Mumbai, 04 Aug 2017 14:53 IST
Updated: 05 Aug 2017 2:56 IST
This love story is an extension of director Imtiaz Ali's tried-and-tested formula.
Jab Harry Met Sejal is a love story that ticks all the right boxes when it comes to a romantic comedy. A charming hero, a fun heroine and great chemistry. There are some delightful compositions. There are the beautiful locales and interesting situations to bring the protagonists closer. But does it make for a memorable love story?
Sejal, daughter of a rich diamond merchant, who got engaged on a trip to Europe, loses her ring. The standoffish Gujarati girl with a thick accent forces the raffish tour guide Harry aka Harindar Singh Nehra (Shah Rukh Khan) to help her find it. Harry is a womanizer and often gets into trouble for sleeping with his female clients. He wants to have nothing to do with Sejal as he doesn't trust his raging libido one bit.
The odd couple create their own dynamic and a bond develops between them, which eventually turns to love, as they travel across various European cities — from Amsterdam to Prague and Budapest. But Harry is not sure if he can let go of his personality and nomadic lifestyle, and Sejal is way too practical, not wanting to be the 'cheap' woman who leaves her wealthy fiance for a tourist guide.
Harry is running away from himself and his roots. He wants to accept his perception of himself as the truth. Sejal forces Harry to come to terms with who he really is.
Fortunately, it is not only left to the woman to help the man find himself. Sejal, too, realizes, through meeting Harry, that she is not as practical and selfish as she percieves herself to be. She isn't really a woman who wants to live a life that is expected of her, which is to marry a good rich Gujarati boy and manage her family business.
The ring, obviously, is a metaphor, and Sejal and Harry are actually searching for something to complete them — the other.
Jab Harry Met Sejal thrives on the interaction and conversation between its two main characters. And a major advantage for director Imtiaz Ali is that Khan and Sharma bring the perfect energy to their respective characters and to each other's performance. Their chemistry is lovely.
Khan, apart from looking amazing, is at his charming best — whether it's humour, emotion or romance. His character is not likeable, but Khan is still a delight to watch.
Sharma, though, is a total scene stealer. She stays perfectly in character from start to end. Her comic timing in this film is brilliant. She brings Sejal's innocence, humour and quirkiness to the screen with great ease. If not for anything else, this film will be remembered for Sharma's comic shenanigans.
Imtiaz Ali's screenplay offers some great opportunities for both artistes to flex their acting muscle and create some good moments. But Ali follows a standard romantic comedy template. Girl meets boy, they fall in love, there is a conflict, the two part, reality dawns on them and they get back together. There is the airport scene towards the end and the film ends at a wedding.
He sets up the first half really well, with some very entertaining moments, but falters in the initial part of the second half as he attempts to explore the love and heighten the conflict between his protagonists.
Ali basically seems to have remade his own film Jab We Met (2007) with two seemingly different characters. While his previous film Tamasha (2015) came across as pretentious in the attempt to explore an existential crisis, Jab Harry Met Sejal is simpler in its goals and could have been so much better for having its heart in the right place. But Imtiaz Ali's 'finding love and something greater through travel' idea is jaded now. Only his actors change and the characters get somewhat of a makeover. Khan and Sharma need to be thanked for making Jab Harry Met Sejal worth a little more.
This is Imtiaz Ali's happiest film since Jab We Met and that could have been the best part about it. Unfortunately, in being so, it does not connect in the way it was crafted to. It is an opportunity missed. Ali is known for his depiction of Sufi love and emotional depth. He has made some memorable love stories. This one is not amongst those.