Jab Harry Met Sejal Part 18: Phurr and Anushka’s Awakening

This is going to sound really silly, but what “Phurr” reminds me of the most is “Kwaja Mere Kwaja” from Jodha-Akbar.  Only with Diplo and sex instead of Rahman and God. (full index of JHMS posts here)

Previously, Basically Everything Happened!  Anushka is a spoiled innocent and Shahrukh is the tour guide her family hired to babysit her while she traveled around Europe looking for a lost ring.  After only a few days together, they are already in love without admitting it.  They pretend that it is just a game, that they are playing at being boyfriend and girlfriend, but as the time gets closer that they will have to part (they think they have tracked down the ring), the charade drops away.  Shahrukh bursts out that he can’t get used to this kind of closeness, and Anushka begs him/orders him to go back to the closest he has to a home, his apartment in Frankfurt that he has been avoiding for the past few years thanks to a bad break-up, and gives him absolution for all the things he felt he had done wrong.  And finally, in the middle of a stressful situation when they are being threatened late at night in the street, and think that as soon as they get out of this, they will get the ring and have to say good-bye, Shahrukh says the magic words that unlock Anushka’s full potential, tells her that she is “worth it”, that she is “layak”, someone a man would want to have sex with, worthy of being loved.



Only, then they don’t say good-bye!  They find out the woman, Natassha, who they thought had the ring, doesn’t actually have it.  Which means Anushka has given Shahrukh her farewell blessing (“go home”) and he has given her his (“you are worthy of being desired”), and now they are still with each other.  Their reaction isn’t dramatic, it is just kind of calmly trying to figure out where they go from here.  Literally uncharted territory, breaking off from the tour group path they have been retracing to fly to Portugal, where “Gas”, the criminal Natassha gave the ring to, lives.

And then there is one small revealing moment, one of the few moments when we get a glimpse into how Anushka’s mind works and what is happening back home.  She is on Skype with her sister, the same sister we saw casually talking with her right before she first really noticed Shahrukh back in Amsterdam, saw him arguing with an ex girlfriend and suddenly awoke to other possibilities.  Back then, she was talking with her in that long relaxed way you talk to someone when you don’t really have anything to say, you just are afraid of breaking the connection.  So long as she stayed in touch with her sister on Skype at all times, she wouldn’t really be “away”.  Later, we saw her briefly talk to her father over the phone, confirm that she is safe and Shahrukh is watching her.  That was him checking in, making sure she was still under control.  But neither of these conversations really felt joyful, felt like she wanted to be talking to the other person.  They were habit, or obligation, not a true connection.

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(True connection)

And now we have a different not a true connection moment.  Filmed in a really fun way.  Before, Anushka had perfect Skype manners.  Her earphones were in, her tablet was held just so away from her face, she was focused on the person talking to her.  Not super focused, no real connection like I said, but politely focused.  But now, we see her laying stretched out on the bed, hair falling over her face, arm falling in front of her, and the tablet lying next to her, not propped up, not so it can even see her.  And her older sister sounding slightly confused asking what’s happening, why isn’t she coming home yet.  And Anushka rolls her head back, hair still falling in her face, to say “I’m too sexy!  I’m on my honeymoon!”  Her sister gets even more worried, asks what about Rupen, Anushka says “I’m too sexy, even Rupen’s father would want me!”  And her sister really panics and asks “Where is Shahrukh?  Is he still with you?”  And Anushka responds “I’m honeymooning with him!” and hangs up.

So, let’s unpack all the interesting things here!  First, Anushka is doing such a great job of leading us into “Phurr” and her state of mind.  She is in a state of a strange kind of ecstasy.  Now that Shahrukh has affirmed her “worth”, that is all she needed to unlock her body, her mind, everything that makes her a woman, all at once.  She doesn’t care who she is talking to, what is going on around her, she is lost in her own self.  Her responses are filtered through this haze of change, she is hearing what her sister is saying on some level, enough to respond to it, but not enough for her responses to be the kind of thing her sister can understand or want to hear.

(Just wanted to put in a reminder that sister relationships don’t have to be like this.  I think we can assume that Anushka and her big sister were never that close, not really.  Probably a big age gap, her sister always saw her as kind of a responsibility more than a friend, and Anushka saw her as more of a scary adult than a compatriot)

And then there’s what this retroactively tells us about the past few days.  Timeline again!  She spoke with her sister in Amsterdam.  Her father in Prague.  Rupen the next morning in Prague.  But then they went to Budapest, and she didn’t call home.  And now they are in Prague again and she is finally responding to her sister’s call, but only because she doesn’t even care enough to avoid the call, her family can see her as she is now, anyone can see her as she is.  And her sister is worried.  This is what it took for them to be worried.  Not her traveling alone in Europe, not her engagement breaking up, but her not calling home or responding to her fiance for two days.  So long as they could talk to her, they knew she was under their control, still the same person they wanted her to be.  It was the radio silence that alarmed them.

And even now, we see how little they understand what is happening.  Her sister asks about Shahrukh as though (and someone in the comments pointed this out, I can’t take credit for it, if it was you, remind me and I will give you credit!) he is the designated adult.  Anushka seems to have lost her mind, but they can talk to Shahrukh, he is the reasonable responsible one they hired to handle her.  You can retroactively picture, I don’t know, Anushka having a tantrum in kindergarten and the family calling up her teacher and asking her to “fix” their daughter, to take care of it so they don’t have to worry or deal with it.  Anushka is the problem, not the person to be talked to about the problem, but the problem that the adults have to talk about over her head, figure out what to do.  I am sure this is also how they interact with Rupen, her father and her future husband and her sister getting together and talking her over.

