Jab Harry Met Sejal Part 12: Beech Beech Mein and More

Yay, post-Interval!  More importantly, post my least favorite scene of the film (the last one I covered, right before the interval).  And now we get to move back into the fun stuff (full index of Jab Harry Met Sejal coverage here)

Previously, stupid things happened!  Well, not all the way, just a little stupid.  Anushka loses her engagement ring while on a family tour of Europe.  Her family hires Shahrukh, their tour guide, to go around with her because they can’t be bothered.  Anushka and Shahrukh have a strange connection which makes her curious about him, especially when he admits that he is a womanizer and a dangerous man she shouldn’t be around.  They reached a truce in the last section, she realized that he was lonely and offered to be his “girlfriend” so long as they are traveling together, according to the definition they both understood, meaning he was allowed to spend time with her and hold her hand and put his arm around her, but no more, because that is all “girlfriend” means to the kind of proper rich girl she is.  They had a bit of a falling out after the first “girlfriend” day, Shahrukh started looking at her and imagining what it would be like if he let himself fall in love, but when she started reacting, he immediately pulled back, rejecting her.  And she got nasty, saying she would never fall for a tour guide anyway, she will pretend to be sweet and nice and his girlfriend, but that’s it.  And he got all intense saying she had to promise to get on the plane and leave no matter what.  And then it turned into a stupid competition, as to who would win over who.  That was the stupid part.  And, luckily, it is left entirely in the background after the interval, never to come up again.

We start with a song!  Which is really unusual.  There is always a song post-interval, but usually after a bit of a place setting dull talky scene.  For the people who are still looking for their seats and stuff, and then the song tells you to sit down and shut up, the movie is back.  But, just like how this film opened with a song, the second half is opening with a song too.  A really great song.

Remember how I was talking about Anushka’s disco moves?  How it is just the right kind of dorky and old-fashioned but as close as she can come to cool for her?  The thing about Disco is, it’s also really fun!  It’s not necessarily sexy, it’s not complicated, it’s not graceful or beautiful, but it’s fun to do!  Especially with somebody.  And that’s what this song is about, Shahrukh giving in to the whole silly Disco vibe of Anushka’s life and enjoying it.  And Anushka letting herself fully give in to that silly fun Disco person inside that she has been hiding away.

We open at a deserted Karaoke bar.  I love that this whole song is diagetic, that is, it isn’t them fantasizing about doing fun things, it’s the actual fun things they are doing while they actually sing to each other.  And the Karaoke bar sets the tone.  This isn’t a touristy kind of place, and it also isn’t the kind of dark dangerous place Shahrukh would normally be at.  There’s a couple of people sitting at tables, the machine isn’t even attended, Shahrukh has to start it himself.  And, you know, it’s Karaoke!  In Europe, not in Asia where it is cool and serious.  Or even in America where it is kind of retro fun cool.  No, this is a dingy dirty place and a dingy silly thing they are doing, just because they want to.  We can even easily fill in the gaps, Anushka seeing a sign and saying they should do it, Shahrukh resisting because it’s a grungy bar in a bad neighborhood and eventually going along, and then having a wonderful time.

I love the opening of the song too.  Anushka is in the background, doing her thing, going back and forth with her little disco moves, lost in her own head.  And Shahrukh is trying to be cool, posturing with the mic, starting the song.  Only, he starts to early.  And then flubs up again.  And finally when it starts on the screen, he is ready to take it seriously, not to be all “oh yeah, I’m enjoying this ironically and using it to make myself look cool”, but actually paying attention to the words onscreen and trying to match his movements with Anushka.

Image result for beech beech mein

(See?  At first she is just happy and he is trying to be cool.  But a second after this, he is focusing on the words and kind of out of his own head)

This is the first time they really dance in synch in the film.  In “Radha”, they were dancing together, but not in the same way.  He followed her around, she tried to Bhangra, but it wasn’t a perfect fit.  This is a perfect fit.  He is doing her dopey disco moves in all sincerity, and then goes even farther, leaps on a chair and tilts it down, really gets into the whole disco fantasy.  And they walk off together laughing.

Let’s talk clothes again!  This is a great odd outfit on Anushka.  A bright short yellow dress and opaque black tights.  And her hair is sort of crimped.  It definitely feels like a “costume”, like “Let’s go out and sing disco Karaoke, and I will dress up for it!”  But it feels like she knows it is a costume this time, it isn’t like her other awkward going out clothes, this time she has figured out the key of “sometimes I want to dress like a different person and do something different, but inside I am still myself”.

