Red Chillies Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.’s Jab Harry Met Sejal (UA) is a love story of a middle-aged tourist guide and a young girl who is already engaged to be married to someone else.
Harinder Singh Nehra, also known as Harry (Shah Rukh Khan), is a middle-aged tourist guide in Europe. He is good at his work but is not settled in life. He has flings and affairs with available girls and then moves on. Sejal (Anushka Sharma) has come from India on a trip of Europe, with family and other acquaintances. Rupen (Kavi Shastri), who is in the same group as Sejal, gets engaged to her during the foreign trip. Harry is the guide for Sejal’s group.
As bad luck would have it, Sejal loses the engagement ring which infuriates her fiancé because the ring, which belonged to his grandmother, holds sentimental value for him. Rather than return to India, Sejal stays back alone to get hold of her ring as she believes, it would be easy to trace it. She catches hold of the tourist guide, Harry, who very reluctantly agrees to help her.
Since the ring cannot be found, Harry and Sejal move from one city to another, covering all the destinations which Sejal and her group had visited. In the process, Harry and Sejal fall in love with one another.
Harry holds himself back because he feels, this relationship would lead to nowhere as Sejal is already engaged. Besides, Harry considers himself a loser, having lost in love in the past. He also thinks, his views on sex and life would never go down well with Sejal. In fact, he keeps asking Sejal to not get serious with him because of the aforementioned reasons. On her part, Sejal is keen to erase Harry’s past from his memory and towards this, she even asks him to return to his home town in India at least once, something which Harry can’t get himself to do because of memories of his past.
What happens then? Does Sejal find her engagement ring? If yes, where does she find it? Does she return to India or does she stay back with Harry? Does she marry Rupen or not? Does Harry get over his problematic past? Does he live happily ever after with Sejal?
Imtiaz Ali has written a mature love story in which everything other than love is secondary. Why, even the families of the two lovers hardly play any role in the love story. The story, in that sense, is different from the other love stories seen in films. Imtiaz Ali’s screenplay in the first half is full of light, humorous and fun moments which entertain the audience thoroughly. The viewers enjoy the arguments between a Punjabi tourist guide and a Gujarati girl. They also find Sejal’s efforts at impressing Harry and winning brownie points very cute. Equally endearing is how Harry slowly but surely starts caring for and liking Sejal. Having said that, it must be added that the humour is city-centric and youth-centric and will, therefore, be liked by the multiplex-frequenting youth in the cities, more than anybody else.
Once the second half starts, the fun quotient reduces dramatically as romance takes precedence over all else. Although the romance is interesting and engaging, it becomes repetitive, especially when Harry keeps telling Sejal to return to India and keeps holding himself back. Though the elite audience will understand the inner turmoil of Harry, the masses will find his actions irritating after a point of time because they will interpret it as his indecisiveness. Perhaps, the biggest letdown of the screenplay post-interval is that Harry’s back story is just not explained. Frankly, the audience waits for his back story to unfold because a reference to that is made in the first half when Harry thinks about his past and ends up crying. Harry’s tears prepare the audiences for a tear-jerking second half or at least a tear-inducing segment after interval, but writer Imtiaz Ali chooses to simply not talk of Harry’s past. The viewers feel cheated – and badly cheated – on this count, especially because they have seen the hero (Harry) going through pain on remembering his past, and they want to share his pain. Imtiaz Ali has committed a blunder of sorts by not even going on that route – that too, after giving an indication that travelling on that path is a must. The ending is cute and unusual although the climax may not satisfy every class of audience.
All in all, while the pre-interval portion is very entertaining, the post-interval part is neither entertaining nor emotional. The romance in the post-interval portion is good but repetitive and puts a question mark on Harry’s state of mind, something the non-class audience will not take kindly to.
Imtiaz Ali’s dialogues are very good and inspired. The light dialogues are supremely entertaining, at least for the youngsters and the city audiences.
Shah Rukh Khan lives the role of Harry. He endears himself instantly to the viewers and then goes on to deliver a memorable performance. His nuanced acting will win him a lot of praise. He proves yet again that when it comes to romance, he is unbeatable. His facial expressions and body language are to die for! Anushka Sharma does her Gujarati damsel act beautifully, giving her cent per cent to the character of Sejal. She is so natural that it is sheer delight to watch her perform. The chemistry between Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma is simply remarkable. Chandan Roy Sanyal leaves an outstanding mark in the role of Gas. Aru K. Verma makes his presence so wonderfully felt in the role of Harry’s friend, Mayank, that the audience actually misses him when he is absent. Evelyn Sharma (as Irina), Barbora Mudrochova (as Natassja), Paula Donner (as Clara), Denis Dorokhov (as Czar) and Kavi Shastri (as Rupen) provide the desired support.
Imtiaz Ali’s direction is mature and praiseworthy. The man may have slipped badly in the script (after interval) but his narration is very honest. Pritam’s music is appealing although the absence of super-hit tunes is sorely felt, more so because it is a romantic film. ‘Radha’, ‘Hawayein’, ‘Safar’ and ‘Beech beech mein’ are good tracks. Other songs are also interesting. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are beautiful. Song picturisations (by Vaibhavi Merchant, Ashley Lobo and Bosco-Caesar) are very colourful and eye-filling. Hitesh Sonik’s background music is wholesome. K.U. Mohanan’s cinematography is outstanding. The foreign locations are just too beautiful. Production designing (by Shwetha Sebastian) is of a very high order. Aarti Bajaj’s editing is razor-sharp.
On the whole, Jab Harry Met Sejal has a lovely first half but a very disappointing second half and will, therefore, not be able to appeal to all sections of the audience. While the classes in the cities will find it fairly engaging, the rest of the audience will not be able to connect with the drama and will give the film the thumbs down. In commercial terms, the film will entail losses to the distributors and will go down in box-office history as a losing fare.