Jab Tak Hai Jaan (Hindi)
Director: Yash Chopra
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma, Anupam Kher
Storyline: A bomb disposal expert teases death after his lover makes a deal with God to keep him alive and a documentary filmmaker becomes obsessed with this story of the man who cannot die.
Bottomline: The film that cannot end.
Every generation has a love story to tell. One that reflects the angst and conflicts of their times. And the master of romance, Yash Chopra has explored most of these barriers, some way ahead of his time.
Jab Tak Hai Jaan, though not written by him (the story and dialogues are by his son Aditya Chopra and the screenplay is credited to Aditya Chopra and Devika Bhagat), tells us the story of a generation that has lost faith. Not in God. But in love.
Given that nothing lasts forever, a die-hard romantic is an anachronism in today’s world. Samar Anand is probably among the last few avatars of Shah Rukh Khan’s lover boy persona. Today, he has retired hurt from love, and waits for an elusive death (as a bomb-disposal expert). He’s forsaken his world and taken up a life of solitude until he finds a young spirited girl who makes him smile again. Despite its three-hour running length and ridiculous plot twists that are better interpreted metaphorically than literally, Jab Tak Hai Jaan works in mysterious ways. If you are a fan of the Bollywood romance genre, you may end up liking it for the same inexplicable reasons you liked Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
The film is divided into two acts — the cause of his condition (he cannot die) and the effect. The first is where a spunky, competitive, rejection-allergic girl Akira (a loveable Anushka goes annoyingly over the top) from today’s terribly described “instant make-out, instant break-up” generation comes across a love story from the diary of the bomb expert.
Poor musician Samar (Shah Rukh, more effective and charming as the stubbly soldier than the young lover) falls in love with spoilt, rich brat Meera (Katrina is mostly convincing). He teaches her Punjabi, she teaches him English. He shows her who she really is only to fall in love with her and she falls right back in love, except that she’s about to get married. But just in time, fate introduces her to her mother — who left her father because she never loved him. And we get a glimpse of a previous generation that had chosen the arrangement of a marriage over love only to later realise that to make others around you happy, you need to be happy.
The first act manufactures nostalgia and you look back at how love has evolved in India. Lovers who gave up on love and lived in denial, out of their respect for elders. Lovers who eloped only to live miserably, without the love of family. Lovers who died alone…
Until Aditya Chopra struck gold when he decided to manufacture consent for romance by negotiating with the previous generation with Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. With no more conflict, love stories in cinema needed a new villain and context. What better villain than God Himself? Faith in Him versus Faith in love.
In the second act, the Chopras in their attempt to make this love story all the more epic, rope in the services of Jesus Christ who decides to have a little fun with this triangle — the lover, the ex and the next. He puts them in different continents, engineers accidents, toys with memory and defuses the tension, giving the star-crossed lovers the ultimate test of love.
But strip down the metaphors and deconstruct the divine “accidents,” this is essentially the love story of this generation. We live in a world of broken relationships where almost everyone has a past. And there’s always the one waiting in the wings. Today’s love stories are about unresolved issues that heal only with time. Nothing lasts forever, except in the old world. Jab Tak Hai Jaan is the kind of film Bollywood stopped making. The kind we almost began to miss. Probably the last time we will see Shah Rukh Khan wooing a girl with a guitar. Or at least hope. Please, Sir Jesus!