(Toilet: a movie in which a woman’s issue was dealt with by a bunch of conversations between a man, his father, his brother, and his uncle-in-law)

And, even with Anushka straight out saying she is on honeymoon with Shahrukh, it still never occurs to her family that they could be falling in love!  It’s a special kind of blindness, a blindness to their daughter as potentially a sexual being, and a blindness to the possibility that she could ever see a servant as more than a servant.  Not just a servant, a Punjabi older servant.  “Punjabi” meaning not just a different ethnic background than theirs, but a different religion (even if they didn’t notice the bracelet or see the Ik Onkar tattoo, they could guess from his name) and most likely a farming middleclass background.  That’s why Imtiaz wanted him to be Punjabi too, I am sure, because of the unique kind of identity that is, with all these elements combined.  If she was traveling with a young upperclass Gujurati man, maybe they would actually worry.  But as it is, they just think she has lost her mind and needs to come home and be “fixed”, and that’s it.  The nice Punjabi servant they hired will follow their orders and they can talk to him and have him take care of it.

(Same “impossible!” combination that makes Gadar: Ek Prem Katha such a wonderful romance.  Because they have to look past sooooooooooo many differences and see the real person inside before they can fall in love)

And now let’s look at Anushka’s actual words!  Her first reaction is that she is “tooooooooo sexy!”  That’s the straight forward translation of what is happening with her.  She is suddenly feeling powerful and sexual and perfect.  All those things she has been searching for have come to her all at once.  And yes, it is to feel “sexy”.  But it is more than that, it is a comfort in her body and with herself, to finally feel like she doesn’t have to try, she doesn’t have to be anything besides what she is.

And then there is the “even Rupen’s father wants me!” comment.  Which has sooooooooooo many layers!  First, there’s the standard slang meaning, to add on “even your father” is an almost meaningless phrase to add slightly insulting emphasis.  It’s a slangy casual insulting way of talking that the “old” Anushka would never have used about Rupen, or to her older sister.

Second, there’s what the slang meaning means.  Anushka’s reaction to Rupen wanting her to come home is to toss off a comment about how sexy she is and how much he wants her.  She doesn’t care to talk seriously or take him seriously, even Rupen has just become an element in her own self-discovery.

And then finally there’s the truth of it.  Which is what her sister is reacting to.  Because, yeah!  Rupen’s Dad probably does want her, on some level.  She is the perfect proper daughter-in-law, the whole family was involved in picking her out for their son, and Anushka is cutting right through that pretense, that she and Rupen have a “romantic engagement”, that this is anything more than an arrangement between their families, with his father having at least as much involvement in picking her out as he did.  Only Anushka, and all innocent proper young girls, are so trained to be blind to their own desires and the desires of others so that they can be the sacrificial lambs.  Picked out by mothers and fathers for their sons because they seem pure and young and fertile, handed over on their wedding nights to the husbands with no idea what is happening.  And Anushka is pulling the curtain off of that.  She is sexual and has desires and is worthy of being desired, and Rupen knows that and his father knows it and so does everyone else, and she has just now realized it.

(You see the odd way Amitabh is kind of wooing Rani on behalf of his son?  That’s what I mean by the truth of the “so sexy even Rupen’s father wants me” comment.)

And then there’s the honeymoon comment.  And you know, she is on her honeymoon!  I realized when we were going back and forth in the comments on the last post about Anushka’s probably sexual experience and how she would be handed off on her wedding night with no knowledge, expected to somehow rise to the occasion.  Well, that’s kind of what happened!  She and Shahrukh were strangers.  After “Radha”, they had the kind of strange strong bond you might expect from a wedding ceremony.  Heck, she was even dressed in red!  They spent a day getting to know each other, another night together, another day, and now he has awakened her to all her sexual desires at once, made her fully “ready”.  This is a perfect honeymoon for an arranged marriage, for a girl like Anushka.  Shahrukh is slowly breaking down her fears and insecurities, and now she is blossoming, ready for their life to begin.

And, although this isn’t important right now in this section, it is also a honeymoon for Shahrukh.  To enjoy his perfect worshipful bride, who is there to make him happy, to care for him, to build him up and make him better.  This is the kind of marriage he would have dreamed about as a young man, a woman who has endless faith in him, care for him, builds her life around him and only for him.  And who he can care for, give him a reason to get up in the morning, be a better man, do good things in the world.

It’s hidden in their interactions, the fighting and complaining and all of that, it looks like a very “untraditional” love story.  But it isn’t, not really.  Two people thrown together by fate who come to an understanding, a woman who just needs her man and a man who just needs the love of a good woman.

(And now I want to watch Roja again!  She lives and wants only her husband even after only a few weeks/days together, and he finds his greatest strength by thinking of her)

And now, finally, “Phurr”!  The actual song.  We go from Anushka hanging up on her sister to Shahrukh eating pizza on the floor and watching a soccer match on the TV, while Anushka pretends to pull dance.  She has a big smile on her face.  He looks mildly amused, and plays along, pretending to throw dollar bills at her.

Out of context, in the trailer, it looks like the most regressive disgusting male fantasy ever, a bored guy watching sports and drinking beer and eating pizza while a beautiful woman gyrates in front of him.  But it’s not Shahrukh’s fantasy, it’s Anushka’s.  That’s why he looks amused but not that interested.  He is playing along to make her happy, but it’s not what he wants from her most.  He would be just as happy sitting there eating pizza and watching TV with her sitting next to him, or doing anything with her sitting next to him.  It’s Anushka who is enjoying the new confidence in her body, the moves that are sexual, but still her, still her awkward joyful enthusiasm.  And dressed like she would dress, sweatpants and a t-shirt.  Sexy, yes, but not “dress-up” clothes, just what she would be wearing anyway to sit there and eat pizza.

