Jab Harry Met Sejal Scene By Scene: Part 5, “Chinese Vase”

I’m here!  I’m excited!  The first scene which really needs explanation and discussion or else it makes no sense.  The one that we all get to have arguments about what it really means and if it is stupid or works and how we all (and all the characters) feel about things.  Oh boy! (full Jab Harry Met Sejal index here)

So, Shahrukh and Anushka are traveling together.  Shahrukh was convinced to be her personal guide while she quickly looked at all the places they had been previously on their tour in Amsterdam trying to find her ring.  They had an awkward conversation where he tried to explain that he shouldn’t travel alone with her because he has a bad reputation with women, and she didn’t even know enough to know why she should be nervous.  Which ultimately is her protection, she is so naive that he won’t let himself think that way about her.  Even though he is obviously super attracted to her, but is trying to hide it from her and himself.  Anushka overhears him fighting with one of his ex girlfriends and suddenly feels something shift inside of her.  She can’t help asking him about it the next day, he tries to avoid the conversation, but finally gets sucked into revealing his real feelings, that the woman last night was nothing, but her relationship with her fiance is also nothing if he is letting her travel alone.  And then they go back to looking for the ring, finally determining that it is not in Amsterdam and must be in Prague and planning to go there the next day.  But the night before, Anushka secretly watches Shahrukh leave, dressed in a “sexy” club outfit, clearly planning to follow him.

One of the few showy noticeable camera things is here, Anushka looks through the door at him leaving his room, looks away, and looks back through the peephole to see his eye looking back at her, and then suddenly ducks down to avoid it.  Really cool looking thing, the distorted effect on his face.  But also kind of takes you out of the story for a second, because there isn’t much of a meaning behind it, it’s not like he is distorted to her or something, it’s just that she is scared for a second and then recovers and starts following him.

I haaaaaaaated this sequence on my first watch (as you can see in my first review), but now I kind of love it.  Because it is such a great character moment for them both.  First, the way Shahrukh is striding along, with the music playing behind him.  You can see him feeling increasingly confident and happy and manly as he goes.  Especially that little moment when he passes a row of white women sitting on a bench and they all kind of follow him with their eyes and he starts to smile.  This is his power, to know that he can go out in the world like a tomcat and conquer women.  It makes up for all the “coffee ma’am?  This way ma’am.  I am sorry ma’am” that he has to do all day in his job.

(This is his song.  Which is manly and dangerous)

And then there’s Anushka.  What I totally missed on the first watch is that this isn’t about her wanting to go out to a club and thinking he can show her the way.  This is about her wanting to follow him, in particular.  She isn’t going clubbing, she is going spying.  And we can see that in the way she hides behind a lamp post when he turns around, looking scared, like she is going to get “caught”.

And also in how she is dressed!  I said in my last section that Anushka’s 3 “evening” looks show her progression from teenager to young adult to fully grown.  And yes, she is dressed like a teenager going to a club for the first time here.  It’s a very unflattering outfit (pulls in at the waist in a way that makes her tummy stick out and her breasts look saggy) and she also looks awkward in it, like she is aware of what she is wearing the whole time.  But, what I didn’t talk about, is her motivation for awkwardly trying out club wear.  I don’t think she is necessarily trying to look sexy, or looking forward to going to a club.  That was my big problem on the first watch, I didn’t believe a “good girl” type like her would suddenly want to go to some loud dark boring club (as I said, I am a “good girl” type myself, and going to a club like this looks horrible. I’m not resisting my inner desires, I just don’t want to).  But, I don’t think she does want to go to this club.  She wants to follow Shahrukh, that’s all, and she suspects that he will go places where she will need to wear club wear in order to blend in.  And this is her guess at what club wear would look like.

So, club club!  I don’t know if this is what clubs are actually like (I’ve only been to them to watch my friends perform and then left immediately, so not quite the same situation), but if it is, it seems very unpleasant!  Flashing lights, loud music, you can’t like sit somewhere and talk about movies, what’s the point!  STUPID!

But Shahrukh is clearly in his element.  Kind of.  He looks very tomcat like, kind of standing back and watching the room and biting on something (a cheeto?  I want cheetos.  Do I have cheetos?).  But he doesn’t look happy exactly.  More like prepared?  Controlled?  This is where he belongs in the world because of who he is, but he doesn’t like who he is.

