I am so excited to write this part! Because in the middle of a discussion in the comments about it like 4 days ago, I had a sudden revelation and I have been holding off on sharing it until now, because why waste it on a comment when I can use it in a post? (full index of JHMS coverage here)
Previously, Anushka and Shahrukh were traveling together, officially with him as the paid guide/servant her family had hired for her and her as the wealthy client looking for a lost ring. But they rapidly moved beyond that, feeling a strange connection which bonded them together. Finally, Anushka actually found the ring, in the midst of an emotionally heated situation, and chose to hide it from Shahrukh so they could stay together. They almost had sex that night, with him turning away at the last minute saying “not like this”. The next morning, they had a new closeness and comfort with each other, no longer acting like a couple falling in love, but like a couple who are already married and love each other. Anushka organized their next stop, a trip back to Frankfurt to stay at his apartment and help plan his friend Mayank’s wedding. And she organized the entire wedding party as well, casually taking Shahrukh’s money to pay for it (a reversal of their previous relationship where it was all about her paying him). And now the wedding is over, the last few friends are leaving their apartment after the party moved there for late night chai.
This whole last section was Shahrukh and Anushka seamlessly working together as a married couple. Entertaining the guests, setting up chai, even joining in the wedding photo as the family of the groom. It wasn’t flirtatious exactly, or romantic, they are past that, they are not the young people using a wedding as an occasion to hide their own romance, they are the older people actually hosting the wedding, too busy for romance beyond a quick kiss blown over the chai table or a wink across the room while they are both talking to guests.
And now they are looking super married as they say good-bye to the last guests, Mayank and Evelyn Sharma, the engaged couple that this was all for. They are looking more married than them, Mayank and Evelyn are holding hands and smiling at each other, while Anushka and Shahrukh aren’t really touching, just leaning in their doorway with Shahrukh behind Anushka. It’s a classic posture of “wishing farewell to guests”. They aren’t standing like that to be romantic, they are standing like that because they are sharing the doorway of their shared home. Mayank and Evelyn look in love and happy and all that, but not quite as perfectly in synch as Shahrukh and Anushka.
By the way, let’s take a moment here for Mayank and Evelyn. In the last section, I mentioned how important it was that Evelyn’s family was not Indian. This is a different kind of an engagement party, a rough one that doesn’t follow any set rules. Some of the guests are desi, some aren’t, some are in suits and some are in saris, and that doesn’t follow a particular ethnic pattern either (a Sikh in a turban is in a suit, and a white young woman is in a sexy sari). But they are all there having a great time and feeling joyful about this engagement. This is the life that Anushka and Shahrukh could have. He gives her the freedom to break the rules, and she reminds him of the joy in his heritage, that he can dress desi and sing Punjabi songs even in Europe, that’s okay.
And Mayank and Evelyn are a small part of that. Way back when we first heard about Evelyn, it was Shahrukh telling Anushka that she should travel with Mayank instead of him because Mayank is “in love” and about to be engaged, and therefore “safe” for her. But it was another small moment of Shahrukh accidentally revealing his sort of “kid looking through the window of the toy store” attitude towards love relationships. He puts Mayank’s love marriage on a pedestal, something he thought was not going to ever happen for him. And that was possibly part of his resistance to being part of the planning for it, that he didn’t think he could have this in his own life.
And when we finally meet Evelyn, for me at least, that pays off. Yes, she is gorgeous, much more attractive than Mayank. But she is so happy with the engagement party Shahrukh throws for them, so clearly happy with Mayank, and he with her. They are a couple that shouldn’t work to the same degree that Anushka and Shahrukh don’t really make sense. She is German with (at least in the film) no desi blood at all. She is tall and gorgeous, and he is shorter and over-sized and straight from the Punjab (based on his accent). But they found each other and they make each other happy. Because they believed in it, they threw themselves in to this cross-cultural romance without fear or hesitation. That is what Anushka and Shahrukh are missing, the fearlessness of believing that it will all work out, and then the magic when it does work out, her parents come dressed in German style formal wear, but throw themselves into the Bhangra, Mayank thinks he has no friends to help him put on a show from his side, and then Shahrukh and Anushka step up and show that even if he is alone in Germany, he still has family.
And that is why Mayank and Evelyn are the ones to bring up this question of “what next?” for Shahrukh and Anushka. Because they have come out the other side, they had a love that made no logical sense and now they are engaged and happy. Shahrukh and Anushka, without realizing it, have already gone past that point, but haven’t paused to think it through. And so Mayank forces the issue, and Evelyn supports him.
(Here is Evelyn with Imtiaz in great sunglasses)
It’s very important, to me, that Mayank asks this question directly to Anushka, and tells her to “keep Shahrukh out of it”. Although, wait a second, let me make sure I am remembering this correctly. First, he says a general “what is this?” And Shahrukh kind of hesitates and doesn’t give a clear answer. That is when Shahrukh could have leaped in and said “we are in love. I want her to be with me forever”. But, he didn’t.
So Mayank switches, because, as he says, he knows what this is for Shahrukh, he has never seen him like this before, but what is this for Anushka? Keeping Shahrukh out of it, what does this mean for her? Again, remember that he and Evelyn probably JUST had this conversation. Does she want the saris and the Punjabi flavor and the “exotic” husband? Or does she want him, himself? Is she rebelling against her parents, or is she really in love? So Mayank knows what to ask to make her really think.
And Anushka really does think. Here is where I diverge a bit from a lot of you in the comments, I know. To me, in this moment when Mayank really pushes, she isn’t saying things she has been keeping secret, she is putting it all together as she speaks, there is no filter moment, this is her raw thought process. And she starts with the discovery that she is a different person now, a person she never dreamed she could be, and happier than she ever thought. Anushka has changed so much, and so rapidly, over the course of the film, I don’t think she had a moment before now to catch her breath and look back 6 days to where she was before. It’s scary to realize that, I mean, I get scared when I look at photos from college and start thinking about how different I used to be! And she is looking back only a few days, discovering for the first time that the person she always thought she was inside isn’t the person she is. And her first reaction is happiness, because she loves her new person.
But quickly following that happiness is doubt. Again, this is the very first time she has discovered this about herself. It would be natural to feel doubt, to need to try to understand what this all means and be cautious. I find it more believable for her to try to rationalize, to say “but this can’t be real. It can’t have happened so fast. The logical thing is to go home, back to real life, and try to forget” then for her to say “Oh my goodness, I have changed so much without even noticing! I will have faith that these changes are permanent and jump off a cliff”.
(Remember, even Kajol in DDLJ didn’t speak up and say “let’s just elope” right away, she needed time to process everything before she got there. And she needed to know, for sure, that Shahrukh was willing, not just half-heard statements and magical moments)
Plus, remember, Shahrukh is silent here. And Mayank told her not to think about him. So the question is, does Anushka, just for herself, want to risk never returning home, embracing this new life forever and ever? And the answer has to be “no”. In this moment, it has to be “no”. You can’t make a decision like that in the very first second the choice is presented to you, especially when it is presented with no promises. Later, Shahrukh will give her the same choice, but promise to keep her feeling always beautiful and worthy forever. Now, Mayank is making her think about it with no guarantees, not even the guarantee that Shahrukh will be there for her at all.
It is only after Anushka has fully finished speaking that Shahrukh slides to the other side of the doorway. He was waiting for her verdict, and then he moved. It seems like he would have moved before, as she starts talking, to remove himself from the equation. But he doesn’t, he waits until he thinks it is all over, and then accepts. Or, actually, HE is the one that decides it is over! If he had stayed behind her, if he hadn’t made that shift, might she have kept talking? Reached another conclusion of “but my real life in Bombay doesn’t fit me any more, so maybe this is now my real life and that is my vacation”?
Mayank and Evelyn leave with kind of “I’m sorry” about Anushka’s decision and as soon as they are gone Shahrukh says “Are you tired?” and Anushka smiles and says “no, I have been looking forward to this all night” and Shahrukh says “wine and chill on the balcony?” She says “Yes, exactly, you knew!” And Shahrukh says “that is the problem, I know too much.” As they talk, they walk the short distance from the door to the balcony, and then he casually pulling the cork out of a bottle of wine and pouring two glasses while Anushka is smiling in the background. She comes forward to take a glass, and they fall back onto the green couch next to each other. As they sit, Shahrukh casually asks “so, where too next?” Anushka frowns and tries to remember where the tour went next, listing off cities. And finally Shahrukh has had enough. He goes from sitting drinking wine to standing and yanking his Sherwani off over his head, angrily demanding “what are we doing?” (at least, that’s how I remember it, if I missed a line somewhere or had the wrong person say something, correct me!)
So, I know a lot of you in the comments see this as the height of Anushka’s selfishness and cruelty. That she would make this big speech about how it is just a vacation and she has to go back to real life, and then expect Shahrukh to immediately return to serving her fantasy, aware that it is a fantasy. But I don’t see it that way at all.
