Saturday, 26 January 2013

Son of Sardaar

Directed by: Ahswni Dhir

Starring: Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, Juhi Chawla

Released: 2012
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Son of Sardaar is fun. Light-hearted, uncomplicated, straight-forward and most importantly family friendly. It is possibly the only big masala film of 2012 that has no sexual innuendos, no double meaning hints, no gay jokes or raunchy dance numbers. It is silly, oh yes, the amount of silly is quite considerable, and it definitely makes clear yet again that Bollywood action is more and more going South (where gravity means nothing and physics wanders around unemployed) and hence not believable in any way – which in this case ads to the „family friendly“ I have already mentioned, because the „violence“ shown is so over the top you just cannot take it seriously. The major weakness is the very beginning, that may turn many people off, as it is rather cringe worthy. Taking a jump of Big Ben and dancing among a horde of white women in desi clothing (my ears would hurt at how much voices would raise on social websites against such cultural appropriation – and they would be right) and fighting off white goons a minute later made even me considering if I should even bother. But once Salman Khan´s useless cameo is over, things do get better. A lot.

The story has roots in an age old enmity between two rich Punjabi families, who for generations have been slaughtering one another and taking revenges and so started an unending cycle of bloodshed. Until a wife of a recently murdered one decided she has had enough, took her children and fled from India. She saved herself and children, but complicated lives of the other family, of which various members took various oaths: to never eat ice-cream, to never have a cold drink, and to never marry – until the last offspring of the hated family was not killed by their hands. But how to fulfill such promises if the person in question is nowhere to be found? And so there are is no ice-cream or cold drinks for some, and no shaadi for others. For over twenty years.

Then one day out hero Jassi is distracted from his pathetic dancing with white girls in London by a letter summoning him to Punjab because of some inherited land, and Jassi flies down to India with an intention to sell it and then peacefully return. While on his way he meets feisty no-nonsense girl Sukhmit and falls for her immediately. What luck she travels to the same place as he does. And even greater luck awaits it seems: after he looses her on the train station, he runs into Billu, who invites him home, and it turns out Sukhmit is his cousin. But don´t be fooled. The luck is not about finding Sukhmit. It lies in Jassi being within the walls of Billu´s house. For he is the one they want to kill, and they soon find that out. But to harm a guest in any way is just not done. They have to wait for him to step out. And Jassi, completely shocked upon learning the truth by chance, does everything that might delay his leaving.

What surprised me was a simplicity of the plot and settings. Apart from the train traveling at the beginning and some wild chasing near the end everything happens in one place. The plot is also very straightforward, and the filmmakers managed to keep it interesting for most of the film. True enough, some of the scenes could have been shorter, because you do get the idea of what is going on, and after some point you grow a bit impatient and want things to move forward – had film lasted 2 hours only, it would have helped. The songs are put into the film well, but sadly none really captured my interest – and the Po Po song is definitely a product of some really ill mind.

All the involved actors prove they have a great comic timing and talent. Ajay pleasantly surprised me, because I expected him to be an unbeatable machine without a trace of fear, and while he definitely shows that when necessary he will give everyone a lesson, his Jassi was more of an average guy wanting nothing but everyone to get along. Sanjay Dutt too is very good, my only complaint is: why did he have to look so bad? The styling was just horrible – and made me question who would wait for over 20 years to marry him? Especially if the bride herself is the beauteous Juhi Chawla? 

Now, Juhi in this film you either like or hate. And it is really up to how you decide. Indeed, I felt like I was put before a choice. Because I could say she was a delight to watch, a sweetheart and a cutie, who deserved more screenspace and I would mean it. And at the same time I could say she was over the top and took it to the annoying level, and it would still be kinda true. But I was happy to see her in a mainstream film after so long, so I largely go with the first. Sonakshi is the weakest of the four leads, which is no insult to her, since all are seasoned actors who have proved themselves numerous times in the past, at the same time Sonakshi definitely sells you Sukhmit as a real character, and that goes to her credit. Although yeah, she looks like Ajay´s daughter throughout.