Image result for cheetos

(I don’t have cheetos.  But I did find a mini-bag of cheesy doritos.  It’s not the same)

Okay, ready for a really really interesting moment?  Which is either super sexy or just weird and unpleasant depending on your taste in foreplay?

A European comes up and greets Shahrukh, seems to be a friendly acquaintance.  And he introduces Shahrukh to his new girlfriend, then goes off to get them drinks.  And as soon as he is gone, Shahrukh gives the girlfriend the sex eyes, and she kind of reacts, he mouth goes a little slack and her eyes widen.  And then he points at her and slowly lowers his hand until the finger stabs into her naval.  It’s not molestation, he is moving really slowly and maintaining eye contact the whole time, and she is slightly reacting and he can tell.  He moves his finger around her naval, then reaches out with his other hand and grabs either side of her waist and pulls her close against his body for just a moment.  And then her boyfriend returns and Shahrukh neatly spins around as though he were grabbing for another snack (cheeto?) and turns back, all calm and innocent looking.

So, this is what gets him off.  Grabbing a white woman behind her white boyfriend’s back and knowing that she will be dreaming about him that night.  It’s not rapey or molesty, because then it wouldn’t be any good for him.  He has to “win”.  He has to know that the woman is more attracted to him than to the other man, not by force, but fair and square.  He needs that sense of power over them.

That’s what his womanizing is about.  It’s not a sex addiction, exactly.  It’s the only way he can feel powerful, feel like a man, feel like himself.  It ties back to what we saw in “Safar”, all those moments when he was perfect and polite and let himself be abused.  And those little hints in dialogue about how he doesn’t feel “worthy” any more.  But, I think, it’s not that all the sex makes him unworthy (which is what he is telling himself).  It’s that he thinks he isn’t worthy and that’s why he has sex, to try to convince himself he is worthy.  But it doesn’t last, soon enough he feels worse than before.

And that’s why Anushka can save him.  Not because she won’t have sex with him or anything like that.  But because she convinces him he is a good person and then he doesn’t need to use sex for that any more.

(Same thing Priyanka does with similarly dangerous-using-sex-to-feel-powerful Shahid in Teri Meri Kahaani.  Only there it is a little more explicit, he goes from sleeping with white women to fighting the British)

Speaking of Anushka, here she is!  She scampers past the 3 of them and then runs up the stairs trying not to look back.  But it’s too late, Shahrukh recognizes her immediately and follows her.

Let’s talk following!  This entire movie is the two of them taking turns following each other.  Anushka followed him here, pulled by an invisible cord.  Did he sense it?  Is that why he was smiling on the way in?  And now he sees her out of the corner of his eye and starts to follow her right away.  Yes, there is a surface explanation for it, she is curious and he is worried about getting in trouble if she gets in trouble at this club.  But it’s more than that, the recurring way they keep taking turns going after each other, right up to the end of the film, it goes back to the “what you seek is seeking you” tagline.  They need each other, they can’t stay away from each other, without quite knowing why.

Now let’s talk Anushka’s personality!  I LOVE her dancing in this movie!  This is the first time we see it, and it is super dorky and awkward.  Disco moves, they make her happy, but they aren’t that graceful and they certainly aren’t sexy.  And yet she is determinedly doing them, trying to blend in the only ways he knows how.

(that’s why this song is so joyful, it’s Shahrukh giving in to the happy dorky “I don’t care what I look like” dancing style of Anushka)

So, here’s my take on her personality.  I think she is loud and confident and curious and happy with herself.  At least, that is how she is supposed to be.  Going out and doing her disco moves.  But her family and her fiance don’t want her to be like that.  She can be the family lawyer, that is an appropriate place for her confidence and argumentativeness.  But within the family, she should be under control, apologetic, always asking for permission.  Back when she and Shahrukh first meet, he says something about “your family will let you stay back?” and Anushka’s response is “Let me?  I am a modern woman!”  And then she immediately has Shahrukh talk to her father so she can have permission to stay.  She isn’t a modern woman at all, she is always supposed to be with her family or her family approved boyfriend, or a “babysitter” like Shahrukh.  Because her family doesn’t trust her to control her Disco moves and all the rest of her personality, she is “careless”, she doesn’t do the right thing.  That’s what she needs from Shahrukh, someone who likes her with all her awkwardness that she feels she can show him partly because it is him (her fated other half), and partly because he is “just” a tour guide.