(This isn’t related to anything, I just thought we could all use a little break from all this emotion)
First, for what actually happens (as I remember it), it is Shahrukh who says casually “are you tired?” and then suggests wine on the terrace. He is the one who leads the way physically, who opens the wine, who hands her the glass, who asks where they should travel to next. Anushka gave her big speech, and his reaction is, well, nothing. He is the one who puts it back on the footing of the fantasy. Not firmly there, the opening is available for her to say “no, I’m not tired, let’s have a long difficult conversation about what just happened”. But he isn’t forcing it on her, he is offering the option of letting the fantasy continue. And she takes him up on his offer.
Which is saying something all by itself. She just said “this is a vacation, and vacations have to end”. And now she is saying, through her actions, that she is putting off that end. That she doesn’t want it to end. She is leaving the door open, just a little. She is telling him through her actions “logically I know this makes no sense, but my heart is ruling my logic. And maybe, if you give me time, I will overcome logic.” That’s what has been happening all along, she has very slowly and shyly been moving towards him, while he patiently waited for her to get there. And his patience has been rewarded, in 6 days she has gone from a naive girl who knew nothing about men and women, to a woman ready to offer herself to him. One more day, two more days, and she would have let go of that last bit of herself from before, that last bit of logic and fear that was making her think she couldn’t embrace this life. And now, he is the one changing the terms, saying that she doesn’t have any more time, he isn’t going to wait any longer, not even one more day.
Which, and I get this argument from the comments people have made and agree with it, is his prerogative in a lot of ways. She just said something incredibly hurtful, he is a person with feelings, it is his right to show that hurt and demand a showdown over it. But the problem I finally put my finger on is that he is the one who opened himself up to that hurt, and who is forcing more of it on himself right now.
This was my big revelation a couple of days ago: I don’t find Anushka sympathetic in this scene because in real life I am Anushka; it’s because in real life I am Shahrukh! Not a super sexy dangerous club crawler (although what do you know? This is the internet, I totally could be a super sexy dangerous club crawler! Sure, let’s say that, I write my blog posts and then go out trawling for hot men). But because I have a level of emotional intelligence and empathy so high it is almost like a superpower. And, like all superpowers, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Let me back up. Emotional intelligence and empathy are two different but related things. Emotional intelligence is looking at a person’s face or reading their comments on the internet (I know SO MUCH about you all that you probably didn’t intend to tell me) and picking out all sorts of hidden things from it so quickly it feels like mind-reading. Like walking into a party and immediately going “person A hates person B but person B doesn’t know it, person C is shy and trying to hide it, person D is really depressed today for some reason” and so on and so on. Like I said, it’s a super power.
And then empathy is something different, although they usually go together. Empathy means “I feel your pain” and also “I feel your happiness”. So if I am empathetic, it means without even wanting to, I always always always have to make everyone around me as happy as possible. Because if you are unhappy, it’s contagious, and it makes me unhappy too. Or stressed or depressed or whatever else. And so my emotional intelligence keeps getting trained and forced to higher levels so I can figure out how to make everyone happy, and the more I focus on you and how you are feeling in order to figure that out, the more I end up feeling what you are feeling and it is just this cycle that keeps going and going.
So, bringing it back to this film, I know “Harry” because I am “Harry”. I am always always always in control of relationships. I know what the other person wants from me and I usually give it to them (to make them happy so I don’t have to feel their unhappiness). And I know how to force them to do what I want too. It may not look like it, because I am so sweet and nice and smiley and seemingly accommodating, but I am actually running things.
(Speaking of emotionally manipulative and controlling SRK….)
And this is a terrible system! As my family will be happy to tell you. Every single birthday and Christmas of my entire life, I have had a massive emotional collapse. Partly because it’s exhausting keeping everyone happy all the time in invisible ways they don’t even notice. But mostly because I forget other people don’t have my “superpower”. The constant refrain of my childhood (well, through to today) was “if you want something, you have to tell us!”
And that’s what Shahrukh has forgotten in this scene. He expects Anushka to know exactly what he is thinking, without ever telling her. Not just general stuff like “I love you”, but stuff like “I need you to reassure me that I am more to you than just a vacation fling and I need you to do it in this one particular way right now or else I will feel hurt”. And sure, she can get some of it, but she just isn’t as attuned to other people as he is and never will be, and he needs to know that and understand that she doesn’t mean to hurt him, this wasn’t purposeful cruelty. He needs to tell her what he wants from her, straight out and clear. And if he doesn’t do that, he needs to accept that she isn’t going to be as fast at figuring their relationship out as he is. Because they are different people.
And so when Shahrukh explodes here, well, it’s as much his fault as it is when I have my annual Christmas breakdown. If you want her to stay with you, TELL HER!!! Just like he asked for the hug earlier, or told her he didn’t want to have sex “like this”. She is very attuned to his needs, but she isn’t a mind reader. And if he doesn’t want to tell her, he needs accept that she isn’t in that place to offer it voluntarily yet and be patient and wait for her to be ready. Most of all, he needs to not blame her for controlling the situation when he KNOWS he is the one really in control.
He is playing her like a fiddle in this scene, start to finish. He is making her be cruel, making her be the “bad guy”, and doing it so skillfully that even though she can sort of see what is happening but can’t stop it. After her first confession, he immediately steers it back to safe ground, making her think she can relax. And then he pulls the rug out from under her without giving her a moment to catch her breath, to martial her arguments. He’s out of control, but not with anger, with self-hatred and destruction. He wants her to do this to him, because he would rather it end like this then drag on any longer. And sure, that’s his right, but the honest way to handle it would be to say “If this is a vacation, let’s end it now”. To take equal responsibility. Not to manipulate her into doing it all so he can just stand there and say “yes ma’am” and pretend he doesn’t care.
Let’s look at Anushka’s side of this. Anushka has been running to catch up with him in her awareness of her emotions this whole film. And in this scene, she is almost there, so close to the same place as him after talking with Mayank. Mayank forced her to do the adult thing, to examine her emotions and her needs and wants and plan for the future. But he said “plan without thinking of Shahrukh”. So, okay, she did that. Now all Shahrukh needs to do is say “this is where you are at, but here is where I am at. Let’s sit down and try to find a middle ground.” That is what Shahrukh has been doing this whole time. He has sensed where he is, and where she is, and constantly adjusted his plans based on that. Because he has the emotional intelligence to be able to understand this information, and the empathy to want to make it easy for her.
Now Anushka is ready to have this adult conversation. She knows what she wants and has come up with a plan for herself. This is an awareness that is new to her, like as of 5 minutes ago. The “fair” thing for Shahrukh to do is to give her time to consider his side of things, to consider her side in a little more depth, and to let her make those same series of compromises and decisions he has been making all along. But instead, he chooses to force this emotional confrontation before she has a chance to really think. He isn’t giving her the option, which is what Mayank confronts him with later, he never asked her, he just decided what would be best for her and made it happen. Not directly, but with the same emotional maneuvering he has been using all along and knows perfectly well she is susceptible to.
This is a really important fight for their future relationship, because this is the fight they are going to be having over and over again, and Anushka needs to learn how to deal with it. Shahrukh is going to constantly be hurt by things she doesn’t even realize she is doing, and is going to respond with a big emotional outburst as everything he has repressed comes to the surface. And he is going to try to put this all on her, to drive her away or make her feel guilty or otherwise manipulate her into feeling or doing or saying something she doesn’t actually want to feel or do or say. I’m kind of impressed with how Anushka does manage to stand up to it and see through what he is doing! After he yanks off the Sherwani (great visual metaphor for pulling off this pretense of happy married life) and starts yelling, she literally goes toe to toe with him, trying to force him to say, out loud, “what do YOU want?” She just bared her soul, everything she is thinking, even if it was cruel, and he owes her the same in return. And he won’t give it to her. Instead he retreats to his same position of authority from their first meeting in the hotel, he knows more than her, she is just a child, it will sting but they will both get over it. It’s infuriating! Any response she gives will just make it appear that she is more immature, that she doesn’t have the great wisdom he is claiming for himself.
Look at how perfectly he arranged this! He throws her off a little at the door by seeming so “normal”, so she follows his lead and is “normal”. And then suddenly out of nowhere (because she thought he wanted to be “normal”) he gets dramatic and emotional. So she gets dramatic and emotional. And then he switches again to be all “no no, it’s serious and sad and heartbreaking but I am in control and you aren’t”. There is nowhere for her to go from here! Even if she had said “I was wrong, I want to stay here, this is my real life now”, his response would still be “love stings but you will get over it you silly little girl”.
(Just like poor Sridevi in Lamhe. Shahrukh doesn’t actually slap Anushka, but he gives her an emotional slap, tries to drive her away)
And so she has no choice but to walk away. Because he really isn’t willing to deal with things now, even though it seems like he is, even though he makes it appear that she is the one in denial. And after she walks away, the fate of Skype intervenes, that is the moment she gets another call from home. And actually answers it, because Shahrukh has driven her there.
