Jab Harry Met Sejal Scene By Scene Part 15: The World Intrudes

This is maybe my least favorite part of the film.  There are still fascinating interesting things that happen, but it’s a lot of stuff happening in the “real” world instead of internally, in order to set up the really interesting internal stuff that happens in the last bit.  So not as much long intense consideration of character moments, more “and then this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened.” (full index of JHMS coverage here)

Previously, Anushka and Shahrukh were stuck together.  He was the only guide her family would trust to babysit her as she traveled through Europe alone, and she was determined to keep traveling until she found her lost engagement ring.  But by the second day, their relationship had already started to change, she was officially looking for the ring, but she was also increasingly tied to Shahrukh, and he to her.  The literally cannot be more than 4 feet away from each other without moving to be closer, one following the other in turn.  Now, they have finished a little idyll in Budapest, still looking for the ring a couple hours a day, but spending the rest of the time talking and laughing and playing together.  Anushka has started to seem older than the spoiled little girl she was at the start of the film, and Shahrukh has started to seem younger than the tired experienced sex addict he was at the beginning.  And just now they had the biggest test of their new status, when one of Shahrukh’s exes confronted him and Anushka didn’t just forgive him, she defiantly defended him against the other woman, eventually sending her away.

 

 

The moment after Klara leaves it really interesting.  Shahrukh has this stunned and happy look on his face, says something like “I can’t believe you did that, I have avoided Frankfurt for 2 years because of her.”  Which goes back to the thing I was talking about in my last post, how we can kind of come up with a timeline of Shahrukh’s life, and the past 2 years were the worst of it.  He went from a guy who felt homesick for the Punjab and kind of lost in the world, to a guy who was literally homeless, just in the past two years.  And now Anushka has erased that, given him permission to have a home again, some kind of an identity for himself.

But Anushka looks mad!  And we think, in the audience, “okay, in front of Klara she was playing nice and defending her man, but now that they are alone she is going to let him have it and he doesn’t even realize.”  Which is kind of true, but kind of not!  See, Shahrukh sees Anushka’s angry face and braces himself for a half second, but then is surprised by what she says “How does she rate over me?  You will have sex with her but not me?”  Shahrukh hesitates, then leans forward and says kind of sexily, “Someday I will show you.”  Anushka starts to kind of smile and soften a little and says “Someday?  Why not now?”  Shahrukh says sexy “Okay, now” and then reaches out and grabs her by the collar of her jacket and pulls her up close to him.  Anushka has this fabulous face on her, like a little kid with a big smile.  Not excited like sexy, but excited like “It’s almost my turn on the roller coaster!”

Image result for anushka sharma smiling

(Kind of this kind of smile)

So, let me back up.  Two things here.  First, I’ve been saying all along that this is a story of Anushka aging up and Shahrukh aging down.  The interaction they just had, that was fairly adult.  Anushka didn’t fully understand all the undercurrents, and she definitely didn’t understand what Shahrukh and Klara had together (I am guessing some kind of “the sex is so good but we have nothing in common but we feel like we should have feelings because the sex is so good and now we feel guilty and angry with each other and don’t know how to end it” kind of twisted thing).  But she knew Shahrukh was being attacked, and she stepped up and in her own clear youthful way defended him.

But now that they are alone together, especially once Shahrukh brings up sex, Anushka pulls him back to some kind of high school version of it.  He gets all sexy, and she just insists on treating it as a joke.  Which is what it becomes, but a kind of sweetly beginnings of sexy kind of joke.  Shahrukh grabs Anushka by the collar, all dominating and sexy, but she just has that silly smile on her face and it makes him silly.  He leans forward as though he is going to kiss her, but in an exaggerated way, playing the part of the crazed lover, not really meaning it.  And Anushka twists away and starts to laugh, and suddenly he has his hands all over her and she is giggling, but he is just kind of tickling her.

It’s the same kind of flirting you see from little teenagers, kids who are just beginning to feel their hormones but aren’t sure what to do about it yet, just kind of touching each other all over without knowing exactly why they like touching each other so much.  I mean, Shahrukh knows here, he was just joking about it.  But then, teenagers know to, they’ve all taken sex ed and stuff (at least, I hope they have!).  But the feeling of the body is so new, it’s hard to connect it with all the stuff you know intellectually.  That’s what’s happening with them, this feeling between them is so different from what they have had before, this kind of intoxicating can’t-keep-your-hands-off-each-other-little-bubble-of-happiness-inside, that neither of them are really connecting it with sex, or even thinking that it is related to sex (Shahrukh in his experience of dirty adult sex, and Anushka in her experience of sex as something she only knows in the abstract).  Their bodies are doing it without their minds noticing, if that makes sense.  Which is how teenagers have all those surprise pregnancies.  And that’s why Mayank has to arrive at this point, to be the outsider that makes them suddenly notice what they are doing.