And so I ended up nearly loving Son of Sardaar and cannot understand all the hate it got.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya

Directed by: Sohail Khan

Starring: Salman Khan, Arbaaz Khan, Kajol, Dharmendra

Released: 1998
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Who wouldn´t immediately think about the iconic song from Mugal-E-Azam upon hearing this film´s title, right? Well, there are no palaces and princes in this one. It is pretty much all Salman Khan in his pre-lazy period rocking the screen. Nice colours, nice music, nice story, I really found Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya, directed by the youngest of three Khan brothers, supported by the fame of the eldest and giving job to the middle one, an endearing venture. In a way it reminded me of DDLJ, mainly because the plot is driven by an idea of young man butting into the girl´s family, trying to win their affection, and to top it the girl yet again is none other than Kajol, but it is really just a similarity and no rip-off I believe.

Muskaan (Kajol) is an orphan, living in a village with her still dashing uncle (Dharam Paaji) and elder, somehow grumpy brother Vishal (Arbaaz), who really doesn´t talk much, neither he likes others to talk much. Other characters we get introduced to are Muskaan´s friend Ujala, who has more than a crush on Vishal (he seems to be completely oblivious and uninterested, even after she throws some uber-sexy dance in his way) and a home cook, who has no role really, but I believe he deserves a mention for the proud presentation of some really weird wardrobe.

The same awful thing is to be used as a punishment for the hero.
Vishal is greatly concerned for Muskaan, she being his everything. And so he keeps rejecting all the marriage proposals and beats the heck out of everybody who even dares to look at her. For all his love and caring, obviously, Muskaan feels rather suffocated in her small uneventful world and so pleads with her brother to be allowed to study in a big city. Reluctantly Vishal agrees and even more reluctantly he drops her to the college – where to his utmost horror young people smoke and – shock shock - DATE!!!! Oh, had he only known his perfectly normal sister may – GASP! - fall in love with a guy her age and choice, he would never have let her go there! But fortunately for Muskaan he cannot see into the future and so she can enjoy a little of life.

Soon enough her friend Suraj (Salman) falls in love with her and wins her affection in return. Unfortunately her big brother, with an empathic ability of a frozen Alsatian dog after a brain transplantation, says a big no no and Muskaan is promptly taken home. But Suraj is not ready to give up on her, and so he finds himself on a quest of sneaking into her home and trying to win everyone over. And he nearly succeeds – but Vishal bumps into a hairy guy looking as stoned as himself, and decides this dude he has known for a few days is the right one for his sister. That is may not be the best decision ever, you can already guess....

"I hairy. You hairy. I stoned. You sleazy. I give sister. You take sister. Deal?"
Salman and Kajol make a lovely couple. She is delightful as meek, yet loyal Muskaan, but is rather sidelined in the second part of the film, I felt. That is Salman´s show, and he is pure hilarious. Suraj is a perfect combination of a young man very much serious about his love, at the same time he is still a bit of a mischievous child, and Salman captured both the sides of his character beautifully. His comic talent was in the top form. We cannot really shower praises on his brother though. After impressive debut in Daraar, it turned out he is actually not at all a good actor, and the creepy/stoned/unfeeling character is actually how he comes off on screen 99% of the time. Dharam Paaji has a role which is rather useless, but hey, he is Dharam Paaji, mature and handsome, and he gets to kick some butt too.

Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya is a light, fun ride with good cinematography and catchy tunes,and among other little pleasure offering also a hilarious fight among stars of the olden days and younger, then contemporary, stars of the big screen. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Dil Ka Kya Kasoor

Directed by: Lawrence D´Souza

Starring: Prithvi, Divya Bharti, Suresh Oberoi

Released: 1992
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I could very easily have „I love me some 90s“ written on my forehead and it would be true. There is something about that period and movies that came out of it, that fascinates me. There is something in those movies that makes them work for me. Mistakes that are so painfully obvious, do not irritate me – at least as long as the film manages to offer me an experience, if it makes me feel something. Because that is what 90s Bollywood is about for me. Making you feel. If Dil Ka Kya Kasoor was made today, with the same flaws it has, in the same tone, it would probably be extremely cringeworthy. But as an early 90s movie it works. At least to an extent. It is not among the best films though. But I did cry at the end, and had maybe too many feelings to handle for a little while, and so, in spite of everything, I need to present it in a more favourable light (although I´m sure people who understand human body and medicine would have a lot to say on this movie...)

Divya Baby. This review is actually just an excuse to rave about her.
While the first hour pretends to be the been there/seen that teenage romance, it is anything but. Shalu (Divya) is known to be a very unpleasant and arrogant rich girl in her college, and the only one not scared of her is Mr. Scholarship from Dreamland of Just and Honest as well as Well-behaved – and Poor (Prithvi, whom I´ve never heard of before and who looks a bit like young Hrithik Roshan). Shalu promptly falls in love, as he is strumming his guitar and singing on stage – one of the songs she herself has written and published under a pseudonym. She doesn´t have the guts to tell him, and after a talk with her brother, who sensibly advices her to wait until Mr. Perfect manages to find himself a good job and reach something, she agrees, but decides to give her beloved a career boost. Under her pen name she writes songs for him, from her own money she pays for his shows and publicity. Thanks to her he becomes a pop star (who for whatever reason makes headlines on film magazines and is even keeping two Filmfare awards at his night table). He has become someone. Shalu can get married! Or no?

The story takes a rather unexpected twist when the hero gets married to another girl! He is not dating her, he is not even engaged, he is downright proper married and soon with baby on the way. And not even Yash Chopra was brave enough to tear apart a couple expecting a child, so you can guess there and then this may not really have a happy ending. In fact we are for some really depressing and even unusually gruelsome stuff.

While the story is interesting, the film suffers a lot from bad editing and did not age well (something not many films from that time managed to avoid). Of course, everything modern and cool in it actually WAS modern and cool back then, so in the end I just shrugged my shoulders and asked "Film Ka Kya Kasoor". In spite of that sometimes I just couldn´t help but laugh silently at the horribleness of fashion - and oh my, those stage performances!!! I guess nothing will make the dying girl you never loved more happy than you singing a mournful song with brides and skeletons dancing all around on the set intentionally made to look like a cemetery. The logic of the ending – or rather lack of it - I´d rather not go into.

There are only two notable performers in the movie, and Prithvi is not one of them. The hero had looks, but did not overflow with talent, and most importantly felt extremely thanda. He was completely overshadowed by his heroine and Suresh Oberoi. Shalu´s elder brother (because a man in his forties just cannot be an 18-years-old girl´s father) and his suffering was almost too overwhelming. Plus the man has one of the best voices in Bollywood. 

But ultimately Dil Ka Kya Kasoor is worth watching for Divya. She is the heart and soul of the film, and apart from several minor gestures, this is her most mature performance I have seen, probably her best. Two, three films of hers I´ve seen before showed me she had screen-presence and was beautiful (oh she was gorgeous!), and I did see she had potential, Dil Ka Kya Kasoor showed her to me as a good actress, who could easily become a great one. Shalu´s girlish dreaming, her hurting heart, her resignation as well as the utter happiness she gets upon a mere sight of the man she loves, all that was hurting me as a viewer as much as it was hurting the characters on screen. But it was not to be. Divya Bharti is locked within that short timeframe of early 90s for us. She belongs to it just as frilly dresses and big colourful plastic jewelery belong to her. Her death turned her from an aspiring superstar into a tragic Princess, almost a stuff of legends. Within few weeks it will be twenty years since she has passed. And yet immortal, captured by camera lenses, dressed in a ridiculous outfit and with overwhelming innocence in her eyes.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Khiladi 786

