Jab Harry Met Sejal
Jab Harry Met Sejal: Moments of Promise Let Down by an Under-Written Screenplay
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Jab Harry Met Sejal has every ingredient for it to be a spectacular romantic comedy. It has Imtiaz Ali helming it, Shahrukh Khan and Anushka Sharma starring in it and the film also holds a premise that stands unparalleled. But due to the wrong routes it takes in splendid locations, the story is nothing but a mishmash that clearly lacks depth.
Harinder Singh Nehra aka Harry (Shahrukh Khan) is a tour guide in Europe whereas Sejal Zaveri (Anushka Sharma) is a newly engaged woman who loses her ring in one of the destinations in Harry’s tour. When a persistent Sejal convinces Harry to help her look for the ring, slowly but surely they find themselves falling for each other. Whether or not they end up together and the consequences following their up close and personal journey culminate the core of this plot.
When you’re going to see an Imtiaz Ali film, you hope to have an hour or two of soulful reflection. He is one of those rare directors who always manage to hold a mirror up to your soul and its desires. This is why Jab Harry Met Sejal’s shallowness disappoints you more than it has to. You feel let down by the afterthought of an ending, you feel infuriated by the underwritten back stories and most of all, you feel sad to leave the halls devoid of a thought-provoking story-telling session.
The message ‘What you seek is seeking you’ does not organically find its way into the screenplay. It just forces is way in, making sure a smooth transition is non-existent. The characters and their personalities are also never established in a fulfilling manner. You never get a reasonable answer to why and when Sejal actually falls in love with Harry. It is also uncharacteristic of Ali to prolong the climax, long after the story has ended. You start to wonder if Shahrukh’s mainstream tendencies have seeped into the director’s passionate story.
If Jab Harry Met Sejal cracked the formula Before Sunrise took upon, it would’ve worked incredibly well. Just like, Jab Harry Met Sejal, Before Sunrise too is heavy on dialogues, but the difference is, these dialogues are followed through with substantial action. In Jab Harry Met Sejal, all we get are moments of ignition followed by all talk and no action. Even if this talk had been backed by proper justifications, it would’ve been acceptable.
In one scene, Harry almost makes love to Sejal but a sudden change in circumstances leads to the duo changing their mind. Ideally, people as passionate as them two wouldn’t have shown such restraint. A similar scene in Before Sunrise packs an intimate moment between the two leads long after they get two know each other in just a day’s span. Unfortunately, no such honesty is noticeable in Jab Harry Met Sejal.
Having established the film’s many minuses, you have to admit, there is still no one who comes close to Imtiaz Ali when it comes to establishing romantic tension. In one particular scene where Harry walks down the stairs, pretending to be Sejal’s boyfriend for the moment, you lose yourself in the unfolding intensity of it all. A few moments like these remind you of the director’s signature touches. But most of the problems that arise are due to the familiarity all of these moments bear to Imtiaz’s previous films. You expect a spark of freshness but all you end up taking home are moments of a nostalgic rehash.
It is a relief to see Shahrukh shedding his super-stardom. Simplicity looks incredibly good on the actor. Even two decades after DDLJ (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge), his eyes continue to speak a thousand words. But problems in his characterization arise when his back-story is surprisingly weak. So, the pain Shahrukh wholeheartedly demonstrates starts to appear depthless. As Sejal, Anushka is as bubbly as they get. But her character too has quite a few contradictory knots that should have ideally been sorted out in the scripting stage itself. But as far as her performance is concerned, she is as spotless as ever. Their characterizations could’ve been more striking if their equation was covered more extensively rather than just whiling away time by establishing their love for each other over and again.
Imtiaz Ali’s films usually boast of great music. Many songs in fact reveal vital information about the characters and their journey. But Jab Harry Met Sejal has quite a forgettable soundtrack. With the exception of “Radha” and “Hawayein”, most of the songs are hastily placed and fleetingly forgettable. Perhaps, the Pritam-Imtiaz combination is significantly weaker than the Imtiaz-AR Rahman combination.
Considering that the film covers vast and intriguing destinations in Europe, the cinematography is surprisingly ordinary. Due to the lackluster visuals, all destinations start to look alike. Amsterdam is the only city that seems to have been highlighted. A few scenes resemble shots you could shoot on your mobile camera. This ordinary quality is in direct contradiction to Imtiaz Ali’s larger than life ideologies.
On the whole, Jab Harry Met Sejal, touches upon the surface of love, but because it fails to dive deeper, it also fails to move you.