Let’s take a second for that pizza and the sweatpants.  Remove the pole dance from it, this is a long time couple hanging out.  No need for a fancy dinner or doing karaoke any more, it’s a good night just at home with take out in slumpy clothes.  I can’t imagine Shahrukh doing any of this with Klara or any of his other women, just enjoying being with them and not doing anything in particular.  And I really can’t imagine Anushka doing this with Rupen, or anyone else in her life.  Being this happy to just stay home and be real, be in sweats and sitting on the floor, let alone the whole silly pole dance part of it.  This isn’t what proper good girls do, they have cute little bed clothes (like we saw in her first hotel scene) and wear them while they carefully take on and off nail polish while talking with their sisters.  And even that kind of behavior would be kept for the sister, once a husband comes along, you would never be like that.

So this is Anushka now.  So happy with herself, and so completely caught up in herself and in Shahrukh.  She needs nothing else than what is in this room.  And Shahrukh knows that and is willing to give her whatever she needs from him.

Which brings us to the rest of the song.  Brilliantly conceived, Anushka is listening on headphones to the song we are hearing on the soundtrack.  And Shahrukh is carrying the ipod/tablet/whatever is playing it in his bag.  She is literally attached to him, listening to the music he is playing her.  It is a modern day version of Krishna’s flute calling Radha.

Image result for krishna radha flute

(See?  But with an ipod and a Diplo)

It’s also a fairly explicit marriage reference.  The bride and groom tied together as they circle the marriage fire.  Only in this case, the circles are through the streets of Portugal.  And the tie isn’t a scarf, but a headphone cord.

But most of all, it’s what it means for these two characters.  Anushka is lost in an ecstasy that Shahrukh has given her, and he is taking care of her while she is in that state.  Gently guiding her this way and that, giving her the bag and sliding her down stairway for a moment, taking her through a crowd and briefly removing the headphones so they can dance together.  And so he can dance for her, in the middle of the celebration of the crowd, he does a Bhangra just for her, and then brings her in and teaches her how to dance.

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(See how happy she gets when he dances?  that’s why he does it)

I talked way back in the “Radha” section about what happens when Anushka is happy.  Shahrukh gets strangely calm.  Grounded, smiling, competent and content.  His problem was that he was too emotional, too unhinged and sensitive and all of that.  Anushka’s was that she wasn’t emotional enough, wrapped in cotton wool and protected from feeling anything inside of herself.  And Shahrukh has fixed that for her, now she is lost in herself, and he is out of himself, focused on her.

There’s the practical part of this song too.  We see them going through a town, driving, on a beach, and Anushka in two separate outfits.  They were told that “Gas”, the man they are looking for, travels between two different towns.  So, presumably, they went to town A first, then rented a car and drove to town B.  And Anushka changed clothes somewhere along the way.

We only see a snatch of the car ride, but it is a nice snatch.  Shahrukh is driving, acting like that hired tour guide he used to be to her.  But she is a different person now, stretched out in the backseat, reaching her feet forwards to that driver, crossing the invisible line between driver and passenger.  In her slightly different outfit than before, even more comfortable for the car ride.

HATE her clothes her, by the way!  Love them for what they say about the character, just think they are ugly for themselves.  The first outfit isn’t bad, tiny white overalls with a tiny white shirt underneath.  I’m not terribly fond of the tiny overall look, but I can live with it.  And the character meaning is perfect.  Anushka has, finally, found her casual happy sexual place.  All along she has worn pants and short dresses, it’s something she likes.  And now she is no longer trying to be more adult than she feels, to be anything besides what she feels.  Overalls could have a youthful look, something she would have veered away from just a couple days earlier when she was so focused on being mature and adult and impressing Shahrukh.  But now she is just herself, and overalls are comfortable.  And practical.  She finally matches Shahrukh’s look.  His sneakers and light shirt complimented by her sneakers and easy to move outfit.  She was on the way in Budapest, in that day time outfit of jeans and boots and knit hat, but now she has finally arrived, she is wearing what makes her feel free and happy.  And the white shows us, in the audience, that.  She has been reborn pure and happy.  And, for the first time, she also matches Shahrukh perfectly, both in pure white.

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(The overalls also allow for this cute little moment where she is no longer ashamed of her body, but also not treating it sexually, just as a funny thing that she can show off0

And then there’s the other outfit.  Which is just UGLY!!!  White short shorts with strange blue spangles all over them.  Sleeveless peasant blouse looking thing.  And another shirt tied around her waist.  Great for the character though.  It’s kind of consciously ugly.  Not in the way her first nightclub outfit in Amsterdam was ugly, where you could see she didn’t know what she was doing and what she wanted.  But like she liked the blue spangles, and the peasant blouse was lightweight, and the shirt around her waist was handy if she got chilly, and that’s all she was thinking about.  It’s the clothes she wanted to wear, so she is wearing them.  And they don’t even feel like clothes, she feels naked in them.  That’s in how she is moving, feeling the air around her, stretching her arms out, waving in the breeze.  She is light and free and open to everything.  Floating in the wind like the scarf she borrowed from a dancer in the streets and ties round her wrist.  Not properly round her neck, not draped like a dupatta, but free on her wrist.  The clothes make no sense to an outside observer, but they aren’t supposed to make sense to anyone else, they are what she wants to wear.

And then we get to the end of the song.  The really strange end.  Anushka walks along the beach stretching to the wind, and sees Shahrukh standing in front of her stretching his arms (I assume this is supposed to be right after the car ride).  Anushka sees him and walks up to him and starts massaging his back.  He reaches back for her, not clear if he is going to grab her and pull her closer, or push her farther back.  But either way, she takes control, knocking his arms away and making him just stand there and take it while she massages him.  Later, in “Ghar”, we will see a second half to this moment, her flipping him around to face her and reaching out to massage his face for him.