Directed by: Ashish R Mohan

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Asin, Mithun Chakraborthy, Raj Babbar

Released: 2012
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I have learned that a good colourful „silly“ masalla is one of the best things that can happen if you feel blue or need to relax. With an intention to be entertained and setting into my graciously forgiving mood I started watching the latest Akshay Kumar release, that same actor whom I didn´t mind in Rowdy Rathore and thought him pure adorable in OMG Oh My God earlier in 2012. I understand „Khiladi“ is a trademark for him, but from what I have understood, the original „Khiladi“ series were thrillers (?), which this one is anything but, which, after all, was clear from the posters and promos. I had next to no expectations of the film and thought that I could pretty much predict the whole thing. I was wrong.

Akshay Kumar (because his filmy name is too long and impossible to spell correctly for me) is from a Punjab family, into which nobody wants to marry their daughters – because they are goondas, you see (in what way is never really shown), and so they have to marry women from other nations (because obviously those don´t care about your background). But Akshay would really like an Indian girl, unfortunatelly his proposals are being rejected one by one. 

Enter Mansukh, a son of a match-maker, recently thrown out from home for ruining his father´s reputation, and hired (more by mistake than anyhting else) to find a groom for Indu, sister of Mumbai Don TT (Mithun Chakraborty). Indu is a spoiled brat who already has a boyfriend, but he is in jail and every single time he is to be released something or the other happens which prolongs his stay behind bars. Indu is patient, but her time is running out, because Mansukh immeditelly has a groom for her in mind – Akshay, who just like ghosts and true pyaar cannot be seen when he moves quickly (not sure that is the best news you can give a bride … but...ehmm... well.....). However Mansukh doesn´t know Akshay is not a policeman, and neither are his relatives, as they claim to be. And to top it he has to lie to them about the girl´s family, and also makes Mithun and his household members of a Mumbai police squad.

After the first 40 or so minutes I was ready to love the movie. It felt funny. Silly, sure, but genuinely funny. Then something happened, fun disappeared, and it just slowly became boring. Akshay is being Akshay, that one who absolutely needs to stop doing films like this for several more years to come. Seriously. Rowdy Rathore, Joker and Khiladi may have had different plotlines and presented him as three different people, but he presented all that in the exact same way, so much you can hardly find any difference between them. His best performance of 2012 thus remains supporting role in OMG Oh My God, any by far it was also the best out of five films he gave us last year.

I always welcome any glimpse of „old“ stars like Mithun Chakraborthy and Raj Babbar, who are largely in the shadows these days, but rarely they get a role that would do them justice in any way. I think the last time I saw Mithun doing something that mattered was in Guru. Asin is as much a leading lady as Bharti Singh (who has short and completely useless subplot to handle). I keep hearing about how amazing she she in her Southern films, and can´t just stop wondering why she is satisfied with playing „bushes in the back“, because that is pretty much everything she has done in Bollywood so far. She doesn´t even have much of a screen presence (like for example another girl, who needs to do more substantial roles – Sonakshi Sinha), and you just couldn´t care about her less.

That characters are sketchy, music bad, jokes over the top and double standarts for men and women regarding age as obvious as ever (27 years old Asin is romancing 45 years old Akshay while being 62 years old Mithun´s sister).... all that I could live with quite well, if only it was a laugh-riot. It wasn´t. Khiladi 876 is actually so forgettable I cannot even recommend it.

