Rating : 10/10 (5/5)
A few weeks back the film fraternity suffered one of its greatest losses—the untimely demise of one of its most revered sons, Yash Chopra. The legendary director turned 80 only a few days before. Chopra died in a Mumbai hospital from complications relating to dengue fever. He died before completing his last film Jab Tak Hai Jaan (until I have life in me/ until my last breath). Some would say how befitting for a man who gave his life to making millions of people around the world happy over a career spanning decades; he was meant to pass on with his proverbial boots on as it were.
The strangest thing is that Chopra announced his retirement and said he would choose a quiet life once Jab Tak Hain Jaan wrapped up. As much as we would like to mourn Chopra’s passing, we need to celebrate what this great man of Indian cinema has gifted the world. And Jab Tak Hai Jaan is the perfect conduit for the late Yash Chopra to say his final goodbyes to the movie world…for the final time.
While Jab Tak Hai Jaan will probably be remembered more now for being Chopra’s last film, it is a movie that has plenty of other qualities to make it one of his best in a very decorated career. The film is a mature love story relayed beautifully by his lead cast; the striking landscapes; its pulsating music and of course a well-thought out script. What is also evident is that Yash Chopra—with his last film—has not committed that dastardly of all movie sins by refusing to keep in-step with the changed and changing world around him. He could have easily placed this searing love story in an altogether anachronistic frame which could have hurt the film’s overall currency. Instead, he sticks to this old and trusted troubled love story theme but within a modern context. One integral example of this is his choice of AR Rahman to do the music. Not many people understand Rahman’s music fully: his is a rare form of music-making that is only appreciated with time situated within the appropriate setting. Both Yash Raj Films and Rahman came in for some scathing criticism when the film’s music released.
I can however tell you that after watching Jab Tak Hai Jaan Yash Chopra knew exactly what he was doing. I cannot comprehend anyone else except Rahman scoring the music here. I firmly believe a Jatin Lalit, Pritam, Rajesh Roshan or even Shiv Hari would have been terribly mis-placed had they been contracted. Rahman’s music for Jab Tak Hai Jaan fits in perfectly with what Yash Chopra wanted on screen.
Like most of Yash Chopra’s films, destiny, blind faith and an unwavering belief in a higher power are essential elements and Jab Tak Hai Jaan is no exception. These three siblings puppeteer the lives of Samar Anand (Shah Rukh Khan), Meera (Katrina Kaif) and Akira (Anushka Sharma). Samar Anand is a care-free soul who believes in hard work and doing everything with a passion. Samar finds himself in the United Kingdom (UK) struggling together with his roommate in a cramped one-bedroom flat and simultaneously holding down multiple jobs. It is later revealed that he is in the UK because his mother did not want him to join the Indian army back home like the rest of the men in his family. During one of his jobs, he encounters Meera gliding over the snow darting towards the church. Unlike Samar, Meera comes from a privileged background but her parents’ marriage break-up has somewhat scarred her. For her, God is her best friend and the moral compass that navigates her through all of life’s impediments. She begins seeing Samar singing at street corners and takes an instant liking to him. As the only child to her parents, she enlists Samar’s help in teaching her to sing a Punjabi song at her father’s 50th birthday—to demonstrate to her father also that she can still very much connect to her traditions and primary language. As the two spend more and more time together, the unthinkable happens and they fall in love. Although she is engaged to her best friend, Meera connects with Samar because of his naked honesty and her ability to be herself when she’s around him. Soon enough, destiny intervenes and Meera has to strike a deal with the gods. Her one decision exiles Samar to the harsh, rocky terrain of the Kashmiri outback where he trades-in emotion for a life of solitude and indifference as a bomb defusing specialist.
The storyline here reminded me so much of Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker. Like the film’s protagonist—played by Jeremy Renner—the character blocks out all emotion and chooses to confront death in the face every day. Even a protective suit is out of the question. Samar does the same here: to him he is as good as dead without his soul mate so what difference will death itself make to his brittle existence.