What’s even better is that Shahrukh dressed up for it too!  He is still more or less in his normal clothes, jeans and a shirt and a jacket.  But he is wearing a tight white t-shirt, and has his hair a little higher than usual.  She talked him in to it, I am sure, but now he is enjoying himself, the whole silly “childish” experience.  I wish we had that little bit of them with the bridal shower that we saw in the trailer for this song, because that really gets into the “he would have been too cool to enjoy this a minute ago, and she would have been too repressed, but now they can both let loose”.

And that’s what we see over the course of the song.  Them slowly coming to actually enjoy each other.  It may have started with the pretense of “I’ll be your girlfriend!”, but now they are just friends, friends who like to talk and laugh and spend time together.  I am trying to remember what all we see.  I know we start with them laughing their way out of the Karaoke bar.  And then I think we see her studying her tablet and clearly miming out things she did in the past, looking for the ring.  And Shahrukh looking kind of attentive and interested.  But this is still them as tour guide/engaged client.  They like each other now, they are no longer fighting or frustrated to be stuck with each other.  But she is focused on finding her ring, and he is being as interested as is correct for his role, and no more.

Only then it shifts.  We see them getting coffee together and toasting each other.  We see them hanging out sitting together on a wall, she has drawn waves on his shoe which makes him laugh.  And then we see a tour group go by with matching jackets and all the rest, just like their group was, and they both look at each other and laugh.

It doesn’t feel mean spirited exactly, not “oh how lame those tourists are, we are cooler than that”.  More like they are laughing at where they were just a month ago, she was part of this mass group and he didn’t even notice her, he was a charming responsible tour guide who would never get angry or frustrated or sexy or reveal anything of himself.  And that full movement, from there to here, that takes place mostly in this song.

That opening Disco moment, that feels removed from the rest, but the rest of it has a clear start and end point.  They started with their new friendliness, but still just guide and client.  But then after they finished quickly looking in all the ring places, they had free time and chose to have coffee together.  Chose to do a lot of things together (I don’t remember all the stuff we see in this song).  And eventually landed sitting on a wall laughing together, so in synch that they just have to exchange glances to know what the other is thinking.

Before finally the culmination of the song, them cooking together.  I love this section, because it is so silly and fun and also it makes me think of Jab Tak Hain Jaan.  Remember when Kat does pantsless cooking for Shahrukh?  And it is supposed to be like this, kind of fun and silly?  Only it veers more towards sexy and odd?  Which is not what I think of when I cook dinner.  And also, I usually wear pants.  Because burns!  But this sequence, this is so silly!  And so not sexy!  And not only are they wearing pants, they are wearing aprons!

(So much of this makes me go “is that sexy?  Or just really really uncomfortable?”)

You can see them cooking together every night for the rest of their lives, the kind of enjoyment they are getting from setting the table together, that’s the stuff that lasts.  If you can have fun setting a table together with no sex, that’s when you know it is a good relationship.

Also, you can really see Shahrukh totally won over to Anushka’s style in this part.  He is in a colorful apron, very not cool, and leaping around with huge disco moves, also very uncool.  And putting on a show for her, just like that little bit in “Radha”, he knows she likes it if he is goofy and big, and the more she smiles at him, the bigger he gets.

There was a different choreographer for this song, not Vaibhavi Merchant, Bosco-Ceaser I think.  They are very good, very experienced, did “Senorita” (which feels kind of similar to this) and “Yeh Tara Woh Tara” (which does not feel similar, but was also a good use of SRK).  But they also have a very different feel.  Loose and joyful and improvised.  I bet that is why they ended up cutting the bridal shower sequence.  They probably improvised a lot of this cooking bit, and ended up liking it so much that they kept it.  I hope they improvised it, actually, because if they forced Shahrukh to jump up on that table with his knees, they should never work again!  The man is already working on like his fourth set of joints, don’t make it worse!

And let’s talk clothes again!  Like I said, we open with him kind of joining her in her enthusiastic enjoyment.  But then her clothes slowly start to match his.  Her colors become muted.  That scene with coffee and looking at her tablet, she is already dressed in a way a little closer to him.  Jeans and a shirt, but with a vest and the leather boots. The leather boots that didn’t quite make sense for her personality when paired with the sexy red dress.  But which she kept, and found a way that worked for her, to wear them with jeans and a shirt.  She isn’t “sexy” exactly in this song, that’s what her previous experiments were about, trying to be the kind of woman Harry might notice, that might fit into his sexy life.  But now she is just slowly growing up.  The sexy black boots are added to a modest outfit, the jewelry is less, the make-up is less, she is figuring out how to dress like a woman that isn’t trying to be anything besides herself, isn’t hiding her sexuality or her practicality or anything else.  The last bit, when she draws on his shoe, she is in a knit hat, a black jacket, basically an outfit that matches his.  They look like a long term couple who have grown together in style.