Karthik calling Karthik

Directed by: Vijay Lalwani

Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Deepika Padukone, Ram Kapoor

Released: 2010
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Karthik is a very intelligent and capable man. But being intelligent and capable doesn´t automatically go hand in hand with another thing, that thing which ultimately matters – being successful. Indeed, Karthik is a looser. When it comes to his career, his personal life, even his apartment, he has nothing, gets nothing and is respected by absolutely no one. It´s not that he wouldn´t want his life to change, he is, after all, not a masochist, but all his attempts to stand up for himself (an advice he has so often heard from his psychiatrist) turn out more or less disastrous. When he tries to convince his boss it is actually him responsible for a mistake made, the boss has a fit and Karthik finds himself with no job.

Near to nervous collapse, with nothing in his life and with no optimistic promises of the future, Karthik decides to commit suicide. But just mere seconds before he can swallow a deadly dose of sleeping pills, his phone rings. And when Karthik finally decides to pick it up, he has no idea this phonecall is going to change his life completely. A phonecall that, as it turns out later, cannot be traced. And the calls keep coming. Every morning and 5 AM. The person on the other side is Karthik´s wellwisher. He wants his life to change for the better. And offers the best motivational speeches. And they work! Damn they work.... Overnight Karthik changes from a quiet and „please-forget-I-exist“ looser into an assertive, confident and stylish man who demands respect and gets it. His job is back with bonuses, his boss ashamed. And the girl he always loved finally notices him.

Karthik keeps receiving the calls and cannot believe his happiness. The well-wisher on the other side seems happy too and asks nothing in return. Only one thing – the calls should remain secret no matter what. Karthik promises. But ultimately he decides to share the secret with the girl he loves (after getting elegantly rid of her boyfriend she finally returned his feelings and agreed to marry him), because he does´t want to keep anything from her. He shouldn´t have. She now thinks he is mad. Why? Because the wellwisher who just keeps calling..... is nobody but Karthik himself. And since he broke the promise, there shall certainly be a hell to pay....

Had a phone rang while I was watching, I would have probably freaked out. Because if there is something the movie managed to do in the process, it is to make the phone an evil aparatus that hides way too many secrets for our liking. Especially if you plug it out of the wall and it just won´t stop ringing. You just have to keep guessing. How is it possible that Karthik is calling himself? The Karthik on the phone is obviously the same Karthik we see on screen, yet he sounds too different to be the same Karthik we see on the screen. Is it all in Karthik´s imagination? Is it Kartik from different dimension calling? Is that somebody else altogether just sounding like Karthik? How? Why? What? At some points the film is more of a horror than – a psychological drama. Indeed. The things are a lot less mysterious when revealed and your phone-phobia ends together with the rolling credits. 

Deepika Padukone does well in whatever she is given (which is not much), and is as competent as the rest of the supporting cast. The film however really is only about one person and that is Farhan as Karthik. He gives a very good performance. Both the somehow sickly and pitiful Karthik tortured by his demons and a stylish, even ruthless man going after his goal, he delivers. His stages of madness and fear too are excellently captured and enacted.

The disadvantage of the film is it hardly has any repeat value. You are not exactly bored re-watching, but the movie´s effect lies in the fact you don´t know the truth, and watching it with the knowledge of how things actually are takes away the thrilling creeps. And sadly, those are the only feeling worth it in the film.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


Directed by: Abbas-Mustan

Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Anil Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Katrina Kaif, Sameera Reddy

Released: 2008
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

With the upcoming Race two in the pipeline I decided to watch the first film, to see if I my expectations for the sequel should be high or low or even in existence, and also to understand the probable references to the first film should there be any (yes, in spite of knowing Bollywood sequels are rarely sequels at al.... more like an alternative reality story for the same characters, when nothing what we have seen actually happened).

Ranveer (Saif) and Rajeev (Akshaye) are two step-brothers, who at the first sight couldn´t be more in love with each other. Especially Ranveer is doting on his younger bhaiya, even giving up a sexy Sonia (Bipasha Basu) he himself is crushing on, just because Rajeev while drunk once blabs something about giving up alcohol should he get the gal. And so Ranveer with soaring heart makes sure they end up together. But if you think we are going the Sangam way here, you are mistaken. Because in Race nothing really is what it seems, in fact by the end of the film you grow suspicious even of apples and oranges. 