And he does like her!  Just not in the way she is expecting at the moment.  He stops her, and she acts (unconvincingly) as though it is just a coincidence.  He ignores that, tells her this place isn’t for her.  Anushka blows past that and says that she likes it, and then kind of smiles and dances and Shahrukh can’t help smiling back as he watches her.  He says something, she can’t hear, he leans forward to say it closer to her ear, and she pulls back saying he is flirting.  And he is legitimately shocked, no!  He isn’t flirting.  Anushka turns that, asking if she isn’t worth flirting with, and backing up to dance a little more in front of him, asking if she is sexy, if he likes her.  She says it with this kind of naughty smile on her face.  Not naughty like sexy, but “naughty” like a little kid would be naughty, like she knows she is doing something she shouldn’t and is kind of enjoying it.

And Shahrukh reacts like he would to that little kid.  He gets a big smile watching her, the first sincere smile we have seen from him this whole film.  And he kind of laughs and says no, she isn’t sexy, she is cute, sweet.

And Anushka immediately gets mad, says he insulted her!  Even a womanizer doesn’t like her, doesn’t like her body!  Shahrukh tries to back off, explain, a “woman like her” is beautiful, but not to be touched.  Anushka summarizes “nice, sweet, sister-type, right?”  Shahrukh suggests instead “a Chinese Vase.  Beautiful, but not to be touched.”  Anushka doesn’t accept this and storms off.

Okay, that was a weird interaction!  On both their parts.  Let’s take Shahrukh first.  We know he is super attracted to Anushka.  And we know she can make him smile like no one else can.  And make him walk away from a sure thing to chase her up the stairs for no real reason.  If she were a different client, he would let her stay in the club and ignore her, it’s none of his business.  Of course, if she were a different client, she wouldn’t have followed him off the beaten path into this club.

However, he isn’t super attracted to her in the way he is attracted to other women.  He doesn’t want to seduce her, to “win” her.  That drive isn’t there with her.  He is attracted to her body, yes, very attracted.  But only when he isn’t distracted by her mind, her personality.  Right now, she is dancing for him, but he is looking at her smiling face and her awkward dance moves, not her body.  She makes him laugh and (probably) makes him want to kiss her, but she makes him want to protect her, above all else, including from himself.  To keep her with this fresh confident personality.  That’s why he reacts so immediately to her suggestion that he is flirting, and to her direct question of whether she is sexy.  Because, no!  He would never want to do that to her.

But what’s up with Anushka?  I don’t think this is an actual come on.  I think she didn’t really think this through.  She just wanted to follow him and see him in a different context.  She was running away, hoping he wouldn’t see her.  But once he did see her, she kind of got caught up in the whole thing.  Was excited when she felt like he was flirting with her, and found herself trying to flirt back, the only way she knows how.

So far, so good.  But then he rejects her, and she surprises herself by how she reacts, I think.  I don’t know what she would have done if he had responded to her approaches.  If he responded like he had to that woman earlier, with an aggressive sexual move, she would have been ashamed and embarrassed and disgusted with herself, felt dirty.  But if he had responded by admitting that yes, he can’t look away from her ever, that could have started their romance a good month earlier.  Only, Shahrukh wasn’t ready to say that to her yet.  And she wasn’t ready for what he could offer now.  So there is no good answer.

Her disgust with the “sweet, sister-type” response, I think that tells us pretty well how she sees herself and how most people see her.  We already had her awkward disco moves, and now we have the other piece.  That disco dance, that’s the “real” Anushka, that’s who she is trying to discover on this trip without really realizing she is doing it.  But the surface Anushka, the one her parents and her fiance want, that’s the “sweet, sister-type”.  Maybe that’s what frustrates her?  Not that Shahrukh is rejecting her sexually, but that he is rejecting her personality, her as anything more than the same “sweet, sister-type” everyone else sees.  And she wants to be more, she thought he might see more.

(and he does see more, that’s what he is saying in “Radha”, that she should try to be more than just a “sister-type”)

At least, that’s how I see it.  Makes more sense than some kind of stupid “women are always offended if men aren’t attracted to them even if there is no logical reason for it” thing.  Men are constantly not attracted to me (because I’m not the type), and I’m never offended!

