The Khan trio by dint of fate are born in the same year as me. For that reason alone, I’ve watched their failures and successes with a sense of camaraderie, and their aging, or lack of, with curiosity.
Recently, we went to a farewell party of our girls hostel warden at FTII, and a large part of the evening was spent in telling each other how we had not changed at all. Realistic Jarbean kept reiterating that of course we had. For one, we were all much thinner when we were students. Old photographs revealed skins which glowed more, hair that was shinier, thicker. But even so, there is a special feeling of warmth in being with old friends, and reassuring each other that nothing much has changed.
The next morning is a different matter altogether. And this fuzzy feeling of warmth certainly cannot make a film.
‘Jab Tak Hain Jaan’ attempts to do just that, make a film out of fuzzy feelings. Which is why, the best part of the film are the end credits with director Yash Chopra and his cast and crew on location. You can feel his ease on the set, the tremendous love and affection his cast feel for him, his sense of happiness in directing a shot.
But not as much can be said about the film. The story has its drawbacks but they could have been overcome if, if only the actors had real chemistry. For what is a love story without chemistry?
Shahrukh and Katrina kissing each other or making love make you cringe. Shy sitting next to me, is the sort of fan who bakes cake on Shahrukh Khan’s birthday every year. Every time Katrina flung herself at Shahrukh, Shy clawed my arm, shut her eyes, and squealed, “Please, no. This is making me very uneasy.” The audience meanwhile, hooted with threats of Salman. For all the general abandon, the kisses were definitely rubber-ducky. There was more excitement in the audience, than on screen.
Katrina is pretty, yes. But! She is so much like a doll, that any one making love to her looks almost like a sex offender. Particularly if they are much older to her. Unless they are Govinda or Akshay Kumar, who don’t kiss and don’t really make love to their women on screen.
Anushka Sharma on the other hand, gets by making love to anyone. Her promise of coming back to teach Samar (Shahrukh) to kiss properly is a promise that is sadly never fulfilled. He gives her a conservative peck on the forehead which however is more sexually charged than any shenanigan with Katrina. I guess, it’s also because the shadow of Salman does not hover.
Anushka’s love for Shahrukh is also more acceptable because he gets to play closer to his age, and it is made explicit that she has fallen for an older man. Shahrukh also looks good in his scenes with her, the lines on his face textured with stubble, older, more mature, not having to try so hard to look 25. He can be kind, and caring, without being burdened about looking sexually interested.
As a 25 year old, he has his energy, his charm, but age is relentless, and won’t extend a helping hand.
No amount of Botox comes to the rescue, or pancake or powder puffs.
Which brings us to Botox. In a special guest appearance by Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor, I find it such a pleasure to watch Rishi’s naturally aged face, and hate Neetu’s ‘well maintained’ one despite my love for her. She still manages to pull off an impressive cameo with a face that is not supportive of expressiveness.
But if you had 2 expressions to begin with, you would do well to avoid being jabbed by the needle. I wish ‘Stars’ were not ‘Gods’ and were allowed to age gracefully.
(drawing by Teja)
It occurs to me that like the actors, a lot of the big commercial films these days are Botox-ed.
There is too much emphasis on looking young, looking good, and less on genuine expression. Secondary characters, locations, context, villains, vamps (oh, how I miss vamps) are all wiped out with the wrinkles, the creases, the crows feet, the laughter lines, and all we are left with are the pretty stars. Dialogues are used to confirm how pretty and awesome they are. Most of the screen time is dedicated to their pretty faces. Everyone is nice. Everyone is good looking. Everyone is young.
But without the wrinkles, the lines, the creases, curiously the fuzzy feeling of warmth too is gone. Wiping out the years also wipes out the associations, the friendships, and you are left looking at something you can only strive to recognize through its artificiality.
‘Jab Tak Hain Jaan’ suffers from too much ‘looking nice’. It would have been a better film with a real villain, rather than Sir Jesus. If older Samar had more screen time than younger Samar, and younger Samar had been sepia-toned. If Katrina were not quite so nice. If Anushka had actually kissed Shahrukh, ‘modern lover’ style.