Shah Rukh Khan

Cinephile Stock: Jab Harry Met Sejal


Written and Directed by Imtiaz Ali
Produced by Gauri Khan
Starring Anushka Sharma & Shah Rukh Khan
Aru K. Verma & Chandan Roy Sanyal
Photographed by K.U. Mohanan, ISC
Edited by Aarti Bajaj
Music by Pritam
Background Score by Hitesh Sonik

Imtiaz Ali’s last film was my favourite film of the year it released in. Highly underrated and not-properly-understood by audiences and critics, Tamasha was an incredible film, set as it was in the Imtiaz Ali Universe.

Jab Harry Met Sejal is in the same space….well, almost. Locations change more frequently as Ali takes the audience on a tour of Europe. And how does he improve upon the sights of Europe? He hires Shah Rukh Khan as the tour guide and Anushka Sharma as a traveller looking for her lost engagement ring.

Harry is a Kanidda da Punjabi (technically….his passport is Canadian) who is suppressing memories of his pind and getting into bed with women, mostly travellers on his tours. He is, in his own words, cheap. Sejal is one of the travellers who has lost her engagement ring somewhere on the tour and wants to find it. She drags Harry along, mainly because her family trusts the guy (no background checks there) and his boss, on the verge of firing him, consents. Thus begins the journey which takes the duo to a number of places, where they meet a number of ‘characters’.

Aarti Bajaj does some swift work with the scissors, enabling the film to keep moving in places where it could’ve stagnated. Picturesque locations are aided by K.U. Mohanan’s elegant cinematography. It’s better than his work in Raees, which was drenched in bright colours. Here, the colours are more subdued and the pictures look more lifelike.

Pritam is unable to match up to Rahman. The music is better than it was in the last two films he composed for, but I have to admit that I am getting tired of Arijit Singh. He’s not the sole singer in the film industry, is he? There are some trendy, upbeat numbers like Radha (Sunidhi Chauhan and Shahid Mallya’s vocals are fantastic) and Beech Beech Mein, and there are also the more soulful, more Imtiaz Ali numbers like Safar and Hawaayein. Hitesh Sonik’s background score is not too evident in the film but is soaring when it turns up.

The film has only two supporting characters (Thanks, Imtiaz, for not crowding it with too many to handle). Aru K. Verma as Harry’s fellow guide Mayank does a pretty good job. Chandan Roy Sanyal as the illegal immigrant/criminal Gas is riotous, adding to the troubles of the guide-traveller duo.

Anushka Sharma is fantastic as Sejal. She nails the Gujarati accent and mannerisms. Her comic timing is incredible and she is pretty good in the more dramatic portions too. The sense of individuality her character has is greater than what Deepika had in Tamasha. She isn’t reduced to a supporting character, which would’ve been terrible for the film. She owns her moments in the film with ease.

Shah Rukh Khan is on a roll. Fan, Dear Zindagi, Raees and now this. I officially forgive him for Happy New Year and Dilwale and sincerely hope he doesn’t slip back into that kind of movies again. This is Shah Rukh as a character not a lot of people are used to. He sheds the ‘lover boy’ tag and becomes cheap, crass and womanising, very anti-Rahul/Raj. He is a tad bit over the top in a couple of scenes but does well for the rest of the film. The Punjabi accent feels authentic and adds a lovely touch to the character. Add to that the brooding expressions, the charming smile, the dimples and the intense dialogues, and you have the entire package of Shah Rukh Khan the actor (Yes, I’m a fanboy.)

The lion’s share of the pie is, without a doubt, Imtiaz Ali’s. After having made three rather serious films, he writes a fun, frothy story. He doesn’t relegate one character to the sidelines, even though the story is more about Harry than Sejal. His dialogues are incredible, laugh-out-loud hilarious at times and worth pondering over on a few occasions. The humour works because it isn’t crass or vulgar. It’s naturally funny. As usual, Imtiaz has an underlying theme. How we may attempt to hide our real selves (different from Tamasha because Ved didn’t know who he was.) in order to create a perception people will have of us. Imtiaz even showcases a bit of class divide, of how we may treat someone we believe to be inferior to us. There is also the offering that one shouldn’t bottle up what one is feeling. If you don’t tell another person what you’re thinking/feeling, you’ll never know their point of view. Imtiaz scores on the direction too, simply by keeping the film short (140 minutes approx.) and tonally light. He could’ve made it darker despite the story but he doesn’t. The sole quibble I have is that Imtiaz stays within his comfort zone of self-discovery. Another film like this and people may actually not want to see someone find themselves again.

