Harry (Shah Rukh Khan) is a Europe-based tour guide for Indian tourists, his life churning in similarities and routine like the windmill in the opening scene. Sejal (Anushka Sharma) is one of his customers. A tiff with her fiancee over a lost engagement ring leads Sejal to miss the home-bound flight and stubbornly stay back to retrieve the ring. She coaxes and threatens Harry to accompany her in the search.
You Knowaa What You Gonna Gettaa
You may see what is coming next, right to the end credits from miles away down the road. This is Imtiaz Ali's most straight, conventional Hindi commercial (an ode to travel, as usual) movie yet. No nonlinear narration, no symbolisms, no live your life talk, just straight out rom-com.
Garam Garam Double
I will come up with a cheaper, hornier Hinglish subheading soon. But Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma crackle with so much chemistry that they reel in the audience for most of the tad predictable journey. Age differences disappear when they are together.
Khan's bearded look adds to the character's turmoil. He is in subtle form, reining in, letting loose the legendary charm at will. Sharma's once there, once not Gujarati accent doesn't hinder in creating a watchable character, foolish, instinctive and meandering. An echo to Kareena Kapoor's Geet in Jab We Met (2007). Khan and Sharma can take a hell lot of credit for audience engagement. They keep it all afloat and brimming to an amazing, mercurial degree.
The European setting gives the film a beautiful travel-with-me feel. The bridges, cafes, night clubs and cobbled streets add conviction to the characters actions. Why wouldn't you want to hang out in places as charming as these a little longer?! Say, say.
Nice Safar, Some Suffer
Ali is going for the lovers-get-together fun love journey with no complexities here. He shoots down any chances of great cinema right there. It is now about keeping the humor and joy coming. Ali doesn't get there smoothly.
The first half is a breeze, with damn funny interchanges and some danger. By intermission though, you know it is a matter of time. There is nowhere else to go but the bloody arrow through heart wala luv, luv, luv.
Harry's Punjab backstory is hinted at, yet mysteriously never explained. Giving Sejal's backstory a miss adds to the allure. The 'love happens' sections are a bit contrived. When does Sejal end up so casual and easy with Harry, spending nights together all of a sudden? That is Khan's star charm in play rather than Harry's.
No Musical Musical Please
Despite Harry's louder-than-the-tractor-singer touch, there are just too many songs here, mitigating the impact, underlining the obvious Harry-Sejal romance too many times. This happens in so many Hindi movies. They just go lip-synching and musical without any thought how it may mar the storytelling. Song-and-dance make great celebratory, whistle out moments, but not always. The tiresome sections in the second half are to do with song marathons.
Pritam's soundtrack is impressive in parts, listenable audio that required judicious use in film.
Before We Part
Don't expect depth, layers and insight, or a strong, daring take here. Ali digs for travel's most attractive aspect, get together, don't pause and have a great time. Who doesn't want to? Jab Harry Met Sejal is mostly a decent rom-com, somewhere between OK and good.