Shahrukh Summer: Brief “Hawayein” Analysis

This is a little treat for those of you who like this kind of thing, a deep intense consideration of a small moment of SRK screen time.

“Hawayein”

Sartrekid got me started thinking about this one by pointing out Shahrukh’s transition from a reluctant pretend loving gaze, to a sincere one. And to make this easy for me, and you, I’m not going to do screenshots or anything. I’m just gonna put the same video in over and over again so you can easily pull it up and rewatch it between paragraphs.

The song starts with a bit of play acting on both their parts, childish playacting which cuts through their barriers to something adult and real. Anushka has offered to be his girlfriend and catches him glancing at her the way a man looks at a woman, a quick sideways glance and then away so that he does not reveal his interest. She reads it the way she is used to thinking of those glances, the way Shahrukh phrased it when he tried to politely turn her down, that she is a “proper” woman and therefore it isn’t right for Shahrukh to look at her. This is both true, and not true. Shahrukh isn’t looking at her directly because he doesn’t want to fall in love, doesn’t want to open himself up to the intimacy of those emotions and a human connection. It’s not about following the rules of society, it is about following his instincts which tell him that this woman is dangerous for his independence, for his heart.

But now Anushka is insisting that he look at her, like it is a children’s game. And if Shahrukh were to react as an adult, he would reveal his own feelings, so he also pretends it is a game. He makes a show of widening his eyes acting out “looking” and she makes a show of modest smiling, acting out “being looked at”. This is a specific dynamic of love songs, and love stories, and films. It is the man’s job to honor the woman by looking at her, and the woman’s job to be polite and pretty and be looked at. They are children, pretending to be adults by exaggerating what they have seen adults do.

And then it shifts. Without losing that childish aspect. This is where the particular setting comes into play. Because they are on a train, sitting by a window on high stools at a high table, they naturally rest their arms on the table and then their heads on their arms. They are no longer faking the gaze-being gazed at dynamic. Their faces have relaxed, they are truly starring at each other, equals. But at the same time, the way they are sitting is a child’s pose, a little child at a high table trying to stay awake, or a school child sleeping on their desk. They have stripped away the postures of adulthood, the fakery of adulthood, and are retreating to something simpler. The scene fades out with them in this pose, implying that they spent the rest of the train journey looking into each others’ eyes.

Research has shown over and over again that the mere act of making eye contact creates intimacy. A couple who is forced to look at each other for 5 minutes forms an automatic bond. And it is just common sense anyway, we all know this. That is what this moment is showing. The gazing at each other, choosing to do it, is taking a conscious leap into dangerous intimacy. They can dress it up like a children’s game, but that’s what it is. Anushka is playing at inviting intimacy, and Shahrukh is letting himself follow her lead.

We fade in again an unknown amount of time later. The implication is they spent the train journey gazing at each other, and then returned to real life after arriving. Anushka is moving around, talking, pointing, and just living her life. But Shahrukh is still stuck watching her. The music is playing in the background through this and we can see that it is playing in Shahrukh’s head now, not hers.

He is standing above her, looking down, and wearing sunglasses to protect his eyes. Not from the sun, but from anyone seeing what he is looking at. He can’t stop watching Anushka, but he isn’t ready yet for her to know he is watching. Or maybe he wants to watch her without her knowing?

There is a dynamic of a man watching a woman with her knowledge. That’s what they were playing at before. He reveals his appreciation, she rewards it by posing and dancing in front of him. But this is different. Shahrukh isn’t watching her while she is posing, trying to please her with his attention. He is watching her to please himself, because he likes watching her.

Through out the earlier parts of the film we see Anushka trying to get Shahrukh to look at her, and Shahrukh not really looking at her. She even demands his attention after she has dressed up at the club and he barely glances at her. On the other hand, there were other moments when Shahrukh wanted to look at her and resisted it. Now, Anushka isn’t even trying any more, and Shahrukh can’t stop himself. He isn’t so much watching her as studying her, trying to understand why this woman, this average boring young woman, is making him feel something. And Anushka is innocent enough to not even be aware of his watching her.

The song breaks here, when Anushka calls to him and he has to talk to her. He stops looking at her and starts giving her the normal amount of attention that is polite, not constant eye contact but only occasional. He interacts with her normally in general, almost aggressively normally. Anushka is talking excited and slightly emotional about remembering being in the restaurant and wondering where she could have dropped her ring. Shahrukh reacts with calm polite interest, they have moved beyond that, even before Radha and falling in love, they joked and snarked. And now the snark is gone, he is being polite and distant. Especially when Anushka tells him to pretend to be her fiance and guide her to a table to help her remember. He takes of his glasses, walks down the stairs, and gestures like a waiter towards a table. Polite and distant and with no personality.

