The Sweet Nothingness

Jab Tak Hai Jaan


Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma, Anupam Kher
By Ajachi Chakrabarti
SHAH RUKH KHAN isn’t the only person to suffer from amnesia in Jab Tak Hai Jaan. As the layers of melodrama pile up, interspersed with shots of Khan’s quivering lips and Katrina Kaif staring into nothingness, the humble viewer who had braved Delhi’s Baghdad-like streets and smog to make it to the Diwali release could be excused for losing track of what’s going on, what happened half an hour ago and wondering when, and whether, the whole thing would ever end.
JTHJ is really two movies piled into one. There’s 2012 Shah Rukh Khan playing a bomb squad maverick right out of The Hurt Locker, defusing IEDs without donning any protective gear in Ladakh (chosen more for its scenic beauty than reputation as a war zone). And then there’s 2002 Khan, a London immigrant playing Jack Dawson to charm rich NRI Katrina Kaif before tragedy strikes, à la Titanic. The iceberg here is the curiously knighted ‘Sir Jesus’, as Kaif prays for Khan’s survival after a motorcycle accident and promises to never see him again to sweeten the deal. Khan gets pissed with the deal, and decides to embrace death by joining the bomb squad. Unfortunately, he gets good at it, and is soon called ‘The Man Who Cannot Die’.
Anushka Sharma enters the scene at this point, reads Khan’s diary and is sufficiently moved by his emotional story to want to shoot a documentary with him. Sharma, who earns all the acting chops that can possibly be handed out in such a film, convinces Khan to come back to London to confirm his story with the network executives, where he naturally gets hit by a car again, this time with attendant coma and amnesia. Katrina re- enters the story, leaving what little storyline was left in her wake, and there follows such an interminable sequence of will-he-will-she-which-she, that when the end did finally come, only the filthy state of the floor outside the hall kept me from kissing it in relief.
There are, admittedly, things to like in the film. The locales, in typical Yash Chopra fashion, are stunning, and there is some raw emotion in at least the first iteration of the epic romance. But there’s plenty of ham and even more sugar, and the film rapidly degenerates into the Shah Rukh Khan experience. If that floats your boat, you’re welcome to it.
Ajachi Chakrabarti is a Correspondent with Tehelka.