Jab Harry Met Sejal Review (SPOILERS): She Is His Radha

No Spoilers review is already up, time for SPOILERS!  And then, sometime next week, I start the slow crawl through the scene by scene.  Because yes, this movie is good enough to deserve it.  Oh, and also good enough that you shouldn’t SPOIL yourself if you are planning to watch it.  Not super super good, I don’t want to oversell it, but good enough that it is worth avoiding spoilers.

Really truly not a lot happens.  It’s all about character growth and stuff.  So, Whole Plot in Two Paragraphs!

Shahrukh is a tour guide who just finished a tour with Anushka’s family group.  Anushka stops him as he is leaving the airport because she lost her ring, and threatens to complain to his boss unless he helps her find it.  Shahrukh doesn’t want to travel with her alone because he is worried about another complaint from another woman since he is such a womanizer.  That night, he tries telling her the truth, that he doesn’t want to be her personal guide because he has a problem not misbehaving with women, and she laughs it off and promises she can control herself.  And then immediately gets fascinated when she sees him fighting with a girl outside her window and follows him to a club. Where he finds her and declares he would never be attracted to her because she is a sister type.  She gets mad, he takes her home.  And then the same thing happens in reverse at their next stop, Anushka goes out alone to a club, Shahrukh follows her because it’s a bad area, saves her at the club, they are chased by scary people and hide out for the night.  Anushka wakes up in the middle of the night and goes to sleep next to him.  Next morning, they sing Radha together.  And Anushka realizes that Shahrukh’s problem is he is lonely, so she offers to pretend to be his girlfriend for the rest of the time they travel together.  Shahrukh starts to fall in love with her, but Anushka says he shouldn’t worry, she will never fall for him.  INTERVAL

They travel throughout Europe, getting closer and happier, and then get a clue to the ring that takes them to Portugal.  In Portugal, there is a misunderstanding and they are kidnapped.  Shahrukh is hit but manages to talk their way out of it.  While Anushka is looking for something to clean his wound in her purse, she finds the ring, it was there all along.  But she doesn’t say anything.  That night, they almost have sex, but Shahrukh stops at the last minute and says it shouldn’t be like this, she deserves better.  The next day, Anushka declares they have to go back to Frankfurt and help organize his friend’s wedding.  They do, acting more and more like a married couple all the time.  And finally at the end of the evening, his friend confronts them and asks what exactly this is.  And both of them are forced to admit that Anushka isn’t the kind of woman who will give everything up to marry a tour guide.  And Shahrukh tells her when they are alone that she has to go back, it’s time.  At the airport, she admits she found the ring 2 days earlier and has been hiding it.  And Shahrukh admits how he feels as she walks away, too softly for her to hear.  And then brief sad song, ending with Shahrukh realizing he has to fly to India and stop her wedding.  And, mild twist, he gets there and discovers the wedding was already canceled.  She couldn’t go through with it.  But she is at the venue anyway, no doubt waiting to see if he showed up.  And he proposes, telling her she filled a void in him and he thinks he can fill a void in her.  And then they kiss.  And it is SO HOT!  Way way better than the Jab Tak Hain Jaan kisses.  And finally, the happy ending song is going back to his village in the Punjab for the first time.

 

So, there are a lot of flaws.  A lot a lot a lot.  Mostly related to Anushka’s character, but a little bit with Shahrukh’s.  First, the whole “one conversation and she is following him and asking why he isn’t attracted to her” bit of it is SUPER IRRITATING.  Speaking as a woman who is definitely one of those “good girl” types that never gets hit on, this is something I know about myself and don’t really care about.  And it’s also not something that I could really change about myself if only I was traveling alone or something.  Like, I don’t even own the kind of outfits Anushka is wearing!  This is a male fantasy, the good girl who is super hot and just wants men to find her sexy and “awaken” her.  BOOO!

Image result for anushka jab harry met sejal

(I don’t go to bed in this.  I go to bed in the nice PJ’s my Mom made me for Christmas.  They’re comfy!)

Plus, she is way way inconsistent.  There is one moment in particular, when Shahrukh is clearly in love with her and says, all serious, that she has to promise to get on her plane and not look back once they find the ring, and she laughs and insults him!  Says that she is a strong confident woman and would never fall for him.  I am fine with her thinking she will never/is not already in love with him.  But the way it is set up as a competition, he will try to make her fall in love and she won’t be won over, means she has to come off as really really mean.  Either that or Shahrukh has to come off as really really sleaze-y.  And they went with making her needlessly cruel instead of him needlessly sleaze-y.  This is also the INTERVAL break point.  And it never comes up again.  Which makes me think they wrote it in just for the interval, and decided to just ruin Anushka’s character for no reason right there.

(Especially jarring because it comes right after this really lovely song)

There’s also some stuff they really could have investigated more in her backstory.  There is a wonderful moment after they have run from the club where Anushka was molested and hit her molester, causing his gang to chase there.  Anushka falls down sobbing and apologizing for hitting him, and Shahrukh is all “what?  No!  It’s not your fault!”  And Anushka confesses that she has gotten used to everything being her fault.  Her boyfriend/fiance always blames her for everything.  It’s so nice to hear someone say it isn’t her fault.

I think Anushka’s character is supposed to be like Kangana in Queen, or Ayesha in Socha Na Tha, or Kareena in Jab We Met.  She seems to have it all together and know who she is, but that is just because she has been so determined to keep herself as the person her family/boyfriend/everyone want her to be.  And we are witnessing a slow motion breakdown as she finally stops being that.

That would be a great character!  The bossy spoiled selfish demanding rich Gujarati girl.  Who secretly is insecure and scared and desperately afraid of disappointing people.  Who has been trapped in the mold of the perfect daughter, and perfect fiancee, and never learned how to accept that she can be something less than perfect.  And who instinctively immediately senses that she is what this sad difficult man needs in his life and won’t let him go.

But, that’s not exactly her character.  There isn’t quite enough backstory, and those few inconsistent moments that don’t exactly make sense.  She had to be sacrificed a little for the sake of Shahrukh’s character.  And for the sake of lightness in the film.

