Phew! We get back to unspoken interpersonal shifts in this section, instead of that boring stuff actually happening in the last section! Who needs THAT! (full index of JHMS coverage here)
(skip this paragraph if you remember what happened) Previously in JHMS, Anushka and Shahrukh were stuck together as tour guide and client. But also more than that, there was a strange connection between the two of them which made them cling to each other. After only a week together, they were acting like teenagers in love, laughing and joking and tickling each other. Shahrukh’s friend Mayank was stunned to see the way they were acting when he bumped into them in Budapest, and Anushka didn’t even notice his reaction because it all felt so natural to her. Shahrukh did notice, but kind of forced himself to ignore Mayank’s reactions and tried to shut him up so he wouldn’t break through their bubble. The bubble was still in place when they got a new clue to where the ring is that Anushka is officially looking for to explain why she is traveling alone with Shahrukh in Europe. And so they get an address in Prague of a woman who might have taken the ring under false pretenses from a cafe where they lost it.
And now they are running through the gorgeous Budapest train station. With Anushka making the dorky joke “Full aerobics in Europe!” I love that joke. Because it is so unfunny and she is so happy with it. Plus, it gives you an idea of her context. The only time she runs flat out like this is in her past life is during an aerobics class. She is delighted with making this joke about running that you would think is for aerobics, but isn’t, because she is so sure her context is relatable and this makes sense to the two men with her. Or, more accurately, she is sure she doesn’t care any more if they get the joke. It makes her happy, so she is saying it.
It’s hard to see how different this is from the Anushka we first met. She was always kind of talking to herself with Shahrukh, assuming he would put up with her because he was just a servant. But she was also taking the lead. Now, she is running along with Shahrukh and Mayank and still making those jokes. They are no longer servants to her, but she still feels free to just be herself with them.
Speaking of “no longer servants”, as they run to the train, Anushka suddenly reminds Shahrukh “tickets, tickets?” and he calls back “doesn’t matter”, and they jump on the train. It isn’t a “hey, tour guide, I order you to buy us tickets” comment, this is a “oh shoot, did we forget tickets husband?” and a “don’t worry wife, we’re okay” kind of exchange.
And then they jump on the train and as it is pulling out, Mayank reminds Shahrukh that he has to be back in Frankfurt in 2 days for his engagement, if he gets there a little early, they can go shopping, buy something for his fiance. Shahrukh looks a little conflicted but doesn’t commit to anything really , although he says that he will be there as soon as they find the ring. And Anushka’s face flickers a bit as she thinks about that. Mayank says something revealing, that they are both alone in Europe with no one else, they are like orphans. And Anushka does a little subtle flicker on her face as this comment lands, and then quickly says that he shouldn’t worry, as soon as they find the ring, she will leave and Shahrukh will be free. And then the doors close and the train pulls out as suddenly Anushka and Shahrukh both realize what that means and their faces look stunned.
Remember in my last post I came up with a timeline? Watching the movie, only seeing the very intense moments between them, we feel like this is a deep relationship on firm footing and all that. But in fact, for the characters, it could still feel like nothing. They go from guide and client to friends, they enjoy spending time together, she saves him from an angry ex, but they can still be “practical”, it’s only been a week, officially they are still looking for the ring, why analyze or think to much about what is happening? Until now, when they are suddenly confronted with the reality that they are about to separate and this might be over.
Now we see them sitting next to each other on the train. The first bit I don’t remember well and it’s important! So remind me in the comments if you do remember it. I think maybe Anushka grabs Shahrukh’s arm in a comfy “girlfriend” style way and Shahrukh shakes her off and bursts out that he can’t do this, he can’t get used to this. It’s loud, people in the train turn to look at him. The perfect guide who always knows what to do and where to do it has lost sense of proper train manners. And then he goes quiet and turns away.
This next bit I remember well! Anushka asks Shahrukh if he hasn’t gone back to Frankfurt in 2 years, where does he stay? He says he stays with the tours. And when they are over? Shahrukh looks away from her and speaks softly when he says “I am in tourism, I find a place”. Anushka looks at him and translates “you mean you find someone.” Shahrukh keeps looking away from her. Anushka says, firmly, “you should go home. You need to go home.” Shahrukh stays turned away, and then turns back and asks “can I have a hug?” and kind of gestures so she understands what he means “hug?” Anushka grabs him and pulls him into a quick firm embrace, then shoves him away, only to pull him back again to a stronger embrace that lasts as it fades out.
I love this bit! The first part is okay, showing the immediate emotional reaction to Mayank’s reminder that they are about to separate. Shahrukh is trying to process it and has an outburst. Anushka is trying to ignore it and grabbing on to him. But after the initial emotion is over, that’s the important part.
