Saturday, January 5, 2013

Jab Tak Hai Jaan...

In her book 100 Bollywood Films, Rachel Dwyer writes:

Yash Chopra's earlier romances in which the eroticism and romanticism are carried as much by words (dialogues and lyrics) as visuals, seems now an elegy to Urdu poetry and its imagery. 

While watching Jab Tak Hai Jaan, I couldn't help but agree to it and wonder at the sheer beauty of the film. Stunning locations, gorgeous people beautified by a melange of emotions, without a doubt Jab Tak Hai Jaan is one of the most beautiful films of the year. One could call it an exact antidote of the terrifying Gangs of Wasseypur, recall the scene of the butcher factory in that film and it still sends a chill down the spine. Anupama Chopra, in her review, called the Jab Tak Hai Jaan's story as 'borderline ridiculous' and many of us would agree. But who watches a Yash Chopra film for a story? I watch a Yash Chopra film to understand something more about emotions, about the complexity of love, and the thrill of melodrama howsoever unreal it may be and to me, Jab Tak Hai Jaan delivers that. You can judge me but I will say that I absolutely loved Jab Tak Hai Jaan.

So how do I begin about the movie? I think I will first talk about my favorite character in the movie - Akira played brilliantly by Anushka Sharma. I was fascinated by Akira's realism. I do not know what made me like her so much, whether it was the excellent character writing or Anushka, who I have really started to like as an actress. Akira is one of the most contemporary and cool characters that I have seen of late. She exemplified what being young is all about. She was furiously passionate about her work. She would go at any length to prove her point and would try to make opportunities if they did not come to her. The way she managed to convince her boss (bitch) was one of the first scenes that helped understand how ambitious is she. She is not afraid to live a dangerous nomadic life among a bunch of army men involved in bomb control (shades of Barkha Dutt perhaps!). Think about her difficulties - for instance where would she go for the call of nature in the jungle and yet she wanted a chance to fulfill her dreams. The fact that she is a girl did not deter her. That's what being young is about. One other thing about Akira that I felt was she took decisions very quickly without thinking of the consequences. Maybe because she was young and naive, but more so because she has not witnessed a lot of failure in life. She jumped in the frigid waters of the lake in Leh, just to prove a point, only realising later that the water was too cold and then she started calling for help.  And when Samar comes to rescue her, instead of being thankful she has the guts to say to him that "thora jaldi nahi aa sakte the, agar mar jaati to". Or another instance, where in spite of being told by Samar to stay 350 meters away from him, she deliberately crossed the barricade putting not only her life but others' in danger as well. Or another instance when she meets Samar in London, she starts dancing on the road, which eventually led to Samar's second accident. At one point in the film, she says "main hamesha se hi topper rahin hun, studies or sports, national level swimmer hun". I was convinced that she behaves the way she does because she always got what she want, perhaps never saw any failure in life.  When I was in school, every Thursday we used to have a moral education class discussing about some commonly accepted moral principles. I still remember one lecture where the topic of discussion was "Failure is the stepping stone toward success". During the discussion, ma'am asked a question to one of the most intelligent girls in the class. It was, "have you ever failed in life?" She being a consistent performer all her school life said no. And then ma'am asked a very philosophical question to her. "Have you ever failed in relationships?" Everyone was stumped by it and then she started talking about what failure is all about. To this day, I remember that class and as I watched Akira, it fit completely on her. She got everything in life and life failed her by making her fall totally, completely, madly in love with a guy who loved someone else. Perhaps that would teach her something. 

Remember how Geet changed in Jab We Met when she failed? And how Rianna became a more mature person in Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu even after going through so much in life? Failure teaches a lot in life and I hope Akira would be the wonderful person she is. There are so many other things about Akira that make her one of the most well written characters in the film. She said, "Mujhse rejection sahan nahi hota, koi mujhe chhode islye main hi use pehle chodd deti hun". Don't we all like to escape rejection? That is what made her so real. 

These days we tend to see people in two categories - either white or black. If you are on Twitter, you will understand what I am saying. Akira was also like that. At one point in the film, she says to Samar, tumse na to nafrat kar sakte hai or na hi pyaar, itne complicated kyun ho tum?  Even her clothes reflected her personality. When she goes and meets Meera for the first time, she is wearing a shirt that says Love Me Or Hate Me reflecting the binary choices that the instant love-instant breakup generation uses to judge people.

Love Me or Hate Me Shirt 

What I also liked about Akira was her attitude towards love. She says, hamare love me sex pehle hota hai aur love baad me. She was so frank and upfront about her sexuality. Earlier this year, Rani Mukherjee's Aiyaa was praised for talking about female sexual desires and being one of the very rare films that objectified the male body instead of the female. I loved Aiyaa and haven't laughed as much this year during any other film as much I did while watching it. But more on Aiyaa later. Historically, in the Hindi film industry, women in Hindi cinema have been shown to be very timid about sex or even if they talk about sex, it is only with the man they love. Remember that hilarious scene in DevD where Paro takes a gadda on a bicycle to the fields to have sex with Dev? If she talks about sex with different men, she is automatically labelled a slut - like Veronica in Cocktail. But Akira says to Samar, pehle mujhe alag alag accent ke logon ke saath sex karna hai

Her openness was also reflected by the way she confessed love to Samar. She did not do any melodrama nor did she keep it to herself nor wait for for the right moment but simply said it to him on his face. She says to Meera if Samar had met both of them at the same time, she had no chance at all with him because he loved Meera. Not even once she showed jealousy towards Meera but simply went out of their way. There were so many other things about Akira that made her one of the most well written characters, such as she did not believe in praying to God. I could go on and on about Akira :) I loved her.