(teenagers also get pregnant because Saif Ali Khan is there.  Or maybe that is just Preity, have they ever been in a movie where he didn’t get her pregnant?)

But before Mayank arrives, the other thing that is really interesting!  Anushka’s reason for anger.  Which I think is half-joking, because she lets it go so quickly, but also one of those things that she feels so deep inside she can only say it out loud if she half pretends it is a joke.

Anushka doesn’t feel “worthy”.  Has probably never felt worthy, that’s why this ring and engagement are so important to her, they are proof that she is worth something.  But then, she isn’t.  The ring is more important to her fiance than she is.  The cost of a diamond against the cost of herself, and the diamond is worth more.

Once she meets Shahrukh, all those feelings of self-doubt have a single focus.  Not because he is super sexy and the kind of man any woman would look to for affirmation, but because he is himself, the one person she is especially meant for.  And that’s why his initial rejection in the club is so heartbreaking for her.  She can’t articulate it to him, or to herself, but she somehow thought this would be the one person who might see her and like her.  And his rejection of her flirtations felt like the last, worst, confirmation that she is worthless.  Of course, as I discussed back then, that was also because she was too blind to see the other ways in which he liked her SO MUCH, that his laughter and smiles at her dancing were actually much more flattering than if he had been attracted.

And so when she compares herself with Klara, it is mostly a joke because she and Shahrukh have moved past that shallow “why won’t you have sex with me?” kind of relationship.  But it’s also a little marker of how far Anushka has come as a person.  She knows she is prettier and better than Klara now.  And that Shahrukh is a fool to pick Klara over her.  Although she still needs that little affirmation from him, is still craving it because he is the one person in the world she needs to be attracted to her, no one else matters to her any more if he approves of her.  Which is going to come up twice more in a big way, when he finally “fixes” what is inside of her by giving her the only validation she is missing.

(that’s what brings her into “Phurr” state, when she finally gets that validation and then something shifts and falls into place inside of her)

But that’s all for later, right now we have Mayank!  Who arrives to see Shahrukh and Anushka all over each other like teenagers in the middle of a fancy restaurant and does a double take.  And then explains that he was in town anyway (I think we saw Shahrukh on the phone with him for a half-second before Klara showed up) and he stopped by to give them news, the cafe called the tour company, they found the ring!

Okay, pause!  I want to do a quick timeline here.  Anushka and Shahrukh re-meet each other on day 1.  That night they have the indemnity bond conversation.  On day 2, they visit all the tourist places in Amsterdam, go shopping, and confirm the ring is not there and they have to go on to Prague.  That night, Anushka follows Shahrukh to the club.  Day 3, they take the train to Prague and look at all the places there.  That night, Shahrukh follows Anushka to a club and we get the “Radha” song.  Day 4, they get back to the hotel, Anushka’s fiance has finally sent her messages, they change clothes and hop the train to Budapest.  Day 5, they start hunting at this cafe in Budapest.  Day 6, clothes change, they keep looking in Budapest in courtyards and fountains, and then give up and just hang out.  Day 7, they keep looking, and also do Karaoke and cook together.  Day 8, now, they are in this cafe.

That’s the tightest possible timeline.  Maybe you could even get it down to 7 days if you say that the Karaoke and cooking are at the end of day 6.  You could expand it to maybe 3 days in Budapest, but the other days are pretty set.

(Really, the question is if this covers one day or two days or three days.  But I can’t see it expanding much farther than that)

The point is, while we in the audience know that Anushka and Shahrukh have gone broken arrow and more or less given up on the ring excuse, just putting in a few hours a day rapidly going to places, and then the rest of the time goofing off together, Anushka’s family and Shahrukh’s tour company have no idea.  It’s still reasonable to think that Anushka is just doing a quick search in the places they visited before, then maybe some shopping and early to bed every night.  And that Shahrukh is doing a light duty of escorting her around and figuring out hotel rooms, and then going out clubbing or whatever on his own once his duties are done.  It’s only a few days, no one would think anything was going on.  And certainly no one would think they had already leaped to this stage of a relationship in just a week.

