(Published in The Sunday Guardian, on 18 November, 2012, retrieved from http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/religion-riddled-romance)
Cast: Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma
Director: Yash Chopra
Rating: 3 stars
Look, it’s Yash Chopra. So you know the following: Khatri lasses raised in England go to church; 2002 London sported ubiquitous Olympic signboards; Delhi girls will run around snow-clad mountains in chaddi-sized shorts and halter tops, while Kashmiris wear pherans; dirty dancing will get you in the mood for a sentimental song dedicated to Papa; a man who writes his diary over ten years could gift it along with his army jacket to a girl who’s stupid enough to nearly drown in shallow water despite being a national-level swimmer and deep sea diver; it’s easy to trace people anywhere.
Here, we see the Shah Rukh Khan we haven’t seen since DDLJ. You know, the irrepressible fool who falls on platforms, leans out of trains, flies out to random countries to surprise women who’re in love with him, the eyebrow-wiggling, lip-twitching Shah Rukh Khan who wells up at the first mention of ishq even as he flirts with death every day. And no one portrays the absolute craziness of sweeping romance like the Yash Chopra-SRK duo. In this film, we’ve finally graduated from botanical metaphor to actual making out.
The film opens in Ladakh, where Major Samar Anand (Shah Rukh Khan) goes about defusing bombs and resuscitating bikini-clad camera crew. The bombs are a tad less vindictive than the bikini-wearers, who stalk him after nearly killing him. If you listen to the lyrics of the opening poem, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, you kinda learn the whole story anyway. But the film takes us – very slowly – through Samar’s life, telling us how a London busker ended up in the Indian Army’s Bomb Disposal Squad.
It boils down to a contest between Jesus and Samar. A superstitious girlfriend can do that to you. “So, I can’t die, eh? I will walk in the valley of the shadow of death, dude.” Chalo Kashmir. Which we learn would’ve been blown to bits long ago if it weren’t for Major Samar Anand. We also learn the Army can be lax about rules regarding facial hair and protective gear, as long as you defuse a bomb before every meal.
There’s very little logic in the film. And if everyone were a little less sentimental – or a little less dim – it would’ve been over before the interval. But, inexplicably, something keeps you interested, even when you’re scared a character’s amnesia attack could send the film into an endless loop. It could be Shah Rukh’s wonderful timing, and unselfconscious hero-baazi. It could be that you need to leave your brains behind every now and then. But it works.
The Verdict: If you’re willing to suspend all sense of disbelief, watch Jab Tak Hai Jaan.