Enter a lively, sprightly, beautiful and very funny young reporter Akira who needs to shoot a documentary for Discovery channel to advance her career. Fiercely independent, Akira does not believe in crying over someone or getting too emotionally involved with anything or anyone. Samar on the other hand is different; she is immediately drawn to his anguish; his inner demons and self-imposed banishment from the living, breathing world. I was never a huge fan of Anushka Sharma until I watched Band Baaja Baraat (2010). This young actor is super talented. After seeing her here, I am a bona fide fan. Her acting instincts are spot on. I loved this one scene where after reading Samar’s diary a tear rolls down her cheek. Without any prompting, she stops, looks at the glistening jewel and shakes her head in disbelief—you can’t get any better acting than this. After getting the go-ahead to shoot her documentary and spending two weeks with Samar’s group, Akira manages to penetrate Samar’s hardy fortress and the mutual respect for the other only heightens. After a key development in the narrative, Samar is called back to the UK. For him, this is the same place where his soul has been held captive for the past ten years. He nonetheless agrees and returns. Unfortunately, fate has other plans for him.
The rest of the narrative is pretty much typical Yash Chopra fare. The twists and turns however will keep you enthralled until the very last frame of the film.Jab Tak Hai Jaan is shot beautifully. I particularly loved the way Chopra captured the beauty of the Kashmiri landscape. These are scenes one has not seen in our films for too long now. Also, I liked how Chopra used the UK both as a place of hardship and pain and of course healing at the same time.I still insist there was a method in Chopra’s madness when Rahman was chosen to score the music here. It shows in the film. Rahman’s music matches Chopra’s cleanly-cut frames perfectly. The songs are shot fantastically too. I thought it was genius to shoot the Ishq Shava song in the tunnels of the UK, to illustrate that even Yash Chopra films can move with the times and remain current. The preceding Ishq Dance sequence was conceptualized perfectly. You will love it!
Shah Rukh yet again shows why he is the quality actor he is. He delivers on what is expected of him. Katrina is splendid as Meera. I haven’t seen this nuanced side to Katrina before. She emotes beautifully on screen. I could also see why she was chosen for this project. Of course, it is Anushka Sharma that walks away with most of the plaudits in Jab Tak Hai Jaan. This lady is phenomenal in this movie. Like Preity Zinta did in Dil Se (1998), Anushka’s character brings in that spark; that natkat (mischief) element that is needed to balance the heavy emotions of the first half. She soars here. It is her best work to date by a long mile. Strangely, one of my friends remarked that Chopra’s films seem to provide the stronger and best role to the second female lead: Rani Mukherjee in Veer Zaara (2004); Karisma Kapoor in Dil To Paagal Hai (1997); Rakhee Gulzar in Daag (1975) and Waheeda Rahman in Kabhie Kabhi (1976).Also, watch out for a charming scene involving real-life couple Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh Kapoor. These two add a nice sub-text to the plot.I also loved the way Chopra filmed the intimate scenes. Whether it was a kiss or a lunch time rendezvous, Chopra did not resort to the age-old ‘fade to fire’ or ‘fade to flowers’ things. He stood his ground and brought in those intimate scenes without being vulgar, crude or tasteless.
Jab Tak Hai Jaan demonstrates yet again that love is the one common factor that governs and binds us—all seven billion of us Homo-sapiens. Love has its own time and when the timing is perfectly-aligned, it will happen. But if that love is rushed or misinterpreted as a mere settlement, it will not last. Life without that one special soul mate is not life itself; you may as well be dead and walking around as a corpse. This is the core message you will take away from Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Agreed, Jab Tak Hai Jaan is not Yash Chopra’s best film; it is certainly the perfect vehicle to say goodbye to an illustrious career spanning decades. I predict big things for this film because it is going to be remembered for a long time.
We loved Jab Tak Hai Jaan and know you will too. It will make you cry; it will make your throat itchy and it will tug at even the most hardened arteries within your pained heart. One thing is for sure, you will want to fall in love all over again…jab tak hai jaan…jab tak hai jaan…jab tak hai jaan!
Writer : Mr Ronesh Dhawraj (@ronesh on twitter) http://twitter.com/ronesh
Review Source : Cine Talkies
Review URL : http://www.cinetalkies.co.za/
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A must watch for every Yash Chopra Fan … His amazing movies will live on in our hearts …Jab Tak Hai Jaan