jab tak hain jaan (2012) – you look just the same

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.Β 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.Β 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.

32 thoughts on “jab tak hain jaan (2012) – you look just the same

  1. I’m going to watch this movie tomorrow for the sake of the family. O my god! But I don’t expect anything much from Bollywood. So it doesn’t matter. Katrina’s dolly face is good enough for me!

  2. Banno, you put in words much of what I have been thinking for so long. Saif in love Aaj aur Kall was hideous with *his* botoxed face so stiff and unyielding; I would have liked so much more of the geeky SRK in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi than the horrible excresence that was the ‘modern’ Rahul, and Katrina Kaif is a Barbie Doll, all looks, no expression. (But then I find Kareena annoying at the other end of the spectrum – too many expressions!) As for the lack of any chemistry, I thought one of the most beautiful scenes in terms of the sexual tension was the dance in the rain in KJo’s candyfluff romance Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. SRK has always stated his distaste of physical contact on screen, so I wonder why he broke his own rule for this film.

    1. Anu, you know how to spell, but sometimes spell-check thinks it can do better. πŸ™‚
      Shahrukh’s distaste for the kiss is pretty obvious here. But I guess, he could not say ‘no’ to Yash-ji.

  3. Fun comments Banno! Don’t worry, over in Europe the same occurs, even if you are a politician or a TV presenter! Have you scrutinized a recent (and even not too recent) photo of dear ole’ Berlusconi?! He endears us even if he’s disgustingly stretched out: he’s like: thanks for being what you are, now I know I can’t look that bad!!!

    1. Sadly, Botox and such-like treatments are now available at corner side beauty parlours. Which means that more and more ordinary people will feel the urge to look young forever. Eeks!

  4. everybody complains and everybody goes to watch it and and the Chopras rake in the money!
    Nevertheless a wonderful description. Love how you bring together things and make it sensible. Absolutely love your way of writing and narrating! Simply fabulous how you do it!

    1. Harvey, true. We fund the industry. In our defence, I will only say, that movies remain our biggest source of entertainment. In the absence of museums, libraries, theatres, plays, all of which mean miles of commute.
      And thanks, for your description of my writing,

  5. I’ve been dithering over watching this one. On the one hand, the trailer’s shots of Ladakh were lovely, and I liked the SRK-Anoushka jodi in RNBDJ. On the other hand, botoxed faces and artificial prettiness puts me off. Maybe I shall go watch Luv Shuv Te Chicken Khurana again. No botox there, and many laughs.

    1. Dusted Off, I think there are only as many shots of Ladakh as were in the trailer. ‘Luv Shuv ..’ was funny. Though it did peter out towards the end.

  6. I guess my reason for enjoying the film is more to do with Yash Chopra – paying my last respects to him. Yes, I did enjoy the end montage of the making of… great review Banno! I enjoy reading your take on films – thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    1. Shabnam, I think, with better pairing, the Shahrukh-Katrina angle, I think the film would have been quite nice, despite all its story line flaws.

  7. FB is buzzing with updates about this movie. After Swades, I think SRK lost it. Likes of him and Salman should retire or they should stop playing 20 somethings. This also includes Akshay Kumar, btw. What is wrong with playing age appropriate roles? Age truly is relentless and no chemical stands a chance. Indian movie makers should also recognize that their audience is more sophisticated now and wont get sucked into crap like this.

    1. Sukanya, I wonder if they are being ‘allowed’ to retire, or play age-appropriate roles. But I guess they do have the power to get suitable material written for themselves.

  8. What a nice write-up Banno! Not that I have seen the film, but your comments about Katrina’s doll-like unreal looks and about older actors playing ridiculously young parts touches an immediate chord with me. I do not understand – SRK sounds like such a sensible man in his interviews, why can’t he see it for himself that playing a 25-year old will not do at all? Why not age gracefully and accept what you are? Actually I think he looks nicer now in his forties than when he was in his twenties!! But I suppose aging is not always easy. Last week we were in Venice and after a Gondola ride the young gondolier offered to help me off the boat, addressing me as ‘Mother’ – I turned startled eyes on him to realise that of course, he could well be my son! πŸ™‚ Now if I had once been an attractive actress doted on by many, how would I react, I wonder?

    1. Suja, Yes, aging is not easy. We are all vain creatures, after all, in one way or the other. I think Shahrukh also looks as if he is trying too hard, because he has to match up with Katrina. πŸ™‚

  9. I think we’re giving this one a miss. A friend said that at least she was laughing through Son of Sardar, but this one was quite terrible.I just might deign to watch it on DVD some months down the line. Or maybe not.

    1. No, Kate. Just 3 superstars, who have been reigning over the Indian Hindi film industry for the last 15 years. All of them with Khan as their surnames, coincidentally. πŸ™‚

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