Anushka pushes him to act “like a fiance”. I don’t think, at this moment, that Anushka is flirting or thinking of it as a game. Or, not exactly. I don’t read her insistence as being about wanting to flirt with Shahrukh, but about acknowledging that they were more friends than employer and employee by this point. She isn’t insisting on the play acting to use her power, she is insisting on the play acting because they play together, it’s something she can ask as a friend and expect him to do. He is trying to keep their relationship professional and she is pushing through that because she misses her friend.

Which brings us to the second half of the song. Shahrukh leaps up to the top of the stairs and turns away from her to face the camera, the first time he has stopped looking at her since the moment on the train. And he visibly prepares himself. This is the culmination of this whole journey of the song. At first it was simply about play acting. Then it changed into creating a bond between two people, an intimacy. Just now it was about him trying to figure out his own feelings, understand this bond he now feels. But he is making a choice here, his gaze will no longer be passive and thoughtful, it will be acting, bringing her too him, forcing her to feel something like he is feeling. And at the same time declaring his own emotions.

He turns back and gazes steadily at Anushka as he runs lightly down the stairs to her. It’s not just the gaze, it’s the movement. He is declaring that he is no longer a boring proper tour guide (the way he tried to be a moment ago), he is now an excited real person, he has personality. It’s a difference already. And then he reaches the bottom of the stairs and maintains eye contact as he draws her in and kisses her forehead.

As Shahrukh draws her through the crowd to their table, the important thing is that he never stops looking at her. He risks hitting waiters, walking into tables, because the most important thing is to keep looking at her, she is the most important thing. Anushka isn’t sure how to react. At first, she keeps looking around, like she is worried about the world around them and if they will run into things, if people are watching. But as he keeps looking at her, slowly she returns his gaze. By the end they are staring into each others eyes again. Not as a joke, and not as an experiment, but because they can’t help themselves. Until finally she has to lower her eyes.

This all started with a joke of Anushka pretending to be “watched” while Shahrukh looked at her. And it ends with that in the most intimate real way. Shahrukh is gazing at her and causing her to feel so much that she must lower her eyes and simply enjoy his look.

30 thoughts on “Shahrukh Summer: Brief “Hawayein” Analysis

  1. Thank you for giving me another reason to watch this video a thousand more times. Great analysis as always and it makes me so mad that this film didn’t get more praise. Back to Desi audience vs non-Desi.

    There’s so much subtle, moving acting here that also moves the story between their changing feelings for each other with the starts and stops of real (confusing) romance. The way he turns her around at the start of the second half after the forehead kiss…perfect slo-mo into his arm around her shoulder but it’s raw and honest, not trying to be slick or gamey.

    Like

    • Speaking of raw and honest, one thing I love is that their posture as they walk emphasizes that she is taller than him. That’s a real couple, not a perfect picture match but still fitting together in their own way.

      So long as you are watching it a thousand times, please weigh in on the vital question of “does his booty go pop pop pop or is it just the way he is standing at 1:05 that makes it look that way?”

      On Fri, Aug 30, 2019 at 10:02 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

      • I loved that Imtiaz Ali didn’t try to hide the height difference. It could have easily been done through clever angles or making SRK wear shoes that give an extra inch. They also left alone SRK’s skin tone which made him look so much better and more real than when they pack on light colored make-up. It gave the whole film a lot more intimacy instead of the detachment we usually get when watching movie stars on screen.

        Like

        • Anushka too, I was noticing in this scene how awkward her face looked, and I think it is just because she was wearing so little make-up. Which is true to her character, and also gives her such a fresh real feeling. Heck, just the way her hair is a disaster at the start of Radha helps to give us the feeling of a real person.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Well, that’s a sad conclusion. But matches my observations as to why he does not always look the best in tight fitting jeans.

          On Sat, Aug 31, 2019 at 12:49 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

          >

          Like

    • It’s definitely strange for sure. The movie is really, really nice, and I’d say its quality, from cinematography to songs, is good too. Somehow, I do wonder if it has to do with him. Fan is said to be great (haven’t seen it but will do so this weekend), JHMS is great, Zero (no idea) doesn’t seem to be liked by many, fans and media alike. But at least two out of his last three films are great and yet they get slammed. I really am beginning to wonder if there are other dynamics at work, maybe they want to see SRK fail or are tired of his success? I don’t know. On our German TV channel they air lots of the 90’s gen movies, so lots of the Khans’, but also tons of new movies from the past few years and I must say, all of the new ones I have seen, which are very few, granted, were absolute bollocks. So, I do wonder how the critics are with those because I don’t see how these movies are any better than what the previous generation did and does. Very weird to me.