I realized on my drive home, that his film is just Highway but as a rom-com.  HIGHWAY SPOILERS FOLLOW Spoiled girl who has never seen the world stuck traveling with a damaged difficult man.  Spoiled girl becomes obsessed with him and feels a strange closeness, eventually reveals and admits the tragedies of her life hidden under her perfect exterior.  Man finds himself somehow healed and drawn to her at the same time.  They finally admit-without-admitting how they feel and form an unofficial married partnership.  And then in Highway, he is killed by her family and she lives a solitary life dedicated to his memory.  Not so much in this one.  SPOILERS OVER

(Look, they even have the same hand gesture thing!)

If you strip out all the specifics of the characters and the contrived situation, this is a classic May-December romance.  Shahrukh is old, he is tired, he is lonely.  Imtiaz and Shahrukh do an amazing job convincing us of that, that he has lost the ability to connect with anyone, including himself.  And he doesn’t even know how sad he is any more because he has forgotten what it is like to be happy.  And then there’s Anushka.  She is young and full of enthusiasm and energy and ready to drag Shahrukh out of his funk.  And also needs his resigned wisdom to take care of her and teach her how to be happy.

And “Radha” is the purest perfect expression of that.  It happens after maybe the best sequence of the film for Anushka’s character.  Not the beginning when, for never fully explored reasons, she goes out bar hopping.  But post-molestation (and by the way, from my friends who have gone to/worked in these kind of sex dungeon places, there is like a whole thing you have to go through before you get in, and you certainly wouldn’t chase down an unwilling participant!  Also, yes, super good girl types can have friends who work at sex dungeons and stuff.  I just never felt the need to explore them), everything is perfect!

Shahrukh shows up to save her by talking fast and distracting the gang until they can run.  Which fits with his character, a fast talker more than a brave hero.  The hide behind a tree and Anushka asks what she should do if the gang catches them and attacks her, clearly fearing rape.  And Shahrukh doesn’t really have a good answer and tries to dodge the question.  But the scene works, it convinces me that Anushka is having a mental breakdown, terrified, finally found the danger she needed to feel alive and unlock something inside herself and now is changing.  And Shahrukh is beginning to be unlocked as well, feeling a sort of responsibility and closeness with Anushka that he hasn’t before.

And then they end up hiding somewhere else, and Anushka has her breakdown about how everything is always her fault, that’s what is driving this ring quest, her fear of once again being blamed for everything.  Which retroactively explains so much about her character!  She is bossy and horrible to Shahrukh because she is driven by fear, fear of the family she has left behind and disappointing them.  And she is driven to act out and go to bars while she can because something inside of her wants to break out and disappoint them once and for all so she can stop trying.

(It’s good, but Socha Na Tha still did the “good girl breaks free” thing better)

And it explains her relationship with Shahrukh, for him to be the guy who says “no, that was okay, I liked what you did.”  Not because he is trying to make her feel better, but because he honestly approves of her first instinct, they are in synch, this is the guy who can appreciate her.

And then they are caught again and have to hide hanging off the side of a boat.  This is the moment that was at the beginning of “Hawayein”, when his hand is on her head.  But what I didn’t notice until I saw it on the big screen is how it is on her head.  First, she is the one holding it in place, placing it there.  And second, it is placed on top of her head more than the side.  She is putting it there to bless her.  A moment we will see a few more times in the film.  She is giving him the position of husband, wanting him to be there and bless her actions and give her safety and security.

Finally, they escape again and Shahrukh leads them to a remote old church building.  And then tears down some hanging banners, rips them in half, tosses one on a bench and another on the floor, and curls up on the floor.  It’s a silent sequence, because the actions say everything.  Anushka trusts him enough to follow him everywhere.  He cares enough to break into a building and rip down curtains for her comfort.  And, of course, he silently gives her the bench while he takes the ground.  That is how he sees himself, no matter how much he protests, as a dog who sleeps on the ground, serving others.

This is Shahrukh’s biggest internal issue, he doesn’t feel like he is worth anything.  He sees himself as having no pride, no self-respect, because of how he has to trail around and serve all the tourists for a living.  His seducing of women is a transparent attempt to gain back some sense of self.

And Anushka, in the middle of the night, wakes up and sees him on the floor, and goes over the curls up next to him.  She is tired of being the perfect princess, kept separate from the world (to the point that it is a running gag that she doesn’t even know which countries they visited on the trip, she was so sheltered).  She wants to get on the ground and curl up with someone who she feels a real connection with.

And then in the morning, Shahrukh wakes up and goes off by himself and cries.  We saw a few flashes of the Punjab before, but we could sense that he was struggling to hold on to them, to remember who he was and where he came from.  But now, there is a moment when he is holding Anushka as she sleeps, and suddenly the Punjab appears in his head, brilliant and bright and real.  And we know that somehow she has given it back to him, made him feel whole again.  And his breakdown is as cathartic and hers was the night before.

And that’s when we get “Radha”!  After Anushka finds him crying, while she is still recovering from her own breakdown the night before.  He goes from crying and admitting his sadness, to suddenly standing up and asking if she has ever heard Punjabi singing.  And then his song is a strong Punjabi folk song about a lothario who goes from woman to woman.  And he challenges Anushka to sing back, and she sings a song of Radha, always perfectly faithful and devoted.  The song her family would make her sing at family events.

And the two songs mix.  Shahrukh continues to sing out his life of womanizing, never staying in one place.  And Anushka sings her life of always having to be perfect and sweet and faithful.  And slowly the two mix.  Shahrukh’s song makes Anushka sing faster and rougher, and start to dance, really dance, not just the perfect poses, but enjoying herself.  And, eventually, Shahrukh gives in and sings back to her that she is his “Radha”.

That’s what they both needed.  Shahrukh needed this unquestioning devotion, someone in his life who is just there for him always.  And she needed something more than the perfect empty poses her family had given her, something real that she could be, someone who wanted and needed the real her.

