Mostly, Jab Harry Met Sejal is a predictable story that Imtiaz Ali has already told, writes Shomini Sen
What you seek, is seeking you – Rumi’s quote has perhaps been used as the core of many love stories across the world. In India, Imtiaz Ali has overused the quote- film after film- where the hero, despite a job and a family- is unsettled in life- and it takes a woman and her love for him to come of age, find himself or find his true calling.
This has been the format for almost all of Imtiaz Ali’s films ~ from Jab We Met to Love Aaj Kal to even Rockstar and his last Tamasha. Which is why the filmmakers’ latest Jab Harry Met Sejal seems like a predictable tale of love- where tour guide Harry (Shah Rukh Khan) meets Mumbai-based lawyer Sejal (Anushka Sharma) and realises how love completes him. Sejal is herself on a lookout for her engagement ring- which she got from her boyfriend on the Euro Trip that the two took along with their families and Harry as their tour guide. Sejal misses her flight back home and instead compels a reluctant Harry to travel across Prague, Budapest and Amsterdam in search of her missing ring. While the duo sets out in search of a lost ring, they find love and answers to a lot of their lives’ questions.
Harry is a lonely man. A self-proclaimed womaniser, he runs away from emotions and lives out of suitcases and craves to return to his Pind. He has his demons that haunt him regularly. He hates Sejal’s exuberance at first, calls her ‘sisterly’ when she tries to seduce him and remains exasperated at her stubbornness to find a ring across Europe. Sejal on the other hand, takes the trip as a way to find herself. She is practical, knows she has a job, a family and a fiancé waiting in Mumbai but can’t help letting go and having fun with a tour guide in foreign land. Both are aware that the ‘good times’ would end soon and yet they find themselves falling for each other. Now for those who thought this was what Tamasha’s first half was all about- you are right. Because Harry and Sejal’s story is just that- a mashup of Tamasha and Jab We Met with a few bits of Love Aaj Kal and Rockstar thrown in between.
It isn’t as intense as Tamasha or Highway though. Anushka’s Sejal act evokes laughs in several scenes despite an annoying and unnecessary ‘Gujju’ accent. The actress shines in first half, making Sejal a very endearing character. SRK, on the other hand, delivers a restraint performance as the confused tour guide Harry. Quite a departure from the characters he has played in most of the love stories in his career. The two actors share great camaraderie on the screen, where you can see the friendship blooming between the uncanny pair. The director, though does include a few scenes to showcase SRK’s charismatic style of romancing the leading lady and you can see he is playing to the gallery. There is also Chandan Roy Sanyal in a cameo appearance which is perhaps the best bit in the film where Sanyal plays a small time (illegal immigrant) Bangladeshi goon to perfection.
While the story is predictable, the music is just about average. Imtiaz Ali’s films have always had superb music. He has in the past teamed up with Pritam and AR Rahman and both composers have belted out some memorable tunes for the film-maker. But this film doesn’t have great songs. The only song that probably remains with you after the film is over is Hawayein sung by Arijit Singh.
So does the film work? If you are an ardent Imtiaz Ali fan, maybe it does for you. But mostly it is a predictable story that the film-maker has already told. It will make you travel to some exotic places like all his films do and it will make you laugh out loud in certain parts because of Sejal and her ways. But it won’t leave you overwhelmed or surprised like certain of Ali’s films have in the past.
Perhaps it’s time for Imtiaz Ali to rethink the concept of love , eh?
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