      And another thing that saddens me a bit is that movies with a more European appeal get rejected so much, at least SRK movies with a European appeal. What’s wrong with sometimes mingling different cultures together? It’s not like a contra-Indian statement or vice versa. I don’t know. I enjoy a lot of the Indian cinema that I’ve so far viewed, whether they were deeply rooted in Indian culture and tradition or not.

      I presume the answer is complex. But still, major “sigh”. I just hope SRK will continue to do whatever movies he wants to do, regardless of what critics lament or the box office spit out.

      Liked by 1 person

          • Thank you for the comment! I’m going to edit it (hopefully after you have read this response) because, as I said, I do not accept comments on this topic. It is too serious to be addressed on this blog and I want to keep this primarily a place for light and happy conversations, or personal stories, not Big Issues.

            On Fri, Aug 30, 2019 at 12:48 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

            >

            Like

      • The politics of it are too long and difficult so I’ll skip that.
        But when it comes to Europe-set cinema, I think it’s basically a cycle. Average Indians have turned very inward and isolationist lately. They want to see movies set in small towns and villages, earthy stories about their problems and triumphs and Pakistan-bashing is always welcome so lots of army, spy, war type stories are also in. I don’t know much about South Indian movies so I hope I’m not overstepping here but the logic and physics-defying masala movies of the South have also had a huge impact on BW. The thing with those movies is – no matter how stupid or bad they may be – they know how to inspire excitement and make pulses race. Getting to see villains beat to a pulp speaks to that desire for vengeance we all have deep inside. Rohit Shetty’s entire formula is based on this and it works every single time. The 80s were a similar time in BW with lots of dumb action movies, garbage regressive sentiments, male bravado, etc. It was also the time families started abandoning theaters (there was nothing for them to see) and people started watching TV or using their VCRs.
        I think a similar thing will happen if this keeps up this time except that people will retire to Netflix and Prime. The only people that are rushing out to see movies are young men and so everything is catered to them – dumb action movies, young women dancing on the side, or the alleged “social” movie like Mission Mangal which plays its own tricks like putting a man at the center of a woman’s story – they watch these to feel good about themselves that they are watching an “important” movie.
        Either the cycle will have to shift again or theater audiences will keep reducing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I truly enjoyed reading your thoughts on this and I see most of it in the video too.

    I really, really love the ambivalence they show, switching from guarded, overly rationalizing dishonesty (him more so than her), to raw sincere moments throughout (again, he more so than her). I think he is generally more guarded, more dishonest, and simultaneously less guarded and more honest than she can be at this point. Actually, I’d say while she „subconsciously“ knows why she is this persistent with keeping him at her side, she doesn’t really become fully aware as to why until she’s at the airport when she turns around again, perhaps yearning for him to make that decision for her instead. He doesn’t though, and she isn’t brave enough to do it herself at this point, more or less not awake enough, so she goes into automation mode and continues with where she thinks she’s expected to be, to live a life she feels she is expected to live.

    Quick note re knowing that she’s erring: When she found out that her ring was in her purse all this time, she did start to somehow realize (but perhaps not comprehend to the fullest) that she was never looking for that ring to begin with. I do find the airport scene sort of confirmed what she felt then but couldn’t translate in absolute ways.

    But it is at the airport where it’s the first time where she is consciously aware that maybe she is on the side of err and close to admitting that she might long for chaos instead of societal order, prefer the unpredictable over consistent down-to-earthness, excitement over frigidity, none of which she would have with her soon-to-be husband.

    Anyway, back to the song. I love, love, LOVE the walking romantically sequence. Again, it’s so well crafted in every which way. Just like the train scene, she playfully „invites“ (or forces?) him to be more caring (not sure if she actually knows or senses or hopes that something more is going on in him than he is letting on, I’m banking on the latter).
    And like in the train scene, he does it in his dismissive, „I really couldn’t be arsed with this romantic nonsense“ kind of attitude, then, upon her insistence, he composes himself, lets go of his guard and just goes all in, signified by his smirk-like smile, indicating something like, „well, you asked for it, so here goes what I really feel right now“. And it’s remarkable how well Anushka translates that confusion in her facial expression. She is baffled, confused and overwhelmed, all at the same time. Kind of awe-struck, she walks with him and „plays“ along. But she seems very unsure of what’s going on and to me it’s apparent that she didn’t expect it to go down this route at all. And it makes sense because she then says she wished her fiancé would be like that to her. So she is definitely not (yet) aware of what love is and that it most certainly isn’t a dish where you can pick and choose whatever ingredients you desire.