That’s why Mayank is so stunned.  Well, one of many reasons.  Shahrukh is acting like a goofy teenage boy in love, totally different from the cool way he has acted with every woman ever. And he is doing it with a fancy sheltered high class woman that he normally wouldn’t even talk to.  And all of that is on top of this being someone he has only known for a week.

Oh, also it’s kind of reasonable for the cafe to have called at this point.  The tour company sent them a message a week ago, Anushka and Shahrukh stopped by a couple days ago, they had the cleaners in and alerted the staff, now they found the thing. It’s not like it’s months later.

And  it’s also reasonable for Anushka and Shahrukh to rush to get the ring from the cafe at this point.  They can still tell themselves “it’s only been a week, we are just goofing around, of course we are excited to find the ring!”  And so we get a couple of kind of boring scenes.  Saved through clever dialogue and byplay, but mostly just to set up plot.

First, Shahrukh and Anushka and Mayank rush along the side of the castle building where the cafe is.  And I get distracted because it’s a new angle on this location, they must have moved cameras and all kinds of things, just for a tiny half a minute of them running.  I wonder why?  Maybe there was a longer part that required the cameras here and they only used a little bit of it, maybe the Budapest tourism board insisted on at least one big full shot of the location?  By the way, did you notice that this film got all kinds of money from the tourism/film boards of these countries?  Not sure if a European country has done that before, formally assisted through their film boards, not unofficially encouraging filming like Switzerland with Yash Chopra lake.  A sign of Indian film growing up a little?

Image result for hungarian film commission

(these people.  “Magyar” is somehow a word for Hungarian people in a historical way that I don’t remember)

Oh, and then they get to the cafe, talk to the manager who tells them that a woman showed up and already took the ring, Anushka is furious at them, Shahrukh kind of holds her back and tries to calm her down, but doesn’t really get in her way.  And quietly takes a photo of the computer screen the cafe owner pulls up with the information for “Natasha”, the woman who claimed the ring.  Somewhere in the middle of this, Shahrukh grabs Anushka to calm her down, and notices Mayank’s eyes popping out of his head as he watches the casual way they are clinging to each other, and later when Anushka is blowing up about “she’s a thief!  White people can be thieves?” Mayank adds “Yes, thieving pays no attention to caste or religion or difference…. like love.”  And Shahrukh turns and throws an orange at him to shut him up.

There’s a lot happening in these scene, fast talking and people moving back and forth and orange throwing.  And Shahrukh taking a photo of the screen without the manager noticing and Anushka moving back and forth and being grabbed by Shahrukh.  But ultimately, it’s kind of dull.  At least on rewatches it is dull.

See, this whole movie is an internal story.  What moves things forward and makes things happen is the things inside of the characters, not what is happening around them.  And the silent moment of Shahrukh watching Anushka sleep on the train to Prague has more movement in that way then all the talking and action in this scene.  All we are getting is a repeat of what we already saw.  Shahrukh and Anushka are too comfortable together for Mayank not to notice, Shahrukh is calm and competent, Anushka has a temper.  And that’s kind of it.

What’s internal is one little moment, when they see the address of the woman and it is in Prague.  Shahrukh calls her, confirms she is in Prague, and Anushka says “so we are going back to Prague?”  And there is a tiny unspoken moment between them as they both think about what they shared last time they were in Prague and going back there as slightly different people.

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18 thoughts on “Jab Harry Met Sejal Scene By Scene Part 15: The World Intrudes

  1. It’s your last line that I found the most important part…they have to go back to Prague…as different persons…Prague was the city of her showing some I-can-defend-myself, yelling-for-Harry-to-help-her, living-a-life-threatening-adventure, sleeping-in-Harry’s arm, seeing-him-crying-and-sad, dancing-and-singing which all leads to the girlfriend/boyfriend level.
    What I like the most about the scene after Klara left is the girlfriend/boyfrind coming back in that playful way (what I remember the best is her handgesture like “yeah, yeah, ‘chatter-chatter’) – Sejal has gone back to that “what, not sexy enough” but more in the way like giving a testy reply to Klara (who isn’t there anymore) and now it’s Harry wo is flirtatious and getting younger by the second…I agree with you…they behave a bit like teenagers and it’s really lovely to watch.

