Last night I watched Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Yash Chopra’s last movie before his surprising and untimely death, at a screening at The Courthouse Doubletree on Great Malborough Street. What follows is a brief review. Though I would not do you the disservice of revealing major plot twists, there may be minor spoilers ahead so if you want a wholly fresh viewing please do not read on.
I’m going to begin with a review of the performances by the three main stars of this movie, before going on to a quick overview of the movie itself.
Let us begin then with our main audience draw and protagonist – Shah Rukh Khan. As a man of 47 he is still surprisingly adept at playing the same roles (and age) that he did some 10-15 years ago. But then again, there are no “Sean Connery types” in Bollywood, that is to say that Bollywood’s leading men do not do the whole ageing with grace thing, moving steadily into more mature roles. Well, not if they can help it. He does a decent job of playing the hardened daredevil bomb defusal expert with a complicated history of love and loss. In the back story to our contemporary plot, he also does a good job of playing the fool, managing quite a few laughs as the desi boy in London, looking to make it big fresh off the boat. Overall, his contribution was enjoyable.
Next we come to Katrina Kaif. Though she does have her moments, and possibly has developed a smidgen as an actress since her performance in New York in 2009, I still find her so… affected. True her distinctive English-Desi accent suits her character’s back story, just as it did in New York (can you say niche roles?!) but I can’t help but be put off by it. And while she is quite a gorgeous woman, her face, I feel, has a noticeable lack of character. I’d go as far as to say she is the Bollywood version of Kristen Stewart. For almost the entire first half she wears almost embarrassingly short skirts and jumps around a lot (actually I think I just figured out why she’s in this movie). All in all, while I can’t think of anyone else who’d fit the particular character better, I really could have been just as happy with anyone else in the role.
Last, but certainly not least, is relative new-comer Anushka Sharma. I have to say, she was probably the best part of this movie for me. She is energetic and charismatic and her performance was genuinely refreshing. She plays the spritely carefree Delhi-ite who charms her way into our protagonist’s path only to be entwined into his decade-spanning love story. She dresses like a punk, talks and acts like a tom-boy, and is still cute as a button. I gotta say, I may have a bit of crush on this girl.
A quick shot out to Anupam Kher and Rishi Kapoor – two legend from the time that I used to religiously follow Bollywood releases. I really wish we were treated to more stage time by these two.
Now we come to movie itself. I’m not going to lie, by the time the first half ended I couldn’t wait for the movie to be over. But the second half was noticeably better, not least because of a comparative dearth of songs. Once things turned around I was more interested and by the end of run time, I had to say I enjoyed it a fair bit. Having said that, it has all the standard Bollywood devices – an abundance of songs (the first half at least), an unnecessary number of wardrobe changes, overly dramatic background scores, etc. Though, compared to older movies, some sequences are blatantly sexual. I suppose however that this is a move a lot of movies are making, as audiences become more “mature” and sexually aware.
One massive point in the plus column is the cinematography. Jumping back and forth between London and the valleys of Kashmir, this movie has some breathtaking shots. During the many song numbers in the first half we are treated to some brilliant views of different parts of London with some beautifully shot sequences. The lights, the sights, the colours – its mesmerising. Not that the scenes of Kashmir are in any way second. The viewer is treated to vast expanses of open road and gorgeous views of the green valleys.
Post-ending there is a 2-5 minute behind-the-scenes montage, serving as homage to the recently passed Director Yash Chopra. It was a nice touch and a sweet good bye to an acclaimed artist and a significant contributor to Indian cinema in his time.
So overall I’d say watch this movie – its entertaining and I definitely look forward to future works with Anushka Sharma in them, as well as possibly checking out some of the other flics she’s been a part of.