    As for him, I felt that this was his turning point too. More his than hers. In this moment, like you said, he was the one to be persistent. He didn’t let go of his gaze even once, as you indicated. Even when she kind of got slightly intimidated, but mostly confused, he made sure to hold that gaze, which was the most reassuring thing he could offer to her at this point. It was most certainly a moment of raw sincerity for him. And at the end she gave him a nod, though I think it didn’t mean that she fully understood what was going on but rather that it was something that had a deep impact on her, carried great import and perhaps even felt „new“ in terms of emotional experience. I don’t think she drew the right conclusions from it yet, though, because she is scared. Very scared. And the follow-up scene signifies that. Where he tells her that this „companionship“ might turn into something a lot more intense and her reaction is to back off, even going out of her way to insult him as good as she knows how, degrading him in no uncertain terms. Partially, out of self-defense / fear, but also to reassure herself that none of this can or should be her path and that her initial route is the right one.

    Like

    • I think Shahrukh’s character in this has such extreme emotional intelligence and empathy that there is this odd push-pull of him always knowing exactly what he is doing to her even while she doesn’t recognize it, while she still thinks she is in control. There’s this scene, there’s the moment before the fight when he tells her she is “worthy” because he knows that will distract her and keep her from panicking, and there’s the whole final ugly battle between them when he is pushing her away and pushing this fight to happen because he wants her to break up with him.

      This song is such a lovely clear example of that dynamic. Anushka is seemingly in control, she says “I want you to do this”, she initiates it. But Shahrukh immediately takes control back because he is so much more experienced, and so much more able to play on her emotions while she is still trying to figure out what she feels.

      I think your pointing to her “confusion” is so important. She is confused by this whole thing, doesn’t know how she feels about it, doesn’t know how Shahrukh feels right now, it’s all outside of her experience. And we see her go from confusion, to fear, to enjoyment, to finally being as hypnotized by their connection as he is.

      On Fri, Aug 30, 2019 at 11:20 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think the moment Harry wasn’t confused anymore was when they were hiding from the goons outside the boat…when the two swans passed by.
        Everything that happened between this scene and Lisbon was a kind of guiding Sejal to the point of acknowledging her own feelings.
        I had a lot of DearZindagi-Jug feelings…an experienced man who helps an unexperienced but longing woman to discover herself still giving her the space to do the first step which she does three times in this song. Sejal is like a kid pushing the limits with a kind of basic trust in Harry. It is immensely touching how he gives her the lead but also does the ‘you-asked-for-it’.

        Like

        • That brings me back, again, to their final fight. That’s when Harry finally lets loose, attacks her in every way he can instead of protecting her. But he only does it at the end, when she is strong and sure of herself and what she wants. So different from this scene when he is giving her a controlled joyful taste of what freedom would be like, while still protecting her. Come to think of it, the scene right after this could have been that final fight, but instead Harry held back, played it casual and patronizing instead of forcing her to confront her feelings. I guess because his feelings were still under control at this point. But at the end, he was ready to hurt her as much as she hurt him.

          Like

          • Well, it was high time to end this kid’s play to which Anushka seemed wanting to hold on (asking where to go now, on the balcony). And him not telling her what HE wanted was the absolutely right decision because if she still had to ask this she wasn’t sure of herself yet…and Harry wasn’t the man anymore to let himself be her guide,

            Like

          • Agree! The one thing that I disagree with that I have heard is the suggestion that the final fight was somehow out of Shahrukh’s control. I think he was always in control of their relationship, even when he was out of control. Like here, he was in love with her and letting his emotions go, but he also chose when he was letting them go and how much. The same with the fight, he decided when he could let his anger go all the way and surprised her with it.

            On Fri, Aug 30, 2019 at 1:14 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

            >

            Like

          • Without getting too personal, sometimes being in relationship limbo feels safe and comfortable, which is what I think Anushka felt. She loved traveling with Harry and experiencing butterflies in her stomach but she also liked that there was normal life with her parents/family/husband waiting for her to return. It was in a way the best of both worlds. Of course it can’t last forever but it does feel good while it does. If Harry hadn’t gotten angry, Anushka would have continued the charade for much longer because having to finally make a choice and pick one or the other is very scary and difficult. Picking Harry would be like diving into the unknown with no safety net and possibly having to cut off her entire old life/family. Picking the other guy (can’t remember his name now) would be the boring option but also one that she is used to and which comes with it’s own perks and benefits. A selfish person would want to remain in that limbo between the two for as long as possible where all possibilities are still open and you can continue to experience fun and joy while it is going on. It would have been excruciating for Harry if she kept wasting his time, getting him more involved, and then ended up choosing her old life. Nobody wants to get played like that so he had to fight with her and push her on her way, regardless of whichever decision she makes.

