Welcome back! Kind of a double post, partly because my viewer numbers are telling me that people are losing interest (I know, not most of you, but some of you), and I want to crank through this thing while most of you can still remember the film. And also partly because the last section felt like it should really lead straight into this one (full JHMS coverage index here)
Previously, whole first half of the movie happens! Anushka and Shahrukh are stuck together because he is the tour guide her family hired to “babysit” her while she traveled around Europe looking for her lost engagement ring. On the surface, Anushka is an innocent sheltered girl who is fascinated by this sexy older man. But there is something else going on as well, a strange connection they both feel which makes them follow each other, stare at each other, try to puzzle out what is happening. They are playing with fire a little bit and decide to pretend to be girlfriend-boyfriend, that is, be friendly and familiar with each other instead of keeping the strict “hands off” policy that would normally be in place with the kind of sheltered girl Anushka is. Post interval, they had a wonderful song showing how this works, they have fun together and laugh and do silly things, it isn’t sexy or dangerous, it’s just friendly and happy to be together and feeling like they fit somehow. And then, song ends with a great example of a great relationship when Shahrukh helps Anushka find a bathroom by going into a fancy restaurant.
One thing that just occurred to me now is that one of the reasons they set this up with the bathroom situation is that this is not the kind of place the version of Anushka and Shahrukh we have been watching would go to. They are enjoying talking and being with each other and goofing around. They don’t want to go to a fancy “grown-up” type place where they have to dress right and sit up straight and be elegant. This isn’t an Anushka kind of place, it’s too old for her right now. And she has made Shahrukh young again, so it isn’t a Shahrukh kind of place either. Part of his discomfort with the upcoming situation is the space they are in. He entered it as an outsider, just stopping by to help his girlfriend go to the bathroom. And now he is being reminded of a previous version of himself that used to belong in places like this, that liked the superficial elegance that protected him from real feelings. That wouldn’t have a girlfriend who came running in to use the bathroom, but one who belonged here too.
(Looks kind of like this place. Where I have been several times and greatly enjoy their hot chocolate with lots of real whipped cream, but also feel uncomfortable trying to fit my knees under the little tables and not spilling on the elegant chairs and all of that)
And then Klara shows up! Shahrukh goes into the restaurant to wait while Anushka uses the toilet and glances around and immediately sees a woman sitting at a table and turns around looking for a place to hide, saying “oh shit”. She comes over to him and says “Yes, that’s right, ‘shit'”.
By the way, have I mentioned that I minored in German in college? And am TERRIBLE at it? Because I have absolutely no facility for languages to the point that I can study something for 8 years straight and still not learn anything? And like really study! I got straight As and graduated with honors and everything! And yet, I can’t understand a lick of it any more. So, for this conversation, I am going to rely on Claudia’s translation from the comments (Hi Claudia!).
“Shit” he says. “Yeah, shit“, she says…”bastard.” He says her name trying immediately to soothen her…She:” you remember my name! Did you imagine I won’t get you?!” Harry: “Let us make a deal. I’ll make up for it. I’ll be in Frankfurt soon.” – he sees Sejal coming and states that “it’s not a good moment now”…she repeats his last words and looks at Sejal guessing that he is with her. Harry: “nein, nein”… (ha! I love this scene!)
Now, when I was watching it with my 8 years of intensive German study, what I got from the scene was “shit”, “Frankfurt”, and “deal machen”. Truly, tuition money well spent! I thought he was saying something about why he left Frankfurt, that he had a deal on back then. But knowing that it is future tense is way way more interesting!
See, he is trying to protect Anushka from Klara. Which totally went over my head until I got this translation. I thought he was trying to protect himself from Klara, or was embarrassed for Anushka to see him like this. But this is something different, he is ready to meet up with Klara later and take his punishment, do whatever she wants, so long as he can get Anushka out now.
And when Anushka appears, she looks like she needs to be protected. Confused, in her little pastel outfit, with her fresh face. She doesn’t seem ready for this scary elegant older woman.
And let’s take a moment to look at Klara! We see Klara, we see the woman in the club in Amsterdam, there are the kind of women Shahrukh usually goes after. European, very experienced, and not “soft”. He wants a woman that he doesn’t have to worry about hurting. Yes, Klara is angry with him here. But she is angry, not crying or scared or depressed. If he had treated someone like Anushka like he treated her, he would have ruined her life. That is what he is afraid of, that he will let himself go and bring Anushka in as much as he brought in Klara, and would really destroy her.
(This isn’t Klara, I can’t find her name in the credits. But this is the woman who is in the club in Amsterdam)
And yet, even with someone like Klara who has recovered (except for lingering anger), he still feels some guilt. He is a womanizer but, like he said in that first honest-but-not-entirely speech to Anushka, the women can leave and he is the one who suffers. He takes on a weight with every woman he “does wrong” and can’t seem to shake it, no matter how he tries. The women can blame him, get mad, go back to their lives. But he has no life to go back to, and doesn’t know what emotion to use to deal with the end of things. Doesn’t really have a clear emotion for these women, which is part of his guilt, that they were always just ways to fulfill his needs, he never felt anything for them before during or after the affair.
Anyway, Anushka is here now! And Shahrukh keeps trying to “save” her. She comes up and asks, open faced and youthful “Who are you?” Klara says “Who am I? Who AM I?” And Anushka turns to Shahrukh and says in Hindi with kind of put on “how strange is this woman?” “yes, that is what I asked her, isn’t it?” Shahrukh is trying to get out of this whole thing and looking increasingly uncomfortable, and then Klara says to Anushka “Who are YOU?” And Anushka gives a big smile, grabs Shahrukh’s arm and says “I’m his girlfriend.” Shahrukh immediately tries to get her out of it and says “No no, she is just a client”. Klara looks at her in disgust and says “You are not his girlfriend. He cannot have girlfriends. He is just doing you.” Anushka’s smile doesn’t waver and she says confidently “That to!”