Yash Chopra's films have always talked about dealing with love. In his films, Yash ji has tried to say that love is eternal. Once you love someone, you always love that person. You are lucky if you get your loved one else you can either move on (Kabhi Kabhi, Silsila, Lamhe) or you can fight for it (Darr) or you wait (Chandni, Veer Zaara, Dil To Pagal Hai). Jab Tak Hai Jaan talked about last point  - that there is a time for love, which is different from time to fall in love, which can happen anytime. Har ishq ka ek waqt hota hai. Woh humara waqt nahin tha. Par iska matlab yeh nahin ki woh ishq nahin tha..this dialogue summarized what the movie was trying to say. Circumstances might not be in your favor but doesn't mean that you stop loving. Time will come and you will find love again. Samar and Meera waited for ten years and finally they found love. He tried to move on but couldn't stop loving Meera. Imran waited for eight years for Meera's mom and she came. Can you force someone to be with you? No, you cannot. He is not saying that you cannot fall in love because that is not under your control but sometimes time might not be right. 

Yash Chopra has always been a progressive film maker. Jab Tak Hai Jaan did not judge Meera's mom. She said she could never love Meera's father and she fell in love with Imran when Meera was four years old. But she still left them. She saw no point in continuing a loveless marriage. Remember how harshly everyone judged Maya in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna? And when Meera finally meets her, she understands her mom wasn't wrong. because she is going through the same predicament - should she marry a guy whom she did not love? 

Just like Aditya did in Jab We Met when he says to Geet,

तुम ठीक नहीं कर रही हो। पर तुम ही ने कहा था - जब कोई प्यार में होता है तो सही गलत नहीं होता। All is fair. और आज अगर मैं अपनी माँ को समझ सकता हूँ, तो घबराओ मत कल तुम्हारे parents भी तुम्हे समझ जायेंगे।

Perhaps that is why one should never judge someone. I would still want to know whether her mom would have taken the decision to leave Meera's father if Imran was not rich. Would she have left the comfort of a home for a poor man? Shruti's mom in Barfi left love for security. I don't know what Meera's mom would have done.

I also felt two-three instances where Yash ji tried to say that love happens between similar people or that it makes you try to become the other person. At one point, Meera's mom says to Meera about Imran that he is just like her.. bavra hai meri tarah. At another instance, Samar says to Akira, tu dialogue bilkul mere jaise maarti hai lekin, mere jaise pyaar mat kar. Also, when he is going back to India, he advises Akira mere jaise mat ban. Even that terrific song Heer, its lyrics say something about love between same people and following the shadows:
Ohde jehi main te o mirza mere varga (I am like him and he is like me)
Chhanve chhanve paave assi teri parchhave turna (Under the shades, I wish to follow your shadow)
(The advantage of watching a subtitled film!)

One thing I really liked about Jab Tak Hai Jaan was its message to find your fitoor or your passion. Samar's love for Meera was his fitoor, he would fight God everyday to prove his love. He would go without a bomb suit in spite of how much he felt really scared of bombs and guns (which he tells when he had lost his memory). Akira's passion was to make that documentary to get the job and she did not budge even when Samar tried to send her back. That is why Samar replaced her camera because he felt, har aadmi ka ek fitoor hota hai..uska fitoor agar poora nahi hua..toh woh paagal ho jaata hai. Ek paagal tumhare saamne hai…aur dusre paagal ki yahan pe jagaa nahi hai. Find your fitoor and hold onto it, perhaps that was what Yash ji's message.

There has been so much criticism about Meera's character that she was just stupid. Meera used to have conversations with God in which she used to ask for something and then pay back to God. She would sacrifice chocolates and cigarettes in return for some wish. She said to Samar jitna doge utna milega. Don't we all bargain with God? Why do people then ask for mannats? Why do people walk miles and miles just because they believe God would fulfill their wish? When something bad happens, you tend to blame yourself that you did not do something that is why God punished you. Think of Meera. Her mother left her at the age of twelve. Maybe she blamed herself for that that is why she started this give and take relationship with God. And you know Elizabeth Kubler Ross has defined five stages of grief as Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Meera was more focused on the bargaining part. She used to bargain with God to deal with her problems. Remember how immediately she started praying when Samar met with an accident? Yes, she did overdo that but that was her belief. No?

There were so many finer nuances that movie talked about which I did not get. Like the scene where Samar says I am Raj and Meera says she is Tina. I did not get that. Perhaps that is also related to some concept of similar love. Because Tina was more fearless, she did what she wanted to and Tina (during that scene) says to Raj, I like a bit of danger in a man. I still have to understand what it meant. Or that fabulous scene, where Meera and Akira are sitting together in the park and looking towards the sky thinking something. I did not get that scene what it meant. 