And then the rest of the movie happens.  But it really doesn’t need to after that.  Once “Radha” is over, we in the audience know they will be together forever and they kind of know it too.  The rest of the film is just a slow swimming towards admitting that to themselves.

 

Oh, also, one thing that I couldn’t find anywhere else to mention and was super weird!  Shahrukh lands in Bombay at the end, at the same airport where I landed 3 years ago and I totally recognized everything.  But they had to skip one of the hallways he would have run through, because there is a massive mural including Shahrukh (and Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh) right before you get to security I think.  So, very strange to watch him run down the hallway, and then turn, and then a sudden cut to avoid showing his own face on a mural in the background.  Kind of took me out of the movie for a moment.

Image result for chatrapati shivaji airport mural

(This.  He should have been going by this)

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64 thoughts on “Jab Harry Met Sejal Review (SPOILERS): She Is His Radha

  1. Pingback: Jab Harry Met Sejal Video Review | dontcallitbollywood

  2. But if she was his Radha, then they wouldn’t have ended up together.

    Did they make it explicit that this is a May December romance (the way they did in Chennai Express, though there he only mentioned it once, and then proceeded to behave just like an immature 25 year old for the rest of the film). I ask this because several reviews that I saw (from regular viewers) said that Imtiaz Ali is stuck with the character of the man child who has to discover himself, and SRK is too self-confident, as well as looks too old, to fit that character, the way Ranbir would. And several of the professional reviews also said that he couldn’t pull off the character (i.e., faulting his acting) and saying someone like Ranbir would have done better. I found it interesting that they all mentioned Ranbir specifically. It was almost enough to start some conspiracy theories. 🙂

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    • I thought of Ranbir right away too. Mostly because the character is introduced in a very Tamasha-like way, he has kind of a split personality, the perfect tour guide versus the bad boy he becomes once the tour is over. But then I moved on pretty quick, because it isn’t really a Ranbir role, he needs to have a sort of sexy dangerous vibe to him. And be very very Punjabi. That’s when I started thinking of Abhay (you can’t get more Punjabi than a Deol) or Shahid (very good with the sexy dangerous) as alternatives.

      I think Shahrukh’s casting added something to the role that wouldn’t have been there otherwise, just because of who he was. The May-December thing was never mentioned explicitly, but because it was Shahrukh playing the role, on top of his protests about how Anushka is a nice pretty good girl there was this layer of “and also, you are very young and inexperienced and I am not”. And because it is Shahrukh playing the role, all the stuff that with a younger actor would have felt like yet another “man-child grows up” thing, turned into more of a “sad older guy who has lost himself” thing.

      It reminded me of the Highway dynamic more than anything else, which again had a massive visible age difference in casting, and that ended up making the film deeper because the audience had to sort of get past that to see how the characters really fit together.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I admit, while watching I thought : How would this movie be with Ranbir instead of SRK?
        And my reaction was just: Bleah
        And he has done this kind of role so many times (and surely will do in future), so why cast him here too? and I find it funny that critics complain about repetitive themes, but ask for the same actor do do them.

        I haven’t seen all Imitaz movies, but I liked the ones I saw (except Rockstar). But they all have 1 flaw: the protagonist always has some problem, but IMO Imitaz dosn’t dedicate enough time to explain the reasons, and the roots of the problem. He is like: I wanna make a movie about sad man with problems, but I can’t make it too serious , so I will treat it superficially. I wish there were more about Harry’s past, and why he had become so sad, and why Sejal was like this. I liked this movie a lot, but I think it would be better with more throwback scenes.

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        • Exactly! With your Ranbir complaint. Cast him in this, and it is yet another “young damaged man trying to figure himself out and become happy”. But with Shahrukh, just by the casting, it becomes something different, an older sad guy past his prime who had himself figured out and has now lost himself.

          I was okay with no more flashbacks for Shahrukh, but I would have liked more flashbacks for Anushka, I want to know how she ended up with her boyfriend (I am guessing the family’s arranged the meeting), what her relationship is like with her father, and so on and so on. Something as simple as a shot of her as a little girl playing dress up, and then being yelled at for dressing too wildly and being too loud or something.

          On Sun, Aug 6, 2017 at 4:46 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I liked your flashback ideas. Maybe I wanted more from Sharukh because I absolutely loved this punjabi song played when he was dreaming about home (how is the title?). I also thought he has some serious love story behind, but then we get to know he met this girl 2 times and it wasn’t the reason he become what he is now.

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          • I think Shahrukh’s casting kind of helped with the lack of flashback. If he was younger, like early 30s, we would assume there had to be some love story in his past or some other tragedy to get him here. But if he is 40-something, then there doesn’t have to be a big tragedy, it can just be time and a slow sense of loss as he stays away from his home and his life doesn’t pan out quite the way he expected.

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    • Ranbir actually could have done a better overall job, but some of the moments in the film (the only ones I personally liked in this snoozefest) were by SRK. For example the scene wherein Anushka asks him to pretend he is Rupen and lead her to the cafe…..it was quite magical. As an “immature 25-year old” I feel only SRK could have done justice to it 🙂

      Agree with them not ending up together had she really been his Radha. Hehe

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      • On my third watch (just finished) I focused on the passport shot and actually caught that! I still think he feels more 40 than 37, but I can buy 37.

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        • I love how he can pass for 37! Oh my heart. He absolutely can pass for 37 with the older mature vibes going on, that mentally he feels 40+ with all the pain and emptiness in his life!

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  3. That interval bit is a very simple and an oft used thing: girls always saying the opposite of what they really want/mean. Which then makes the actual eventuality that much more impressive for the guy.

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    • And I always find it irritating and inconsistent. Sometimes there is a whole layer to it where you can see how she is resisting what she really wants because of social pressure and so on. And sometimes it just feels like a writer being lazy. This time felt lazy to me.

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  4. Like with FAN, Margaret, I think you’ve picked up on the heart of the story in a way that most critics haven’t. Especially that the songs make explicit what’s going on inside the characters. I think opinions of the film will improve over time.