"Did you steal my conditioner?"
To sum it up just quickly: we have a deadly-silent older brother (he is the good one, the one who only kills people who want to kill him, otherwise you´re cool), a more vocal sharaabi younger brother (who kills anyone he needs to be out of the way), a dusky Sonia (who sleeps with the brother she is not married to), a fair long-legged secretary (Katrina Kaif after a disturbing lip job, and dubbed – which doesn´t help as the dubber is even worse than Katrina´s normal voice and diction), and a bit later let enter an amazingly uncool police investigator (Anil Kapoor) who manages to devour just about every fruit that exists on the planet, and his completely dumb 20-something assistant (Sameera Reddy), and they all want their big fat share of paisa. Everyone works with everybody to deceive everyone else.
After a rather boring and unhappening 40 minutes the film gets a good tempo and there is definitely no shortage of twists - some of which I guessed beforehand and some that were completely unexpected (like yeah, I actually was willing to believe Katrina´s character was the only good girl in the whole thing). The dialogues in those first 40 minutes were extremely cringeworthy, consisting mostly of real everyday stuff like "let´s have lunch" and "good morning". The ending should have been tighter and explaining seemed too lengthy.

Congratulations to Abbas-Mustan. What a brilliant move to involve the super-annoying Sameera Reddy in a stupid role that made me want to smack her face so badly. Brilliant, because she makes Katrina look a blessing and I am not even sarcastic! I don´t know why Anil signs such embarrassing roles. To see him with girls so much younger than him is just weird. And it´s not like he is evolving as an actor with roles like these. Saif is good, so is Bipasha (although I just cannot bring myself to believe her whenever she acts the good one - she just looks so cunning all the time!), but the real show-stealer is the ever-underrated youngest Khanna. He was brilliant. I guess bad movie choices were his doom, because he is easily among the most convincing and versatile actors I´ve seen Bollywood in the past 20 years. 

Songs try too hard to be sexy, but came off as boring. The actresses are way too obviously put „out there“, in case of Zara Zara song Katrina is actually looking more completely desperate for attention rather than being mysterious or seductive, there is nothing intricate or really feminine about the presentation of „sexy“. Made by guys, for guys, I guess. Also the comedy track was completely off. It served no purpose and wasn´t really funny either. Race is a fine watch, that could have been better. Tighter. Quicker. More stylish. Challo, maybe the second one will learn from the mistakes?

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Jab Tak Hai Jaan

Directed by: Yash Chopra

Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma

Released: 2012
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

In spite of the fact there were other movies that earned more, I don´t think it´s wrong to say Jab Tak Hai Jaan was the biggest release of the last year, at least as far as expectations are concerned. Well, not mine really, because I never considered Yash Chopra a great director, I did not like the promos and it is no secret I don´t exactly love Katrina Kaif. That, I guess, allowed me to be more benevolent to the film than I would have been had I expected something amazing. Because the film is far from being so. In fact, it is quite far from being good even. Jab Tak Hai Jaan is simple entertainer that does manage to be bearable for most part, but you have to deliberately forgive it much, maybe even too much. The faint-worthy reviews that flooded the media right before the premier were talking about the most epic of the epic films ever, which to be honest I believe were strongly influenced by the sad demise of the director shortly before and nobody dared to give a bad review. It was only after a while that reviews more accurate and less impressed began to appear. Indeed, there are two ways of seeing Jab Tak Hai Jaan. First – while watching the only thing you see is that this is the last film of am extremely popular director, popular not only as a filmmaker, but as an off-screen persona also. Second – you watch it as a film, detached from the facts of reality, and without sentiments. And that was how I watched it. And that is why I can say Jab Tak Hai Jaan is among those Yash Chopra films that are simply not good.

