Movie Review: JAB TAK HAI JAAN (2012)
Yash Chopra is a legendary filmmaker. And with his recent death, he has left behind a legacy of amazing movies that were all ahead of their time. But I’m sad to say that his last film will not share that acclaim. Here’s my Movie Review of JAB TAK HAI JAAN…
1 Out Of 5 Stars
JAB TAK HAI JAAN reunites Director Yash Chopra with his favorite muse, Shah Rukh Khan, along with some fresh blood for another supposed epic romance. However, this film seems more like a ‘greatest hits’ of every cliché that Bollywood has provided over the decades.
The film features a supposed young Shah Rukh Khan as Samar, an Indian immigrant in London who meets and falls in love with Katrina Kaif’s Meera, with disastrous results. We’re shown a different Samar in the beginning of the movie though, as a gruff and grumpy Bomb Squad officer in the Indian Army, who refuses to wear any protective gear, implying a tragic and bitter past through his reckless and badass attitude. Of course, what else could it be? That quality is also ripped off directly from THE HURT LOCKER.
At the same time, we’re introduced to Anushka Sharma’s Akira, a budding journalist from the Discovery Channel, who happens to stumble upon Samar’s personal and intimate diary, where he articulates his tragic love story that ends with him becoming the grumpy old man he is now. This is where the problems of the movie start, as Akira’s reading of the diary is how the story unfolds, in flashback sequences of the younger Samar and Meera, a narrative device that is so over used, but not the worst one in the movie. Thankfully it doesn’t last too long.
After discovering his tragic love story through the diary, Akira falls in love with Samar herself and gets to spend more time with him, under the guise of being assigned to his Army unit to tell his life & love story on The Discovery Channel. That’s just stupid. The Discovery Channel doesn’t feature human-interest love stories. It’s even stupider to see Akira flirting with him during the filming of her documentary, while he’s trying to disarm a bomb! It’s supposed to be cutesy and how she breaks his tough exterior by being bubbly, but I’m left stunned at the complete irresponsibility on his part for allowing this to happen.
Also, isn’t this a very ‘home wrecker’-like quality being shown in Akira? She falls in love with a guy solely because he had a previous relationship that ended badly, to the point where she then schemes and plots to have him fall in love with her? What does that say about her as a person? Especially considering how she just up and leaves him with his ex when he gets Amnesia and doesn’t remember her anymore. Obviously he wasn’t worth all that work. Tsk Tsk.
Let’s get to Samar’s first love, Katrina Kaif’s Meera. The flashbacks show us how they met, which is another ridiculous cliché. Meera is set up as a character with strong belief in God who believes that whenever she asks God for something, she must give something back in return. So after Samar meets with an accident, Meera prays to God to spare his life, and in return, she’ll never see him again. (What?!) So Samar lives, and Meera keeps her promise to God, by breaking up with him. That’s it. That’s the conflict with which their ‘epic love story’ comes to an end. This is the ‘tragedy’ that causes Samar to go all dark. The complete retarded-ness of this is further exasperated when Samar, who then curses God for ‘taking his love away from him’, (like his role in MOHABBATEIN) vows to go on a mission to prove Katrina’s faith in God wrong by being reckless with his life. The bomb squad. No safety gear. Get it?
Despite this, the ‘conflict’ is completed negated by the end, when Meera & Samar hook up again, despite Meera’s ‘promise to God’. Basically rendering the entire story of the movie that we suffered through for 3 hours, completely moot.
As stupid as the movie was up until this point, if the story focused on Akira & Samar’s love story winning out in the end, then there might have been some redeeming factors. But no. Other convoluted plot points cause Khan to return to London causing him to meet with another accident resulting in Amnesia, forcing Kaif to return in his life, as advised by the expert as the typical Amnesia Doctor, a staple in Bollywood cinema dating back to the 70’s.
I really want there to be a count of how many ridiculous plot points are crammed into this movie. Every scene introduces a new plot point, a new conflict that’s over in 5 minutes, (like the whole Meera’s mom sub plot) and a new gimmick that has to be overcome before reaching the next plot point. That was probably the most entertaining aspect of this movie; the completely unpredictable thrill ride of cliché after cliché that appeared on screen every few moments.
Despite being a 3 hour-long movie, no sequence has proper development, which makes all the plot points and characterizations have no effect on the audience. The love story between Khan & Kaif is rushed. The interaction and development of friendship between Sharma & Khan feel forced. Sharma’s rejection by Khan has no impact. For a movie so long, every single act is rushed in order to get to the next convoluted plot point as quickly as possible.
JAB TAK HAI JAAN is not a good movie. It can’t even boast of good performances. Shah Rukh Khan is inconsistent in his portrayal of Samar, who basically emotes like every Khan role in history. Katrina Kaif does nothing extraordinary. And even Anushka Sharma, one of my favorite actresses, hams it up to the point of annoyance and suicidal thoughts during the viewing. The film itself has no redeeming qualities as it fails across the board in almost every single aspect. JAB TAK HAI JAAN is nothing more than a compilation of all the clichés that has cause international audiences to roll their eyes when a ‘Bollywood’ movie is mentioned.
Get The DVD
How do you feel about Yash Chopra’s last movie?
Kathy · May 15, 2013 at 8:06 PM
You summed up JTHJ’s multitude of problems nicely, Shahid. It’s hard to watch this movie without wanting to stab oneself several dozen times. If only I could give myself amnesia and forget having ever seen this. But then some quack doctor would give the go-ahead to my loved ones to act out some pretend life story in order to provoke me to remember this stupid movie again anyway. Argh! Where’d I put my knife?