And Rupen! Finally! Who after all that build up is exactly as dull as you thought he would be. And suddenly Anushka makes so much sense after this final piece comes in! Because, Rupen is terrible. Well, not terrible, but not great. Anushka is young and pretty and smart and very rich. And this is the best she could do. No wonder she didn’t think she was “layak”. He isn’t that handsome, he isn’t that young, he isn’t that sensitive or charming. His big pitch to make her come home is to just say “come home”. Not even a soulful “I love and miss you”. And he is only doing this much because her sister forced him. She spent the whole first half of the film talking about him and their “romance” while Shahrukh rolled his eyes, because Shahrukh knew exactly what this was. A rich girl who was presented with an appropriate husband and is trying to talk herself into being in love with him because it’s what her family wants, and she doesn’t know she has any other choice. And now Anushka doesn’t even have her illusions to protect her, she knows what real love and romance and excitement feels like, and it isn’t Rupen. But she still doesn’t seem to have any other choice. Shahrukh just told her, as clearly as he could, “I am not an option for you”. So, what’s left? Spend her life running away? Or go home and accept the small life she is offered? That’s why she is crying and struggling before going out. It’s not just saying good-bye to Shahrukh, it’s saying “hello” to Rupen and all he represents.
(Why does Shahrukh keep doing this to women??? Offering love, and then saying “oops, wait, my mistake! You have to go marry your fiance now!” So cruel!)
Okay, yes, literally minutes earlier she said that she would return home soon, that this was her real life. But it works for me that this would be her logical journey from that point to this. That moment of consideration, that was her head, not her heart. Mayank told her that, told her to ignore her feelings for Shahrukh, and without that, this is the answer. And then Shahrukh forces those feelings on her, forces her to feel emotional, to feel his emotions as he has been suffering through hers. And it all comes flooding over her, her head is overcome and she is all heart and doesn’t want to leave. But now both head and heart are telling her she has to go. Shahrukh won’t let her stay, and Rupen is offering a reasonable life back home. A miserable depressing life, but at least it is an option.
And again, this is on Shahrukh! Right now, while she is crying and pacing, he is just sitting outside, calm. Because he knows what is going to happen. He knows he has positioned her so that she has no other choice but to leave. He is ready when the moments come, more ready than she is, because he has seen it coming all along, has been preparing the way so that she would do this to him. And so while she keeps her face carefully blank and her words short, telling him to arrange tickets home, he speaks easily and calmly, saying “Yes Ma’am”. Yes, he is sad and in pain, but he isn’t in shock. This was his plan all along.
Okay, now go to the comments and disagree with me loudly and long. I’m ready!
Also, woot! Only a little bit left! And also, phooey! We won’t beat Bahubali 2 after all, looks like this will be done in an even 25 parts.
First of all Hi,
I don’t know why people are fighting you over this?! It’s the most logical analysis of the film I have ever read, you are brilliant, I can’t wait for the last part.
Thank you so much for your efforts
Keep going strong
Lots of love
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Aw, thank you! I don’t know if anyone really will fight with me over this, I just know on other posts there has been some anger at Anushka for stating so bluntly that Shahrukh was just a vacation fling and expecting him to get over it. But then, I never presented my full argument before.
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1. Harry doesn’t just silently accept Sejal’s verdict at the door. He says to Mayank “Did you get your answer? Don’t you know everyone loves holidays but needs to go home at some time? As a tour guide you should know this!”
Why didn’t Sejal say anything then? Why did she quietly listen as he said that? Its post him saying that that Mayank and his girlfriend decide to leave. The mood, the moment, the loving husband-wife- its all obviously over.
I don’t disagree that Harry is masochistic here. He has been thrown away by women before, so he knows its going to happen here too, but he wants to retain some control over it and so decides the WHEN of it.
2. I ABSOLUTELY disagree that Harry is either emphatic or has emotional intelligence. Its Sejal who guesses that he is lonely- from just one night spent together- that is empathy. Its Sejal who has the emotional intelligence to know that he needs to go home- to Frankfurt. Its Sejal who keeps leaning her head on his shoulder, who presumably makes the decision to sleep on the floor ever night after that first one. Its Sejal who realizes that Harry needs closure with Klara. My list can go on and on.
Harry is a mess of emotions, he feels too much. That doesn’t make him emphatic nor does it mean he has emotional intelligence. If he had any control over the relationship it would go as HE wanted. When it fact everything has gone according to what Sejal wanted. He knows something is going to happen right from the beginning. He presumes that its Sejal who is going to fall in love with him. He knows she can save him with her love, but he doesn’t realize he loves her too, or doesn’t want to realize maybe. He doesn’t think its his place to love her.
Sejal has all the power in their relationship- social power, the power of wealth, the power over his emotions- he will be devastated without her and she knows it! He’s literally an orphan as Mayank says in the railway station. She can go back to her family with 10,0000 people and lose herself in it. But what does Harry have. NOTHING. The power she has in this relationship makes her callous and cruel to him. In the beginning as a boss finally as a lover/wife. He is used to cruelty from bosses, he is not used to emotional cruelty from a wife.
Which is why the same man who calmly took her insults in the beginning LOSES it when she dashes all their experiences as just a dream. His masochism (which I admit he has) comes into play. He knows she has to go back. He knows she will. So why should he tolerate even more minute of what is a lie? Let it be done with. Let her leave.
I have been where Harry is. I am a mess of emotions. I 90% of the time don’t even know what I am doing in a relationship. I agree to everything the other person says- no not because I am emphatic- seriously no- its because I am just used to saying yes, I am used to surrendering control. But finally I end up getting hurt. there has been no one worthy of running back to on a plane though, so in that Harry is lucky.
This also reminds me of Leela in Kaatru Veliyidai. Leela kept going back to VC and doing as he said, but he is the one who hurt her because he could, because he was unthinking, because he never realized how very much every word of his meant to her- we cannot shift that blame from him. And yes, Leela was a masochist in love, she agreed to the pain because she thought that is what her lover wanted, but when she finally took the decision that they must separate, just when VC was maybe starting to understand her and her love (A few more days/months and he would have “got it”) but would you blame her for leaving? Everyone has a boiling point. And Harry and Leela deserve to have theirs.
Leela says what I think echoes Harry’s mindset: you either stomp all over me or you keep me like a queen. you think I am a dog that will answer everytime you whistle.
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See, what I find interesting is that generally Harry is a very savvy person who knows exactly how to control what happens. But Sejal is his big blind spot. Whereas Sejal is generally a very self-involved and unaware person. But Harry is the one exception.
Sejal has these brilliant leaps, knowing he is lonely, knowing he needs to go home, knowing how to confront Klara. But Harry over and over again is the one who knows how to smooth their way, he talks to the staff, he talks them out of dangerous situations, he convinces Natassha to tell them where the ring is, senses Gas’s unhappiness, is always able to manipulate people to do what he wants. Except Sejal. And Sejal, over and over again, shows no understanding or care for other people. She doesn’t understand that Shahrukh truly doesn’t want to take her back to the hotel right in their first scene, has no understanding how irritating he finds it to have her in the car, no unhappiness because of his unhappiness. Whereas he can’t stop himself from providing the bare minimum of a polite response to her openings.
Look at the scene with the cafe manager in Budapest. Anushka is furious and is runs the risk of losing this lead by offending the manager without even realizing she is offending him. While Shahrukh is handling the manager, handling Mayank, and handling Anushka in a kind of three handed way. Putting it simply, everyone likes Harry and no one likes Sejal.
Harry may not be able to control his own emotions, but he is very aware of them. He realizes early on that he is falling for Sejal, has that “I certainly was not looking for you” line back in Prague. And he knows her emotions better than she does, he warns her she will fall in love with him, and over and over again knows just the right thing to say or do to control her, whether it is touching her face to calm her or telling her she is “layak”. And he chooses to let it keep happening. Until now, when Sejal says it has to end someday, and he decides that it is ending today.
At least, that’s how I see it! It’s such a beautifully open film, that doesn’t mean you have to agree with me in order to enjoy it, or even be “right”.
On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 5:31 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
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I don’t disagree with your comment at all 🙂 Its all perfect.
Harry is savvy with other people because they have no emotional control over him. Sejal has a huge hold on him emotionally that just grows and grows. And he doesn’t know how to deal with it.
The other thing is that Sejal is used to riding roughshod over other people’s emotions. She is selfish in that she doesn’t care how other people feel as long as she gets what she wants. That last moment when she asks Harry “You tell me what you want?” is literally the first time she is ASKING HIM THAT. Until then, its always, here’s what I want and here’s how I am going to make you do it.
Harry is selfish too (but its a selfishness that I identify with so maybe I am giving him more leeway- also its SRK, his puppy eyes!) he loves all the attention, love, care that his Radha is pouring out for him but he is also the more civilized and well-mannered one among them. Which is why everyone likes him and why he is good at his job. If you are in a job interacting with people, you need to know how to behave with people, even if you hate them or even if you are angry.
Imagine him being asked by say Sejal’s friends, or even Mayank, about what this is and how you want to proceed, do you think he would be uncourteous enough to say what he thinks in their presence? Even here, he keeps trying to give Sejal an out by telling Mayank that he should leave. But no, Sejal just HAD to say exactly what she thought, as she was thinking it right in front of everyone.
Even if this is just a vacation fling, does Sejal have to be so ill-mannered as to state it that baldly in the presence of others who know you even less than Harry?