Anushka here, she is buying clothes constantly, trying on new looks in rapid succession.  And this is the point at which she finds herself subconsciously matching to Shahrukh’s look.  Those clothes that seemed so natural on her when we first met her, the childish t-shirt and bright colors, those no longer fit how she feels inside, she wants to enter into Shahrukh’s adult world of cool European style clothes.  That’s what their shared laughter is about looking at the tour group, she has achieved his world and now they can laugh together at where she used to be and how he used to hide himself.

And then, finally, they are cooking together in happy confusing, wearing different but same things.  Aprons, comfy open necked shirts, sunglasses.  And pants, can I mention again the importance of pants as part of a cooking outfit?

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When the song is over, she is back to colors.  But really faded colors.  And clothes that look kind of old and don’t fit right.  Maybe it’s just a coincidence, she is wearing green pastel denim pants and a pink pastel jacket, and that combo (light colors and denim) really really shows wear, like, immediately.  It could have just been wanting to put her in something slightly childish for these next few scenes to make us more aware of how far she has come, and the old and not fitting was a coincidence.  But either way, it works!  We look at her and think “girl, you got to get new clothes!  These clearly don’t fit you any more, and they are wearing out.”

I also really love how the song ends, Anushka jumping off a tram, Shahrukh gesturing into a restaurant and then as she runs in behind her, smoothly asking directions to the bathroom and then gesturing to her where it is.  Such a nice moment to show how close they are now in the realest way possible.  This is romance, this is love, a guy who will help you find a bathroom.

Toilet: Ek Prem Katha just came out, a whole movie about a guy helping the woman he loves to the bathroom, and it was less understanding of the situation than this one little moment.  Anushka isn’t embarrassed to ask him for help, and Shahrukh understands how urgent the moment is, helping her essentially break into a restaurant just to use their restroom with no embarrassment or hesitation.  Lovely!

And she isn’t asking him for help in a demanding “I am paying you, help me!” way.  No, she is more “gah, I really really need a bathroom!” and he is helping her like a friend, because he knows the town better and just generally, as a man, is better equipped to go into a strange place and ask a strange question.  And this isn’t like a “filmi” moment, I have TOTALLY done this in real life (as, I am sure, have we all).  Both been the person saying “please please, can you ask for the bathroom?” and the person saying “this is silly, you really need to use the bathroom, I know this restaurant, I’ll help you.”  I guess this is the kind of thing that maybe made the film not work for some viewers, the “romance” didn’t feel romantic, it felt like “yeah, so?  I’ve done that myself lots of times, why should I care that this character is doing it?”

Shoot, 2 thousand words already!  I am trying to stay around that for each of these posts, not because I couldn’t keep going, but because 2 thousand words/5 minutes of screentime seems like a good length to facilitate discussion (for instance, we can now all debate “pants-kitchen requirement, yes or no?”).  So I am going to break off here, but maybe do another post in a little bit because I am just itching to get into the next scene.

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33 thoughts on “Jab Harry Met Sejal Part 12: Beech Beech Mein and More

    • And being naked on a yucky tar roof. And monopolizing the only public phone booth that people probably need.

      On Fri, Aug 18, 2017 at 10:21 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      • Agree on the cooking naked stuff. And, did she just make him a giant plate of mashed potatoes?

        But the phone-booth stuff was hot. I wouldn’t mind waiting to make a call if it was because there were two gorgeous people making out in there.

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        • I would mind! It’s raining, my cell phone doesn’t exist (because it’s 2002), and I just want to call home and ask someone to come pick me up, and here are these stupid kids steaming up the windows of the only phone booth in London. Get a room kids! Don’t give in to your exhibition fetish while I am waiting in the rain!

          On Fri, Aug 18, 2017 at 10:35 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • I just saw this. hahaha. Actually that initial running scene is I think the best piece of acting Katrina has ever done in a movie. Uncontrollably running toward SRK FTW

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  1. When I first saw the video for the song, before seeing the movie, I thought it might be an homage to Grease–Harry’s denim, t-shirt, and leather, with greased back hair, Sejal in a slightly girlier outfit in the beginning, then a more sophisticated look at the end, and of course–Disco! Seeing it in the context of the movie, I think I’m right. What do you think? Grease is another love story in which both characters have to learn from each other, and move toward each other in terms of perspective and living life to make the relationship work.