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Let me go back to that “Kwaja Mere Kwaja” comparison I started with.  Sufiism (should there be two “i”s?), Shakers, Quakers, all kinds of religious traditions have the idea of the divine state brought on by music.  It brings you to a higher consciousness, changes you.  That’s what is happening to Anushka here.  This musical moment is her slowly growing on the inside, like that kind of fever coma that comes before you are cured from sickness, or the way newborns sleep aaaaaallllllllllll the time because they are using so much energy just adjusting to the world.  She had to retreat from reality for a bit, let Shahrukh take care of her while she went through this.  But now she has come out the other end.  And waiting for her, in front of her, is Shahrukh.  Her destiny, her reward, the thing she has been working herself towards without knowing until now (and maybe not entirely knowing even now) that she was working towards it.  Think of it as the vision after a spirit quest.  In a sudden light, she sees him anew and knows that is what her whole life is about.

And she is ready for it now.  That’s why she is slapping him away, taking control.  She doesn’t want him to take care of her, she wants to take care of him now.  It’s her turn to be in charge, she isn’t a little girl anymore, she is done growing up.


40 thoughts on “Jab Harry Met Sejal Part 18: Phurr and Anushka’s Awakening

  1. I really like that Sejal said “I am too sexy” and not “I am feeling” or “I have become”. Those words mean that she is, was and always will be sexy. Just as she is. But that she has *REALIZED* it for the first time.

    I also want to disagree with you that her pole dancing is awkward. She does a fabulous job of it. She looks amazing. Harry HAS TO BE faking his boredom and she knows it cause when he throws those invisible dollar bills at her she’s all like “yeah right” (I think thats her expression! I am going to see it again tomorrow- will confirm)

    I usually don’t observe clothes in movies except to think which of the outfits I would like to recreate for myself 😛 But since I read what you said I thought about it cause I loved both her white outfits and loved how she looked in them.

    Her two outfits in phurr are similar (in a way) to the first two outfits that she wore but are sooooooo much more casual, she’s “na trying” (to use Meera’s words 😀 LOL) She’s almost become as grungy as Harry. The white overalls are *functionally* similar to that jumpsuit she wears in the first night club, Its a top and bottom that’s joined together but its not something she’s over-accessorized and she’s not looking mental.(I love that first glitzy jumpsuit though I just think its not for Sejal at that moment is all)

    The second outfit is teeny tiny like that red dress but its functional and again, grungy, no longer a touch-me-not princess wearing pastel colored clothes. (I love those shorts tho 😛 WANNNT!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • What I like about her pole dancing is that it isn’t super complicated or graceful. She didn’t magically become a different person, she just learned how to be confident.

      I hate the two outfits as outfits, but I love how she looks in them too! So free and happy and able to move. I love that Shahrukh’s character always wears sneakers, even when he is in the tie in tour guide mode, because he is all about being able to move. And now she is the same way, on the move, in practical clothes. I wouldn’t wear her outfits, but they are similar to what I wear when I am on vacation, a little grungier than normal clothes, something you can walk in for 6 hours, or fall asleep in the back of a car, and you don’t car as much what you look like because no one you meet will ever see you again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Of course, she hasn’t become a professional. She’s just a sexxy wife spicing it up a bit for her husband 😉

        And I love both those outfits. I am a bit of a grunge-y person 🙂 Shorts, superhero tshirts and sneakers are my jam! 😀 I loved that dungaree she wore. Need to find it!

        Her dancing reminded me weirdly of this Socrates quote:

        “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • That Socrates quote is really good. That’s what the movie is about for her, integrating her body as a part of herself, instead of something to be controlled and ignored and a little bit ashamed of.

          And isn’t it great how they transition to feeling like “husband” and “wife” somewhere invisibly here? She called herself his “girlfriend” when talking to Klara just a little bit ago, and they were acting all giggly and silly like boyfriend-girlfriend. And now it’s changed, from now on they feel more like a married couple. A very happy and in love married couple, but still married.

          On Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 8:10 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


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          • Yes! This pole dance scene is when the beginning of their husband-wife level comfort with each other.

            God. can’t wait to watch it again tomorrow!!


            Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, Margaret, this entry is perfection! You pick up on so many threads and pull them together. Do you make an outline or just write all this straight out? Either way, I’d love to borrow your brain for a while.

    I think you said, just before Ae Dil Hai Mushkil came out, that Anushka has grown into an actress that you trust to make the right choices for any character, in any story. She shines so beautifully in this movie, and these scenes are some of her best. And Shah Rukh really is at his best, most in character, and least “starry” with charismatic women actors.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll release the film version of Phurrr as a video because it is such a perfect representation of ecstasy and connection. I hadn’t thought about Harry calmly guiding her through this raw part of her journey. That is so true!

    The moment on the beach when she pushes Harry’s arms away is so incredible. She’s telling him, “No, you just stand there, just exist, and feel what it feels like to be loved, to be cared for” (by someone as awesome as me–her new esteem adds). He must feel like someone being offered cool clean water after walking across a desert. No wonder he’s so scared.


    • I just write straight out. Hate outlines! They always make me want to rebel against them.

      Yes! That’s what his face is at the end! Scared. Scared and confused by what is happening.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry if I’m posting too much on these JHMS threads. I just haven’t liked a movie this much in YEARS. This interview with Imtiaz just came up in my Twitter feed. You and many of the commenters here have really picked up on his wavelength about Sejal’s journey. I hope one day he reads your analysis! 🙂


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

  5. Your costume notes are spot on. I have not been chiming in so much because I am traveling again this week. Just short jaunts, but less access. I have been reading and enjoying, though. This is a movie that will become a classic, for Imtiaz, Anushka and Shahrukh. Critics who called it shallow were just looking in a mirror.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That “Shallow just looking in a mirror” line, that is EPIC SHADE!!! I may have to borrow it frequently.