    Mayank has to come that moment to watch that happy and love-birds-like behaviour because it is important for his last-minute invitation to his marriage in Frankfurt.

    I also think that this whole Natasha-finding-plot is important to explain his wish for a hug in the train (I am almost sure, Harry really fears to lose her when she will have the ring back from Natasha). And yes, Budapest is so, so beautiful (I think Imtiaz did use only a small fraction of all the gorgeous shots he made Mohanan do)….Interesting to know later that Natasha indeed somehow ‘found’ a ring in that café which wasn’t Sejal’s one…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was so pleased with how the Natasha “finding” a ring played out. Because right from the start, the story the cafe told didn’t quite make sense, and then the stories continued to not quite make sense, until we find out that they didn’t make sense because it wasn’t the right ring. Shahrukh and Anushka were just too emotional to figure out how things didn’t fit.

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  2. I love the immediate post-Klara bit. I agree with you on the teenager-y bit, but, as usual, not on the unconscious bit. I think they’ve both moved past denying that they are in like/lust and enjoy spending time together–but they areactively resisting thoughts of “so what happens next?”.

    Sejal’s comfortable enough to say “Shut up!” when Harry starts sputtering in relief, and I love how quickly he shuts up (I have the feeling that exact same interaction has happened between Gauri and him, though obviously not in the same circumstances). She’s comfortable enough to say why she’s mad, and he’s relieved because again she’s not judging him for his past. And of course by now he’s attracted to her on multiple levels. He responds with (sexy) playfulness, and she counters with her own (sexy in a different way) playfulness.

    To me their little wrestling scene foreshadows how much fun their sex life is going to be–she’s going to fully enjoy the benefits of his experience with the addition of his deep connection to her. She’s going to bring him so much pleasure by expressing her deep connection to him, but also reminding him–hey, I’m not those other women, and I can push your buttons as easily as you’ve pushed theirs (at first emotionally, but I’m sure she’s a fast learner). It is also a great counterpoint to the weird restraint scene on the bridge in Amsterdam. So much has changed for both of them!

    And then, as you say, Mayank comes in, to show how much their little side path has diverged from the rest of their lives. I’m totally with you on all the reasons we have to resume contact with the outside world, and the search for the ring, at this point.

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  3. Indeed, Sejal is a fast learner…and this time the girlfriend/boyfriend ‘play’ is based on the friendship-trust-relaxed feeling they have developped in just one day…

    Btw., I think they have only spent five days together before flying to Lisbon: 1st night Harry going out alone, 2nd night Sejal following Harry, 3rd night – this time in Prague – Harry following Sejal/Chase/Sejal sleeps in Harry’s arm, 4th night – already in Budapest – Karaoke (with flashbacks to the searching and cooking), night sleeping in the same bed, 5th day Klara, the castle café (Natasha), trainride to Prague, meeting Natasha…flight to Lisbon.

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  4. We have mentioned before the relative absence of supporting characters and side plots. I grew to appreciate Imtiaz’s increasingly selective use of supporting characters, especially after watching Jab We Met last weekend and KANK this weekend. (KANK has so many subplots and characters that interrupt the main story!) There are no subplots in this film, so we can — or should — concentrate on the subtle changes in Harry and Sejal, with a minimum of distractions. Mayank’s purpose is to be the “inside the movie” observer who notices the effect of those subtle changes. A lesser director would include a subplot about Mayank and Irina, or in-person interactions between Sejal and Rupen, or more of a backstory/flashback with Harry and Klara. Thank heaven he gave us this intimate story about just two people, instead!

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    • Yes! and without turning the other characters into caricatures, Mayank and Irina were nice real seeming people, they just weren’t the focus of this film.

      Liked by 1 person

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

  6. Margaret, I was just reading Part 17: Anushka it`s “worth it” ( wich you very well described and your conclusion is bang-on) that brings me back to one of your not so favourite parts, sorry 🙂

    What we can see is that they are both absolutely comfortable in each others company, goofing around, they saviour the moments of fun. The fact that their relationship is time-limited doesn`t even come to their mind, they are not even in denial of it; they just happily live the moment with no strings attached.

    Slowly we as the audience were dragged along into their bubble of happiness and there HAS to be a corrective. Reality bites into the bubble by those who stand on the sidelines and do not know how their relationship has evolved. There is Klara (for his past reality) and Maynak ( present reality which is the search for the ring ).