    The cooking scene is one of my favorites in the movie. I bet you’re right about the improvisation. I love the moment when Harry’s putting the wine glasses on the table (can’t you see SRK doing that cheeky little slide with the glasses in real life?), and his face gets serious for a moment–reality almost breaking in–but Sejal is there to rescue him, bringing out the food with more silly dance moves.

    Loved the bit with him asking for the bathroom on her behalf too. Can’t wait to get to Klara-ben! 🙂

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    • Definitely see the Grease idea! Grease is another movie where you have to really think about “is she changing for him? Or is he giving her permission to be something she wanted to be all along?” And vice versa too, “You’re the One that I Want” is so iconic, we tend to forget that it is after Travolta has been a good boy track star for her for months. And he is kind of shyly proud of his accomplishments and to be graduating and all that.

      On Fri, Aug 18, 2017 at 10:33 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I thought of John Travolta, too (especially the other disco-club which was in the promotional song)…the leather jackets, the body moves…a happy saturday-night-fever feel 🙂

    Margaret, if I remember right, the song ends in the (very short) moment where one sees both sleeping together again (fully clothed)…not embracing yet still rather close – in a kind of relaxed nearness that isn’t sexual. (There was no music anymore when the tram appears on screen, I think)

    I liked that Budapest sequence where the main purpose is to find a ‘modus operandi’…at least for Harry who adjusts himself to Sejal’s persona (with a light heart, I think). Still, he has those moments where he thinks “boy o boy where shall we end up?” He sees Sejal’s happiness…freeing the happy person she is inside more and more…he would follow her wherever she goes…

    The easy friendship they share now is crucial for Sejal to get accustomed to Harry and growing into the new – more assured – person, the circumstances allow her to become. (Btw, the Karaoke club was a place she was with Rupen…I bet she was another Sejal then 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I was trying to remember all the “sleeping together” moments. I am probably going to string them all together when I talk about the moment he turns away and they just sleep in Portugal or something, because I want to talk about them as one big theme. But part of that is remembering the exact times they all happened.

      For her going there with Rupen, is that something in the film that I missed somehow or just your thought as to why they are there? Because I could believe either way, it does seem like it would have been a different Sejal with Rupen, and she would want to revisit it and see how it felt to do the same thing with Shahrukh.

      On Fri, Aug 18, 2017 at 12:48 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. I don’t remember if it was explicitely said, I just thought so. Harry as a guide would maybe suggest night-/dance clubs to the guests and he knows this club (handles the console, puts a song himself). I guessed they had gone to enquire about the ring…ummm

    Yeah, I’m quite sure to remember right…before Radha, after BeechBeechMain, after the almost love-making scene (a position one seldom sees in films…extraordinary thought from Imtiaz? ShahRukh?…one doesn’t know, both are capable of this kind of displaying a man’s feminine side)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent, I will site you whenever I get around to discussing the whole theme of them sleeping together.

      On Fri, Aug 18, 2017 at 2:45 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • No Indian upper middle class family would ever go to a club like that. So I doubt its a place where she’s gone with Rupen. Or a place that Harry would suggest to his conservative clients. Also I dont think its EVER mentioned in the film that they go there with Rupen/her family and nor is any ring business mentioned during that scene.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So a little preview of the club they go to in Portugal, which is also not a place he would take his clients.

        On Sat, Aug 19, 2017 at 4:27 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • It was only an assumption from my side with the BeechBeechMain club (thanks for clarifying, p 🙂 ).
          As for the Fado-club…no idea…it’s classy portoguese folclore (but then, the ring/the search for it has already become irrelevant).
          And the other club where they look for Natasha is in Prague,

          Liked by 1 person

          • No problem Claudia. Indians, especially upper class vegeterian Indians like the gujarati family here literally don’t have any “fun” dancing except at weddings and at Navratri (annual nine day festival). Condom sales go up during those nine days, its that desperate. Some super rich gujaratis in bonbay actually hire private detectives to follow their daughters around and make sure they dont get into too much trouble in the crowds that are dancing.

            You notice how SRK keeps saying “You people” (tum log) dismissively to her, its not just her wealth he is referring to, he is referring to that particular kind of wealthy person that only a Gujarati can be 🙂 Of course he’s generalizing and she is actually a different person to them all 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • That’s what I thought! Well, not all the details, I don’t know all of that, but that she was a certain kind of wealthy which was particularly class-less. The opposite of Shahrukh’s cosmopolitan attitude and knowledge of the world.