And now we are outside.  Kind of an abrupt cut, Anushka is storming off and Shahrukh is following her.  The reverse of the way to the club.  And skipping past the fact that both of them walked away without a look back.  Anushka had no interest in staying once she was done with Shahrukh, he was the only reason she went.  And Shahrukh walked away from his night out without a backward glance in order to follow her.  He is trying to stop her now, to redirect her back to the hotel.  Anushka is too mad to listen, says she doesn’t care, at least if she is kidnapped in this bad neighborhood it means that someone will find her attractive!  Shahrukh grabs her hand, which is the first time they have touched, and she immediately reacts, pulls away, yanks it out of his grip.  He grabs her again, wraps his arms around her, and holds her still.

It’s not sexual, but it is.  Because it’s them.  But Shahrukh is clearly grabbing her for her own good, to hold her and calm her down, that’s all.  Which is what makes it sexy, for them both.  For her, to have some grabbing her in order to help her, to protect her, to care that much.  And for him, to grab a woman like that just because he wants keep her safe, not for any other reason.  That’s strange for him, that level of contact without losing control, without feeling like turning it into something more.  And then he lets her go.  And they are both a bit shaken by the unspoken thing that happened.  And drop back into their formal roles.  Anushka strides ahead, the lady of the manor type, and Shahrukh falls behind murmuring “this way ma’am”.

And then we get a really interesting moment.  We see the map tracking their journey and floating above the map, we see Shahrukh and Anushka on the train together, Anushka sleeping, curled away from him, and Shahrukh looking at her with a kind of “awakening, thinking” expression.

So, what happened to shift between them after that night?  Shahrukh now knows that she can make him laugh, that he likes her.  Not “like-like”, but actual like.  That somehow it was more fun watching her dance than coming on to a strange white lady.  And he knows that something happened between them when he held her.  And he can’t quite figure out what this is.  Because it isn’t the kind of reaction he is used to, she is no longer just a boring spoiled little girl to him, but she also isn’t a woman he can have sex with.  So, what is she?

And for Anushka, I think she exorcised some demons that night.  She made an attempt to deal with the bond she feels with Shahrukh.  She expressed her frustration at her “sister-type” role.  And she had that moment of being held by him, of finding peace for a moment.  And now she is happily curled up sleeping, like a small child, calm and relaxed and safe with him.


30 thoughts on “Jab Harry Met Sejal Scene By Scene: Part 5, “Chinese Vase”

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

  2. I love the navel scene. That brief interaction told me that Harry is an old hand at identifying the women who would give him that frisson of dominance and excitement and not let on to their boyfriend two minutes later. It matters that he knows this kind of behavior as well as he knows the tourist spots and streets of all the major cities in Europe. I doubt that his “misbehavior” with clients went beyond that, most of the time. (He has a girl in every city, it seems, but they don’t seem to be ex-clients.) He knows his way around in more ways than one. Sejal is foreign territory, at first, but she is also familiar territory, a place he had left and thought he had forgotten.

    The more I think about it, the more I like your reading of Sejal. They should have called the movies Jab Sejal Met Sejal, because I think her transformation is the main one.

    Also, I watched Jab We Met today. Like JHMS better. But that should be a separate discussion — the inevitable comparison.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! To him identifying the woman he could do that with. That’s it exactly, we know he isn’t a rapist or a harasser, he knows which women will be up for that and which won’t. Only when he does it at work, if their boyfriends/husbands/fathers find out, the women will be embarrassed and the men will complain. But not a lot. Enough for him to get fired after a bunch of complaints, but not enough for him to land in jail or never work again. So yes! Exactly something like this! If no one sees, or if she doesn’t want any more, no big deal. But if someone sees, or if she starts following him around demanding something more, than he is in trouble. But he can’t stop himself, because he needs to do it in order to feel alive.

      And Sejal, he knows for sure, would not be up for this kind of interaction. And he doesn’t think he can give her what she needs, doesn’t think he is worthy of giving it to her.(oo, that got all dirty sounding there at the end)

      And hey, Jab We Met! So glad you watched it!

      On Sat, Aug 12, 2017 at 7:19 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      • With such intense scrutiny over the portrayal of women today, this reaction to that scene is interesting. So I see it as being acceptable if it appears to be explainable as a character trait of a man that too only if he is explicitly shown to be sad about enjoying that kind of thing, and also of course the woman is shown to like it so it doesn’t look rapey/harassey. But then there is surely the importance of said woman in the context of the film as a character. That woman is a throwaway moment so it doesn’t matter that much I guess.

        But I also see reactions to a different film and situation altogether, namely Ajay Devgn in the Baadshaho promos being described/scoffed as an older and lower class guy who Ileana is shown to like and love (and strip for). I suppose going back to the JHMS scene SRK too can relatively be seen as the older lower class guy (racistly) for that woman.