Jab Harry Met Sejal is a fun movie, one that can be watched with anybody (I watched it with around 500 people, none of whom I knew). It is worth a watch, just so one can have a hearty laugh after a rather serious month in terms of films. The premise is unique and it’s a pretty good ride.

Verdict: E (Entertaining and Enjoyable)

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Up next on CINEPHILE STOCK: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s Bareilly Ki Barfi on August 18. BUT! A different segment is out on Independence Day, so drop in to check that out! Cheers!

Varun Oak-Bhakay



FLASH: Raees is Bollywood’s Best Robinhood!

May contain a pun-based spoiler.

Rahul Dholakia’s fifth feature film is his most commercial project till date. Set in the city of Fatehpura in Gujarat in the 80s and 90s, it is a Shah Rukh Khan vehicle all the way, though it does have other strong performances.

Raees works for a bootlegger called Jairaj since childhood. His work involves delivering maal to Jairaj’s clients. The man with the spectacles (Battery nahi bolneka!) however, has bigger dreams. He wishes to run a business and not work for someone. After being snubbed and humiliated by his employer, he tries his luck in Bombay where, after a kickass (literally) action scene, he meets a man called Musa, who helps him out financially. Soon, Raees is one of the bossmen behind the illicit liquor business in Fatehpura, challenging his own mentor and a police officer, Jaidev Ambalal Majmudar, a man who is used to getting transferred around and requesting orders in writing. Raees’ contacts make sure that Majumdar, for all his bravado and one-liners, is unable to touch him. Aided by his chaddi buddy Sadiq and wife Aasiya, Raees works to expand his reach. He becomes a Robinhood-like figure for the people of his mohalla (which Bollywood lovable baddie doesn’t?), doing every possible thing for them. But as they say, you don’t reach the top without ruffling a few feathers and Raees ends up biting off more than he can chew. Betrayed and chucked aside by the people he trusted, he puts up a fight to the finish, a fight in which he destroys everyone who has messed with him. At the chequered flag, he is encountered by his nemesis Majmudar, making for an engaging finish.

Rahul Dholakia’s direction, in relation to the screenplay, works very well. Just as he was unabashed about making a different film with Parzania, here he is frank about the commercial film he is making. Fortunately, the writing is not all brawn (like most action films in Bollywood). It’s not exactly Neeraj Pandey’s Baby either. Fortunately, the writing team of Harit Mehta, Ashish Vashi, Niraj Shukla, and Dholakia himself restrict the traditional Bollywood romance to no more than ten-fifteen minutes (just as well). Despite its indulgences, the screenplay has some applause-worthy one-liners and scenes. The climax is awesome and makes up for the slight predictability of the film earlier. While Ram Sampath’s music is not all that great, his background score is edgy and well-placed. Donald Reagen (I know, right!) and Anita Rajgopalan Lata do their bit (production design) with a lot of evident effort, since it’s Filmcity where a lot of the sets are rigged. They make it Gujarati enough but fortunately don’t go overboard. K. Ravi Varma’s action is earthy yet stylistic. One very remarkable fight scene is set in a kasaikhaana and choreographed beautifully. The action has its unbelievable bits, but not as much as a token Hindi film. Deepa Bhatia’s editing is crisp in some places and clumsy in others. K.U. Mohanan’s cinematography is the pick of the technical work in the film. It is excellent. The action is well-shot and the cameras placed intelligently. The lighting is just as good and the colouring apt. The scenes between Raees and Majmudar are the best.

Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub delivers a fine performance as Sadiq, though he probably got less screen time than he deserved and an underwritten character. Kudos to him for holding his own in the clinical scenes. Mahirah Khan is absolutely ordinary. The fact that she looks beautiful takes away everything from her performance, whose quality makes you feel like she’s just eye candy in the film. Veterans like Sheeba Chaddha, Narendra Jha, Pramod Pathak and Atul Kulkarni are cast well and deliver the goods. Nawazuddin Siddique is in top form with his dialogues and performance. He gets a well-written character and pulls it off with great energy. Surma in his eyes, glasses over them and a piercing gaze in them, Shah Rukh Khan’s eyes do the talking most of the time. He pulls off a character like he never has. Granted that he’s played the anguished psychopathic lover in Darr and the rather Anglicised pro-antagonist in the Don films but this is a role he has never inhabited before. He makes it his own, his lines, his walk, his eyes…everything. Finally, after two deadly films in Happy New Year and Dilwale, he came into his own in Fan, carried that form into Dear Zindagi, and made Raees his film, a tough job to do with actors like Siddique, Jha, Zeeshan and Kulkarni around. He yet again proves his acting prowess and strengthens the argument that if there are two men in Hindi cinema who won’t make a drudgery of an interesting concept (like Aamir did in PK), it’s Akshay Kumar and him.

The film has its problems, Mahirah being the biggest one. The pacing is all off, the first two acts are only an elongated set-up for the third and final act, making the film a little dull. The editing is a miss too and the story is predictable in places. And it is, at the end of the day, a Bollywoodised version of Robin Hood. Or is it? It would be worth stepping into a darkened room with tons of people and a massive screen to find out.

Raees: 2.5/5


Photo(s): Internet Movie Database

Varun Bhakay



25th January, 2017

FLASH!: Ae ‘Dull’ Hai Mushkil

Ae Dil is classic Johar. Exotic locations, good-looking actors, decently-written characters, great music, but clumsy story. Ayan’s love for Alizeh is something I couldn’t comprehend. Why? Why is this guy in love with this overly-bubbly, yet likeable girl? His motive is not in the picture. Alizeh sticks to her guns throughout the film, making her the most well-written character. Then there’s Saba, a shaaira (female shaayar). A character tailor-made for Aishwarya Rai. DJ Ali is of vital importance to the ‘story’ but hardly does anything.

Ranbir Kapoor once again slipped into his role easily and really hit the bull’s eye with his comic timing. Aishwarya Rai was sincere despite her half-written character. So incomplete a character that it seems Johar got tired of her. Anushka Sharma is easily the best of the top-billed cast. She grabs your attention in almost all of her scenes. I really didn’t know what Fawad Khan was doing in the film and going by his performance, neither did he. Lisa Haydon stole a scene with her act and Imran Abbas was ‘also there’ (it was hilarious to watch him dance). Alia Bhatt had a cameo of a cameo. Shah Rukh Khan had one scene and owned it with his charm and dialogue. Niranjan Iyengar and Johar’s dialogues were awful. They were good in some places but seemed utterly unoriginal otherwise. There were also too many revisitations of other Dharma films. Pritam did a fine job with the music, except the opening riff of Bulleya. Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics were beautiful. The editing was a little abrupt and shoddily done. Anil Mehta once again showcases his abundance of talent as a cinematographer. This is perhaps his brightest film in terms of colours. He brought the locations alive with his work. The problem lay in the story. It seemed like a half-hearted attempt at writing one. The comical bits stayed comical but the drama should have been more real and more in substance. Johar’s direction was also off the mark, though not as much as his writing. He seemed to be in many minds about scenes and the film suffered. Also, half the budget seems to have been blown on buying rights for classic songs. Wish there had been more of a time- and mind-based investment on the script.

All in all, not the worst film in the world but not a must-watch either. Basically, you might as well watch this if you can watch a Salman Khan film. Fortunately not as bad as K3GK2H2, and SOTY. 

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: 2/5


Fan: The Shah Rukh Redemption (Not very original, I know!)