    I agree with what many are saying, that the 2nd half is weaker than the 1st in terms of pacing and writing. I have seen three Ali movies–Rockstar, Tamasha, and now JHMS. I’ve liked JHMS the best, so it’s sad to see so many saying it is his weakest. I also feel bad about people getting upset he’s repeating this “lost people finding themselves and helping each other do the same”. Like–Woody Allen has made the same dang 2 or 3 movies since the 70’s (and is a horrible person in real life) and no one is busting his chops. 🙂

    The weirdly shallow “bad guys” I think are stand-ins for issues that affect “Indians abroad” in Europe. Even the Portuguese singer singing about exotic India struck me like that. And gave a lovely chance for Anushka and Shah Rukh to out do each other in the eye-acting department.

    For me, the internal journeys of Harry and Sejal are clear enough, no need for more backstory than is indicated in his memories/dreams and her reactions to situations. I love the gender dynamics in this movie. Sejal’s awakening is more self-driven, while Harry’s is more catalyzed by Sejal. I don’t think anyone is saving anyone, despite Harry’s “Sometimes I think only you can save me.” Sejal stays back because she’s found a side of herself she didn’t know existed, and wants to get to know that person. In the process, she helps Harry see himself and his life story in a different way.

    Harry’s hang-ups about cheap women and “sweet sister-types” are much more about self-loathing (only cheap women would want him); Sejal’s are related to her evolution–pre-trip Sejal believed only certain “types” of women would run off with a tour guide. Post-trip Sejal is not so worried about “types”, and more interested in finding out who she is and what she wants.

    The only gender thing that bugged me is that a super-model type would be with Harry’s nice-but-schlubby best friend. But that’s typical of SO many movies and TV shows.

    Both Anushka and Shah Rukh are just beguiling physically here. My goodness, all that snuggling!
    Finally–the kiss. Yes! Really redeems the awkwardness that was JTHJ. The fan in me is dying to know how Ali and Anushka prepped him for that scene. Did all the crew have to turn their backs? Did they get him a bit drunk? lol

    Sorry so long. Can’t wait to see this again sometime this week!

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    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Although, you HAVE to watch more Imtiaz! His “good” ones, to me, are Socha Na Tha and Jab We Met. And they are also the ones that this reminded me most of. Plus Highway. Real two lead films.

      With the songs (and I’ll get into this more when I start my scene by scene), I felt like it was a return to the way songs are should be used in Indian film. I don’t get a complaint that they slow things down or interrupt the plot. They are the plot! The plot is interrupting the songs, they are there to show us things about the characters that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

      I’ll be really interested in your reaction to Socha Na tha/Jab We Met because those films feel related but super different in a way I don’t think his later work really does. Partly because it was different producers, budget, cast, all of that. But also the stories themselves are really complicated and unique, whereas later he got more into this kind of stripped down thing with almost no story.

      I’ll have to think about the “bad guys” in the film as more kind of abstract concepts of dangers. I really liked how the “Gas” bad guy was handled in the second half, but the white guy bad guys felt strangely shallow and unclear.

      Right now what I am thinking about with their romance more and more is the tagline “what you seek is seeking you”. It feels like it is heading towards a kind of supernatural concept of soulmates, other halves. Shahrukh says that at the end, that she filled his void. It would explain the way she chases him to a club and he chases her if there is a kind of immediate subconscious sense that this is a person they have to follow, that there is something there they need. So it’s not just about him finding a connection that makes him feel whole again, and her finding a happier version of herself, underneath that is a kind of magical connection on the “Radha” kind of level, she was born for him and he for her sort of thing.

      Was it you i was talking about the “pole dancing” scene? In context, I loved it! Because rather than being sexy, it felt like a celebration of having overcome shallow definitions of “types”. They had just seen a strip show together, and weren’t uncomfortable about it. And now they were play acting what they had just seen in the same way they did disco Kareoke or anything else together. He wasn’t just a cheap guy throwing money at her, and she wasn’t just a girl trying to be sexy, they were a couple hanging out and goofing around.

      The kiss! That was the moment where I felt like I could see the culmination of all the really deep directing and acting Imtiaz had been creating all along. Both of their performances were so internal, so grounded in the emotions of the characters. And that scene in particular really dug deep into what they were feeling for each other. So the kiss could come naturally from that moment, from already living within these characters. Unlike in JTHJ when it was just kind of out of nowhere. Plus, with Kat, so not such a deep intense actress to play off of and help him feel his character.

      On Sun, Aug 6, 2017 at 7:20 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • What you say about the kiss scene makes sense–it did feel organic and in character for both. Best moment for me, Shah Rukh fan-wise, was the line, “Your lips are softening. It’s very pleasing.” My, my, my.

        Yep, that was me with the pole-dancing scene! I was so relieved. It did feel like an established couple goofing off. And was mercifully short. I sat next to a multi-generational family at the theater, with two boys, maybe aged 9 and 12. Everybody was shifting around uncomfortably during the strip club scene. And the 9 year old was BORED by the end. A relatively full theater for a Sunday matinee, and people seemed to enjoy it.

        I’ll definitely check out the Ali films you recommend, and let you know what I think!

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        • I forgot, if you haven’t seen the two “good” Ali films, the end of Jab We Met is the kiss I picked out as the all time best kiss in Indian film. In character, romantic, and vital for the plot. And it’s not just me, most commentators on my “kisses” post agreed! so that’s something to look forward to.