I have had vacation flings. I would be furious if the guy had ever said this was just a vacation from real life to my friends who complimented us on our chemistry. I would probably break up with him immediately after.
This might be a personal thing for me, I dont like people who air out private matters in front of friends when no decision has been made yet.
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I think part of what is happening for Sejal as I see it is that she doesn’t know what the correct manner would be here, doesn’t know what a vacation fling is, or that you aren’t supposed to air out private matters in front of friends. If it was a fight between her and Rupen, it would be a public thing, right? I mean, it is a public thing, she told tour guide Shahrukh all about it. And that was the correct thing to do, Rupen made the big fuss in public, his whole family knows about it and her whole family knows about it. She may not realize that this is different. Especially because, again, Mayank ASKED her to tell him. She doesn’t know what is right or wrong to do her, and someone who does know is directly asking her a question, and she is telling the truth. If she could see Shahrukh’s face, and if he was willing to let his face show what he was feeling, she might hold back. But all she can see is Mayank and Evelyn’s interested open expressions that are telling her it is okay to keep talking. She hurt him, yes, but she was also just telling the truth. And like I said in the post, I think Mayank was being a good friend and forcing her to do this. he is a “guide” too, after all, he has some of that ability to read people and know what they need that Shahrukh has. And he knows that this is a conversation and a fight the two of them have been putting off. And when Shahrukh keeps putting him off, he turns to Anushka and forces her to think about the future and what she wants if Shahrukh won’t.
For the “tell me what you want?” moment, I agree, it’s a big deal. But I think it isn’t necessarily the first time she thinks about what he wants, it’s just the first time, finally, they are saying these things out loud. She has been trying to figure out what is best for him and what will make him happy at least since Radha. But they’ve been relying so much on not saying things that could burst the bubble that she hadn’t explicitly asked him, ever, anything. And he hasn’t asked her, has just intuited what she needs moment by moment. But now Anushka is saying the unspoken, that he has as much control as she does, that he is allowed to want things too, he just has to be brave enough to say out loud what they are.
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It is the first time she thinks of what she wants. He is a coward in that moment but she has been such a selfish person all this while he deserves his moment of cowardice. It’s also better for them this way in the long run as someone else mentioned. She should take the decision to be with him not because he wants it but because she wants it.
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Aww, poor Sejal! I do think she is selfish, but she is not unaware of that fact. I think if she were not selfish, she may never have stayed back, may not have grabbed the opportunity presented by her Europe trip with both hands (including grabbing Harry with both hands even if she doesn’t know why).
But I think part of why she decides in the end to be with Harry is that she is less selfish with him. Others on this thread have talked about how she’s a product of her upbringing. Imagine how it feels for her that Harry reacts positively (starting from the first club in Amsterdam) to her awkwardness, to her anger, to her defending herself. For the first time she is not “wrong” somehow. And her response to this is carefully watching Harry, learning about Harry, so she can return the favor, so she can be a blessing in his life as he has been in hers. Some of my favorite Sejal moments are when she’s confused about him being angry after they hide on the boat, and during her non-judgmental concern when she finds him crying the next morning.
Then, as Margaret says, in Radha she starts trying to give Harry what he needs, whether he knows he does or not.
How much of this is conscious on her part is a big question. If I ever get to ask Imtiaz a question, it will be, “How much did Sejal know, and when did she know it?” Haha.
Finally, my memory of Sejal answering Mayank’s questions is that she’s not totally clueless that what she is saying will hurt Harry. And of course it’s clear he’s hurt when he moves and makes the speech about “everyone goes home eventually”. This is why, as Margaret points out, Sejal is so confused when Harry goes back to neutral/husband mode with, “Tired?” and getting the glasses and wine.
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One thing I love about that fight is that the way it happens also feels strangely spousal, with that pause before the explosion. When you know the fight is coming, and you both kind of do an intake of breath before it happens. Instead of, for instance, the fights we see Harry have with his girlfriends, where they are yelling at him in the street, just letting loose their fury. But a married fight, or a fight where it is a deep relationship and you know each other well, there is that tiny moment when you are both setting up your internal ballast, finding the place and time that is right, and then letting loose.
Yes, in addition, Harry is throwing her off and kind of knows it, but there is also that very “married” thing of “let’s wait until the guests are gone, take a minute to have a sip of wine, and then it is ON.”
For Sejal’s “selfishness”, one thing about it is that while she is being selfish in her relationship with Shahrukh, in her family she has probably been trained to be completely “Selfless”. That is, always please Rupen, always obey Didi, always be loving to Daddy. Her “selfishness” as she terms it, in some situations, is just healthy ability to do what she wants instead of what everyone tells her to do. Shahrukh’s farewell to her, telling her to take care of herself because he won’t be there, and her response of “I’m selfish”, that’s getting at the heart of it. She has to be what she calls “selfish” because otherwise she would never get anything of her own choice in her life.
On Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 12:11 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
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Yeah Sejal knows and doesn’t know at the same time. Cruelty is inbred into the Indian upper class. They know it yet they don’t.
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“He has been thrown away by women before, so he knows its going to happen here too, but he wants to retain some control over it and so decides the WHEN of it.” I agree with this reading of Harry. Anushka is more difficult for me, because I realize that she is less familiar to me in so many ways. As I look back, so much of her behavior and attitude is cultural or socio-economic in origin, and not knowing much about the life of a young Indian woman like Anushka, I am left to try to understand her as if she were American. That doesn’t completely work for me. Harry, on the other hand, has stripped away so much of his cultural origins and become so Westernized that he is easier for me to “read”.
That being said, Margaret’s analysis makes sense to me.
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Imtiaz himself pointed to the fact that Sejal’s behaviour is ‘designed’ by her cultural and socio-economic origin” , something Harry is well aware of although he is familiarized with the Western way of handling certain relation-specific things.
Still, he is more in the respect than in the fighting…and actually does not fell free enough to express himself freely (if Sejal had not been precipitated – precipitating herself – in such an emotional and growing-up turmoil or – more precisely – if she had not found the ring, she would have had – I guess – more time to figure out the relationship she herself wants to have with Harry…that’s why I think this separation had to happen after she found the ring…because she did NOT talk to Harry but instead wanted to make it unhappened…I understood her but I was angry with her to not confide in him. She might have taken him into her arms but she still refrained from being sincere to him…so yes, the only way to be with Harry was breaking her engagement…no words, no niceties, nothing else mattered. And I was happy that Harry kept consequent although I suffered for/with him.
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One thing I think is really important is that Harry is so much older than her. In every way. He has been living alone and experienced things and been through all kinds of emotional upheavals in his life. Sejal, this is the first time she is confronting anything on her own, without her family to tell her what to do.
So, for me, what Imtiaz is saying is that Sejal is essentially fresh from the factory. She has had no opportunity to learn how to be anything other than what she was made. Shahrukh would have been the same way 17 years ago, completely locked into his Punjabi village boy mindset, but he has had 17 years to grow and change and everything he is doing is based on those experiences. We are blaming Sejal for a lot of things that aren’t really “Sejal”, but rather the factory settings she was given and hasn’t yet had a chance to modify.
Which, again, is why she had to go home and be by herself for a bit. To discover that she had changed herself, was no longer the perfect daughter she had been created to be.
On Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 8:51 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
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You nailed it, Mararet…the “factory settings she was given”…that’s – imo – the most important mobile for Imtiaz to make theis movie, to show how important it is to get/have “a chance to modify” whatever settings one got.
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I know I have mentioned this before, but my suspicion is Sejal was always going to end up like this, a very different person than the one her family created. Only it would have taken years for her to escape, she would have married Rupen and lead the “perfect” life and all the coming awake that happened over the course of 6 days would have taken 10 years, by which point it would be too late. Did you see Dil Dhadakne Do? With Sejal, I kept picturing both Priyanka and Shefali Shah’s characters in that film. Who didn’t realize how unhappy they were until long after the marriage was done, the family was set, and life seemed kind of over. It’s not that meeting Shahrukh and this whole experience “changed” her so much as it accelerated a process that was always going to happen.
On Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 9:50 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
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Yes, I saw Zoya’s movie and found it interesting (but not surprising)…JabHarryMetSejal did surprise me. I liked that Sejal took the chance to make experiences she never would have made without the decision to stay behind in Amsterdam (whatever the ‘real’ mobile was)…I was genuinely happy that Imtiaz left so much space to ponder about the two characters and did not serve everything bite-sized.
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I agree with your reaction to DDD. That’s what I find so different about this film, instead of showing the disillusioned housewife version, it is showing what would happen if that same person had somehow managed to escape before she became the housewife.
On Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 10:07 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
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Margaret, I’m dying here because you have shared a bunch of information about yourself and I’m so tempted to explore that further instead of talk about the movie! But, knowing the limitations of blog comments and relationship between blogger and commenter, I will put that aside and talk about the movie anyway. 🙂
Overall I think you are right to challenge the simplistic interpretation of “Sejal is cruel and selfish, and Harry has a right to get hurt and mad about it”. One thing this movie is not is simple in terms of character motivations and reactions. Over and over what I see is that each of them is emotionally perceptive, self-reflective, and yes, manipulative, but each of them also has “blind spots” as you say. The almost supernatural or mystical connection between them includes the way that each compensates for the other’s lack emotionally.
