Jab Harry Met Sejal is an inconsistent and plausible film. It lacks any depth we have seen in Imtiaz’s earlier work. Shahrukh’s great performance is the only saving grace here.
The greatest and trickiest journey of life is self-discovery. It is neither an easy road to take nor everyone is considerably self-aware to take a journey. Most of us are so lost in the dazzling ugliness of a mundane routine that somewhere we lose our souls for a template life. This is exactly what Imtiaz Ali‘s films try to capture in the backdrop of a journey- literally and metaphorically – where casual meet-ups gradually turn into an instinctive soul searching followed patiently by self-realization.The free spirited & delusional characters in Ali’s films take a journey to find themselves in the end. Ali exactly knows the nerve of it. Even if his films carry the patch of flaws, they are so soulful and honest that you always have something substantial to take home and ponder over it.
Imtiaz Ali is a prolific writer and director who understands the nuances of self-discovery like he has tasted it quite well. His ability to paint the canvas of self-discovery with pragmatic moments and relatable characters draws us into the drama and even though they do not bring any revolution in our lives or alter the course of our lives in any way, some of his films stay with us for a long time.
Unfortunately, Jab Harry met Sejal is a misfire from the same canon that Imtiaz has done to death before. His films are not plot driven; you know it before hand how the film would possibly end. Jab Harry met Sejal is no exception here. But the inconsistent & feeble screenplay plugged by a few unforgettable songs and lack of any depth to the characters never lets us invest in the search for the lost ring.
Harry is a vivacious character who not only hops like a vagabond from one place to another but also he gambols from one lady to another. He suffers existentialism, his crushed dream has turned him hostile towards his consciousness. He calls himself “cheap” and a womanizer but when he is left alone by himself, he looks desolate and adrift. Shah Rukh Khan, inflated by tremendous confidence, plays the character with drool worthy charm and valiant conviction to such a length that one look in his eyes convinces you about his shoddy moral character. He is at the heart of the film. Then enters Sejal. A wake-up call for Harry. A Gujju version of Geet from “Jab We Met” minus the sassiness, in its half baked character.
Imtiaz Ali has a flair for writing strong female characters. Be it Geet, Veera, Meera or for that matter even Heer, which was unfortunately made in a caricature by Nargis’s horrid acting. But the character of Anushka Sharma– Sejal – has not been fleshed out so strongly to hold a torch to Harry. This is not a fault of Anushka, she is good in her vulnerable character minus the fake accent.
The other issue with the film is that in spite of SRK’s great performance and Harry & Sejal’s somewhat plausible chemistry, the conflict between the two characters is so marginally reduced to the casual & glib interaction that their arousing affection for each other in the second half is not cogent and empathy garnering. This dilutes Harry’s redemption from his personal turmoil, which is again half heartedly written.
At a running length of 144 minutes, Jab Harry met Sejal feels too long and Imtiaz could have done without the redundant gangster subplot and the last 15 cheesy minutes, except the kiss and Sejal’s thumbs up.It really breaks the heart to see two good actors and a great writer wasted in what could have been a good film, had the writing been more consistent and less shallow.