      On Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 8:07 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  6. Would you mind expanding a bit more on the beach scene? Somehow I felt the scene was cut short, and might even have had dialogues at some point. The way I saw it was more of him having mentioned, maybe while driving in the car, that he was tired or that he had a headache and his body was aching. Which obviously leads to her sort of shoving him against the railing and giving him a massage. And also the flashback of massaging his forehead and the almost kiss. But there are two moments that intrigued me. While she’s massaging him, he grabs her behind and pulls her flush against him for a few moments before she pries his hands away and puts them back on the railing. Harry’s expression when he pulls her against him is of pure eroticism. (I wish I could post a screen shot) The kind of pleasure you’re looking for and enjoy after a tired day. I would like to know what he was going through during this scene…his perspective. And then when she pushes him away but still ends up hugging him from behind, he has this expression. Again, I would love to know what you guys think he was going through during these moments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That moment when he grabs her, it is more aggressively sexual than I think we have seen him be with her before. They’ve hugged, held hands, he’s grabbed her before from behind on the bridge and jokingly after the Klara scene. But to take her like this, pulling her close up behind him by her bottom, not her waist, that’s sexual and nothing else. It’s not about comfort or closeness or control of her somehow. And that’s the end of “Phurr”, she is a fully grown woman now and his body knows it and is giving him permission to do things with her that he would never have done before.

      His expression, to me, is kind of scared and kind of thoughtful. I think he is realizing that he wanted something from her, that moment when he grabbed her was thoughtless, but now he is thinking about it. And he is puzzling over her taking control and taking care of him. Trying to understand what she is doing, and why she is doing it. not that it is complicated, just that he is so unused to someone doing something just for him and wanting nothing in return. I think if there were dialogue, it would be something simple like him saying “What are you doing?” and her saying “taking care of you”.

      At least, that’s my take on it! I’m curious what other people think as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I like that. It was almost thoughtless and based on primal instinct. On her part, she seemed to be the one who wanted to be in control of touching and doing whatever she wanted to him. I think his expression at the end was also about wondering if and how far she would let him go if he wanted to take control (like he almost did moments ago).

        Liked by 1 person

        • I like the “primal instinct” comment. As we saw in that little moment in the Amsterdam club, he is a very practiced seducer, I don’t think he loses control of himself very often. She has been making him do that all along, starting with when he couldn’t stop looking at her legs in the hotel room. But now it is almost out of control, and the upcoming scene will be the two of them giving in to their desires because they can’t stop themselves. Until he does stop it, not because it would be “wrong”, but because he wants even more to do it the “right” way. And she is out of control here in a different way, she is not only touching him, she is no longer willing to follow his lead in how this happens.

          I wonder if his expression at the end is also about wondering how far she wants him to go, how far she wants to go. He ends up choosing to be passive, to let her take the lead until the moment ends.

          On Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 9:48 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 2 people

  7. I just read a report that JHMS is doing really well in the overseas markets. Maybe Western audiences are more used to watching movies that deal more with character studies. I do think this movie will become more popular with time. Looking forward to the next scene.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shahrukh generally does better overseas than at home. Or, rather, does consistently overseas. Everything since K3G I think has been golden in the overseas market, even when it goes up and down at home. Because us overseas fans keep the faith better 🙂

      No, really, I think he has done a better job than any other Indian star in reaching out to the overseas market, both NRIs and others, making public appearances, giving interviews, tweeting us, etc. etc. And he is reaping the benefit, we are very loyal to him. Well, and he also knows us enough to know what we will like.

      Based on the last box office figures I saw, JHMS isn’t doing spectacular overseas, it’s dropping quite a bit in the 3rd week. But it opened very well, which is even more important overseas than at home since overseas theaters are less likely to hold a film over. At least in America, Yash Raj got the distribution rights, I am sure they are very happy with their profit.

      On Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 9:16 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sejal taking the lead now also in their love life was what came into my mind with the first pictures in Lisbon…
    Klara happened and Sejal had no problem to put her out of action…Nastassja happens and Sejal gets the attestation that she is a very attractive woman – at least for Harry more attractive than Nastassja with her sexy dance moves, her sexy outfit and her self-assured demeanour.

    I agree with you, Margaret, that it is due to the emotionally stressful situation they are/Harry is in (the threatening goons, the prospect of Sejal leaving for India) that Harry gives that statement…and coming from Harry it elates Sejal…the man she perceives as a connoisseur of women utters such a compliment in a matter-of-fact way! In her enthusiasm about her new status as an desirable woman she gets all jittery and elated. It’s like having achieved something you have long dreamt of…she feels the magic of a dream comes true! From now on everybody would see her as an attractive woman worth to be wanted.

    I think the fact that the man who told her that will still be able to stay with her (no ordering anymore), makes her happines going overboard. Her joy is really infectious. Well…not to her family (and would to be family) who does not even get a mildly reassuring word. On the other hand, Harry becomes the kind and accepting witness of her happiness.
    I believe that at this time she does not think of lovemaking with Harry in a concret way…it may linger in her like the butterflies which do not flutter but are there in all their beauty.
    I see that she just feels happy in her body, happy to be with Harry and she teases him in a very cute way, in the hotelroom, on the streets in Lisbon while dancing, during the car ride to the sea. She is settled in a new house, a new bodyfeeling, a new ‘avatar’ (maybe, at home, she would go into a temple to say thank you…in Portugal it’s the beach and she gives her thank you to Harry).

