It is hard not to feel upset while watching Jab Tak Hai Jaan, not just because it is the last film directed by the legendary Yash Chopra, but also because the movie borders on cruelty towards us, the paying audience. Packed with characters who all behave well below acceptable human IQ levels, Jab Tak Hai Jaan is a canceled TV soap opera crammed into 3+ hours of banal and lethargic plotting.
But how can an unbeatable formula that had been set in DDLJ possibly go wrong? It probably won’t, because it will undoubtedly rake in hundreds of crores of rupees. Because in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is the king. And King Khan in Jab Tak Hai Jaan plays Guy Pearce from The Hurt Locker, shifts into Guy Pearce from Memento, hurls one-liners like Guy Pearce in Lockout, and looks like Guy Pearce in Prometheus. Mostly he plays a guy who gives piercing looks to the ladies on a motorbike to the backdrop of the music from Motorcycle Diaries. That’s not to say Shahrukh provides the only unintentional laughs in the film – Anushka Sharma’s entry itself is funny enough to dislocate your lower muscles – the opening shot is the camera lingering on her bum, after which it roves around to her crotch and then firmly affixes itself to her boobs. She then takes a semi naked dive into a lake in Leh, and then screams that the water is too cold. Perhaps she expected centralized heating in Ladakh lakes.
To complete the Bermuda triangle of accidental funniness, there is Katrina Kaif’s character, who makes her entry in the ‘white white snow, ek laal pari ki tarah’, the sight of which makes Shahrukh stretch out his arms towards the sky and slow dance like Winona Ryder in Edward Scissorhands. Katrina’s character is goody goody Diana Penty from Cocktail but is secretly Deepika Padukone from Cocktail. Shahrukh falls in love with the latter, and decides to ‘free’ her Deepika-ness – a task that he achieves by bringing her to a nightclub where she suddenly drops all her inhibitions and starts doing a ghanerda favela dance. And just when you think things couldn’t get any funnier or more ludicrous, the writers throw in ham fisted characters (Rishi and Neetu Kapoor) who justify women cheating on their loving husbands. And before you know it, Shahrukh fails to diffuse one of the bombs from the script and a macguffin explodes in our face –a religious macguffin that involves a girl breaking up with a guy because she’d made a promise to Jesus Christ. Luckily the film wasn’t set in Brazil or the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio would’ve facepalmed.
The biggest asset of Jab Tak Hai Jaan, apart from Anushka Sharma’s legs is Anil Mehta’s photography. Rahman’s music is a disappointment although ‘Challa’ is hurled in again and again to keep the audience from flatlining. There is enough material in the film to make doctors, Indian army personnel and London police look stupid, but the most amusing gaffe is Anushka’s character referring to herself as the ‘makeout breakout generation’, the new youth of India. The only agenda of this ‘new youth of India’ is apparently to sleep around and dump people. Well at least the film makes up for its condescending short sightedness by including a Pakistani character as SRK’s London roommate.
But all the flaws could be overlooked had Jab Tak Hai Jaan offered the slightest hint of a decent romance. Sadly it neither caters to the hopelessly romantic nor the aforementioned new youth of India. Shahrukh breaks his rule like Jason Statham in Transporter and kisses a girl for the first time on screen. It doesn’t help that he is the most unconvincing kisser in the long, sad history of unconvincing onscreen kissers, but what really sticks out as unromantic is the sex scene where we see a hairy toe rubbing against an immaculately manicured toe.
About as exciting as British food and as romantic as standing without an umbrella at a rainy bus stop in Croydon, Jab Tak Hai Jaan is stuffed with star power without an ounce of logic or heart. The only big takeaway from the movie is Anushka Sharma’s character mirroring her own real self, who despite being more talented and charming, is sidelined in an industry that for no reason prefers Katrina Kaif over her.