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          • Ooooh yes! The Jab We Met kiss! It was like they were both FINALLY shedding all pretensions and acknowledging their real feelings. Also the background score for the kiss was superb. I wouldn’t call it my all-time favorite Bollywood movie kiss–that would be Aditya Roy Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor’s in Aashiqui 2–but it was very, very good 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

        • hi procrastinatrix
          can u write up entire proposal scene after she says u need tea/ coffe?
          i saw it with bunch of crazy fans and they started hooting n I missed hearing that part properly. will watch again but dont know when.
          please please… i’ll be thankful 🙂

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        • Hi procrastinatrix, can u type the proposal scene for me after she says u need tea /coffe? I saw it with crazy fans n they started hooting loud, so missed hearing properly. Will see again but dont know when. Please please ..i’ll b very thankful 🙂

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          • I’ll get there eventually in my scene by scene, and I’m not sure if I will remember every line, but let me start and then other commentators can jump in and add what I missed:

            He says “No no, no formality” And then they kind of stand for a second, and then he clarifies “Soooo, no wedding?” And she says “No, no wedding, I had to call it off. Turns out I am a bad low kind of woman who would run off with a tour guide” Shahrukh kind of nods, she continues “and Rupen is a good sweet boy, so I couldn’t do that to him” Shahrukh says “Well, I have come all this way for a wedding so, no no no, you will have to get married”. Anushka’s voice breaks a little so you can see she is nervous, and she says “How about a romantic engagement now and a wedding later? Do you have a ring” Shahrukh shakes his head, “no no, no ring, they are third class things, you lose them and then have to look for them everywhere. No, instead I have something of mine that belongs to you. A certain lack/void (“kami”) inside that only you can fill” (this is when he gets down on his knees in front of her) “and this void of mine, I promise, it will give to you too. It will keep you always feeling beautiful and clean and good all the days of your life” Anushka kind of nods and her voice breaks a little as she says “but, how can we tell if I am worth it?” Shahrukh kind of nods back, they look at each other, and that’s when he reaches up and grabs her and kisses her.

            I know I missed some stuff there, but hopefully others can jump in and add on.

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          • Hi, there! Margaret’s scene by scene recall and analysis are so good. I think Sejal has a little more dialogue in between, so that Harry knows he’s on the right track. I’m so glad I wasn’t spoiled for the end. It literally took my breath away for a few seconds. ☺

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          • Yeah, I think you are right. She asks about “tea coffee”, he says “no formality”, and then there is a blank space in my memory before she explains that she had to cancel the wedding because it turns out she is a no good type of girl and couldn’t marry a nice boy like that. Which is a pretty clear opening for him to make his move. If her canceling the wedding and him showing up to stop it wasn’t already enough of a hint. I love that they made those decisions individually! He knew she might turn him down, but he had to try or he would always feel bad about it. And she knew that she had to cancel the wedding, for herself, even if Shahrukh never came.

            And, of course, the way that she clearly came to the venue and was waiting around outside just in case, knowing that he might show up. So much better than if it had been explained she was a friend of the other couple and a guest. No, she was clearly just there thinking he might show up.

            On Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 8:48 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Thank you for this 🙂 The young group next to me had already seen the movie so they knew he would kiss her next and they got all excited 😀 .. could hardly hear anything as they were all charged up….
            that kiss is just fab …i wonder how imtiaz convinced SRK
            though he has done full fledged hot bed scenes in KANK and other movies but this was so so hot ! grabbing her and signifying how much he waited for this moment ..where he knows that she is mine… no rupen or xyz in background … she herself has decided to call off wedding without his verbal influence
            earlier we cud not bear the feeling that they are 10 meter away from each other and now we cud not imagine them not being together. they have found themselves inside each other 🙂

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          • My suspicion, which I’ve mentioned somewhere else as well, is that it worked so well because the kiss came at the end of an extremely intense internal performance. Shahrukh and Anushka were so fully in their characters by the end of the film that the kiss fully feels like it is between those two characters, not the two actors. And it really was required for these characters to resolve that sexual tension between them somehow. Anyway, that’s how I think Imtiaz got such a great performance from them in this scene.

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  5. i knew it..i knew that ring would be inside her purse..but seriously travelling all across Europe she did not go through her purse once..i find that hard to believe…

    Liked by 2 people

    • They kind of sell it. She only finds it when she is in a panic wanting to take care of Shahrukh after he is hurt. So she turns the purse upside down and shakes it hard to get the antiseptic and stuff she wants. And only then does the ring pop out.

      So you can sell it as, she probably went through her purse and checked every pocket, but if it had slipped inside the lining or something like that, she would only find it with a big hard shake, the kind that you only do when you are in a desperate hurry. And in a larger sense, you could say that she never cared enough about the ring to be that sort of panicky feeling that would let her just dump the whole purse out and shake it, instead of going through methodically. Whereas when Shahrukh was hurt, she went straight to dumping.

      On Sun, Aug 6, 2017 at 12:52 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • wasn’t that obvious she did not care about the ring..if she did then the story would have ended there..also srk would’ve been her fiance not a tour guide ..

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        • For me at least, it felt like the film was refreshingly frank in letting go of that Macguffin early on. Yes, she is technically looking for the ring. But both the characters and the audience know that it pretty quickly turns into just an excuse to travel around Europe together. Like, so long as she says she is looking for the ring and they pretend that is what they are doing, then she isn’t cheating and he isn’t falling in love. But it’s just an artificial end point of the journey, like saying “I’m only traveling until Christmas” or whatever.

          On Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 10:12 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. Pingback: Netflix List for August! JAB WE MET!!! See What Imtiaz Was Doing Before JHMS! (Thank you Accessbollywood.net) | dontcallitbollywood

  7. Are you going to discuss box office for this movie? Everything I’m reading is so conflicting, and it is hard to tell from looking at the Bollywood press what is actually going on.
    Also, I’ve only seen it once so far, but the negative reviews and hate on Twitter & social media is baffling to me. Can you help me understand what people think is sooooo bad about this movie? Am I just an unsophisticated dolt who doesn’t get it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will be discussing box office, but like you say, it’s so conflicted right now. So I am going to wait for the global Rentraks figures on Tuesday and only look at that.

      The negative reviews are baffling to me too! It’s not the greatest movie ever, but it’s not torture to watch it, which is the implication I am picking up on. The only thing I can think of is a combination of raised expectations and Shahrukh-hate.

