My second Anushka movie of the week! This time it is NOT a May-December romance. Or I guess it is a May romance but not a December romance? It’s unrequited is what I am saying. And I have to kind of wonder if there is going to be something similar in Dear Zindagi, if only because, how could Alia NOT fall in love with Shahrukh after spending time talking to him? How can anyone?
I have many many complex feelings about Jab Tak Hain Jaan. Starting with “WHY WOULD YOU KISS KATRINA KAIF?????” It’s just uncomfortable looking, and inappropriate. And my second thought is, “WHY WOULDN’T YOU PICK ANUSHKA??????”
Yash Chopra always has this balance in his love triangle movies, between the passionate love and the love that has a future, that makes you a better person. And usually he picks the second over the first. Silsila, Aaina, Lamhe, that is the lesson of them all. And then there’s Chandni and Jab Tak Hain Jaan. Chandni I can forgive a little bit, because it is a feminist statement. Sridevi shouldn’t have to “settle” for the guy who is the safe choice. She should be able to get the guy she really wants just because she really wants him. But this one, in so many ways Anushka is the better choice! And the age difference is a big part of that.
Anushka is good for Shahrukh. She uses her youthful enthusiasm to pull him out of his depression, she makes friends with his friends and shares his interests. And he shows he cares about her, not through big romantic speeches, but through little gestures like fixing her video camera.
Beyond the age difference, they have so much more in common than he does with Kat! Both passionate about something, both confident and ready to go after what they want, both ready to take on adversity with a smile and a laugh. It’s that which appeals to him from the start, her confidence and passion. That’s why he gives in and agrees to spend time with her. And then the more he knows her, the more he likes her, the more she worms her way into his heart.
Remove Kat from the movie, and this is a brilliant way to handle a May-December romance. Two people who get to know each other without romance as part of the equation, because the age difference seemingly makes it impossible. Until their emotions get the better of them and it isn’t impossible any more. Well, for her.
I like that Anushka falls for Shahrukh’s personality first. Although that is kind of unbelievable, considering that Jab Tak Hain Jaan is just about peak Shahrukh hotness. But it’s not the way he looks in aviators and fatigues and a beard that appeals to her. It’s his singing love songs alone by a stream, or staying up all night to fix her camera, or laughing with her while he defuses a bomb, that’s what makes her fall in love.
And Shahrukh falls for her too, at least a little bit. Not because she is so young and pretty, but in spite of it. He falls for her because she is open and tells him how she feels. And because she makes him smile and she puts up with all his complaints and keeps up with all his challenges. The more time they spend together, the clearer it becomes that she fits his life, as it is, adventuring through the mountains of Kashmir, risking his life on a daily basis, no thought for or worry about the future.
I kind of wonder, watching it, if this is one of those situations where the characters and the actor chemistry ran away from the director. Clearly, start to finish, this is supposed to be Kat and Shahrukh’s story. Anushka is supposed to be no more than, say, Tanuja’s role in Jewel Thief. Just there to be supportive and help them come back together again. And her feelings for Shahrukh are a convenient motivation for that, nothing more. Her “boyish” attitude, her unromantic time with Shahrukh (no dreamy love songs in London, mountain climbing in Kashmir instead), and the age difference, should all serve to make her an unimaginable option for him.
(Tanuja may not get the guy, but she does get the best song in the film)
But the chemistry got away from poor Yashji! At least for me, watching it, it felt like we were seeing Anushka and Shahrukh connect on a level that Katrina and he never really reached. Like maybe, if it hadn’t been for the random car accident, that he and Anushka would have slowly come to an understanding. After all, he had just traveled back to London for her!
I don’t think it was meant to be read this way, but the way the amnesia works kind of supports this theory. Shahrukh had to forget himself, everything that had happened and changed him in the past 10 years, and rewind back to a person who could be in love with Kat. Because Anushka was the love of his present and future, Kat really belonged in the past, a youthful passion he had outgrown.
(This is all well and good when you are 25, but can you imagine falling back into this relationship at 35, after 10 years apart, and trying to build a life together based on it? It’s JUST SEX!!! At least in Veer-Zaara, they had some real time together and shared experiences and all that before they were separated)
While Anushka is the “younger” woman, she is the more mature love interest. Kat is all about passion and youth and not actually really talking to each other. Anushka is about shared interests and complementary personalities. I would have had a lot more respect for the film if the ending had been Shahrukh rewinding back to spend time with Kat, and then to break up with her when he regains his memory because 10 years can’t be erased like that, and the person he now has more in common with Anushka than Kat.
But, Yashji decided the two of them couldn’t get together, so Anushka’s love is unrequited. And the whole unrequited inappropriate romance was handled very nicely. Anushka wasn’t flirty or seductive about it, she was up front about her feelings. And Shahrukh was upfront in return, not giving her false hopes and definitely not taking advantage. His kindness made it an experience that she could look back on with a smile.
Now, I don’t think Dear Zindagi is going to be like that exactly. But I do think we will discover, the more time Shahrukh and Alia spend together, that they have a lot more things in common than their age difference makes it look. Yes, Shahrukh is her “guru” and is teaching her how to love life and so on. But I bet we discover they have similar kooky ways of looking at the world, that they enjoy doing similar activities, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Shahrukh’s wisdom comes from experience, that his character went through something similar to whatever it is that Alia’s character is going through when he was her age.
And I also wouldn’t be surprised to find Alia getting a bit of a crush on him at some point. I mean, have you seen how he looks in those trailers?!?!? And if she does get a crush, I am almost positive that we will see Shahrukh once again very gently but with no possibility of misinterpretation turn away a young woman who has a crush on him.
(LOOK AT THIS MAN!!!! Who wouldn’t get a crush on him?)