KARACHI: Imagine all Imtiaz Ali films you’ve seen. Exotic locations, characters in love, more likely than not a love triangle (albeit with very little focus on the third wheel) and great music. Jab Harry Met Sally… apologies, Sejal, is the same of more in long line of the director’s repetitive films. However, what differentiates this offering from the rest is that they at least had more substance, a little depth, if one may say, while Jab Harry Met Sejal is stripped away of all that makes Imtiaz Ali films unique.
The film revolves around Harry (Shahrukh Khan), a tourist guide who helps Sejal (Anushka Sharma) find her engagement ring after she lost it during the Euro tour. As the film progresses, they revisit all the places they went to (on which Shahrukh served as their guide for a month) to find the ring, and during which, they, inevitably and predictably, fall in love. And just like the two characters revisit European cities in the film, Jab Harry Met Sejal, ironically, feels like a re-tour of all the Imtiaz Ali films. We have seen it all before and there’s no ring you’re going to find this time.
However, just like we don’t mind travelling to our favourite destinations again and again, the film is not completely a bore. One momentarily forgets about the flabby screenplay, thanks to Shah Rukh’s unmistakable wit and timing and the gorgeous views. Even then, one realises that Shah Rukh has reached a point in his career where he’s too comfortable being himself and playing himself in all the films. Just like Salman Khan, Shah Rukh believes he can get away with passing his naturally-fun gimmick as acting, but his fanbase isn’t the same as Salman’s. Shah Rukh’s fans demand quality and effort from him, and while it has been lacking for quite a several years now, it’s quite evident in Jab Harry Met Sejal as well.
Sharma’s performance is somewhat incoherent, with the main hindrance in her not being able to go all out being her forced and inconsistent Gujarati accent. Yet, she keeps her poise, when the moment and character demands.
One factor that prevents the film from being unwatchable is the music. Pritam and DJ Diplo capture the essence of travel and fun, especially with tracks like Safar (sung beautifully by Arijit Singh) and the groovy Phurrr.
The film starts off well with a montage of Shah Rukh’s travel and life and maintains the mood until interval, after which it drags and all goes down in a very predictable manner. Despite so much movement and travel, there wasn’t much action happening except Harry and Sejal going from one unadventurous adventure to the next. Granted Ali’s intention was not to make an intelligent film, the film still fell flat due to its typical formula. It’s not to say that Ali’s formula is getting old (although it is old yet his treatment makes it unique in every film), but that in Jab Harry Met Sejal, we wish they hadn’t actually met and gone about their lives. The ring being a McGuffin – an object that merely serves to put the plot in motion, was acceptable but Ali failed to put his magic spin on it. His previous offering Tamasha, which failed to hit a home run, was a significantly better and beautiful film because the director made it his own. With Fl, Ali succumbed to all the clichés and let go of everything that makes him unique.
Verdict: Go watch, without any high expectations, if you’re looking for a Sunday afternoon forgettable comedy.
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
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