      Not hate exactly, but isn’t “cool” to like a Shahrukh movie. If you are an English language reviewer. He’s had the best string of creativity he’s had in years going from Fan to Dear Zindagi to Raees to this. And I’m kind of stunned that he is getting so little critical credit for any of them. If Ranbir or Aamir or Kangana or Farhan or one of the other critical darling actors had done these roles, they would have gotten all kinds of credit. I’m not even saying these were great movies (although Fan is shockingly brilliant). But Shahrukh’s performances are crazy varied and deep and all kinds of things that he hasn’t done in years. And somehow he is still be reviewed as though he is in Dilwale, instead of putting on a world class method acting class. It’s so strange to me! Why can’t you just say “the plot was bad, the script wasn’t perfect, the songs were an interruption, but I have to acknowledge that Shahrukh was brilliant in his role.” Instead of starting with “Another Shahrukh indulgence! This movie is terrible and I am angry at him!” (at least, I think that’s what they are saying? Like I said, I haven’t actually read the bad reviews)

      And then there are the expectations. Which is kind of Shahrukh/Red Chillies fault. We were sold a blockbuster SRK romance, instead of this kind of odd little character study film. So I guess if you went in expecting Chennai Express or Rab ne Bana Di Jodi, you would be disappointed and unhappy. But if you went in with an open mind (like I tried really hard to do), it’s a good little film. An interesting experiment with really great songs and performances. And then the flip side, if you saw the twitter comments and so on before you went in, it is such an odd little film, it would be easy to be peer pressured into resisting it and seeing it as terrible, instead of giving in to the story and being swept away.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The reviews I’ve read or seen, all in English of course, did give praise to the performances, especially Rejeev Masand and Anupama Chopra. They criticized what they saw as Imtiaz’s indulgence in yet another movie about a lost hero who is saved by a woman. They thought the second half fell apart. One reviewer I usually read, Devarsi Ghosh, didn’t review it for his publication, @scroll_in, but did write about it on his blog and had some interesting things to say both about the movie and his fellow critics here:
        View story at Medium.com

        But what’s really baffled me is the fan reaction on Twitter. I think I must not follow the people who have hated the movie because my timeline is full of fans reacting to the hate. However, one of my favorite twitter buddies posted a thread about all this which I found illuminating on the fan base and why it is so disappointed in this film. You can find it here: https://twitter.com/HipsterSRKFan/status/893916173292761089
        I’m not so sure I agree with his conclusion–that Shah Rukh needs to get back to the family entertainers that made him who he is in order to retain both his stardom and his fan base. I’d like to think that by doing different roles he might be able to pull his audience with him to new places, but maybe I am asking too much.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Considering he has a huge and diverse audience, it bothers me not all at all that he does different kinds of films. In fact, that is one of the things that attracted me to his work in the first place. I want more Fan, more Om Shanti Om, more Swades, more Don, more Koyla, more Devdas, more Dear Zindagi… more everything.

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          • I agree, but for my own benefit. Shah Rukh is glad he has a wide overseas audience that appreciates different things than his Indian audience. But he has often made it clear that in his own mind what matters is how the Indian audience likes his films. A Ra One, for example, which made a ton of money between the overseas audience and the multiple corporate tie-ins, is considered a failure (at least by Shah Rukh) because the Indian audience didn’t embrace it.

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          • Expanding on that, he has also remained firm in interviews when he is asked about breaking out into Hollywood that he has no interest in it and is happy with his Indian audience, why would he want more?

            (I mean, that is also what he would say if he hadn’t gotten any Hollywood offers, or if he was trying to suck up to the Indian audience, but assuming it is true, it means once again that he doesn’t care if the global audience gets him if those at home don’t)

            Oh, and also the profit percentage from global distribution is much smaller than Indian. So long as we are talking petty reasons.

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          • True, but the Indian audience is also huge and diverse.Ithink he is smart enough to know he can’t please everyone, and humble enough to be forthright about people who did not like a particular film.

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  8. I tried to watch this movie with an open mind after reading all the bad reviews and getting negative opinions from friends, I really did try. And barring a few lovely scenes I was so bored, I don’t remember waiting that desperately for a movie to end. Anushka and SRK are very typecast in specific kinds of roles and it is the same in this movie too. Both do a good job but honestly, I am tired of seeing Anushka in the bubbly, bold, witty girl who the hero irrevocably falls in love with while she goes cold on him/does not reciprocate for a long time/never ever roles (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil). Maybe that is just me.

    My favorite scene was undoubtedly that one when they are looking for the ring near the outdoor cafe which overlooked a valley, and she asks him to pretend he is her loved-up fiance. The way he leads her to the cafe, teh slow-mo, the expressions, the music….classic SRK magic. Nothing short of magic.

    Another scene I liked a lot was when she ‘pole-dances’ in the hotel room and he pretends to shower money on her. It was a lovely way of showing Sejal as shedding her opinions about ‘types of women’ and Harry equally nonchalant about it.

    The Portuguese singer- only and only for the play of their expressions!! it was superbly executed. not the song she sang (lyrics seemed childishly immature to me), but the way Harry and Sejal seemed to connect on an altogether deeper level than previously seen in the movie.

    SRK shouting into the ocean. This was, to me, MINDBLOWING. It reminded me of him in Kal Ho Na Ho, reading out from the blank pages of Saif’s diary. Also strangely reminded me of Devdas, when he is enacting an imaginary courtroom scene with his father. SRK does very, very well with such scenes, when he is imagining something and enacting it. Shows internal angst far better than anything else does, in my opinion.

    However, the rest of the movie just bored me to bits. The same old tropes, no real character depth, nothing fresh in terms of storyline. A couple sat right next to me, the girl apologising to the guy saying “I am so sorry for putting you through this’. A few seats to my left, the moment the movie ended, a guy jumped to his feet in relief, almost running towards the exit even before the lights came on. I followed suit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m curious, where were you watching it? I saw it in a theater with maybe 15 other people, and by myself. Which wasn’t a good sign for the box office, but did mean that I could really concentrate on the film and notice the little things that made it interesting for me. Plus, I knew I would be writing a review later, so I had to pay attention.

      Anyway, since I was really concentrating, I could see how Anushka’s character was slightly different than what she had done before, the tiny things that happened in the scenes where “nothing happens”, all those things. But then, ideally a film should be able to grab people who aren’t paying super close attention, more force you to pay more attention even if you don’t want to.