No ammount of sexy could save the script from bombing.
To be fair it is not the direction that is wrong, not at all. The main culprit is the script full of plot holes and characters that are not appealing. Nonsense piled upon nonsense, until I was just left wondering how much further it can go. The first ten minutes are already full of loopholes. Why didn´t Samar jump for Akira sooner? Why after getting her out of water he obviously took time to dress her into his own coat BEFORE starting resuscitating her? Who is as stupid as to leave their army jacket with everything in the pockets inside (including „Dear Diary“) with a completely unknown person? Well, that is Major Samar Anand for you. A man of extreme sexiness, being all quiet and communicating with intense stares. As Akira finds out from the diary, he used to be 25 (or 28, some contradictory information were given) once upon a time, all hyper and full of zest, slogging happily in London and doing various jobs that didn´t really earn him much. He meets a rich girl Meera, who is unsure of what she wants in life, NEVER feels cold and is also a bit of a racist (back in the day she was a blonde white child begging God not to get her married to any Indian because they are brown), and falls in love with her. 
Did I mention that it is possible to become a waiter at the most snobbish London restaurant without a proper knowledge of English, just by being able to order fish quickly for a certain person?
It takes a while before she decides to return his feelings, because she is engaged to a white guy, but after a heart-to-heart talk with a mother who has left her as a child to be with her lover and did not contact her for years, Meera decides Samar is worth it. They are as happy as one can imagine. They have cute time and sexy time and let´s-run-through-the-whole-London-to-see-him-off-to-work time, until Samar decides not to heed the basic rules of driving which results into him being run over by a car and Meera doing what every sensible girlfriend would: she immediately promises to God that if he lets Samar live, she will never see him again. Because that is how God works for Meera, you see? He lets her pass exams and she gives up chocolate (instead for example promising to use her education to better the lives of others).

"Give me some acting skills and take my firstborn!"
And so when Samar comes to his senses, she comes to announce she loves him and she is ditching him. Instead of realizing Meera is dumb, Samar is angry at „sir Jesus“ and to prove Meera wrong he decides to join Indian army and play with his life (although if he really wanted to prove his point he could have just commit suicide) as a leader of a bomb-disposal unit in Kashmir. That is where annoying Discovery channel reporter Akira steps in with her completely inappropriate wardrobe and puke-worthy presentation of today´s generation of girls, and falls in love with Samar within days after learning his sob-story.

IMO those ten years in Kashmir did him well. Drooling.
Akira wants Samar to go to London for a day, so her bosses can verify her film on him, and after some thinking Samar indeed comes. And is hit by a car, which I can only see as a not too subtle a message of the film that you should look to the right and to the left before you cross the road. When he wakes up in a hospital, it turns out he has lost his memory. Well, not entirely. He only doesn´t remember anything that happened after his first accident – including Meera ditching him the same way she gave up chocolates. The genius doctor decides that the best way to bring on Samar´s memory is to create a false reality for him, where everybody will lie to him and make up fake memories, a reality where Meera is his wife and he owns a big restaurant in London. Because yeah, that is how he is surely going to remember he spent ten years playing with death on the other side of the world. 

That one moment when I could relate to Akira.
As for Meera, she did not marry anyone, did not age a day, and spent those ten years moping around. She agrees to be a part of the plan, but gives up few days later, because being close to Samar gives her pain – because she still hasn´t understand God is not a vengeful monster who works on her command and that he actually has understanding for things like love. Fortunately Samar gets his memory back – in one of the least exciting bomb-disposal scenes ever, and returns to Kashmir. If you think he finally came to his senses and realized Meera is just a dumb bench, you are wrong, and so we get to see him being reunited with her, as she randomly changes her mind in the end.

