her characters (still somehow she is not at her best in this film).
The back story of Harry’s character is not explored properly.
A few characters are not sketched at all like that of Evelyn Sharma and Chandan Roy Sanyal.
The overall tone of the film is casual, so dialogues lack depth and soul.
The screenplay is a big let down.
What works in the film:
The message (as in the previous films of Imtiaz) is profound that one must explore inner-self and undergo the process of self-discovery. Also, one must follow heart. Also, one must strive to find out what is missing in life. “What you seek is seeking you” – the main message of the film is very good.
Shahrukh certainly has charm, which keeps up the spirit of the film at certain low points (Although at places, he even appeared lousy).
The conflict induced by the presence of Gas (Chandan Roy Sanyal) seemed forced one, but somehow Chandan excelled even in his 5 minutes of screen time. He leaves impact.
Aru Krishansh Verma as Mayank is good.
Of course cinematography does justice to the foreign locale. Beautifully captured.
Pritam has certainly done wonders with the music in the film (although some numbers are absolutely forgettable). Songs are used contextually.
Certain wonderful moments: When Harry and Sejal sit and listen to a concert, both of them have moist eyes. A beautifully captured scene. Another scene, where Harry enacts as Sejal’s fiancée proposing her. One more scene is very soothing when Sejal finds comfort in Harry’s arms, the love between them seems serene.
The combination of Imtiaz Ali, Shahrukh Khan, Anushka and music of Pritam should have all together created a magical piece which did not happen ultimately. Imtiaz Ali is a brilliant director and the way interprets his story, does character sketching is appreciable and we have seen some of his best works in the past. But Jab Harry Met Sejal does not click at all, a soul is missing from the film. Unfortunately, this is Imtiaz’ one of the weakest works so far. Somewhere, he has absolutely gone wrong in keeping the tone of the film very casual even while the characters are undergoing a process of self-discovery, trying to develop the power of discretion, distinguish between what their heart and head want, and finally the power of reunion is also diminished due to an inconsistent and shallow screenplay. Still, I would ask you to watch this film and decide yourself.