(Go 40 seconds in to see this bit)
Okay, pause! Let’s look at this from 3 angles, Anushka and Shahrukh and Klara. Klara first because we care about her least. She can see immediately from how Shahrukh is reacting that he cares about Anushka, that is why she zeroes in on her, and the more Shahrukh tries to get her out, the more interested Klara becomes in her, because of how clear Shahrukh’s concern is. And then there is the way Anushka drops into Hindi, sharing a little private joke with Shahrukh, something Klara probably never did. Not just because they didn’t share Hindi, but because they didn’t have that kind of private conversations about other people sort of relationship. That’s when she asks “Who are YOU?” And Anushka makes it between the two women, looking her dead in the eyes and grabbing Shahrukh’s arm to hold him to her as she says “I’m his girlfriend.” With the exact right amount of pride and confidence to most infuriate a scorned lover. That’s what disgusts Klara, this innocent declaring her power over a very non-innocent man. Klara wants to break through her confidence, puncture her fantasy. And so she says the crudest thing possible, wanting to scare Anushka away. And it doesn’t work, Anushka maintains eye contact and immediately accepts it “That too!” It is Shahrukh who is scared. He is still trying to keep Anushka out of it, redirect Klara’s anger. But he is also a little unaware, he thinks the fact that he is having sex with Anushka is what will make her angry and “ruin” Anushka. He doesn’t realize that Klara is more angry at the “girlfriend” idea. And most of all angry at the way that Anushka is preening over being his girlfriend. Anushka clearly doesn’t see Shahrukh as someone who is just “doing” her, she is proud to lay claim to him. And nothing Klara is saying is shaking her from that. Which, I think, is making Klara even angrier. She has been furious with Shahrukh, and seen him as a garbage person who was only good for sex, for the past 2 years (or maybe 4 years, including when they were together). And now Anushka is showing through her behavior “No, you are wrong, he is a catch and you can’t convince me otherwise.”
Okay, now Shahrukh! He just wants to get Anushka out of there. When she appears in the background, looking like a little kid with her sweet little jean jacket and fresh face, his instinct is to try to distract Klara. When Anushka grabs him and declares herself as her girlfriend, he is horrified and terrified and tries to get out of her grasp and explain away their relationship. He can’t resist looking at her and responding a little to her Hindi “that’s what I asked her, isn’t it?” because, I mean, she is his girlfriend. He likes the little private in joke asides as much as she does. But when she says “Yes, that to!” about the “Doing you” comment, that’s when he has enough, is absolutely shocked and kind of embarrassed in an adorably old-fashioned way.
(Very similar to his adorable embarrassment when Alia talked about dating on Koffee)
Shahrukh thinks of Anushka as this fragile person on a pedestal. And in a lot of ways, yes, she is. We have seen all along that he literally just needs to look at her and she will come running and do his bidding. She knows nothing about sex, nothing about romance, nothing about the world outside her tiny little world of family, family business, and family-approved boyfriend. She needs Shahrukh to do everything for her, including just now getting her a bathroom. And so when he sees this woman he is terrified of coming for her, he snaps into “protective” mode, tries to get this little baby girl out of the line of fire. And most of all, he tries to protect her “virtue”. In a very old-fashioned older Indian guy kind of way! Even the hint that he is having sex with her is shocking to him, that could ruin her “sharam”, she is a nice girl who shouldn’t even be spoken of in that way! It’s adorable.
But what of Anushka? This is one of the best scenes for her character. Yes, she doesn’t fully understand a lot of what is happening. But she understands the most important part, this woman is attacking Shahrukh and he needs her. Because he doesn’t know how to protect himself.
And oh boy have I been in this situation! Because, well, boys are stupid. There’s a certain kind of attack from a woman that only another woman can see. Not like I have rushed in to protect the dark dangerous sexy man I love from a former lover. But like a customer at work has yelled at my boss, and I’ve been like “oh yeah, I can handle this for you. I know what she wants to hear.” And I’ve also listened to male friends talk about interpersonal stuff and thought “yeah, she’s playing you. But I can’t say that because you aren’t ready to hear it yet.” And then the guy leaves the room, and all the women look at each other and say “Poor baby, she’s playing him and he doesn’t even know it.” Only Anushka actually has the woman in front of her, and feels the right to defend her man, so she doesn’t just have to sit back and stay quiet, she can actually jump in and act.
One of the female only weapons is making the man feel guilty and he doesn’t even know why. And Shahrukh here is particularly susceptible to that, always ready to take the emotional blame for any situation, it’s what he has been doing with Anushka all along. And also always ready to believe the worst of himself. That’s what Anushka is defending him from, aggressively. Nothing Klara says about him or to Anushka can shake her clear faith in him. She is redirecting Klara’s anger towards herself, away from Shahrukh. And also sending a clear message to Shahrukh that is kind of the anti-Klara, “I believe in you, I am proud of you, you are a worthy person.”
And the thing is, Anushka doesn’t need any special knowledge or experience to do this. This is why she is the perfect woman for Shahrukh, she just needs her purity and faith and, well, Radha-ness. And her youth is what gives her that, the strength to defend him and the pure faith that he is worthy of defense. Shahrukh is trying to protect her “innocence”, but in fact it is that innocence which is protecting him.
Dang, 2 thousand words! Oh well, next scene will be coming shortly. I’m thinking about skipping the new movie tonight (for once, going to sleep before 2am on a Friday! Such a luxury!), so I’ve got loads of time.