Jab Tak Hai Jaan: An Incomplete Tryst With Yash Chopra’s Cinema

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In an earlier candid interview, Shah Rukh had revealed that Yashji’s brief to him was simple: “Just love her.” And love her he did! With all of his heart. Anushka, in one of her career best performances as Akira is feisty, fearless and a fantastic foil to Shah Rukh’s staid, mature army officer Samar.

The gloriously short but effective cameo by Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, who plays Meera’s divorcee mother, is worth a special mention. The duo plays the ever-in-love couple, who waited for their time to come, and ended up with each other outside of wedlock. Rishi as the vineyard owner, with glass of red wine in hand, is charming as Imran, Meera’s mother’s lover who had the courage of conviction and faith in undying love. In a touching moment, Meera lovingly looks upon her man and her step father, engaged in light-hearted banter, only to realize that these are two men of the same mould: the real-life “Raj’s”, who are willing to endure heartbreak and separation for the longest time, when promised a happy ending with their lady loves.

What works against the film, being as unbiased an unemotional as I can be while critiquing the late Yash Chopra’s finale before his tragic demise, were a lot of jarring notes in an otherwise familiar tune. These are unsightly blemishes on the visage of an otherwise beautiful and poetic film. The length, for one, is a hindering factor. The script itself is quite flimsy, and the second half of the film is somewhat patchy and tedious to sit through.

The back-and-forth tossing of SRK like a volleyball, between the two ladies, is unnecessary. Katrina looks bored throughout the film, and fails to express the epic love that Chopra intended; which is a pity because hers was the meatier female role, that of the quintessential Yash Chopra heroine of yore, but she couldn’t quite sink her teeth into it. Music maestro A.R Rahman’s tunes seem forced and uninspired, formulaic and frivolous; but the characters try their best to breathe life into the songs by expressing the undying emotions of love on celluloid. The visuals that accompany the songs are, undoubtedly, magnificent and perfectly stunning.

A little stricter hand at the editing table, a snip here and a chop there for maybe this scene or that, would have really transformed the film and made it sublime. The fault was not with the intent, but with its execution: we wholeheartedly laughed, and cried, and sang and danced with the protagonists; but sadly we couldn’t relate to their outdated methodsof love. If only they had managed to not just tug at our heartstrings, but touch our soul. Such a shame.

In all honesty, keeping aside the emotional significance of this film, ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ is no ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge’; nor is it the classic Yash Chopra ‘Dil Toh Pagal Hai’ or ‘Veer Zaara’. ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ is its own film, one that should be taken at face value, and the cinegoer shouldn’t dare make a comparison to Yashji’s greatest love stories.

We’re left with a seemingly incomplete tryst with Yashji’s cinema; we’re left unsettled and wondering at what could have possibly been the most fitting farewell for the virtuoso filmmaker, but what instead turned into an insipid mere goodbye; one that lacked the most vital ingredients required to uplift the film and etch it firmly in the hallowed halls of the finest, most moving, beautiful cinema.

The question that underlines the film will most certainly get asked of the film as well: Is love enough?