            On Mon, Aug 21, 2017 at 3:39 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I love how in the club in Portugal, the lady is explaining the story of her song and Sejal fakes a “God, how blah” expression just to throw Harry off. Her old self would probably have that reaction for real. But now she’s gained some depth, she knows the intensity of feeling too much. And art and music really truly touches you only when you feel too much 🙂

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          • Totally saw that face a different way, as “I’m crying because it is so affecting, obviously!” Still a lie, because she is crying because she is about to leave Shahrukh, but a different kind of lie. However, absolutely agree that scene is a big sign of how different she is than she was before. I said somewhere else that that club in particular seems like the kind of thing Shahrukh would have found for himself and never shared with anyone before, not with his tour groups or with his string of one night stands. As significant as finally telling someone about his lost almost love story from the Punjab, he feels like he can share the hidden places of himself with her. And she responds like he hoped she would, he is studying her face in that scene partly because he is trying to memorize it, but also to confirm that she is feeling what he hoped she would feel.

            On Tue, Aug 22, 2017 at 8:36 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I saw it again, her reaction in that club big face blah expression reminded me of how the youngsters were making fun of the opera singer in DDLJ. Actually more like how Akash in DCH reacts to the opera but is actually being deeply affected by the whole thing.

            And when she sees his intensity she decides to allow herself to cry, to allow herself to feel.

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          • I agree with you, p…”she allows herself to feel”, to show her feeling, to lose control (which she first tries to minimize with the gesture to the singer like “well, with t h i s music and t h i s song , how can I not be affected”)
            As I already wrote, I think, the visit in the Fado club is another turning point…it is there that both clearly admit their togetherness-feeling, the love for each other…the joint hands and the looking in the same direction with probably the same kind of being touched is extremely harmonious and intense.
            I doubt, that Sejal thinks of anything related to the ring or having to leave…in the contrary…it is Harry (at the sea) who reminds her of the approaching separation.

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

  5. Thanks a lot, p, of enlighten me (seriously!)…it make so much sense now that Imtiaz took an engaged (upper class) Gujarati woman confronting her with a westernized Punjabi man. There is obviously more than one layer to the “coming together” of Harry & Sejal! Can my liking for that movie even augment? Yes, it can 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I like this section, the karaoke, coffee, cooking together. It’s like they’re relaxing enough to just be at ease with each other. Showing each other their more private selves while having fun. They’re taking more time for themselves than looking for the ring at this point.

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    • Yes, on subsequent watches I started noticing that the script lays out the terms of the trip very clearly for the audience several times. It’s a couple hours a day quickly going through the same places they visited before, and then Shahrukh is “off the clock”. So when she follows him in Amsterdam, it is interfering in his own time. And when he follows her in Prague, he is doing it voluntarily, as a private person in his own time.

      But post-Radha, all of this blurs, and suddenly they are spending all their time together on and off the clock. It goes from “tour guide only” to “tour guide part of the day, friend the other part” to “no tour guide at all any more”. And in fact we see that in Beech Beech Mein, the opening shots are him as “tour guide”, and then it kind of fades away and is forgotten as their relationship moves past that. He is still the person who speaks the language, who books the hotel, who carries the bags, but more just because he is her friend/boyfriend, not because she is paying him for those services.

      On Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 11:53 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I like your way to see the changing in Harry’s position, Margaret. I remember that the song and the visuals gave me a vibe of partnership…he is doing all kind of things he would like her to know about him, everything else, he does because it’s kind of ‘second nature’ to him, it’s part of his caring for her.

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  7. I’m watching it for the zillionth time and reading your scene by scene again as I go. So, a comment about the cooking scene that I don’t think anyone has said: When she isn’t looking he has the same puzzled look on his face as when the waiter hands him the coffee and says, “I no understand” and Shah Rukh says, “I no understand either.”Its his whats happening to me? look. I love how it just flits across his face. This is why this film was so underrated. Subtleties like that went unnoticed by the critics. (Yuck on you Anupama.)

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    • I can’t remember if I mentioned this before or not, but what I love is that Anushka makes that look go away right after by stepping out and getting him to be goofy with her. He has been so much caught up in his own mind, in his own solitude, and she effortlessly brings him out of his shell. Just as he makes her feel safe and loved and confident to be herself.

      On Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 4:48 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I saw it more as puzzlement as to who he is becoming. Her making him get goofy just puts off for both of them the inevitable parting which SHE is trying to avoid thinking about. He is just baffled by his own feelings but he does not (yet) have a fantasy it could last. I think that only happens when they make the engagement party for Manky and they act like a couple. For a few hours he believes he can have that and then she dashes it all when she says, “Too good to be true.”

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    • Oooh, I can’t stand Anupama. Her constant giggling is like nails on a chalkboard. I’ve never found her to have anything insightful or new to say either.

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