    Honeymoon…oh yes, this journey has now turned and will further turn into a honeymoon. Portugal…Lisbon…unknown territory for both of them which they will discover both at the same time. Harry would not lead her to places, they would look for places together. Harry would not be a tour guide anymore, would not have had a woman there…it would be virgin territory.
    Sejal bursts with joy of life…

    And Harry? He feels calm inside…a calm that comes from an emotional satisfaction…some sort of platonic love…seeing this wonderful woman so happy and youthful and enthusiastic makes him younger, fills him with energy…yet his butterflies have not calmly settled, they beautifully flap their light wings. Sejal touching him in a certain way reminds him over and over again that he lives a dream he’ll be not able to realize. When he stretches his muscles at the beach, the kind of reverse-position to the one in Amsterdam the night she had followed him completely takes him by surprise and her hands clearly kneading his strained shoulders like a caring wife would do makes him spontneously do a gesture he would do to a beloved wife in this situation. When she puts his hands back on the railing, realization clicks in…

    It is not Harry’s Honeymoon, it’s Sejal’s and she dosn’t yet feel as his wife (so I would not give this level the name husband-wife, I would prefer to see it as a transition: Harry already almost on the husband level, Sejal still friend level but going continiously to ‘friend with benefit’ level.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really like your interpretation of the moment at the beach. Anushka is acting like a wife, but is not yet fully read for Shahrukh to act like her husband. She wants to give comfort, but isn’t ready to receive it just yet. This whole song, like you say, is her “teasing” him. But she doesn’t necessarily want him to react fully just yet. Another way that the pole dancing scene sets the stage, she wants that bored relaxed attitude from him just then, she wants to dance for him, but doesn’t want him to touch her. It isn’t until, once again, they confront the possibility of saying good-bye that she is fully ready to give and take from him.

      On Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 3:03 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

        • Sorry for the double post, Margaret…just a question: is there a possibility to edit some mistakes, because I just noticed tht I wrote “her hands” instead of “his hands”…a certain fatigue? (kid’s anniversary 😉 )


          • No way for you to do it (part of the whole spam filter/approving comments/blocking people tools are that you as a user can’t go in and change things in your comment after I have approved it. Believe me, you don’t want the alternative! So many Viagra ads!). But I can do it for you! One sec, I will fix that.


  9. I was confused by the beach “grabbing her from behind, being pushed away but hugged anyway” scene. She sees to be rejecting an advance but then hugs him her way. I agree with much of what was said above but it still gives me a bad feeling in that she is teasing him in a way. She is saying, ‘find me sexy, but don’t be too overtly sexual with me.” I think the moment in bed when he chooses not to have sex with her and she says that he is wrong about himself, most men in his position would, is the culmination of these other moments. Maybe she wants to show him that he can have those feelings AND the other kind of loving feelings at the same time. If that is the case, her actions at the ‘chill’ moment after the wedding when she asks him, “Why are you ruining this?” and he says “we have to ruin this; we have to stop play acting husband and wife.” are unkind. It is unkind of her to give him so much and in the very same breath remind him that of course she is leaving. I do think she HAS to do this because she HAS to go home to see that Rupen and that life is over. But it is a very cruel moment to Harry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As I see it (and of course you can always disagree!), Anushka is not aware enough of what is happening to be consciously cruel in any of those situations, or other times in the film. So in the beach scene, she is lost in her own head in a bit, not totally aware of what her body is doing or what message she is sending. Shahrukh grabs her, but she doesn’t want that just then, she wants to comfort him, to hold him for a bit. If she was more aware, she might have been more gentle about it, said “no”, or gently pushed his hands away and just held him. But since she isn’t fully conscious of what she is doing, she is more aggressive, knocks him away and grabs him hard from behind.

      And in the same way, in the bed scene, I think she is just saying what she feels in the moment, that Shahrukh thinks he is lesser but in fact his actions prove what a decent person he is. I think she is removed from what happened a second earlier, any sense of rejection of herself or her own desires, and just thinking about the here and now when he is once again punishing himself after having done the right thing.

      And for the last scene (which I will be getting to sometime, maybe this weekend?) in my memory, it is Shahrukh who seems to start the “game” up again first. She gives her speech, and then he is the one who suggests chilling on the terrace. Only to switch again a moment later and say that the game is over. He is the one taking the lead through out this section, he listens when she starts to talk to Mayank, clearly encouraging her to work this out for herself without thinking about him, he switches back to the “game” when they are alone, and then he breaks the game and gets emotional. Anushka is left to run along behind, trying to follow his moods. In the end, she is the one who pushes, who begs him to say what he wants, and his response is that love will hurt for a bit but she will get over it. I saw it as him manipulating her into being cruel, if that makes sense. He gives her no other option than to leave, and she gives him every opportunity to ask her to stay, whether it is while she is working it out (he could have said “what if vacation is a real life?” after she finished that speech), or later during the game (she suggests further travel, he could have gone along with that), or during the raw emotional part, he could have just answered what she was asking him, what does he want?

      On Thu, Aug 24, 2017 at 3:45 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      • I think Harry had allowed himself to get carried away with the game while enjoying the wedding and he’s so happy to hear Sejal talk about how she hasn’t been this happy in her entire life. It comes crashing down back to reality when Sejal very clearly says this is not real life for her and she doesn’t see it as being impactful in the long run because her real life is Rupen, Mumbai, family, and the business.

        She didn’t sound confused or conflicted. She sounded like she had put it together in her brain that this was a holiday romance, a spring fling, a ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ sort of thing. She’s so consumed in her own situation that she’s not cognizant at all about what Harry is going through. I definitely think her spoiled/selfish streak is coming out here because she is doing this thoughtlessly. It doesn’t even occur to her that it’s not just about her – there is another person involved in this.

        I felt the same when she pushed his arms away when he tried to hold her. This is her own journey and she doesn’t want to take his reactions into consideration, at least not yet. She wants to cling to him as she’s been doing since the beginning but when that affects his behavior, she wants him to back off. It’s just odd thoughtless behavior on her part.