Anushka is beginning to understand in a more intellectual way what she grasped by instinct during the “Radha” song, how very deep is Shahrukh’s “loneliness”. Her time with him is making her grow up, making her have a deeper sense of human relationships and emotions and all the things that she was too childish to grasp before. It’s an odd two part thing. Shahrukh is her guide in how to be an adult, taking her to places she never would have been before, forcing her to see the world in a new way. But he is also the goal of her changes, the reward waiting for her once she is an adult. In a different, lesser, film, this would be some creepy thing about an older man grooming a younger woman into what he wants. But no, the two things are clearly separated from each other in this movie. Anushka is growing up thanks to spending time with Shahrukh. But she is doing it for herself, not for him. Because of him, because he started something inside of her that makes her need to grow up and be what he needs, but not for him. She wants to help him, to love him, to save him, because that is what she wants for herself, it isn’t a sacrifice, it is what she needs herself. And she needs to turn into that person who can do that. So she is doing it, in her own way of stops and starts, forcing herself to rise to a series of occasions that each result in a surprising new level of maturity. But which keep her still herself, she isn’t turning into a different person “for” him, she is turning into a better version of herself so that she can help him.
And Shahrukh is reacting to that greater maturity, he can no longer hide from her, use her naivety to protect himself from his own feelings. That naivety had to be there in the beginning to suck him in, to trick him into letting her close because he thought he could control her. But now, now she is growing up and she is already so close to him and he can’t handle it. That’s why he has to turn away, knows she will understand what he means by finding a place. But is too ashamed to say it straight out, ready for her to judge him.
Poor Shahrukh! This is the heart of his issues, he doesn’t have a home to go back to. And he doesn’t think he deserves a home to go back to, he is ashamed of how he has come to live since then, sleeping for shelter. And Anushka, with her clear sight, sees that he isn’t a “womanizer”, he isn’t living the high life no matter how he may lie to himself, he is just sad and lonely. And he needs to go home.
But for me, it’s all about the hug moment. Shahrukh is so low that he doesn’t feel the right to just hug her, he has to ask, needing the comfort too much not to ask for it, but too ashamed to just take it. And Anushka knows that, that’s why she does the two hugs. The first is because he asked. But she shoves him away and pulls him back for a second hug to show that he doesn’t have to ask, he doesn’t have to feel ashamed, she loves him and wants to hold him just for herself, not because he asked.
And now we are in Prague! Music starts, white people music, and we see Shahrukh and Anushka at a strip club. Just a week earlier, Anushka would have been super uncomfortable at a place like this, and Shahrukh would have been super uncomfortable to be there with her. But now they don’t care. They are a team, oriented around each other, Shahrukh is comfortable with her anywhere, and Anushka is comfortable anywhere so long as she is with Shahrukh. And so it is no biggie for him to point out the woman they are looking for when she comes out to do her pole dance. And it is no biggie for Anushka to look at her, consider her seriously, and then decide that she “rates” a diamond ring.
Okay, two things. First, what the heck is up with the Playboy Clubs and Indian movies? They were thanked at the beginning of this film, so I assume this was filmed at one of their locations. And they were thanked at the beginning of Befikre too, and of course Ranveer helped promote the Playboy “logo” quite a bit in that film. Stick with me for a second, my father went to highschool with the former head of Playboy. Is it possible she heard through the grapevine that her old classmate’s daughter has a blog? And then found this blog, read it, realized that Hindi films present a product placement opportunity, called up her old company, and that’s why they have been aggressively pursuing it ever since? This completely makes sense! (Or, alternatively, is this just a very strange example of globalization, in which a company that is out of date and forgotten in the US is just beginning to be noticed in other places?)
Anyway, let’s go back to that “worth” thing. What is the word she is using??? From context, I can tell it isn’t exactly “worth” or “price” or “rate”. But it is something like that. Anushka is looking at other women and measuring herself against them and finding herself wanting. Something she has probably been doing her whole life, but is just now saying out loud. And saying it in front of someone who is hearing her, instead of ignoring her. It’s not just about sexiness, although that is part of it. She has been trained that a woman is an object with a certain value. She can add on to her value through her law degree, her singing training, and by always being sweet and obedient. But she knows there are other women out there who don’t have to try so much all the time, who men find valuable for other reasons. And she is trying to figure that out, to figure out how those women are different than her, and accepting that she can never have what they have. She tried, back in Amsterdam at that first club and the last time they were in Prague at the other club, and she failed. But now she has accepted that this woman is just better than her, she is “worth” a diamond ring, while Anushka is only “worth” hunting for the ring, her fiance won’t want her just for her, he needs her plus a diamond.
Okay, a bit of a short post! But I will try to go long tomorrow to make up for it. I am in a hurry to get through this bit and back to the parts where nothing/everything is happening.