Harry’s experience makes him see the potential ways their relationship can go more clearly than Sejal. Him saying, “That’s my problem, I know too much, ” is so world weary and sad. But he interprets everything through this grime of self-loathing, and old social hang-ups about what true love is, what “types” of men and women are. Sejal, again and again, just by reacting as herself, and not any “type”, and by seeing him clearly as a person, and not a “type”, strips away this grime. And by her actions proves how worthy of love he is–until she takes that away from him in the doorway. She tries to give it back to him again with “What do YOU want?”, but he is too far gone emotionally.
I don’t think Sejal is intentionally being cruel. I like your interpretation that she is sincerely trying to work out, in response to Mayank, what has just happened to her. But saying out loud what you are thinking can be cruel even if unintentionally so. I think much of what you say about Harry throwing Sejal off-balance, and deliberately provoking a fight, is true. But I don’t think he is really in control–for once he’s just going with his emotions, and he picks the most self-destructive path as you and P have said. If he is thinking at all, he’s thinking that he’s protecting himself and her. And he’s wrong.
Agree with everything you say about Sejal’s real pain here, what she sees as her choices, the call with home, and her blank demeanor when she asks Harry to book her a flight home. But Harry, to me, does not react like someone who’s plan has just worked the way he wanted. When he stands up as she’s coming out onto the patio, his posture and expression seem to me to convey, “I just exploded unfairly at you, but I’m ready to apologize and make amends, or for you to yell at me, either one!”
Sejal doesn’t open the door to either. She unconvincingly puts them back on a client/servant relationship, and he unconvincingly goes along with it. In a way perfectly calculated by Imtiaz to break all of our hearts. Thank goodness it’s just temporarily.
You are right, they are going to have these fights throughout their married life because of their complementary emotional and experiential strengths and weaknesses. But that mystical connection will compel them to work it out. And then they will have truly satisfying make-up sex. (I bet I just told you a lot about myself with that last bit, haha).
Feel free to ask questions if you want, I just won’t answer them if I don’t want to 🙂
See, as I see it, Shahrukh is exploding and emotional here, sincerely, but all along he has also been able to stand outside of himself, to see what is happening. I don’t think he is figuring out what to say moment by moment, but I think as he is saying it, he is aware of the effect it is having on her and is being purposefully cruel, the counterpart to her unthinking cruelty. He knows exactly the damage he is doing and he isn’t stopping. That’s what makes him more culpable, to me, he is looking at her face and knows what she is feeling while he talks, but she was standing facing away having been explicitly told to answer as though he isn’t there, as though he isn’t part of the consideration. It’s very different. He has a right to be mad and hurt, but I think she has at least an equal right. What he said was less hurtful, but the way he said it was meant to hurt.
I think he knows he made a mistake. I think he would be happy if she came out and said some magic word that would make it all okay. But I also think he is aware enough of what he has just done and how he has made her feel to know that is unlikely. Maybe if she hadn’t gotten the skype call, if she had gone inside and seen something that reminded her of the good times, maybe there was a chance she would come out and give him a hug and let them go back to how they were. But it was never likely. This was a fight that had been coming for a long time.
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Ahhh, I’ll be one of the ones vehemently disagreeing with you. Harry has never really believed Sejal’s ring story – neither her interest in finding the ring nor the fact that she had a “romantic engagement” with Rupen. Even in the very beginning, he was mocking those things. Even when he tries to get her to go ring hunting with Mayank, it’s because Mayank is the safe one, the one really in love with an approaching wedding, not Sejal.
He recognizes from the very beginning that Sejal is flighty and sheltered and may be using this trip to get some freedom for herself away from her overbearing family and boring/useless fiance. She is also keen on finding trouble, wearing sexy clothes she’s probably never worn before and trying to get into clubs and ordering drinks – also something she probably never does at home. Wanting attention from Harry is also part of that – Sejal exploring herself and life in a way she never is able to from her golden cage in Mumbai.
He grows to accept all that because he likes spending time with her but is perfectly okay with her leaving eventually. It’s the expected thing. However, after the last GAS encounter, things change dramatically for both of them. He senses very clearly that she’s fallen for him. She freaks out completely at the thought of him being hurt, insisting on tending to his injury, paying no heed to the dangerous location. Then she makes a move on him, guides him to her bed and wants to go all the way until he puts an end to it. She maintains the emotional connection the next day by making a claim on his friends, getting into touch with Mayank over his head, making all the travel arrangements putting a full stop to the idea of him being the tour guide, and even doing all the packing. Even the pretense of ring finding is completely thrown out now. With it, she has already made a claim on his life and what he should be doing, where he should be going, how he should be treating his friends and what obligations he has towards them – very much a wifely thing to do. If there were extra scenes, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see her making him breakfast and lecturing him on eating healthy and making sure he irons his clothes before wearing them. hah
At this point, Harry is starting to see the possibility (even if slim) that they could have a life together and he even sees what it would be like because she is showing him. This gets cemented throughout the wedding. He can see she has fallen for him – I don’t think he is in doubt about that. He had been predicting that from the beginning anyway. When she confirms how happy she is (happier than she’s ever been in her life) but that she still has to go back home, he thinks her decision has already been made. She didn’t have this discussion with him and instead blurted it out in front of his friends making a fool of him. He knows this is her practical side speaking, which is also something he’s hated about her. He had shouted at her earlier about it. After all, how practical would it be to throw away an entire life with dozens of family members, a fiance she’s probably known for years, a place in the family business, and an entire country she thinks is home? That too for someone she met 5-6 days ago? She suspects once she gets back home, she will fit in comfortably there as she’s expected to. Like Harry says, vacations are fun but nobody stays forever.
Now the thing is that Sejal is actually really malleable. If Harry wanted to convince her to stay, he could have. If she heard the right words from him, she would have stayed but it would have probably left doubts in her mind about whether or not she did the right thing. He will always have the power to charm her into doing things if that’s what he wanted. Sejal would be putty if she heard a few romantic lines from him. But the problem is that Harry will never be that guy. He is super-sexy but he is not the one who would ever beg a girl to stay with him. I cannot see him ever putting himself in that situation even if it gave him what he wanted. He is too cool and collected to be so vulnerable where there’s the slightest possibility that the girl will kick him in the teeth. Sejal is waiting and waiting for him to ask her to stay, that he loves her too much to let her leave, that he will help her through all this, but Harry is not the type of person who will ever say anything like that. Especially after her speech to Mayank. She has angered him too much for it to head into that direction. He will never ever ask her to stay. He wants to say it herself that she will leave everything for him.
In the end, it works out for the best because she’s able to return to “real life” and see that it isn’t real anymore. Harry isn’t just a forgotten memory. Even out of that fairy tale European setting with it’s daily excitement, she still misses and loves him. Now she can make that decision to cancel the wedding without regrets and without Harry guiding her into it. It will be much better in the long run for her to do this on her own without Harry charming or manipulating her into it, which he could have.
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You may disagree with me, but I agree with everything you said! how does that work?
Well, almost everything. I think Sejal is slightly less self-aware than you give her credit for. The fact that the ring story is a bit of an escape is something she has buried deep deep deep down, I see it as more a moment of panic as she sees everyone yelling at her at the airport, sees what a nightmare her life is, and runs away telling herself “if I find the ring, it will all be okay”. And I see her explorations during the trip as primarily driven by her connection to Shahrukh. The club, the clothes, it’s all for him, not for herself.
But where I agree with you completely is that Shahrukh has always been very aware of what is happening with her. He knows even before she does that this trip is an attempt to escape, he knows before she does that she is falling in love, he knows all of this. And he starts to count on it. But SHE doesn’t know that. She doesn’t realize the signals she is sending him, she doesn’t think about any of it until Mayank forces her to think. That’s what I meant by Shahrukh having the advantage. He knows how he feels, and how she feels, but she barely knows her own feelings and has no idea of his. So he is angry with her and hurt and blaming her for all kinds of things that she just isn’t built to understand as deeply as he can.
And i agree with you that the fight is because they are both asking for something the other one just can’t give in that moment. He isn’t ready to ask her to stay, and she isn’t ready to make that leap outside of herself with no guarantees. Until in the end when she has already made that leap without even counting on him to catch her, and he has realized that he has too much to lose to NOT ask.
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Days (weeks?) ago, I commented about Sejal’s “Do you understand emotions?” line. As Margaret points out above, “He knows how he feels, and how she feels, but she barely knows her own feelings and has no idea of his.” YES, Harry knows about emotions; the delicious irony of that earlier line is that Sejal knows nothing.
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I totally agree with your last paragraph. But I think that Harry is aware that she is affecting him in a way that is dangerous for him emotionally early on also. Like, when he gets that funny look on his face on the bridge in Amsterdam and lets her go.
