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'Jab Harry Met Sejal' review: Love is not a many splendoured thing

A still from Jab Harry Met Sejal.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Back in 2007, Geet called Aditya ‘bhaisaab’ when she bumped into him for the first time in Jab We Met. A decade later, in Jab Harry Met Sejal (JHMS), Harry (Shah Rukh Khan) refers to Sejal (Anushka Sharma) rather formally as ma’am in their initial interactions. Both the pairs of (potential) lovers have no inkling where they are headed in their respective relationships. Oh, the sweet ironies of life! Only wish they weren’t so repetitive on screen. Viren and Aditi in Socha Na Tha, Geet and Aditya in Jab We Met and now Harry and Sejal. All saddled with someone not meant for them, eventually finding true love, after being on a journey with them. In this case, to find an engagement ring gone missing on a tour of Europe. It was all so fresh, sweet and simple back then; tired and worn out now. So can Imtiaz Ali now tell us some other love story?

Jab Harry Met Sejal
  • Director: Imtiaz Ali
  • Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma
  • Storyline: Sejal loses her engagement ring on a European tour and goes on a return journey to trace it with the guide Harry only to find her love life turning topsy-turvy

Not that Ali hasn’t tried. Journeys to finding true love may have remained a perennial metaphor but Ali has ventured with them into the world of commitment-phobia and now on-now off relationships in Love Aaj Kal, looked at angst in music and love in Rockstar, made love many shades darker and more complicated in Highway and pondered over the robotic work self against one’s true actualisation in Tamasha.

However, JHMS marks a thumping return to love at its most banal, hackneyed and exasperating. There is not much in the silly situations and trite conversations to get you invested or interested in the lovers. The two main characters themselves don’t seem to share that vital thing on screen called frisson. Like Aditya of Jab We Met, the much older Harry is also dealing with the demons of his past. But the film fails to take us deeper into them. One song — ‘Safar’ — points to his restlessness and peripatetic nature, another beautiful one — ‘Jee ve soniya ji, chahe kisi ka hoke ji’ — with a flashback to Punjab just about hints at his heartbreak. Like Geet, Sejal too is full of beans. But behind her vivacious façade lies some off the cuff understanding of life, that holds a mirror for Harry to help him find the elusive stability and peace. Like the most of the supportive heroines in Ali’s world usually do.

'Jab Harry Met Sejal' review: Love is not a many splendoured thing
 

Sharma with her practiced Gujarati accent, dated innocence and ditziness gets more irritating than loveable. Khan too is on an uneven track — swinging between the subdued and the over the top. Khan’s constant muttering in indecipherable Punjabi under the breath annoys, rather than making him cool and cute. He breaks away by playing a commoner, his romance gets more bleak and gloomy but he still has that gaze — the naked look of passionate love. Running away and hiding from goons, hanging on a still boat with Sejal there’s a blink and miss moment when he realises that he has fallen in love with her. It’s that split second of a fleeting expression has far more ardour than the entire film put together.

The music (Irshad Kamil’s lyrics to be specific) also offers a far more nuanced take on love. Love better heard than seen. And yes, as with every Ali outing, after the first day first show of this Euro travel adventure, the itch to go somewhere has peaked yet again. Hit the highway with ‘Hawayein’ or ‘Ghar’ from the film’s soundtrack as the journey song — that’s my only takeaway.


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Printable version | Jan 16, 2022 4:37:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/jab-harry-met-sejal-love-is-not-a-many-splendoured-thing/article19427646.ece

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