    For me the bottom line is that this sequence showcases how deep their bond is and even their flaws don`t take away from their affection towards eachother: Him rather backing down and avoid than being able to get things straight from his past. Her for having such a low self-esteem to stressing the point of not being “layak” enough. “how does she rate over me?” says it all.

    Which of course he can not answer at the moment, even already being deeply in love with her because he doesn`t feel “worth it”.

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    • Oh good point that Shahrukh has his own “layak” concerns! It’s funny, I don’t think he is rating himself against the other man in her life exactly. Early on, in that boat conversation, he accurately pointed out that Rupen is a failure as a fiance/boyfriend if he is letting Anushka do this whole thing on her own. And has never had sex with her. But I think he is rating himself against everything else Anushka has in her life. A comfortable safe existence, a family behind her, a career. And lots and lots of money of course. If he were to make a move, he would be asking her to throw away not just Rupen, but everything else in her life. And he doesn’t think he is “worthy” of her doing that. Just like she has to grow into being someone sexually available to him, he has to grow into being someone she could really trust with the rest of her life.

      On Tue, Aug 22, 2017 at 11:24 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. Yes, exactly. You are speaking my mind and this is what I meant with “worth it”. And that`s the main reason why he never asks her to stay with him for his own sake. Not in Portugal nor in Frankfurt. He knows that she would have stayed if he had asked her but he`d rather let her go than taking the chance of her being unhappy with this decision afterwards.

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    • And that’s his last hesitation at the wedding. Is he “worth it” really? Should he make this step? He was excited and confident and happy about it a moment earlier, but now it is coming over him again, how rich her family is with this spectacular wedding, how happy she was talking about her marriage before he intruded on her life. And it is solved when he learns that yes, he was “worth it”, she canceled the wedding without him needing to even make the offer. Or, put it another way, all the other things she had in her life had no value to her any more, she threw them away. If you think of it as a balancing of one thing against the other, he now knows that everything he thought she cared about, she doesn’t any more, and that means he has less to fight against to justify her caring for him.

      On Tue, Aug 22, 2017 at 12:06 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. Edit: Re.Film board sponsoring. As far as I know the concept of tourism body promoting a Bollywood film was introduced by the “Berlin media-board” with a fund of $700k for DON2.

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    • Oh interesting! And that was after My Name is Khan had it’s Berlin premiere.

      Thank you! I will cite you if I need to mention that info again.

      On Tue, Aug 22, 2017 at 12:18 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. The illogic of the ring in the cafe is frankly a flaw. If “Gas” gave Natassia a fake ring, which she then threw in his fact, then he picked up and took back how would the cafe call the tour company to say they found a ring and to have Natassia claim it? There could have been other ways to do this to get them to chase it to Lisbon. I love how good his English is when he questions Natassia (oh, maybe that’s next section.)

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    • I saw it as Gas gave her the ring and she lost it at the cafe right away. Got it back, threw it in his face later that day. Could have happened the day before they got to Budapest (not clear how long ago the cafe gave it to her, seemed like the manager had just learned of this whole thing, not necessarily that it had just happened), or the day they arrived. But if it all happened very quickly, gift, lost, give back, then I think the timeline barely works.

      What definitely doesn’t work is the idea that Nastassia “stole” the ring, gave it to Gas, he gave it to her, and she gave it back. Which is the assumption that Shahrukh and Anushka are somehow trying to make work.

      On Thu, Aug 24, 2017 at 2:52 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  10. This is sort of a transition scene for me – getting the info about the ring. Mayank, being an observer, sees a different side to Harry and recognizes that Harry is falling in love with Sejal (who is responding). Well, on to Prague!

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    • Yeah, it’s kind of a place setting scene, not much there. But it is important for shaking things up a little to get Shahrukh and Anushka to the next stage of their awareness.

      On Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 12:17 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • As the ring is like a guiding thread, it guides them to Prague because both need a moment of ‘displacement’ after the joyful banter of two lovebirds in the restaurant.
        As Gas is important because of the physical threatening (the first one – in Prague, too – leads to the first explicit change in their equation), there must be only a reason to get there so that a new physical threatening would trigger another explicit change (remember Harry’s words to Sejal, that makes her so happy)…Harry really has no thoughts for any logic, he is just happy to continue being with Sejal, that Sejal who indeed is more ‘layak’ than Natassja.
        Imtiaz has a ‘thing’ with Prague…it’s obviously a place destined to bring considerable changes.

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