You’re right that Harry knows the ring pretext is a sham almost right away. I agree with Margaret in her response to you that Sejal is less self-aware though. She has sensed something within herself in Europe and chooses to stay to explore that–but it’s not a fully conscious decision yet. And, I disagree with Margaret below that Sejal’s at first awkward and later beautiful exploration and ownership of her sexuality is “for” Harry. It is catalyzed by Harry for sure, but I see the primary journey here is Sejal “saving” herself, more than them saving each other. At the same time it’s a powerful story about how finding the right partner makes that self-realization easier and more rewarding.
I agree with you. Completely. I do think that both Harry and Sejal have not realized the depth of their emotions at the time of this fight. Harry realizes it only after she’s gone and he the practised tour guide is missing his lines! And when Mayank says “Forget about her”. That is the catalyst which makes him realize that he actually really loves her and he needs to tell her that.
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anonymous, I’m reading your comment and nod-nod-nod 🙂
Ha! it feels good to be here! (Thanks, all of you…it’s really the only place I can share my thoughts this way 🙂 )
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I agree that it was a fight that was coming for a long time. And in the end, as you and others have said, it’s good that the fight happens, and that they separate so each can decide, on their own, what they want and need (to make a life with each other, of course!)
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Well, I’ve gathered that you are a remarkably open and intellectually questioning person, with excellent verbal skills, both in comprehension and communication.
For instance, being willing to closely read this entire post even though you don’t like the film, that is a very nice thing you do.
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I have the feeling that I’m a bit a mix of all the opinions I read here (I also can relate to karthik 😉 )
Mosochistic Harry I already mentioned earlier, that he is experienced with women, too. Reading situations and people’s attitudes and then adapting to them isn’t only part of his job but also part of his survival strategy. Disliking open confrontations Harry does show more than once. He is an introvert person with a lot of talent to sense other people’s emotions/needs. He can be manipulative if he wants to – we have seen that, too.
Sejal…imo she is a kind of “don’t get me started”- person, with a really strong head of her own…except when it comes to dealing with her own emotions. I think that’s why she needs to ‘lead’, to be the one in command, because of that insecurity about why she feels how she feels.
Did Harry anticipate that Sejal would fall in love with him? Or he falling in love with her? I doubt…vehemently. He was genuinely annoyed by her (and tried everything possible for him to get rid of her)…that only changed with her demeanour in the second bar when she showed her “don’t mess with me” in a rather dangerous situation that she was in no way used to live. Then her breakdown during the flight when he experienced her very low esteem of herself made him think about her further and then the surprise the early morning that she had come to him to search his closeness feeling secure with him (with HIM!) and did not want to let him go (like a kid, a lost kitten, the fragile person she was inside)…So no, the surprise for him was that it was him who would feel something for a woman that did have nothing to do with sexual desire. I felt he would try everything to keep that need for his presence in her alive. I also think there was not one moment he was in doubt with his own feelings – the main ingredient being the immense wish to be the one who could care for her (…the rest of their lives).
Maybe it was exactly what he had felt for his first love and could not do…so there had been no need at all to remain in the village…and no other women later gave him that wish.
And bingo – he got a repetition of his youth trauma! Showing his romantic feelings made her point out his position in this being together.
And bingo again – how often can a soft-hearted man bear to be shown that his kind of affection leads to nothing but heartache? In my memory, Harry and Sejal kept rather long standing closely together at the door and it was only when Sejal talked about Mumbai that Harry shifted away from her…which remembered me all the other moments he gave her space when Rupen/Mumbai came to the foreground (spoken out or unspoken) …and I thought “oh nooooooo, she will return and he feels it already…what a cold shower after this wonderful light, lovely and loving harmony”! I also remember that he asked Irina (in German!) to take Mayank with her (she was about to enter their own hotelsuite) when Mayank started to venture on personal territory, but instead she joined Mayank in the questioning.
And then, I found it so much revealing that they lifted both the wine glasses unisono (on the balcony) to take the first sip but the time they took to drink was different.
As I already told, I’m weak in retaining dialogues but there was one thing I believe to have heard…that Harry asks Sejal if she could live with the stain of being “cheap”…and I still have this feeling that it was him who pushes her away, who wants her to confront Rupen and her family, to figure out if she loves him deeply enough to wish to live with him – and that without having experienced his kind of making love to a woman…he never ever stops to care for her well-being putting his own well-being on the background. There is later one gesture, one tiny moment where he almost gives in to hold her back, but no, he isn’t a man to use his power on a person he loves so much and who had all the long so much faith in him.
Levelwise, it is the fifth one for me…and it is lover-lover (Raula included).
Btw, Harry’s behaviour makes equally sense if he had realized that she has the ring…it doesn’t matter anymore.
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I agree with this, making someone do something that you both know is right by using the power of your love, charm, etc always comes back to bite you in the ass. Imagine if he had asked her to stay and every fight after that for the rest of their life would be her throwing it his face “I left my house, my family, my job, my rich life, everything because you asked me to, and look now you didnt do “x” and I would have been happier with Rupen even if the sex would have been bland” etc etc.
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Absolutely…and it would also undermine the thought of unconditional love, of that love that makes you friends forever and gives so much freedom to every expression of thoughts, tenderness, desire…
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I think a large part of that fight is that they are both thinking for the other but not understanding the other. Shahrukh is driving her away because he thinks she is going to leave anyway, because he thinks she will always be disappointed in herself if she stays, because he thinks she would only stay because he forced her. And Anushka just wants to know if he wants her, what would make him happy. Neither of them are thinking about themselves.
That’s what they need the space for, during “Ghar” they fully realize just how much they need the other, that the “selfish” thing, just for themselves, is to be together. Shahrukh can’t just send her off because it is “good for her” and then forget her and be happy again. And she can’t go back to being the same person just because Shahrukh tells her to and forget him. When they come together at the end, it’s no longer about “what is the best thing for you?” it’s about “what is the best thing for me?”
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mmhhh…at the very end it’s “let us be happy together” 🙂
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Pingback: Jab Harry Met Sejal Scene By Scene Index | dontcallitbollywood
You asked, so I’m filling in the blanks of the conversation as best I remember it after Mayank and Irina leave. On the couch, after Harry asks where to next, he asks, “Are we still looking for a ring?” Sejal is hesitant, asks, “Vienna? Switzerland, did we go there?” Then Harry says it has to stop, this husband-wife thing is a farce and Sejal says, “Harry don’t spoil it.” Harry answers, “Yes, it has to be spoiled!” That’s when he jumps up and tears off his sherwani.
At some point when they’re both standing (I can’t remember the exact order) Sejal asks him what he wants and he says it doesn’t matter what he wants. He’s just a tour guide and knows what he can and cannot have. Sejal responds saying something like, “OK, you’re a nobody but you still have desires. What do you want?” That’s when Harry, who is infuriated at this point, shouts back at her, “What do you want? Are you the kind of person who breaks her engagement and runs off with a tour guide?” Sejal is shocked, I think. He then softly says, it stings a bit, but time heals everything. She sort of pushes him and says, Keep your advice to yourself, and goes into the other room, in tears.
Imtiaz did a facebook chat a few days ago where he was asked whether this question of Harry’s is unfairly shaming and stigmatizing women who probably should break their engagements. Imtiaz responded by saying that what Harry’s really asking Sejal here is whether she is ready to face the consequences of staying with him—the criticism and stigma that would be attached to her by those back home. And also, in response to a question about deleted scenes, Imtiaz said they’ll probably be attached to the DVD when it is released. Woo hoo! Yet more to look forward to!
Margaret, I agree with so much of what you say here. I especially love the idea of a “factory setting” for Sejal, and that they each have blind spots or a particular sensitivity when it comes to the other one.
With respect to the fight, I agree with P about the “WHEN” of it, but I also think his engineering of this confrontation is not completely conscious. He isn’t being cruel to Sejal just to be cruel, he’s lashing out from a place of real hurt and pain. And maybe he feels that by lashing out at her, he’s protecting himself. It doesn’t work, of course. It never does. But people do it.
In thinking about this confrontation I can’t help but be reminded about how Harry has separated from other women before Sejal, as we discussed in the comments to the last post. In the past, other women have yelled at him and hit him, but we see him blowing a kiss, or happily walking away and tossing his keys in the air and catching them. I think the depth of his emotions and feelings for Sejal surprise him a bit, or scare him, or both. This is heightened because he doesn’t think he deserves it (the “self-loathing” that procrastinatrix talks about). That he shouts at her in this scene is unexpected, for both of them.
I think while Harry is sitting in that chair waiting for Sejal to come back into the room he is a ball of tension (you can see it in the video of “Ghar” at about 46 seconds in, when the camera has him in profile just staring at the floor and then standing up to face Sejal. Oh, and again in the video for “Jee Ve Sohaneya” at about 1:40 you see his face when he’s standing up.) And maybe I’m the only one here who thinks this, but when he stands up and looks at Sejal, I think Harry’s face has both resignation and hope in it. I think he knows what’s coming but hopes deep in his heart that it doesn’t. The way his entire face changes when he softly says, “Yes, ma’am” just kills me! I know I’m a ShahRukh fan but really, no one can do that like he does. It reminds me of one of my favorite parts of “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi,” when Taani has fled to the auto repair place in the rain after Raj’s confession of love and Shah Rukh enters dressed as Raj but with the face of Surinder and his face (and the way he holds his body) transforms into Raj before he walks over to her. It is a magnificent moment, and he does it again here. You just see the wall come down over Harry’s face when Sejal asks him to book her ticket.