        • For me (and this is just for me, I would be interested in other female commentators’ reactions), the difference is if it is sexy for the woman or not. The Baadshaho scene does nothing for me. That is for the male gaze entirely. Ileana is being treated as an object, there to be enjoyed by Ajay. I don’t see anything (at least in the trailer) that indicates Ajay serving her desires in anyway, stripping for her, dressing for her, anything like that. Even the way in which she strips, that’s very unpleasant looking for her. Why would anyone want to be naked standing on the roof of a building and then embrace a fully clothed man? So pokey and unsafe and cold and wind going in unpleasant places! Compare it with the same scene in her bedroom, him laying on the bed partially dressed as well, she can feel safe and equal and not worry about being poked by anything. That’s a female fantasy.

          And when you add on that she is a wealthy intelligent successful woman stripping (becoming powerless in front of) a lower class older man, it turns into this whole thing about class dynamics and stuff.

          this film is all about class dynamics as well, but consciously so. Shahrukh is using sex to deal with his inferiority complex, and the film knows that. He has to be “cured” of this, because it is unhealthy for him and unhealthy for the women he is using.

          Most of all, for me, here the film is careful to show that she is reacting. Shahrukh is enjoying this because he is enjoying her reaction, she isn’t just a naked stomach to him, she is a person. Also, Shahrukh is styled in this entire film including this scene in order to create sexual desire in woman (and, if you’ve been reading our comments, you know that it really really worked!). So, it’s not just a sexy scene for a male audience, it’s a sexy scene for a female audience, one women can enjoy.

          So yeah, we like it because we like it. If it’s a scene that isn’t sexual for women, it’s also a scene that is a little disturbing for us to watch as it plays into a whole series of assumptions about female desire and male dominance and so on.

          This is a really simple exercise I am almost ashamed to suggest, but try picturing the Baadshaho scene with the genders reversed. Ileana is there in her fancy sari, Ajay comes up and drops his coat and we see his naked back. Does that make you aroused or does that make you a little uncomfortable? If you are a little uncomfortable, yeah, that’s how women in the audience might feel watching it.

          Now, picture this scene. A white woman comes up to Shahrukh at a club, waits until his girlfriend’s back is turned, then caresses his stomach, then backs off a second later. Sexy or not sexy?

          On Sat, Aug 12, 2017 at 8:01 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • I think it is safe to say that overall for men the average sexual standards are far lower than for women simply because of supply and demand. Which is to say in general women can afford to be more picky.

            The reason I mention that is, I haven’t known any guy have issues watching a man stripping for a woman simply because the sexual payoff even in such a situation will depend entirely on the woman’s reaction to it. I don’t think most men would care if the guy is very reluctant and uncomfortable but the woman likes it. Which is why the rape of a man by a woman for instance is still a concept that is not taken as seriously by so many men.

            So to answer your reversal scenarios, I’d say my arousal will entirely depend on whether or not the woman is receptive to that and not so much on anything to do with the man. Same for the SRK scene reversal, for a guy watching I’d imagine the excitement will stem purely from “oh man look he’s getting hit on by a young white girl who is with a bf herself and this man is also with a gf there! what a dude”. Whether or not he is enjoying it is unlikely to have any bearing.

            Although again like your disclaimer I of course cannot speak for all men.


    • I tweeted something similar to Anupama Chopra in my misguided attempts to ask her to reconsider her review, haha. Sejal meets Sejal in Europe and chooses to stay to learn more about her–that by itself is beautiful no matter what else happens in the story.

      In some of the promotional interviews, Imtiaz and Shah Rukh have both said the movie could have just been called “Sejal” and I think they’re right. Do folks think the movie might have been received a little differently had that been the title?


      • I think any other title might have been better. This was such a clear statement that it would be a silly funny rom-com, and then it was something completely different. “Sejal” would be good, because it would make it sound a little more like a character drama (which is what it is), and because it would force people to set aside the SRK stardom and look at Anushka’s character a little more closely.