I am a huge admirer (he dislikes the word ‘fan’) of Shah Rukh Khan. There are some who will definitely disagree with me on this one but most of Shah Rukh’s films since My Name Is Khan have not been showcased his acting prowess. Of his last six films, I enjoyed only Don 2, mainly because it had a sneeringly good Shah Rukh, an impressive Boman Irani, Jason West’s spectacular cinematography, amazing action sequences and decent music. Jab Tak Hai Jaan was almost as good (in terms of performances), but Katrina Kaif single-handedly destroyed Yash Chopra’s last directorial. Chennai Express was okay, Happy New Year was terrible and Dilwale was even worse. The last two basically banked on SRK’s stardom to make money at the Box Office. Therefore, it was with some amount of happiness that I came out of the theatre yesterday after having watched Shah Rukh deliver his best performance(s) since Chak De! India.

Gaurav Chandna, a Delhi boy, is obsessed with Bollywood superstar Aryan Khanna (a fictionalised version of Shah Rukh). He is willing to go to any length to meet his ‘God’. He travels to Mumbai exactly the same way as Aryan did when he made the journey there and stays in the very same room of the very same hotel as Aryan. When a rising actor alleges that Aryan slapped him and trashes him on camera, Gaurav loses his mind and beats the guy up, only to be reprimanded by his ‘God’. Gaurav then seeks revenge against the man whom he once worshipped.

DIRECTION: Maneesh Sharma has always been an impressive director, what with Band Baaja Baarat and Shuddh Desi RomanceFan is easily his best directorial venture. He doesn’t let the story veer from Gaurav and Aryan too much. Unfortunately, the direction does a lag a bit in the first half. The exploration of Gaurav as a fan is far too deep.

SCREENPLAY: Habib Faisal delivers a fine screenplay which ensures that never does the film veer away from either of Shah Rukh’s characters. They remain in the focus at all times and in a way, ensure a smooth film. The screenplay has its flaws too: the development of Gaurav is far too lengthy, however vital it may be to the film. Also, the brilliant chase sequences, mainly the last one, seemed far too long.

ACTION/VFX/MAKE-UP: The action, designed by Oh-Sea Young, is brilliant. There are three main action sequences in the film, all of which are enacted wonderfully by a Shah Rukh who doesn’t seem half a century old. Also, a huge round of applause for the fantastic stunt-doubles. Red Chillies VFX have surpassed themselves with this film. Their work on Gaurav’s face and body is an achievement in itself. Well-designed and expertly executed. Greg Cannom, after Kapoor & Sons: Since 1921, once again brings to the fore his artistry in creating the face of Gaurav. In fact, the make-up was so good that in the teaser one almost couldn’t believe that it was actually Shah Rukh.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Manu Anand handles the cameras superbly. Especially during the action sequences. The use of motion control (a technique used to shoot a double role nowadays) is fantastically executed. The song Jabra Fan, though not in the main film, is also canned very well.

PERFORMANCES: In their supporting roles, Yogendra Tikku, Deepika Amin, Waluscha de Sousa, Sayani Gupta and Shriya Pilgaonkar (in a very good performance), all delivered. In a movie that revolves around a single actor, nobody would’ve cared had the supporting cast faltered. But they didn’t and that added to the film. Shah Rukh (as Aryan) was great. He mocked the fact that film stars dance at weddings and behave brattishly. He was very convincing in his performance, which set a high bar for his Gaurav act, which was, in one word, spectacular. From the absolutely crazy fan of a superstar to his biggest nightmare, Shah Rukh brought out a different kind of energy in a character half his actual age. But it was his acting and not the dancing or the action (which were also very well performed) that took the cake. After acting disasters like Happy New Year and Dilwale (the latter was a bigger disaster after Varun Dhawan claimed that it was similar to Inception. If Dilwale was similar to Inception, I was Sir Winston Churchill in my previous life!), Fan brought back the Shah Rukh of the likes of DarrChak De! India and My Name Is Khan. Take a bow, King Khan! You brought out the evil nature of the character brilliantly.

Fan is not like HNY or Dilwale. It is not strictly for SRK fans. It is a shut-up call to those who said he can’t act. It is, without a doubt, one of his best performances of all-time.

My rating for Fan: 8/10