      On Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 2:46 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I watched it in a theatre in Mumbai, it was fairly packed, it being a Saturday night.

        And yes, she has done a good job, there is no denying that.

        “But then, ideally a film should be able to grab people who aren’t paying super close attention, more force you to pay more attention even if you don’t want to” yes, exactly. And in my case at least, this did not happen.

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  9. Pingback: Monday Morning Questions After Jab Harry Met Sejal! | dontcallitbollywood

  10. I am thinking of the “I only saw her twice” line, and Harry’s long-ago first love. How many times has he played a role when first sight was enough? SRK’s most powerful romantic performances (in my amateur opinion) have been when it takes him time to wake up. For me, the beauty of JHMS was that he really only “met” her as a lover after they had known each other for a while. That is the basic story of When Harry Met Sally, too, one of of the things that makes it so enduring. True story: I took and instant dislike to my husband when we were first introduced, and it lasted for weeks. Then we had a long evening together without all of our friends around, and we really got to know each other. That was fifty years ago this fall. So JHMS rings more true to me than a whole pile of “love at first sight” stories.

    And yeah, I am going to see it again in about 90 minutes. And probably buy it.

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    • What my favorite movie love stories, and what I have heard from other people who have been married for decades as to how it happened for them, is that there is an immediate spark where you notice the person. But you may not like them, you just kind of remember them.

      That was one of the things I really noticed on my DDLJ close watch. There is a spark immediately, a kind of “love at first sight” thing between them. But then Shahrukh opens his mouth and blows the whole thing. And has to spend an hour of screentime crawling back from that initial bad impression to get her to like him. And vice versa, Kajol is pretty horrible too.

      This movie I think had an interesting twist on it. They didn’t really “see” each other until the first meeting we see, she was just one of the crowd of tourists for him, and he was in his fake tour guide mode. Once they saw the real person, they had an immediate strong reaction. But that didn’t mean they were in love, it was just meant there was something about the other person that made them really vivid. Which isn’t love, they had to work to get to love.

      On Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 10:53 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Spot on description, as always. My husband did indeed make a vivid impression, even though it was negative. He still has all of the qualities he displayed at the time — very loud, chatty, and outgoing — which I found annoying at the time, in the particular circumstance. But he has many other fine qualities, which I discovered gradually and later. Harry may still find strange women flirting with him, but he’s not likely to reciprocate any more. Although that would make an interesting sequel.

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        • What I liked about the film is it showed that neither of them really significantly changed. Anushka stayed demanding and stubborn and slow to listen to others and quick to take control of the situation. Shahrukh stayed kind of grumpy and slow to open up. But as we saw in the wedding sequence, they were able to balance each other, she forced him to go out and be himself and open up more, he forced her to loosen up and be happy.

          So, it’s not that they fell in love and become totally different people (although that’s what the dialogue says), it’s that finding someone who accepted them helped them become the best version of themselves.

          On Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 12:05 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  11. I too am baffled by the hate being showered on this film most of which I have to admit I am getting second hand from reactions of fans who are upset with negative comments. At worst, this film is slight, at best it is a great character study. Yes, the plot is thin in parts but their performances are superb. I am getting the feeling to paraphrase Robert Frost’s The Mending Wall: “Something there is that doesn’t love a Shah Rukh.” There is an animosity and vehemence that Tubelight which didn’t meet a lot of expectations didn’t get. Also, they are making it sound like an abject failure which it is not my any means. People are still talking about sold out shows. I don’t get it, I just don’t.

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    • You know what I find really interesting? So far, most of the people here have liked this film, but no one has really really loved it. Usually with this kind of reaction, it’s much more of a binary, you either really love it or really hate it. But this time there is this strange effect of people going “It was okay, I liked it, kind of interesting” on one side, and people (which I am also getting secondhand) going “I hate it with a burning passion!” on the other side.

      What makes more sense to me is the reaction MusingsMosiac had (in the comments on the Spoilers review). She liked some scenes in it, appreciated the performances, overall was kind of bored. That makes sense to me. But I just don’t see anything in the film that would bring up strong enough feelings for “HATE”. Just like I didn’t find anything there that made me really go “LOVE”.

      On Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 12:59 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  12. I am going to go out on a limb here (after reading through all the other comments, your post, and with complete due respect to all those opinions), but I actually REALLY, REALLY liked the film!

    Usual disclaimer – I love Shah Rukh, and my opinions/comments are absolutely biased by my love for him, and I have spent nearly a decade trying to be objective about him. Alas. It is not to be.

    For one, I really don’t think Ranbir could have pulled off this role, or could have woven in the magic that Shah Rukh managed to. Ranbir’s existing image as a bad boy/womanizer from previous roles as well as his public persona would have made the portrayal of Harry that much more – boring. Ordinary. I think, (and to a large extent, people I have seen the movie with agree) that the audience is very much aware that it’s a Shah Rukh Khan playing Harry Nehra, who is a self-loathing, lonely womanizer. That awareness lends weight and value to this role, a very different light to the roles we are used to from him. Ranbir, while a fantastic actor, would have just reduced Harry to just another role he’s played.
    There are also parts/scenes in the film that carry such intense emotion/character-focus that I think the role demands the experience that Shah Rukh brings: the moment when they almost have sex, but when he simply turns around in her arms so that suddenly she is holding him – where they switch the air from intense heat and attraction to such vulnerability. The way he asks her to hug him on the train, and particularly, that moment in the end when he is on his knees and telling her about the emptiness in him – they all demand an actor with the weight of experience behind them. Ranbir would have been too young, too youthful. Harry’s character needed to convey someone who is wise, who’s been hurt and broken and failed many times to get to this really lonely point in their life.
    Phew.
    Long comment.
    Let me end with this, because I know you will agree with me on this one, M!
    That kiss! That KISS! OH MY GOD THAT KISS.
    I am so glad that they included that kiss, because I am going to use it as PROOF once and for all, that the dismal counterpart in Jab Tak Hai Jaan was NOT BECAUSE SHAH RUKH IS TOO OLD. That story had nothing working for it for the Meera-Samar relationship, NOTHING. There was no emotion, no chemistry. They were literally just having sex. That is why the kiss was so – blah.
    The kiss in JHMS, on the other hand – I can only do what Anushka did, give him a couple of thumbs up. JESUS CHRIST.
    Also: Do we think he has broken his kissing on screen rule for good? Shah Rukh, why don’t you announce these things so that people who care inappropriate amounts (read me) can be prepared?

