Thoughts on JAB TAK HAI JAAN (Hindi, 2012)
Yash Chopra was the pioneer of love stories despite a wide range of films he made across a life time. From DAAG to his final effort, this was clearly the genre he made his mainstay and forte. His last film JAB TAK HAI JAAN was an ode and tribute to the genre he so fondly contributed to. The film not only teamed him up with the star he essentially launched (Shahrukh Khan), it also happens to be his last films. DARR, DILWALE DULHANIA LE JAYENGEI, DIL TO PAGAL HAI and VEER-ZAARA was what Yash Chopra and Shahrukh Khan were looking to top, so does JAB TAK HAI JAAN live up to expectations?
Firstly, I’ll say from the outset this is a genre I didn’t have much time for. After DILWALE DULHANIA LE JAYENGEI, I couldn’t connect with a lot of what was being made in this genre, and while I’d of course watch all the films, they didn’t necessarily always age well for me.
JAB TAK HAI JAAN is ultimately a very simple film. A lilting melody, ode and tribute to timeless romance. The essence of the story too is extremely simple. Shahrukh Khan and Katrina Kaif both fall in love, however when tragedy strikes Shahrukh, Katrina makes a simple promise to god that if his life is granted, she’ll never see him again.
As fate would have it, Shahrukh’s saved only to lose Katrina. He takes a vow never to get married and enlists himself in the army (known as “the man who cannot die” with his track record as a bomb diffusion expert). In Shahrukh’s life comes another girl (Anushka), half his age, who falls head over heels in love with Shahrukh. Her generation is different, the notion and ideals of love for her generation are different, however she takes a liking to Shahrukh and his world. As fate would have it, Shahrukh is met with an accident again, this time to lose his memory, where his brains is essentially still stuck in the time of when he was in love with Katrina. What follows next is a love saga that takes a leap of faith (and some patience) to see to the end. One would be hard-pushed to call this Yash Chopras finest effort to date. The arc of the story is as old as the hills, and so is the manner in which it unfolds. Timeless love tales which resonate with the audience are rarely made well these days (ROCKSTAR is an absolute exception in this sense), and while JAB TAK HAI JAAN tries desperately to reconnect audiences with a timeless tale, if it weren’t for the charisma of its central stars and the masterstroke of a dying veteran, the film wouldn’t have much going for it.
Shahrukh Khan surprises in another restrained outing. Much like in SWADES and CDI, he fits into the quieter demeanour with panache. The crucial element I found missing in the film, the believability in the love story between Shahrukh Khan and Katrina Kaif. A film of this stature needed a much more mature and refined actress than Katrina who is clearly out of her depth in this character. While the pair look absolutely gorgeous together, there is simply no chemistry between the two, which is so absolutely crucial for a film of this nature to truly work. On the other hand Shahrukh exudes unbeatable chemistry with the bubbly and spirited Anushka who hits all the right notes again. Her chemistry with Shahrukh is impeccable as seen in RAB NE BANA DI JODI. Again, Shahrukh is at a time in his career where working with fresh and new directors like Dibakar Bannerjee, Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bharadwaj would prove to be a turning point in his career. CHENNAI EXPRESS directed by Rohit Shetty is already exuding a level of freshness which hasn’t been seen much in this genre by any film Shahrukh has done of late (he was in far more enjoyable form as the psychotic DON in Farhan Akhtar’s DON 2).
Usually love stories with a age gap have traditionally been rejected by audiences in Hindi cinema for the most(including Yash Chopras own majestic and timeless LAMHE and RGV’s NISHABD), the portrayal of the characters in this instance transcends that. The Shahrukh-Anushka chemistry and team-up turns out to be the most interesting part of the film and I couldn’t help but wish that the entire film revolved around this as the main story arc and not Shahrukh/Katrina.
A.R Rahman’s music is great which is par the course for him, however a film of this genre needs an absolute blockbuster of a soundtrack, which again JAB TAK HAI JAAN lacks.
All up JAB TAK HAI JAAN is an uneven effort, however one that is definetly worth a watch once to see on celluloid one final time…the works of a man who taught the world to love, as well as to see a dignified act from Shahrukh and a spirited one from Anushka.