Nagesh Kukunoor’s 2001 under-rated film Bollywood Calling has an interesting scene. In the film, late Navin Nischol’s character is an ageing hero who tries hard to look young and acts with actresses too young for him. To humor him, his co-stars keep pestering him to show his stylized nodding as if it were the best thing to have happened to acting. The truth was nobody cared but they had to massage his big ego. It was a telling portrayal of the bubble that film stars live in, especially those who are past their prime.
Jab Harry met Sejal is an unsuccessful effort by Shah Rukh Khan to try to recreate the magic of the mid-nineties and claim the slot created by his own “Raj” persona. There’s one big problem though; SRK is not in his twenties or even thirties, he is a ripe fifty plus man. In terms of looks too, he does not have the romantic hero look any more.
The story can be described in one line. Sejal (Anushka Sharma) is a rich Guajarati girl from Mumbai touring Europe with her family where she loses her engagement ring. While the rest of her family return to India, Sejal stays back and makes her tour guide Harinder Singh aka Harry (Shah Rukh Khan) travel with her to search for the missing ring. What happens along the journey is anybody’s guess. If the story sounds a rehash of Imtiaz Ali’s previous films, it is. Imtiaz Ali seriously needs to hire some good writers for a script that at least makes sense, because this film sure does not.
The writer and director of the film appear clueless. After setting up the premise of the two leads forced to spend time together, he seems to have run out of ideas. The film then becomes a series of shots strung together with no cohesive storyline. You have no clue why the hero needs saving, why a Mumbai girl raised in a rich family speaks as if she just landed from Rajkot. There are too many flaws to list all of them, but some of them stand out. Chief is the perennial problem with Hindi films where characters do not act their age (not taking into account the actors’ real age). There is no backstory about why the hero is perennially angry. The songs are forgettable, the film too long and the male protagonist badly miscast. This character should have been played by an actor 20 years younger.
Anushka Sharma is good, maybe the sole redeeming factor in the film. The biggest disappointment is Shah Rukh, who is SRK in the film and not Harry. Though playing a humble tourist guide, the film star is still front and center. He hams big time. And because Anushka Sharma and Shah Rukh Khan populate almost every frame in the film, this is even more of a flaw.
For what appeared to be a long playing time, I checked my watch thinking the film was nearing the end. I was surprised that we were just an hour into the film. From there on, I kept checking if the film was getting over only to realize much time was left. By the time the credits rolled, I didn’t care what happened to the two characters. I just wanted my sanity back. The similarity with When Harry Met Sally is strictly limited to the name only.
Rating : 1/5
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma,Chandan Roy Sanyal
Director: Imtiaz Ali