Love this scene...

People find it easy to criticize the film but there are so many details if one looked closely, he would be astounded. Even the character names mean something. Meera's name was a reference to Meera (Krishna's disciple), reflecting her relationship with God for whom she sacrificed her love. In Hindi, the word Samar means war, perhaps a reference to the war he fought with God every day without even wearing a bomb suit. Akira is a Japanese name which means bright, intelligent, and clear which fit her perfectly. There are so many layers that the film has.

At one point in the film, Samar calls Akira as the Kurosawa girl. It was a reference to the world famous Japanese director - Akira Kurosawa. Although some scenes look inspired from The Hurt Locker, I think Jab Tak Hai Jaan is the first Hindi film to have a 'Bomb Consultant' in its opening credit sequences.

I still think Jab Tak Hai is a fabulous fabulous film. I loved Shah Rukh. He was terrific as Samar. How perfect he looked in the Army uniform. This was the most contemporary of Yash ji's films. I was surprised by the party place where Samar calls Meera and they do that dance together. It was so unlike Yashraj - seemed very dark. But I was disappointed by the music. Heer is too good and the background score is terrific especially when it plays the title song but rest of the songs were alright. I loved these dialogues:

Pyar ke samne to rab bhi jhuk jata hai, ye to waqt tha, use to badalna hi tha

Bomb se zyada zakhm toh zindagi deti hai..har mod par koi dhoka, koi dard.. toh jab zindagi ke khatron se bachne ke liye koi bomb suit nahin pehanta.. toh maut se bachne ke liye kya pehanna

Zindagi toh har roz jaan leti hai...bomb toh sirf ek baar lega

Jo dil jeet te hain, vo kabhi haarte nahi..

Jo khud khush na ho vo auron ko khushi ni de sakta..

One of my favorite scenes was when Samar is going back to India and says to Akira that for this life, he will love Meera but he promised that in his next life he would love her. Aww :(

Akira is so awesome.

I can go on and on about Jab Tak Hai Jaan. As I always say loving movies is a totally subjective experience. If someone does not like a film, it is their choice. Fine but don't take my right of liking a film. I loved it totally. When the end credits were coming, I don't know what happened but I started crying. The feeling that I will never watch another Yash Chopra film, the beautiful Jab Tak Hai Jaan song, the credit sequences of a man no longer alive, or the questions whether I will find such love in my life led to the catharsis. We all will find happiness in life no? We will terribly miss you Yash ji. 

I walked four miles to watch this movie alone in a theater in California. The happiness of watching a Hindi film after six months in a cinema is just exhilarating. I was literally singing aloud the songs. Perhaps that is my fitoor - watching films. If only, I could make a living out of it. But who will hire me :{ I guess I will stop now.

I don't know how many times I have listened to this poem. The music and lyrics are simply terrifc. You can never get bored of it. All the musical instruments sound so good. The poem has been written by Aditya Chopra and not Gulzar as many would like to believe.  

Tera haath se haath chhodna
Tera saayon se rukh modna
Tera palat ke phir na dekhna
Nahin maaf karunga main,
Jab tak hai jaan
Jab tak hai jaan..

Would love to hear about other opinions on Jab Tak Hai Jaan :)

Dialogue of the day:
Yadhaash bhi kitni ajeeb cheez hoti hai.kis cheez ko puri zindagi bhulne ki koshish karo, woh bhulti nahin.. kabhi ek choti si cheez yaad karne ki koshish karo, toh yaad nahin aati
  - Samar Anand, Jab Tak Hai Jaan


  1. This is terrific...something I wanted to write but definitely wouldn't have written it so beautifully...I like this movie like anything :)

  2. Thanks :) Would wait for your review :)

  3. Really nice post Pankaj !!! Even though i did not see the movie, due to negative reviews, i'm inclined to see the movie now :)

  4. Thanks Dipankar. You should watch the movie and tell me how did you like it :)

  5. your post made me fall for the movie again:-))))

  6. This is so cool. Even I noticed the dialogues u talked about after watching the movie. Though the story may be idiotic for many people, it really depends on how you want to look at the movie.

    Would like to have some tips from you to analyse a movie so deeply and beautifully :)

  7. I am a relative newcomer to Bollywood and to Shah Rukh Khan, but I am totally smitten. I have seen all but a couple of his films, but Jab Tak Hai Jaan is my favorite. This write-up is really outstanding! Thank you so much for doing such great justice to such a lovely film. :)

  8. thank you once again for a beautiful blog... yes, its most beautiful film.. the cinemetography , scenes and beautiful people .. anushka is brilliant actress , she played akira character very well.. now i get why samar asked akira you are from japan ? .. the name meaning thing was very nice.. dialogue was brilliantly written.. samar anand is my most favourite character. shah rukh khan look so charming in this ..

  9. i loved your question about meera's mom.. what she have done if imran was poor. will have to wait for #THERing for modern love story of SRK AND ANUSHKA.. as SRK said in end.. haha


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