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    • I’m glad to hear someone really really liked it! i’m seeing it a second time tomorrow, I’ll see if I like it even more then.

      Absolutely agree that Shahrukh brought something that that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. In all the ways you said, to see this aging lost womanizer from the confident king of the world we have seen before, to have someone with this vast acting experience really sell those scenes, all of it. In some ways it reminded me of Agneepath, where Amitabh was really too old to play that role, but his age and experience added so much to his performance that I wouldn’t want it any other way. The only other actor I think might have been able to pull it off is Shahid, of all people. He can bring a kind of angry bitter depth to his performance when he wants to. But he wouldn’t have that same sense of age that really added something new to the character.

      And the kiss! Yes! It felt so incredibly organic. It would have felt odd to make a big deal about it, like making a big deal about them holding hands, or him drinking, or speaking Punjabi. It’s just who these people were and what they would naturally do, there is no substitute for it and the script/characters absolutely required it.

      I think maybe SRK is entering a new phase of his career, beyond all those “rules” and so on, and more into just leaping into the performance and doing whatever the director requires.

      On Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 6:05 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Being prepared. Hmm. When I saw it the second time, I knew it was coming, and I practically had to buy a pregnancy test on the way out of the theater. (They should offer them, just for this scene. Or at least test to let you know it’s prime tome in your cycle.) This is a joke, because I am pushing 70 and if a Shah Rukh movie makes me pregnant, it will be a miracle. But you k ow what I mean. There is a reason why the screenings I have seen have both been all women except one dude.

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  13. One other comment – did you notice how Shah Rukh was credited second, after Anushka in the titles? A growing, emerging trend, and I don’t exactly understand what they are trying to say. I get why Mr. Bachchan would be credited after the women in a film like Pink. But are they doing it in every film now just because it is the liberal, populist thing to do?

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    • Oh, I forgot to check for that! that’s a personal vow he made after Nirbhaya. It was right before Chennai Express came out, and he announced that from now own he would insist on his heroines coming before him in the credits. There was a big deal and everyone was watching for it in Chennai Express, and then I keep forgetting to check in movies after that. Nice to see that he is keeping it up. I know it’s kind of an empty gesture in terms of social change, but I like it in terms of his kind of personal atonement for any small contribution he has made to gender violence in Indian society.

      On Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 6:10 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • What makes it harder to notice is that in most of his films since then, the heroine had such a strong role that it felt natural for her name to come first. Dips in Happy New Year, Kajol in Dilwale, even Mahira in Raees. The only one I can think of as an exception is the actresses in Fan (can’t even remember their names). But most of the time he has chosen to be in more ensemble pieces in which the actresses has the strongest character next to his own, or even stronger.

          On Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 6:17 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • SRK started this trend of mentioning female lead first in credits:) Its been happening from some time now ! he is just amazing 🙂

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  14. Pingback: Jab Harry Met Sejal Scene By Scene Index | dontcallitbollywood

  15. What a wonderful review. 🙂 I loved the movie and googled “alternate endings” to get here. I know there was an aternate ending apparently where Harry does not get Sejal. But your review and description of the characters is bang on. It is not as deep as other Imtiaz movies, but it just gives you enough hints of what these characters and their struggles are, thereby letting you imagine and paint them, just like you would when reading a book. Harry, btw, is born in 1980 (they show his password, and may I take credit for being the only fan who noticed this perhaps, ha ha), so he is technically 37 years old. I think SRK did full justice to this tired, uninterested Harry. Even as the romantic partner, he is not suddenly crooning poetry, or pretending to be anything he is not. He is in his element till the end, in his proposal too, where he speaks of his void. The lyrics of all the songs (the most underrated album of this year, IMO), add so well to the narrative, its a pity this movie is drawing all this hate it does not deserve.

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    • This album is amazing! Last year was Mirzya for me, and this year it is this one. Both albums weave so beautifully in and out of the film.

      I can’t imagine a version where Harry and Sejal don’t end up together! At least, not from the film we got. It is so much sejals journey along with Harrys, I can’t imagine her going back to her life and being happy. Harry, I could see being changed and learning to love himself and going back home alone and being happy. But I can’t see Sejal without harry.

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      • Hawayein has been on a loop on my phone for the last 84 years. Also, M – maybe you can talk about this in one of your Monday posts (very sorry if this is the wrong place to ask you) – but what do you feel about Arijit Singh becoming the voice for nearly every SRK movie in the last couple of years?

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        • Oh, we had a conversation about this! I think when Safar came out maybe? General consensus, and this isn’t just me this is all of us talking together, is that his voice is somehow too breaking and youthful in some songs, but just right in others. “Gerua” somehow felt like Shahrukh was lipsynching, which obviously he always is, but it really felt off. But “Kashmir” from Chennai Express was perfect. And so was “Zaalima”. And we like him in this one too.

          So the thinking is, Arijit’s kind of soulful love song voice isn’t quite right, something about how it thins out when he goes long on a note distinctly doesn’t match with Shahrukh’s speaking voice. But the bouncier songs, or the songs on a deeper register, are all good. Which maybe they have figured out? Their last few films together, Raees especially, it felt like Arijit really “got” how to deliver a song for Shahrukh and vice versa.

          From what I have read in memoirs and stuff, and even the little faked bit we saw in the “Safar” song trailer, it isn’t unheard of for the actor to sit in on the recording of songs to make sure the song delivery matches with his performance style. I wonder if that is something Shahrukh has done off and on with Arijit and over time their styles have meshed more?

          On Thu, Aug 10, 2017 at 1:39 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  16. Pingback: Jab Harry Met Sejal Scene By Scene: Part 4, Phones and Clothes | dontcallitbollywood

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