Shah Shahid · May 19, 2013 at 10:31 PM
I’m sorry… but I can’t… discuss this further… without invoking blinding rage!!
Keyur Seta · May 15, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Very smartly expressed again Shahid. Apart from me only Kathy and you have listed the stupidity of this movie. I guess all the famous critics gave a big thumbs up to this one out of sympathy for the late Yash Chopra.
No doubt, we also have the same respect and felt the same sorrow when he passed away but I am glad people like us can’t shy away from calling a spade a spade!
Here’s my take on it – http://thecommonmanspeaks.com/2012/11/13/jab-tak-hai-jaan-review/
Shah Shahid · May 19, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Really? Wow. That’s a little surprising. The other day I saw a repeat of an Awards show where Anushka Sharma won for Best Supporting Actress, beating out some people that ACTUALLY deserved it.
JTHJ was horrible. I will remember Yash Chopra through his various other films, which miles ahead of some of the crap we see, even to this day. I had my issues with VEER-ZAARA. I thought it was released in the wrong decade. But JTHJ for me, was not a Yash Chopra movie. I have to wonder how his health during shooting affected the final cut.
Keyur Seta · May 19, 2013 at 11:32 PM
Lol! Yes. I was hugely surprised too after I read many reviews after writing mine. I agree, it doesn’t look like a Yash Chopra movie at all!
meeradarjiyr1 · May 16, 2013 at 8:18 PM
Just watched this film the other, and I totally agree with you. I really didn’t like it! Great review!
Shah Shahid · May 19, 2013 at 10:35 PM
Thanks for stopping by Meera. Glad you agreed. Now let’s move on to better films.
Marc Winger · May 30, 2013 at 10:42 AM
Anything that’s a ripoff of the Hurt Lock, a horrible movie (upon re-examination) despite it’s awards, is dead on arrival. Refreshing honesty on your part, Mr. Shahid. (Following you via my RSS reader, I can’t stand WordPress’ reader thing. It sucks.)
Shah Shahid · May 30, 2013 at 11:26 AM
Whoa whoa there Marc, I liked THE HURT LOCKER, although, I haven’t re-examined or revisited since its release, so can’t defend it too strongly right now. I just meant that, that badass quality that Jeremy Renner portrayed in that movie, was adapted into a quality given to the lead character of this Bollywood movie. Only with a more convulated back story.
Thanks for the comment and for following Marc. It’s rare to have non-Indian audiences read and comment on my Bollywood reviews. With some rare exceptions of course.
Marc Winger · May 30, 2013 at 11:46 AM
I would think it’s rare, as you say, because there are so many movies that Western movie goers just go ahead & stick with what they know. Which is what I’ve done, in the past. There’s more kindness & innocence in Indian movies, that I detect – & a different quality. I like to branch out every so often & since India has allied itself to us so closely I’ve been planning on seeing what’s going on. I find classic Japanese movies to be very good & am guilty of being a Japanese anime’ fanatic. As far as Hurt Locker, I initially liked it, but have come to despise Renner with all the loathing in my heart. I find him an opportunist & a “star-wannabe”, following “all the correct routes” to be a star. He makes me ill & I’ve post more than a few commentaries on his character. Also, the greed of the estate attached to Hurt Locker is astounding. Hurt Locker, as a whole package, is reviled by more than just myself. The swaggering dimwit (Renner) is just one of it’s most hideous aspects. See what happens when I get started on my pet peeve? Though not a fan of musicals or melodramas, there must be straight to the point drama Indian movies & I hope to explore the situation this Summer. 🙂 (Oops, there I go again, running off at the mouth!)
Shah Shahid · May 30, 2013 at 4:44 PM
Not at all Marc. I appreciate the rant. I’ve been guilty myself of a few. Despite being South Asian, my film background is Canadian. So I watch Indian films with a North American perspective, imagining if I could recommend this to my non South Asian friends. A lot of my Bollywood reviews are written with that perspective, while others are more for the existing Bollywood fans. There are many Indian movies these days without the typical qualities known to the West as ‘Indian Cinema’. some even rival mainstream Hollywood, in my opinion, in terms of storytelling. Surprisingly, there are a number of Bollywood movies ‘remade’ from Hollywood. This will be a focus of a new feature I will be starting soon. So stay tuned! (shameless plug)
If you’re interested, I did a piece back in the day about how, despite everyone thinking Bollywood is a ‘musical’ genre, that term means two totally different things in our two different Film Industries. It’s a bit of a rant also.
I am slowly becoming interested in Asian films. I want to revisit some old Kurosawa classics, OLDBOY is one of my favourites, INFERNAL AFFAIRS is on my list after THE DEPARTED. I’m not as educated in Film Industries outside of Hollywood & Bollywood, but I usually go by recommendations so feel free to hit me up with some.
I see what you mean about Renner. I can see him coming off as douchebaggy. He’s become the go to guy for franchise replacements, such as MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and the BOURNE films. I remember during THE HURT LOCKER Oscar noms, they made a big deal out of how long he’d been in the Industry, and didn’t get much kudos until that movie. I could care less. I think he’s a decent enough actor, maybe not enough to carry a movie on his own though. Agree to disagree here?
Marc Winger · May 30, 2013 at 11:11 PM
It’s unnatural for everyone to agree, at all times, so yes we can disagree. I won’t go on about Renner, at this time. He’s a fraud & I don’t care.
I’ll definitely follow your above link later about musicals.
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