            I think everyone goes through that period once or twice in their life where all options are open in front of them and you are spoilt for choice. It’s exciting and scary and a time that most people relish even though it doesn’t last long. She was definitely going to stretch it out as long as she could since she had an self-admittedly selfish streak. That’s why she wanted to keep traveling with Harry around Europe even after finding the ring (and hiding it). She couldn’t let go of that freedom yet. Harry basically had to kick her out and forcibly remove himself as an option to show her what picking the other one was going to be like.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Agree with you, Anonymous.
            As I’m almost sure that Harry noticed that she had found the ring (in her bag) seeing her hiding it in her hand, he felt that it was up to him to end this and to push her to a decision after what she said to Mayank at the door.
            After Hawayein he knew that he had the power to keep her with him but he decided to give, not to take. Nevertheless, after Sejal’s flight back, he fell back to the well.known process of resigning and – maybe – without that final conversation with Mayank, he would have shied away from this “at least you have to tell her about your love for her” (still with a kind of letting go in mind but in another way than he did in all the years before).
            I think I already mentioned somewhere that in many of ShahRukh’s movies it is this “letting go” that finally leads to a happy ending.

            Like

  3. So much rigorous and detailed analysis here, both from you and from your commenters. I don’t have much to add, other than to say that reading everyone’s thoughts really increases my enjoyment of this scene, so thank you!

    on a side note, my Bombay Jam Dance Fitness class has been using this very song for its cool down routine for the past year, so I’ve been getting my 3 minutes of jhms fix several times a week, imagining bits and pieces of this song video while I stretch and relax. Unfortunately, they just changed to inkem inkem from Gita Govinda, which is also a lovely song , but I’m sad to have the jhms reminder disappear for my routine 😦

    Like

  4. When they end at the cafe and he says this is dangerous and she goes back to her “ high hopes routine” has always felt like it didn’t fit any of this.

    Like

    • Thank you, I agree! The first time I watched it in theaters, it felt like a random conflict inserted so they could have a strong interval point. And since then I have watched it over and over again, considered different character explanations, analyzed their performances, and so on. And I STILL think it was a random conflict inserted so they could have a strong interval point! It’s out of character for him to be so blunt and serious and her to be so casually hurtful at this point. And then the conversation never comes up again, it would make far more sense for the film to go from the joking talk about how “I wish you could teach my fiance how to be romantic” straight into “Beech Beech Mein” than to have that confrontational conversation that never goes anywhere.

      Like

  5. I am so happy to realize that there are other people who love this movie as much as I do. I was a tour guide in Europe for a few years, and I saw this film and thought – well that just nails it! When I looked online for discussions it was almost always negative critiques. Thank you for writing this blog! To chime in on the discussion, I feel the cafe conflict illustrates how beneath her he is socially, how to fall for him she isn’t just falling for an exciting man in a foreign local, but for a someone her family sees as a servant. And the conflict does go somewhere in that he basically challenges her not to fall in love with him, and she agrees. Thus they can go back to their joking banter, but she can never say he didn’t warn her.

    Like

    • So happy you found us!

      I don’t know, I still don’t like the confrontation. It feels too filmi, like it is saying explicitly things we already saw clearly in a far more natural and subtle way.

      On Wed, Sep 4, 2019 at 11:45 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

      • I only started watching Hindi films in March of 2019 (I am in a book club that was vicariously travelling to India and I got a bad flu, too sick to read books, but not too sick to read subtitles.) JHMS was perhaps the 6th Hindi film I saw. I didn’t know much about Indian culture, and I needed that fight for me to realize how much a tour guide is not respected in India. I was a tour guide, in America I have never felt disrespected for it. I have a friend whose parents grew up in India, but then moved to the states. As a child she went back there every summer. Though she is a doctor she certainly holds no disrespect for tour guides. How many NRI’s really remember everything about India? Could it be they needed a reminder? At least that is how I rationalize its inclusion seeing as it so bothered you and many of your readers. It didn’t bother me though, I actually really like Sejal’s character. I admire blunt women who aren’t afraid to state what they want. She wants a fling before marriage, she wants to be desired, she doesn’t want to fall in love with a tour guide. She might be naive, but she’s not sweet. I really love this movie. I just found your full annotation of it last night… It is going to take a while to go through it.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.