"Why should I let you defuse a bomb? I don´t even know who you are!"
"I am a random brown guy with obvious knowledge of explosives. I cannot possibly be a terrorist who came by to make sure things go boom. How will you live with yourself if you won´t  let me solve this without questioning?"
"Let him in. He´s sexy. There is no way this could go wrong."
The saddest part is that the film at no point really gives you a vibe of being an epic love story. That is largely given by Shahrukh sharing no chemistry whatsoever with either of the actresses, and not even the infamous three kisses he shares with Katrina, and around which a lot has been written, save anything. They are not as awkward as some people were describing them, but at the same time they were just so randomly thrown in and thanda and not needed one asks what lead Yash Chopra and SRK both to break an old rule they both had. At the same time I don´t understand the big hoopla about it.

"Yeah, it´s not like I haven´t showed my naked butt in a film before."
What actually irritated me was when, after watching the movie, I realized that Shahrukh had pretty much nothing to do. Everything shown he has done before – and better. There was not a single scene he could actually sink his teeth into, and indeed he served more like an impuls the two women reacted to more than and actual hero. Both Katrina and Anushka had, ironically, better roles (in terms of making things happen, not in terms of being good characters). Samar Anand thus becomes one of the least inspiring and memorable SRK´s characters. I also found it ridiculous that they tried to pass him off as being 25. Camera filters did erase his wrinkles (to the point he seemed a cartoon at times), but it couldn´t erase the maturity of his face, eyes, or voice. He is good, of course. But at the same time extremely lukewarm compared to his other roles. And I realized, that I don´t want Shahrukh to do films like these. I don´t want him to be a loverboy. Not again, not anymore. Let him do a mature romance. That is something I would love to see.

Katrina Kaif is no longer irritating on screen for me. And she can dance well. However her lack of acting skills is once again for everyone to see. Meera is not a well-written character (she has to be the worst YRF heroine ever), but there was potential in the role for a good performer to turn her into something. Katrina however, makes her only worse. What is it that Samar saw in Meera apart from her being hot? In the best moments she still seems detached from what is going on around her. Her expressions hardly ever changes, apart from her mouth being opened of shut, her dialogue delivery remains cringe-worthy. Meera´s dealing with God were nothing short of disgusting for me. I probably wouldn´t dare to say anything if Meera was a Hindu or Muslim, or belonged to any religion I am not a part of and hence cannot really comment on, but she was a Christian, and there I can firmly say, that she had the most deformed vision of God possible. A God who trades life successes for minor discomforts, a God to whom it is more important that you fulfill a promise that came out of your own mind and not on any demand of His than that His children prosper in love together, that is not a Christian God, that is some strange creature with ways more similar to devil than „sir Jesus“. 

Anushka Sharma, on the other hand, does have it in her to give us a good performance – Akira however is yet another in her growing collection of bubbly characters she has done in films like Patiala House, Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl and Band Baaja Baraat. Hyper, loud, cheerful, ambitious. And terribly annoying. In her case I am not sure if the blame is hers or if it should be put completely on Aditya Chopra and his poor writing skills. Anupam Kher, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh have fleeting cameos, but are a welcomed relief. In fact the moment when Neetu recognizes „her daughter“ who had come to visit her, brought a tear in my eye.

"We should teach them what is romance, no?"
One thing I have to admit: The film doesn´t feel old-fashioned, in spite of some old-fashioned elements, Yash Chopra indeed was young in spirit. That however doesn´t make Jab Tak Hai Jaan any better. It is an average fair, below par next to everything Yash Chopra ever did (and I´ve seen), that even in the music department. Out of the whole soundtrack only Chhala and Jiya Re are worthy of more attention. The title song doesn´t stick in mind, and Saans and Heer are nice, but too whiny to listen to after a while. Ishq Shava I almost forgot about already. The opening titles melody I loved. In fact Shahrukh Khan riding his bike to the music was the best part of the whole movie for me.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan is a movie that doesn´t do justice to absolutely anyone involved, least of all an iconic director, whose films I may not love, but I still respect for his contribution to the cinema.

"This was supposed to top Lamhe, dammit."