I also agree with you (I think you said this) and others here that Sejal had to go home to figure it all out. She had to return to those families and wedding preparations in order to figure out that she doesn’t want all that, to come to the realization that, as she says in the next part, she in fact is the type of girl who will break her engagement and run away with a tour guide. But we’ll discuss that one later!
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Thank you! For the comments and for your memory. So, if that’s how the fight goes, my impression makes sense to me. Shahrukh is in control of it. Not necessarily in control of himself, not planning it out, but he is the one landing the emotional bodyblows while Anushka is just trying to react. She tries to fight back, to force him to say something different, but she is out of her weight class.
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I like your boxing analogy. It works for me!
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Love your thoughts so much…I saw it, too (although it wasn’t ShahRukh, it was Harry at those moments…during the movie, it was Harry…but later – and now – it’s ShahRukh)…and was so so sad for him…
Now comes the hard scene. They look adorable standing in the doorway together and it’s only when Mayank brings reality crashing down do things change for the worse. Harry’s pain when he listens to Sejal say this isn’t reality, that she has to go back home, is just heartbreaking. But being Harry, he quickly hides behind the cynicism of “all holidays end”. Mayank looks at Harry and understands his heartbreak but doesn’t say anything further. Now Harry and Sejal are alone with their thoughts and I feel Harry is furious that Sejal seems to want the charade to continue. So he becomes the bad guy. This playacting is killing him and he has to make it stop. That he is cruel is not done to just hurt her, but he needs her to realize that his emotions are fragile and she’s playing with them. She asks him what he wants and all Harry’s insecurities come out and he says he knows this is all a farce, basically that he’s not good enough to deserve a woman like her or the happiness she could offer. When she presses him again about what he wants he explodes. Does she want to be the fallen kind of woman who would run away with him. He feels she is not strong enough for that kind of decision. So he drives her away. Because he won’t admit to her what he really wants, she has no alternative but to tell him to book her flight. When she tells him, he looks resigned (like he knew it would end this way) and falls into tour guide again.
OH BOY!!!! I have been waiting for this scene! I’ve watched it over and over since it hit the streaming and the more I watch it, the more I find that my first impression is correct. Anushka isn’t making any decisions or “doing” anything, Shahrukh is reading in to her more than what is there and then deciding to end it on his own terms before she can (as he is sure she is about to).
If you look at what she says in the doorway, she starts off by talking about how happy she is, how she didn’t know this person was inside her. And the whole time, she and Shahrukh are exchanging glances and he is kind of smiling. But then she says “but it is a dream, right? It isn’t real?” And Shahrukh immediately slides to the other side of the doorway.
But, see, it was a question!!!! It was explicitly a question!!!! She said “it isn’t real?” and he immediately responded by moving away from her, showing that it wasn’t real. And then she continued, listing off what was waiting for her back home, and sounding obviously depressed and unhappy about it. This isn’t a “practical” list of things, this is a depressed listing of responsibilities. She has told him, clearly, that she is happy here. And then asked ASKED him, “is this real?” And finally listed off all that was waiting for her, all the things that were pulling her in the direction she didn’t want to go. She was looking for him to say “yes this is real”, either in the words or by giving her another smile. And he didn’t. And then she was looking for him to rescue her from all the things she doesn’t want, to say “forget that, stay with me and be happy.” And instead he said “no, vacations end”. Mayank gets it too. When he says “I’m sorry”, he is looking at both of them, aware that it is Shahrukh who is “guiding” them in this way.
And after that, her face is kind of uncertain and shaken when he asks if she is tired, like she is waiting for a Big Serious Discussion, and instead he suggests chilling on the balcony. So she throws herself into that, being super enthusiastic and happy and so on. And then he switches again, tells her they can’t keep doing this, and she is pushing for it to last, for him to say “stay with me.”
I can understand his side of things, of course. He doesn’t hear the question in her statement, he just hears another person saying they are leaving, he isn’t good enough, and rushes to end things before she can. But it’s his own insecurities that are driving him that way, not what she actually said or wants or feels. And then her insecurities come into play, after that final fight, she isn’t sure if he wants her (because he never said it). Until, clearly, she gets home and thinks on it and decides that he probably did love her and waits for him.
On Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 6:11 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
I knew that I would need the spoken words to get ‘a grip’ on this fight because my feelings were so mixed – the words uttered did not correspond with what I sensed the talking person felt!
Nancy, I think it’s not only Harry’s emotions which are fragile but the man himself has become rather fragile throughout his journey far away from home and basically without neither a home nor a family (that reminds me ShahRukh who – at a certain moment in his life – had become a man without neither a home nor a family).
I also think when Harry says that he is not good enough he does not feel this anymore…he feels already that he i s ‘good enough’ for Sejal…only that doesn’t count because it’s Sejal who has to feel that he is ‘good enough’ for her. Harry is a very intelligent man and as he genuinely loves Sejal he is also in the best of all teacher-modi: he wants her to figure out herself what s h e wants…not doing what h e wants because she loves him (unfortunately something women in general are tempted to do). This fight seems to be a brilliant piece from Imtiaz’ side…psychology in three(!) ways: getting pushed back into reality (with Mayank as the trigger because Harry’s wish that Irina takes him away isn’t ‘right’) – facing the need for a decision concerning what to do now – making clear that they still aren’t able to be sincere to each other (neither does Sejal tell that she has found the ring nor does Harry confess his love).
Watching it again, there is a huge gamut of expressions Harry goes through while Sejal is explaining herself to Mayank. First shocked at Mayank’s impropriety in asking her about her boyfriend, then expectant as Sejal speaks, then luxuriating in happiness when she says its a dream, then irritation when she says its not true and his mouth twists in anger when she mentions Rupen. It reminds me of that spitting scene from Safar. And immediately after I noticed that she starts to explain and he says lets go to the balcony. I think he didn’t want to start fighting at the door.
Agree. Is it in a comment here where I talk about the very “real” way the fight felt in terms of long time couples who know they are going to have a fight and sort of clear the ground and find a fighting place. It’s not like his fights with the woman before, where it just sprang up in the middle of the street. A settled couple has a kind of sense of “there is a real big fight that is about to come” and sort of prepares themselves for it, finds the right time and place and then lets loose.
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But Sejal doesn’t get that she thinks he wants to gloss over the fight and just chill. Which is what infuriates harry. The other thing is Sejal already has the ring but harry doesn’t know this. What was her plan. What would she have done if harry had not picked the fight. I keep trying imagine but draw a blank. She’s certainly not mature enough to take the decision. Yet.
I’m sticking with if Harry had given her a few more days to catch her breath, she would have realized she wanted to stay with him without needing to ever go away. I think the changes inside her were already in progress, there was no going back. Frankfurt or Bombay or anywhere else, she would wake up in two days and realize that she had to be with Harry.
But of course, Harry would never have felt sure if she had realized that while she was still with him, he had to know for sure that it was something that was just between Sejal and Sejal, no influence from him needed.
On Sun, Sep 10, 2017 at 1:24 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
He has no duty to give her anything. If she’s selfish he can be selfish too. Doing something by cutting yourself down will just be emotionally scarring.
P, as I suspect Harry to have seen the ring in Sejal’s hand, I can easily understand his reactions. He is angry that she still doesn’t tell the truth, still playing a game, still not coming to terms herself with her feelings. Another man (?!) would probably have cornered Sejal into admitting that she had found the ring, he wants her to take herself the decision about when telling her the truth.
However, even if Harry isn’t aware of Sejal having found the ring, he still can be angry all the same because just after her words at the door, her answer on the balcony is like a farce, like a slap…despite all his love he won’t be Sejal’s plaything. He has regained another view of himself through her, he was allowed to regain self-respect…he will not give that away any more…he doesn’t fear a fight anymore.
His reaction st the airport indicated that he had no clue until then that she had the ring.
Very possible…I’m not sure anymore about his reaction there…he was so subdued in his emotions (If I remember right), tried to hold back, tried to be ‘practical’, wanted it to end and not to end…
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I just rewatched this section because of the fill in aspect of the newest deleted scene. I think first of all the acting job he does in that doorway is second to none and it kills me how little credit he gets for those moments in film But, on to other things. I’m not sure I agree that she was the always dutiful daughter and wife type. Why does Rupen keep telling her she’s selfish? Something else has been poking its head out. Also, no one seemed so so shocked that she stays to look for the ring. But back to this scene: I think he genuinely can’t take the pretend marriage anymore; it is too painful so he sparks the fight. I didn’t at first, but now I agree with Carol that when she comes back into the room from her phone call, he has a hopeful look on his face. Maybe he is thinking/hoping that she told Rupen she wasn’t coming back. Also we never really discuss this point, “presumably makes the decision to sleep on the floor ever night after that first one.” I’d never thought abut why they slept on the floor in many places. To avoid sex? We all know that doesn’t work. Its interesting.
