Here we are, at the end! I will be putting up a few sort of open discussion posts in a bit, because it feels like people still have things to say, but this is the end of the actual scene by scene. Hopefully as nice an ending as it was for the film itself, a moment of joy confirming everything we have seen before (full index of JHMS coverage here)
Previously: Shahrukh proposed, Anushka accepted. And we go straight from that moment of love, to this, their arrival in the village in the Punjab that Shahrukh has been dreaming of for years, but fearing to return to.
And this brings us into “Butterfly”! Which I have heard of as added on last minute, a massy moment that doesn’t fit. But for me, it fits exactly. We needed this to close the circle. Shahrukh has returned home. Just as Anushka did. She confronted her family and her life and did what she needed before she could be ready for Shahrukh. And now she has made him ready for that same confrontation, to go back home. I love their faces as they walk through the passageways and up the stairs to his home. Shahrukh has this reflective expression, his fingers drift along the walls. Anushka is right behind him, not touching him, but there if he needs her, and she has a big smile on her face. Not because she is unaware of what he is feeling, but because she is so aware of it. She knows he is going through something hard that he needs to go through. She is happy she is there for him, that holding her hand comforts him. And then they finally reach the terrace of his family home. A few people come out to see him, not sure who he is. Until an older woman comes out, sees him sitting there, embraces him, sobbing, as Anushka stands away and watches and gives him this moment.
I don’t know who that woman is, but it doesn’t really matter. She could be his mother, his sister, his best friend’s wife. The point is, she is someone who knows him, someone who missed him. The thing he thought he would never have, didn’t deserve to have. The song he keeps hearing, “Jee Ve Sohaneya”, finally is embodied. There was someone there, all the time, singing him home.
And now we can have “Butterfly”. The celebration of love and live triumphant. It starts with Shahrukh going out on a tractor, and slowly tying a turban around his head. He has found himself again, the part of himself that used to be hidden under the clothes, the tattoo and the steel bracelet and the Punjabi slang he never quite lost. But now it is all out there, he is in the right place again.
And Anushka is in the right place too because she is with him. It sounds terribly regressive, but this is their relationship. He needs the Punjab, needs a certain way of living. And she just needs to live within his life. Whatever he wants, she can adjust to it, so long as she still has him.
But then, that is what he promised her when he proposed. That he would always keep her feeling beautiful and worthy. And now, in “Butterfly”, we get to see how he does that. He sings to her, he tells her he wants her to fly to him in the fields. And she tries to come to him in the fields, all confident in her bright Salwar, and stumbles a little, because she is still “Sejal” who is never going to be the perfect graceful woman. But it doesn’t matter, she recovers and Shahrukh still sings to her.
(Also, as one of my friends pointed out, what he is wearing could really best be described as an idea of a shirt, rather than an actual shirt. A nice little parting gift from the customers to us)
The whole song is like that. Sejal is Sejal, but she no longer feels bad about that, she glories in it, because Shahrukh glories in it. They try to do the elegant falling sari scarf on the head moment, and it lands off center and he has to lift it off her face. She does her little “Sejal” hand move, and he cries out “oy oy oy oy!” because for him it is the most enticing thing a woman can do. And, in my favorite line, she says it directly, “I am beautiful [loveable? I’m not confident in the subtitles] because I am yours”.
And she is beautiful because she is yours to all the other people around them as well. We see these little moments of Anushka being welcomed in as the new bride of the family, sitting with the other women, in a series of new outfits. After these two people were rejected and alone for 2 hours, it’s amazingly cathartic to see them finally finding a place where they are welcomed with joy and unconditional love. I’m not saying the Punjab is heaven on earth (although sometimes based on films I think it might be!), but it is for them. A place where both of them can be who they are without fear of losing their place. Shahrukh, because he has finally learned that he can be forgiven and loved by his home, and Anushka because they love her because she loves Shahrukh because he loves her.
It all comes together in the final moment of the song. As the rest of the village dances beneath them, Shahrukh takes Anushkas hand and kisses it. She jokingly gives him her other hand, he kisses that as well, and then takes both hands and gently places them on his eyes. Anushka gives him a little look, a soft head tilt of concern, he shakes it off, and then puts his hand on her head, the same husband’s blessing position that he first took when calming her while hiding in Prague. Only now real, she is the blessing in his life, he is worshiping her. That gesture of touching her hands to his eyes, I know I have seen it before, I know it is something you do when you want to take blessings, it is not something a husband would usually do for a wife. It is giving her a much higher position, which is why she is worried, what happened to make him suddenly need her so much? And he calms her worry, and thanks her for all she has done for him, by giving her the blessing she wants, his love as a husband, her position as his wife.