        I also would have liked “Safar”, to indicate that it is about the experience of traveling and losing your home. Or “Radha”, so that it can be about the unique faithfulness Anushka shows to Shahrukh. Really, any song title would have worked. Except “Phurr”, that’s just stupid.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Harry’s approach to women is not an attacking one but an offering one, I feel. If I remember right, he did not touch the girl in the club before not giving her the possibility to reject his approach (wasn’t it a kind of ‘shooting’ gesture he did looking at her reaction?). I am sure he has developped certain mannerisms to check out with wich girl he would be able to flirt or/and to have sex or even to spend more time with (if the woman wants more emotional involvement it’s her problem not his…as one can witness). Yet Sejal’s curiosity about the man he is makes him insecure, makes him thinking about how a woman may perceive his way with women. The first club scene is the last one where he displays his sexiness and charme to seduce a woman.

    As for women making the first move and/or a guy arousing women’s senses by doing a striptease, I am totally an advocate of sexual equality…what is important for me is respecting the other’s feelings (which Harry did not before being with Sejal).

    Personally, I would not like to be seen as “sister-type” by a man who gives me butterflies in my tummy…my rebellious mind would surely try to convince him that I’m physically desirable.
    Being considered as a “Chinese vase” just would me tell that I have a certain class other women don’t have…so t h a t could be okay (I’m able to feel safe although desirable).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel like the “Chinese Vase” line might be something Shahrukh had used before in similar situations. And usually it works, women feel flattered and special. But Anushka doesn’t want to feel “special”, she wants him in particular in a way other good girl types haven’t. And she doesn’t want to be just a “Chinese Vase” for him, she wants him to see her as a real person.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree 🙂 at that very moment she could not bother less to be compared to a “Chinese vase” … yet, those words are not forgotten (at least I myself would not forget them) and to be called like this in an environment like that club…well I would like it – at a certain time – to be seen as precious at that moment 😉
        I also like the movie so much for the many layers one can perceive in a single scene.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I think what happens when you’ve been in a long committed relationship with someone is you start viewing yourself from their eyes only, as probably what Sejal did. She just did not think she wasn’t sexy or hot enough as probably Rupen didn’t view her like that (being so conservative). And she was seeking validation from Harry. I think Harry was probably one of the only men she met outside of her family/work circle, and hence she’s so curious. She also knows she won;t see him again so she doesn’t really put up an act in front of him. She wants to act like a couple (though I would’ve liked more depth from the movie about this), and just wants to “fix” his problems and him initially, like he’s a project

    Honestly, don’t think this movie’s half as bad as people are making it out to be. Some more detailing on the writing level would’ve helped. But I liked it more than I liked Tamasha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I liked it a whole heck of a lot more than I liked Tamasha. Which is partly how much i liked this movie, and partly how much I haaaaaated Tamasha.

      I like your idea that Rupen never saw her as “hot”. I had thought that it was about her family, who of course didn’t see her that way or even as an adult. But you are right, even her romantic partner, who should see her as an equal and as attractive, probably saw her as a “proper” woman, and therefore not someone to be touched or desired, just to have a proper family engagement followed by a big wedding.

      I could see her telling herself that she just wants to see what it is like to be someone different to someone different who she will never see again. But, for me, the movie works best if I believe that they are lying to themselves about the surface reasons they are doing things, and in their hearts they are already drawn to each other in a way that can’t be explained.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Rather early I got the feeling that it is Sejal who romances Harry…in a quite teenage-style (which made it somehow endearing). I also thought that she may have developped a slight crush for the charming tourist guide during the month together. Physically she is a woman but her sexuality is that of a ‘good girl’-‘nice’-‘sister-type’ and nobody cared to awaken her sensuality. At the beginning it was like a ProfessorHiggins-Eliza constellation (the experienced one ‘guides’ the naive one)…I am sure, Sejal had a certain longing for something she couldn’t yet name (maybe stirred through movies, books and girlstalk).
    Her fiancé wasn’t her first love, just the man she was told to marry (so that should be love, shouldn’t it?…), but that charming tour guide gave her a longing for something she should not feel as an engaged woman.
    So, when she saw that she had lost her engagement ring…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely agree that Sejal takes the lead, but in a very childish way. It’s exactly like a teenage girl’s first crush, she has a vague idea of what she is supposed to do and what he might do, but it doesn’t feel like she has any kind of specific idea of what might happen. And she isn’t wise enough to notice either his sexual attraction in that hotel room soon, or to see that he is feeling something a lot deeper at the club. And she goes back and forth on whether she even wants anything to happen. Until the last section in Portugal when she is completely confident and knows what she wants and what he is feeling and wants as well. And he turns her down there not because she is a “child” but because he doesn’t feel worthy of the woman she has become.