        I think Harry was ticked off right after her answer about this not being real but covered it up to pretend to chill with her. It seemed like he was trying to figure out how long she is planning on playing around with her before she leaves. Even though she’s already accepted that it’s not real and will go back home to Rupen, she STILL wants to continue traveling. Now he can’t control his rage and lets out his anger. She can’t keep playing him any longer because he can’t take it anymore and wants her to stop the BS and go home now.

        It’s only after seeing his anger that she seemed to recognize that she’s not the only person in this. Up to then, she was in her own world. I feel like in an imaginary sequel, after they get married, these are the issues they would be dealing her – her selfish and spoiled streak and his tendency to shut off and brood when something doesn’t go right. Love can make you better but it doesn’t erase your nature completely.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I wonder, is this focus on Anushka’s responsibility and flaws part of the way we can tell this really is her journey more than his? Like you say, Shahrukh has a tendency to shut off and brood, while Anushka has a hard time seeing an alternative perspective to her own. But it is Anushka’s flaws, her childishness and lack of concern for others, that are clearer to the audience. Is that because her entire character is clearer to us? Or at least the thing we find more intriguing to consider and determine?

          Anyway, I think you nailed it with that last fight coming from their conflicting personalities. Her ability to deny deny deny, push things under the rug if she doesn’t want to deal with them, mixes in a dangerous way with his brooding. While she is in denial, he has been working through it all on his own and making decisions. And by the time he forces her to confront what is happening, he is already so locked in his own decision that he isn’t able to listen to her (delayed) reaction. All along he’s been 2 steps ahead of her emotionally and she’s been running to catch up. Until the end when the wedding deadline forces them both into synch. But I am sure you are right, the same thing is going to happen over and over again for the rest of their lives, he will work through a whole thing inside himself and not tell her what is happening until he has already made his decision, and then she is going to have to run to catch up and figure out what he really means. Which feels very realistic for a relationship with an age gap, and one where one of the partners has spent so much time alone.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Completely agree with anon here. In the beginning of the conversation at the door with Mayank, Harry is leaning close to her, his arms open holding both ends of the door, the moment she says this was a dream, but my reality is in bombay, he moves away from her and leans on the other side of the door.

          He then says lets go to the balcony and have a drink (And I think he meant that its to discuss what she just said) And she is so thoughtless that she’s like “how did you know I wanted to do exactly this? Chill on the balcony?” And he very ruefully says “That is the problem isn’t it, that I know?” she giggles it away and sits down, again he starts the topic “So what next? We are searching for the ring right?” (I think he meant it rhetorically and of course she answers it literally!!) She’s all “where did we go next? switzerland?

          He’s given her enough time to get to the horrible thing she said at the door, but she is too childish to even acknowledge it, and he loses his temper. and rightly so.

          And after what she said at the door about this being a dream and her reality back home if she thinks he is going to tell her what HE wants in those exact words she has another thing coming. He does say passive aggressive things like I know my place, I know exactly how much I am allowed to dream, etc but he wont explicitly ask her to stay back. Because he shouldn’t. Not after the way she dismissed everything they shared, and that too in front of the only friend he has!

          Harry is doing all the emotional labour in this relationship, and has been doing so right from the beginning, despite warning her again and again that it will go wrong, she refuses to acknowledge her part in it. He had to get tired at some point, anyone who is THAT emotional and THAT lonely will get tired of all this work, especially after being told that what he’s working so hard for is in fact just a break from real life for the other person.

          Liked by 2 people

          • This is beautifully put, P.

            One of the most interesting things to me about all of our conversation threads on JHMS is the widely varying interpretations of Sejal’s internal state. We seem to mostly agree on the broad strokes of her personality and journey, but disagree on the timing and pace of her awakening, her growing up, her learning what it means to really love and care for Harry specifically, and her ownership and conscious use of her sexuality. Whereas we seem to agree much more often on Harry’s internal state and how it relates to his external actions.

            I’m chalking this up to Imtiaz writing a wonderful, complex, female character. That happens so rarely!

            Liked by 1 person

          • I am so glad this scene comes late in the film! Because it means before I write about it, I get to have lots and lots and lots of conversations about it and kind of prepare myself. I think I will be sticking with my interpretation, but I’ll probably put in some alternative versions as well, and we can all fight it out in the comments as to which makes the most sense for each of us.

            On Fri, Aug 25, 2017 at 6:00 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


            Liked by 2 people

          • I don’t think its wrong for him to do the emotional labour in the relationship, don’t get me wrong. Its always the case in a relationship that one person feels more, is more affectionate, is the emotional sustenance, and that’s fine. But that person needs to be rewarded in practical terms as well for all that work.

            And even if she had to go back, she took away the one thing that he thought was his reward, that happy family life, she broke the illusion in the presence of his friends, without even talking to him about it, she could have easily told Mayank, I need to think about it and me and Harry need to have a conversation about this. He would have been ok with that. But for her to DECIDE on both their behalfs that this is just a dream and not reality and she has no doubts about going back to that reality: 1) It negates any future question she might ask from him (why should she answer when she has so confidently made her choice?) 2) It negates all their experiences so far, makes him feel cheap and used, he was a tour guide of places before, now he’s been used as a tour guide of emotions/growing up/sexual worth and maybe that’s even worse? 3) makes him feel like less of a man, since this woman is deciding everything for him, so far she was doing it like a wife would, but now she’s doing it like a boss would, and he’s always hated his boss/clients.

            But later of course he realizes that this is not a one-way relationship like he has with his boss and clients, this is a two-way relationship. He CAN have a say too. He can do what he wants too. (Last conversation with mayank). He even describes her as “ill-mannered, childish, tomboy-ish, who would have thought that she would be the one who would do that which I was afraid would happen, always hoped I would never feel this way, that I would never feel that affection for anyone, that no one should become my home, but now its happened.”

