JAB HARRY MET SEJAL – This rom-com is a colossal letdown

Travelling – it leaves you speechless,then turns you into a storyteller

– Ibn Battuta

INTRO

Hollywood is replete with #RoadMovies, so much so that it has become a genre in itself. From the cult #Biking film EASY RIDER to the stunning #Biopic THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, from the #Dystopian adrenaline fest that was MAD MAX – FURY ROAD to the very #Feminist THELMA & LOUISE and of course the bitter-sweet tale of LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE road movies are aplenty. Not so with our #Bollywood. Though in recent times with films like ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA, PIKU, NH-10 and FINDING FANNY this is all set to change. Imtiaz Ali whose own road movie HIGHWAY saw the breakthrough performance of actress #AliaBhatt is in familiar territory with JAB HARRY MET SEJAL.

STORY

The central character in the whole film is actually this engagement #Ring which a girl called Sejal (Anushka Sharma) has lost on her trip to Europe with her family. Enter Harinder Singh Nehra aka Harry who gets coerced into joining Sejal in this quest for the ring. Thus begins a long and arduous (for the viewers)journey during which they fall in love (Surprise!Surprise!) with each other.

SCRIPT, SCREENPLAY & DIALOGUES

As a writer #ImtiazAli has oscillated from the sublime (SOCHA NA THA, JAB WE MET, HIGHWAY) to the
ridiculous (LOVE AAJ KAL, ROCKSTAR, TAMASHA) with alarming regularity throughout his career. Sadly JAB HARRY MET SEJAL falls under the latter. In fact for most of the 144 minutes of it’s running time, the writing in the film is strictly pedestrian. The basic premise (of the lost ring) itself is flawed and so are the two lead characters of this enterprise. While Shahrukh’s Harry seems like a caricature of what he has played for the last two decades and more it is Anushka’s Sejal who is a huge letdown given that Ali is known to write strong female characters in his film. And the big reason is her overdone ‘Gujju’ accent that annoys and irritates in equal measure. Surely the director & the actress knew this one was going awry. To make matters worse the situations evoke a strong feeling of #DejaVu. The only saving grace are the songs. But after a point even they seem one too many.

TECHNICAL CREDITS

Imtiaz Ali’s movies always deliver when it comes to the soundtrack, the stunning locales and the
fantastic production values. And JAB HARRY MET SEJAL is no exception. The music by #Pritam is the one silver lining and regardless of how the film does songs like SAFAR will be on your playlist for some time yet. KU Mohanan has captured #Amsterdam (and other parts of Europe) extremely well making each song worth a watch on the big screen. The editing by Aarti Bajaj is all right considering that bad films are not particularly easy to cut, chop and snip.

PERFORMANCES

In the 2011 movie ROCKSTAR the writing by Imtiaz Ali was not great either. But it got saved by a
stunning performance by #RanbirKapoor in the lead role and of course, a rousing soundtrack by maestro A.R.Rehman Here there is no such luck. At least as far as the performances go. While the starlet Evelyn Sharma is forgettable in a minor role, it is actor Chandan Roy Sanyal in a negative role who is terrible in a track that could have been edited out of the film even. Sad to see this very talented actor (who wowed us all in KAMINEY and D-DAY) in such inane roles.

Actress #AnushkaSharma who is good even in bad films (and she has had her fair share of them with
BOMBAY VELVET, MATROO KI BIJLEE KA MANDOLA & JAB TAK HI JAAN) looks like a million bucks. Where someone like Deepika Padukone was able to pull off her Tamilian accent character with aplomb in CHENNAI EXPRESS, Anushka’s interpretation of her Gujarati character falls flat on it’s face. For superstar #ShahrukhKhan this film is a setback he could have done without. Especially when it seemed like he was turning things around with his last three films, FAN, DEAR ZINDAGI and RAEES all indicating a resurgence. JAB HARRY MET SEJAL is sure sign that the audience has had enough of the serenading.

DIRECTION

Imtiaz Ali has always made romantic albeit quirky films and that he writes them too gives him a measure of control over how the final product will turn out. So there is no excuse really for the half baked, under cooked enterprise that JAB HARRY MET SEJAL is. To use cricketing analogy it is like an opening batsman getting out to a lazy shot on a belter of a pitch where runs are there for the taking. After his last film TAMASHA turned out to be debacle one expected Imtiaz Ali to pull up his socks for this one. Clearly that was not to be. Bollywood can be a cruel place for those who squander opportunities and one only hopes that this director realises this. Before it is too late.

VERDICT

JAB HARRY MET SEJAL has no redeeming features that can be prove to be a saving grace at the box office. It is a very ordinary film with average performances and above average music. As both the audiences & critics have unequivocally given the film a thumbs down, it’s failure is inevitable. Avoidable.