      On Sun, Aug 13, 2017 at 6:34 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  6. It seems to me that it is the first time in his life that Harinder has to face such a teenage behaviour in a woman’s body and although she forces him into spending his time with her he rather quickly feels responsible for her not as the payed man but as the more worldly-wise one.
    I think the turning point comes with the morning in the church and the following Radha song (like you wrote earlier).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I bet you are right about Harinder. I picture him going from the completely innocent world of the village where men and women barely speak to each other, to falling into a kind of one night stand scene in Canada with experienced grown women. He skipped that teenage crush step, both having them and dealing with receiving them.

      On Sun, Aug 13, 2017 at 7:34 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  7. Continuing to enjoy your analysis. And the comments are fun too! I hate when real life gets in the way of participating in the discussion. 🙂

    I continue to differ in my interpretation of Sejal. I see her as a “woman-child” in the same way Ranbir or thousands of other male protagonists in books and movies have been a “man-child”. That is to say, not innocent and naive as children, necessarily, but with parts of them stunted. For Sejal a couple of the parts that are stunted are self-acceptance, her own sensuality/sexuality, and knowing what she wants in a romantic (and later, a life) partner. On re-watching, JHMS reminds me a lot of Moonstruck–an all time favorite movie.

    We agree on a lot, though! She is definitely specifically following Harry, and has not thought ahead to how she’ like the night to go. Not because she doesn’t know about sex, but because she’s just being open to possibilities generally without too much planning. Like Claudia comments, I think she developed a crush on Harry over the course of the tour–but seeing him not as a person yet–but as a servant who might serve her in more ways than one.

    Harry, during the “Chinese vase” scene, is not giving her the reaction she wants, which forces her to see him as a person, not a servant. She reacts like the spoiled person she is. Maybe she’s never tried to be overtly sexy before, so extra embarrassing that she’s apparently not good at it.

    I think Imtiaz/JHMS also comments on the “modern woman’s” ambiguity over performing “sexiness” for the male gaze–it can feel like a real double-bind for hetero-women, when hetero-men are conditioned to find certain types of femininity arousing. One wants to be arousing for one’s partner, but not at the cost of one’s self.

    Re: the bridge scene. Harry grabs Sejal to control her, yes. He reacts and lets her go because he realizes he’s reacting to her like a person. You are right—he’s responding to her not like a client, nor like a conquest, and he can’t have that. He snaps back into tour guide mode. It’s clearly a big internal struggle, and he never really gets back into tour guide mode again. From Sejal’s side, she stays pissed off and is still mad when he lets her go. She’s turned away from him on the train b/c she’s still mad–just tired from the late night.

    Finally, I also love Anushka’s dancing, and movement in general, as Sejal. She has really become a stunning actress! My favorite scene for this is Radha, where she stops trying to dance sexily, and just gets into the song–becoming 10x more sexy when she does so. I was so worried about the “stripping” scene when we saw it in the Phurrr video–but it turns out she is just trying on different types of sexy in front of Harry, who acknowledges it, but not too much–like, “Yes, I see you, you can be sexy like that, but you don’t really have to to get my attention.”

    Hope you don’t mind my long-windedness! On to the next scene analysis!


    • I get to do the “Radha” song tomorrow probably, but you are reminding me of one moment I really noticed on this last watch. She starts to take off her jacket, and suddenly for the first time notices that Shahrukh is noticing her body while she does it. Not that this is the first time he has noticed her, but it’s the first time she has noticed him noticing. She starts to be kind of sexy about it, then gives up and just throws the jacket away. You can see the process of “oh, he really is attracted to me! Finally!” and then “I should try to be sexier to play off his reaction” and then “no, I’m not going to bother trying to be sexy, I’m just going to be me and if he likes that, he likes it.” And that’s what’s so unusual, for both of them, he finds himself attracted to her when she isn’t trying to be sexy, but just herself. And she learns that someone can be attracted to her when she is just herself, just because he likes her, she doesn’t have to “try”. What makes it so great is that it’s not just finding her sexy. He finds her funny, smart, fun to be with, all of those things, just as herself. Which it seems like she never really got from her family or her boyfriend, who wanted her to be a very particular thing and would “punish” her if she veered off that path.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. procrastinatrix, I waited for your comment!
    “stunted”…mmmhhh…it’s not the feeling I get from her…it’s more like having got to know about sexual life through movies, books/magazines and female friends and curious if it is indeed like that…and who better to ‘enlighten’ her than Harry who admitted that him, he knows about sex. Ah, I can picture her enthusiasm to discover the Amsterdam nightlife other than in his family’s and fiancé’s company, to observe Harry what he is doing to get a woman, what the women are doing when they flirt…I think, there is a lot of innocence and naivety in her behaviour – and her focus to grab the opportunity to learn about a ‘forbidden life’ is childlike, imo 🙂
    That’s also the reason why Harry grabs her on the bridge to stop her…at this very moment he grabs a kid, not a woman…then (in his trademark pose behind the back!) he realizes and lets go…he trespassed.
    I agree that she might still be a bit angry with him (turning his back to him while resting during the train ride) because, finally, what does he think, she is a grown-up! And Harry – watching her – may make a vow to himself: Yep, she is a grown-up but in no way worldly-wise enough to be on her own while discovering things she has a right to know…I will cover her sweet little ass.