What I always pictured was what happened that first night. He wants to be close to her all the time, even all night, but he doesn’t feel worth of sleeping on her bed. And so he sleeps on the floor, and she comes to him there. To me, it’s one of the most revealing moments of his psychology, he doesn’t feel “worthy” of sleeping on a bed. His first night in a bed is when she leads him there and holds him there until he is asleep. And then lets him keep sleeping while she takes care of him for once.
On Mon, Oct 2, 2017 at 10:30 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
Yes. That’s it.
I agree almost completely with Carol’s reading of this scene above, so I’ll just add on to it here. Sejal has to go back. Her entire life is back there, she can’t just disappear. They both know this. They don’t know yet if what they’re feeling for each other, and the people they’ve become for one another, will remain after Sejal is back in her usual context with her family. (You can’t ever know how much these experiences have changed you until you go back home and face the image of the old you that your family still holds to be the true you.)
Harry knows that what they have is not simple, and that acting on it would require Sejal to break with her family and their expectations, opening herself up to attacks on her honor and her judgment, and bringing the same on her family. Being with him means walking away from everything that has given her life meaning up until now, with no guarantees that it will all work out for the best. He’s forcing her to face that by throwing it at her during the fight. He doesn’t want that for her *because this is exactly what he did*. He walked away from his home and family all those years ago, in the dead of night, and he never went back.
Sejal has to go back, and she has to face her family and her fiance. Harry believes her life will be better and easier without him. He knows the type of people they are, the family and their social milieu wouldn’t accept Harry the tour guide as an equal, as a match for Sejal. For him, Sejal continuing to hide from them is not an option – he can’t live with “chupke chupke”, not with her, and more importantly he knows what it’s like to run away, for years. It has not made him a happy person.
Sejal wants him to declare himself. No more playacting, no more anticipating the end, just say he loves her and wants her to stay, regardless of what that means. She asks him three times (Margaret, at one point you went looking further back in the movie for those three times, but I think they’re all together in this scene) but he won’t because he’s trying to protect her from herself. All he can see is how much she would be giving up and what it feels like to spend your life wandering lost.
Just one other thing, I want to take a moment to appreciate Mayank. He does so much with his few scenes, he’s absolutely essential to the movie, and I totally believe in his genuine friendship with Harry. The strong, deeply felt, complex friend and family relationships are one of the things I’ve come to admire and appreciate about Indian film.
Same thoughts from my side about Mayank. Besides his unconditional friendship and obvious understanding of Harry’s nature, he has what I would call ‘key-scenes’ as he always changes the direction of movement (even in the deleted scene). I hope that the actor (Aru Verma) will get more prominent roles.
Really interesting point that this is how Shahrukh left his family!
It’s interesting how they both have half of the answer in this fight. Shahrukh wants her to go home, back to “real” life. She wants him to ask her to stay forever. But what actually needs to happen is for her to go home and say good-bye to her “real” life and then stay forever. So, they are both right, Shahrukh knows she needs to go back and she knows she needs to stay with him, but they are also both wrong, Shahrukh shouldn’t think they can just end this without thinking about it again and she is wrong to think they can just continue forever without confronting what this really is.
On Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 12:09 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
What I immensely like about this movie that the answers are in the movie itself…I got the feeling that every information one needs to understand the character and the movie is given in the film.
Yes, agree with both comments. There are many clues to follow within the film. And they both have some measure of being right in the argument. This fight felt very real to me, both the content and as an emotional explosion, again having been there myself in the past :). (I was Harry that time, probably why I sympathize with his perspective.)
I don’t know if anyone will see this since it is all so long ago but I just discovered something about Rupen. I was watching a television series from 2010 called rishta.com. In it the male lead is the same actor who plays Rupen in that brief scene.
,”And Rupen! Finally! Who after all that build up is exactly as dull as you thought he would be. And suddenly Anushka makes so much sense after this final piece comes in! Because, Rupen is terrible. … He isn’t that handsome, he isn’t that young, he isn’t that sensitive or charming.”
In the tv show Rohan (see how close the names are?) is charming, sexy, a ladies man but a genius at finding matches, at understanding people and in fact underneath the “bad boy” a very good boy. (sound like anyone). Any Indian watching JHMS would see Rupen and automatically have positive, “oh, now I see how she got engaged to him” vibes even in reality both are parts an actor played. But we all know fictional persona one affects how people think of fictional persona two.That would have made picking Harry a REAL choice, one that she can’t make until she goes back and sees him. I’m of the school that she had to go home to come back to Harry. Hurtful as it was, it was the only way. What would have happened if he hadn’t chased her there? She would have somehow gotten the info to him that she was not married. She would NOT have sat around her whole life pining because as she says she’s selfish.
One last point no one will see: Claudia you said, “without neither a home nor a family (that reminds me ShahRukh who – at a certain moment in his life – had become a man without neither a home nor a family”. The truth is Shah Rukh had Gauri. He needed a home and he made an emotional one with her, even before they were married. Imtiaz knows that and I think used that. Shah Rukh knows exactly how it feels to have his love be his home and his way of recovering from great sorrow.
Let me know what you think if anyone sees this.
I saw it and liked the new input. So Rupen would have been positivly viewed by many, many of the Indian audience (who got to know him as Rohan)…no wonder that many did not understand why Sejal chose Harry.
I think you are right when you see Gauri as his emotional home, especially after his mother got very ill and eventually died. The marriage by-the-state was four months after his mother’s death, the Hindi one two months later…and I am sure that Gauri’s family had accepted his quasi need to be with her.
Still, I see ShahRukh as a young man losing his roots in a certain way especially with relatives who asked for heritage, a small restaurant he had no idea how to sustain and almost no money because of his mother’s hospitalization and expensive treatment.
I think, that apart from Gauri, certain people in the filmindustry became a kind of surrogate family and his intensive work in movies his survival strategy.
Oh good! Someone besides me who is coming back to these posts.
I can’t speak to biography, but that’s an interesting nuance on the strategic casting of Rupen. In the film, without that background, he really does seem bland and unappealing in his one brief appearance, presumably by design. However, I do see it as a real choice. The precipitating event of the search for the ring is Sejal being so hurt by Rupen’s outburst and anger that she rips up her boarding pass and leaves. Plus she has her whole life set up for her in Mumbai, and he looms large in whatever future she has been imagining for herself. Totally agree that she had to go back and face up to all that before she could make her real choice.
‘Cause you’re not the only one who comes back to re-read … (Re-watching JHMS after accidentally re-watching Dear Zindagi which hits wayyyy too close to home and caused all sorts of unexpected feels and tears! 😥😬)
It’s not just Sejal’s holiday that ends. Harry’s “holiday” ends as well; he finally goes goes home to Punjab.
So much to dissect in this movie! Well, in most Bollywood movies, it seems. So many symbols and references … it always reminds me how young American culture really is.
Also, is it just me, or does SRK really seem to identify with the Harry persona? Adored (and hated) by millions – if not billions – of people, but still very solitary. He gives off an exceptionally lonely vibe to me. (I share Margaret’s super power of reading people. I’m a huge hit at social gatherings. 🙄😉)
What say you?
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I’m pretty sure SRK could identify with Harry the miserable tour guide. Both constantly surrounded by people, both constantly having to smile and be clever, and both rarely getting to really know people. ANother similarity, Claudia mentioned SRK making a family out of film people, and that is usually what young people living abroad will do too, though in Harry’s case all he had was his co-worker.
Oh absolutely, there is that sadness there. Have you watched Billu? Shahrukh is more of an extended cameo than anything in that, but he is playing a movie star like himself and has a speech at the end about the over-whelming loneliness of being this famous. He left his home town, his parents died, no one really knows him. except, in real life, he has Gauri which I think makes all the difference.
On Sun, Jul 26, 2020 at 11:49 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:
I think he could probably identify with parts of Harry to be sure, the loneliness of the orphan the biggest part (Imtiaz totally threw that line in on purpose). You could see Harry as a possible alternative SRK if his big gamble in moving to Mumbai hadn’t worked out and he’d never made it as an actor. At the same time, I see this as one of his really good performances as an accomplished actor with many years behind him. He found the parts that connected emotionally and then he built a whole character around it. If that makes sense…I see Harry as less of a natural fit than Kabir in Chak De! for example, but maybe more nuanced and impressive as a performance because of that.
I feel like in this segment Shahrukh picked the fight to push her away because he feels unworthy and afraid. Since the beginning he had been saying things to prepare himself for rejection, so much so as asking Anushka to leave when the time comes ie telling her to reject him when the time comes. It’s this inner conflict within him of wanting love but feeling unworthy. Wanting love but not being willing to face rejection. Having lived through so much pain, it’s the defense mechanism to prevent any unexpected pain. Push her to reject him so he is in control of how the pain comes to him. Of course it has so much cognitive dissonance and unhappiness that he can’t be ok with it. And I think it’s why mayank encouraging him later is so important because a supportive friend/ person encouraging someone like him who is clearly traumatized and in pain could give him the capacity to tolerate the unbearable prospect of rejection
I see (after reading the whole post) that you also thought that this is what he had been putting in place all along!