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Cinema Scope

Religion riddled romance

17th Nov 2012

Jab Tak Hai Jaan

Director: Yash Chopra

Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma and others

Look, it's Yash Chopra. So you would be already aware of the following: Khatri lasses raised in England go to church; 2002 London sported ubiquitous Olympic signboards; Delhi girls will run around snow-clad mountains in chaddi-sized shorts and halter tops, while Kashmiris wear pherans; dirty dancing will get you in the mood for a sentimental song dedicated to Papa; a man who writes his diary over ten years could gift it along with his army jacket to a girl who's stupid enough to nearly drown in shallow water despite being a national-level swimmer and deep sea diver; it's easy to trace people anywhere.

Here, we see the Shah Rukh Khan we haven't seen since DDLJ. You know, the irrepressible fool who falls on platforms, leans out of trains, flies out to random countries to surprise women who're in love with him; the eyebrow-wiggling, lip-twitching Shah Rukh Khan who wells up at the first mention of ishq even as he flirts with death every day. And no one portrays the absolute craziness of sweeping romance like the Yash Chopra-SRK duo. In this film, we've finally graduated from botanical metaphor to actual making out.

The film opens in Ladakh, where Major Samar Anand (Shah Rukh Khan) goes about defusing bombs and resuscitating bikini-clad camera crews. The bombs are a tad less vindictive than the bikini-wearers, who stalk him after nearly killing him. If you listen to the lyrics of the opening poem, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, you kinda learn the whole story anyway. But the film takes us – very slowly – through Samar's life, telling us how a London busker ended up in the Indian Army's Bomb Disposal Squad.

It boils down to a contest between Jesus and Samar. A superstitious girlfriend can do that to you. "So, I can't die, eh? I will walk in the valley of the shadow of death, dude." Chalo Kashmir. Which we learn would've been blown to bits long ago if it weren't for Major Samar Anand. We also learn the Army can be lax about rules regarding facial hair and protective gear, as long as you defuse a bomb before every meal.

There's very little logic in the film. And if everyone were a little less sentimental – or a little less dim – it would've been over before the interval. But, inexplicably, something keeps you interested, even when you're scared a character's amnesia attack could send the film into an endless loop. It could be Shah Rukh's wonderful timing, and unselfconscious hero-baazi. It could be that you need to leave your brains behind every now and then. But it works.

The Verdict: If you're willing to suspend all sense of disbelief, watch Jab Tak Hai Jaan.

A low-budget romance

Son of Sardar

Director: Ashwni Dhir

Starring: Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, Juhi Chawla

There are low-budget movies that are produced by the lead actor. There are low-budget movies that star the hero's friends – and mother-in-law. There are low-budget movies with low-budget graphics. There are low-budget movies where the heroine's back is broader than the villain's. Son of Sardar is all of these. Worse, it's apparently the remake of a Tamil film I've had the good fortune of missing. However, I did catch a line that seems to be borrowed from a Rajnikanth movie – yeah, that's like lifting a tune off Pritam.

The film opens to a terrible song whose lyrics are well interspersed with "MC, BC", and has phirangs trying out Punjabi dance steps. The next thing we know, someone's insulted sardars in the process of lighting a cigarette. Say hello to cheap graphics as Jassi Randhawa's (Ajay Devgn's) turban unfolds and knocks out half the bad guys. One wishes it strangled the director before he foisted this horror on us. More violence was inflicted was soon inflicted upon the audience in the form of shayaris –buddhe ke moonh mein toffee, aur mehmaan ke moonh mein maafi, achi nahin lagti. Facepalm.

So, here's the thing. Billoo Sandhu (Sanjay Dutt) has taken a vow of celibacy, until he obliterates every last spawn of the Randhawa family. His bride-in-waiting, Pammi (Juhi Chawla), lusts after him for the next quarter of a century, while we figure out whether the movie's laughing at itself or trying to entertain, even as our brain cells commit hara-kiri. In a world where everyone has a nickname, you could take a while to figure out your guest is your mortal enemy. In a world where mehman is bhagwan, you could kill an audience before you kill him.

Tony, check. Tito, check. Sweetie, check. Annoying kid who speaks of pegs and pyaar, check. Cameos, check. Sufi song with bhangra beats, check. Obviously, this film is a long chase, punctuated by painful PJs and asinine dialogue, till all the couples magically land up together. Son of Sardar doesn't end there, though. It culminates in a song that is choreographed like a toothpaste ad, and consists entirely of one incoherent syllable – "Pon."

The only laughs were inspired by useful slugs like "This shot was designed with the help of computer graphics". Gee, because we're so sure Ajay Devgn can ride two horses standing up. Why not scratch an 'S' into a tree while he's at it too, eh?

The Verdict: You're left wishing numerological empowerment involved trading redundant vowels for decent ideas.

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