    • I love your interpretation of that bridge moment. He is treating her like a child having a tantrum, holding her to sooth her. But as he holds her, he suddenly becomes aware of her as a woman and aware that she is feeling aware of him, and feels guilty for the whole thing and tries to go back to just seeing her as a client.


  9. They just keep pushing each other’s buttons! Sejal reminds me of a kid playing dress up as an adult when she follows Harry. Her curiosity as to how Harry acts with women and being sexual. When he spots her, she’s busted and tries to be sexy and cool and totally fails. You almost feel sorry for her lame attempts. Harry being amused but describing her as untouchable, beautiful, pure, does not go over well. But what is sexy? I’ve heard it said that sexy is when one is totally comfortable in one’s own skin and that radiates outward. But Sejal thinks she has to vamp to be sexy for Harry. I think down deep, Harry already finds her sexy, just not the way she thinks it should be. Then comes the argument on the bridge. Yes, she reacts like a spoiled child having a tantrum and he reacts as the adult to calm her down. Then she resorts to the only way she feels she has power, by placing him back into the servant mode. Now they are both trying to come to terms with this next shift in their relationship.


    • Love the thought about sexy being comfortable in your own skin. Harry is soooooooooo sexy, because he is comfortable in his own body, but not he isn’t really comfortable in any other way. Sejal is comfortable with her mind and personality, at least once she gets free of her family, but not with how that fits together with her body. We can see that in how they dress for the club, Harry just wears a plain shirt and jeans, because he knows it doesn’t matter what he wears. Sejal tries to force herself into being something she isn’t, because she doesn’t think what she is will be enough.

      On Thu, Sep 7, 2017 at 3:06 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  10. I am loving these breakdowns of the movie. I went to the cinema 6 times in one week to watch it and I am a fan of the movie. Reading these posts brings everything back! Can’t wait for part 6 😍


  11. After gulping down this fascinating, perceptive, provocative discussion I am returning to digest the insights a little more leisurely. I can’t help but wonder how many intellectual discussions Imtiaz had with his stars to get them to understand his nuances because we all are interpreting deep meaning from small items that sweep past in a moving movie. Did Imtiaz plan and plant all of this as we are seeing it – did Shahrukh?
    Only a couple of comments pointed out that when she followed him to the club, “She isn’t going clubbing, she is going spying. And we can see that in the way she hides behind a lamp post when he turns around, looking scared, like she is going to get “caught”. But why spy?
    Claudia observed that “Sejal wanted to see what he is doing to get a woman, what the women are doing when they flirt – and her focus is to grab the opportunity to learn about a ‘forbidden life.” Now we see it.
    Nancy mentioned that her curiosity was to “how Harry acts with women and being sexual. When he spots her, she’s busted and tries to be sexy and cool and totally fails.”
    Sejal wanted to be sexy to Harry and for Harry but she realized Harry was not going to clue her in. So her “practical side” said “go and watch” then you’ll know what to do. She went to school at the club. She thought she would be the observer and failed to realize how many would be observing her and how different their motives would be compared to Harry’s.
    I thought the movie brought out really well in both club scenes how full of vultures that setting is and that it is NOT the place to learn of sex, flirting or love.
    There has been lots of talk about how innocent she is or isn’t and in what ways. One way she was NOT innocent was immediate self-defense. She effectively “kneed” her admirer in this club and also to Gaz a few scenes later.


    • Yes, to your point of her ability to defend herself. I would say she could handle the bad side of these environments, but what she was trying to learn was how to enjoy the good side of them.

      On Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 11:56 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



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