Dear Imtiaz Saab,
I once knew you well. This was during those heady but steady days of Jab We Met when your talent was young and driven and your emotions were genuine. Now I no longer know you. Not in person. Certainly not through your cinema.
Now before I go any further I must warn you there is an imposter named Imtiaz Ali who has put out a film with your signature called Jab Harry Meet Sejal. Either that or, you Imtiaz Saab, have lost the plot completely. This flaky saga of a tourist guide who accompanies a headstrong Gujarati girl across several European countries is so devoid of any spiritual substance or existential motivation that it makes the cinema of Madhur Bhandarkar look worth our while.
Harry Met Sejal is an utter waste of time. At the end oof the ordeal by odyssey I couldn’t care less about Sejal or Harry. They are both so mean-spirited and spaced out.And it’s not just me…I saw several disappointed families, defeated armies of Shah Rukh Khan’s fans, trooping out long before the film ended.
What is it about this goodlooking mannequin of a movie that is so off-putting? In my humble opinion it is the arrogance of the filmmaker and his leading man, the superstar who is also the film’s producer.Their joint belief that they understand the sexual dynamics of diasporic relationships far better than the audience. There is an emotional smugness in your storytelling, as though being jaunty,flippant and ‘cute’(a word that Shah Rukh uses quite often to facetiously describe his shrill mate) are your birthright because , well, you know what women can do to men.
For a majority of the playing-time for this powerless high-flyer of a film we have just the invincible Mr Khan trying to reason with the Gujju girl played by Anushka Sharma. He is a wanderer on a slow burn-out mission. She is a waif coping with an engagement where somehow the ring is more important than actual relationship.
Together Mr Khan and Ms Sharma whip up a storm of swift-speaking significances that add up to zilch. In an interview Shah Rukh Khan described you, oh Ali of insightful relationships, as the Yash Chopra of the current times.
Ignore him. Shah Rukh was just trying to be smart . There was a disarming honesty to Yash Chopra’s cinema. When his couples serenaded the sarson ka khet it looked as though the director wanted them there because they belonged there. When Shah Rukhand Anushka get into the fields it is because they have nothing better to do. By that point in the narration they’ve travelled Europe and exhausted themselves, and us.
We desperately need a home to belong to. Jab Harry Met Sejal is that journey undertaken without the surety of returning home. You wish these two footloose travelers a life of shared bickering. But you really can’t be bothered with what they do with the love that they find in exotic lands.
Maybe hawk their love(and the ring) for some sense?