            Its more beautiful in Hindi, “Badtameez thi, jhalli, kaun kehsakta tha na ki iske saath woh hoga, jiska darr tha. Hamesha darr tha, laad na aa jaye, ghar na ban jaye, par ho gaya to ho gaya.”

            Mayank tries to convince him that now its too late as she’s getting married the next day!

            “So what?? I’ll go and tell her, then let her get married after I’ve said my piece. I had anyway told her that I’ll be attending her wedding”

            Again, he performs the emotional and even physical labour but she has a great reward waiting for him 🙂 And that makes it all worth it. Hopefully it continues to be that way for the rest of their married life. Not that I ship them or anything, I ship Ved and Tara ❤ but I want Harry to be happy and I think Sejal will be good for him.

            @procrastinatrix I vacillate between hating her and being amused by her- I think that's why you would find multiple interpretations on Sejal. Its based on how much most women would identify with her or not. I don't identify with her kind of woman at all, but I think I understand her, I do respect her for the decisions she takes, but I think she has a cruel sarcastic streak(which many men and women have- a lot of times unintentionally through cultural osmosis!) which hopefully Harry has softened 🙂


  10. I think Harry’s assertion that Sejal is better really hit home for her. When a woman is found beautiful (worthy) sexy, she feels she is. Now Sejal’s confidence rises to the point of dancing a sexy dance for Harry, massaging him and taking liberties she wouldn’t have felt confident about before. She’s growing by leaps and bounds and yes, it really can happen that fast. Especially, when a man like Harry, attractive, sexy and seemingly self assured, finds her attractive, she feels she must be.


    • Yes! The speed of it all is what I find most realistic and also special. This is kind of silly, but you know what it reminds me of? The babies who want to walk or crawl and their mother’s are holding them back. As soon as they are set down on the ground, they just take off. Anushka is a grown woman with a grown woman’s desires and body and everything else. She has been held back by her family and society, forced to stay young and childish and innocent. But as soon as she is set down, freed, she takes off at great speed.

      On Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 1:46 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



        • So Harry would be that toddler who keeps falling down and banging his knees and self-soothing and then pulling himself back up again, because his mother hasn’t noticed and grabbed him and made him take a nap.

          On Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 2:00 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  11. Just a thought that comes my way because of you SillySundayPost today, Margaret…it’s about dominance.
    Sejal shows – throughout the film – that she has no qualms to make clear what she wants (when she knows what she wants). That makes her a strong woman, a focussed woman, a reliable woman – a woman that has nothing to do with the image her family gave her to herself. These qualities were in her when she did not let Harry slip away with his excuses, where shown in her resolve to learn about “what makes a woman attractive for men”. I still think that initially Harry was meant as a convenient means to an end, the end being a seductive wife to Rupen (THAT would finally be something he would not admonish). However, some (true) things Harry said about Rupen, his honest attempts to protect her and the way he cared for her although being annoyed by her changed her motivation to be with Harry from one moment to the other,,,she really wanted to be with him, with Harry (Rupen? who is Rupen?…gosh! yes, there is Rupen! *rainbow bubble bursts*).
    I like that Imtiaz imagined a woman who thinks/wishes she could control ‘anything, anywhere, anytime, anybody’ but learns that she don’t have to think this way and still can display her strengths.


    • I am still resisting Sejal as ever having a “plan” in any way, beyond a moment to moment sort of leap on instinct. But with that feeling, I understand what you are saying, at first there is just a sort of amorphous sense of “other women have something I do not, perhaps this is my chance to find that thing and return to my boyfriend in a stronger position”. Only that is quickly changed to “I think I have something inside of myself that I need to explore and I think this man can help me”. And then to “this thing in myself is growing stronger and stronger and it is yearning towards him as it grows.”

      On Sun, Sep 10, 2017 at 12:12 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  12. To me, the scene on the beach is Sejal’s act slipping a bit as she remembers this is all about to end. Imtiaz gives us these steady beats of sadness that build – when they say goodbye to Mayank on the train, then the hug on the train, then this, then the fado scene, then the yelling at the cliffs. In between, they go back to playing their partnered roles, they’re happy together, they’re on an adventure, but every so often the reality that the end is getting closer intrudes. (I’ve been in this situation in real life, I told my then boyfriend I was leaving the country four months before I left, and it seemed at the time he wouldn’t come with me. It’s this weird tight rope act where you want to get the most out of the time you have left, you want to enjoy all the good parts about being together, but every so often you can’t help but look down, and the sadness of the separation that’s coming overtakes you. The last part of OK Kanmani shows this brilliantly, I identify so strongly with that movie!)

    That hug from behind on the beach, I think Harry is still in his let’s have fun mode, he reaches back for her, and Sejal has a flash of, I’m about to lose him. She pushes his arms away and clings to him, but from behind so he can’t see her face. Harry still knows, though. He always sees the end coming, that’s why he’s been trying to send her home since the beginning. At this point, he’s surrendered to her persistence, he’s opened his heart, but he does so fully expecting it will be broken. That’s the scene at the cliffs, he’s showing her how he’ll call for her to the empty water after she’s gone. He’s showing her what the end looks like, and she has no defenses anymore, she’s just terribly sad. The masks are gone, neither of them is playing anymore, they’re staring into the oncoming emptiness.


    • I think you got it beautifully, that is the situation the film is dealing with. But with the added depth of showing how two different people can react differently to the same emotions. Shahrukh is always looking forward, planning for his misery and parceling out his sadness. While Anushka is surprised by it more often, both thoughtless joy and sudden sorrow. Shahrukh keeps warning about the sadness, he knew it was coming, but that doesn’t make him any more prepared for it. Anushka is better able to enjoy the joy, not having expected it, but is also more devestated by the sorrow, having had no preparation, just feeling it suddenly rising within her.


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