Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: Jab Tak Hai Jaan (3.5/5)

Directed By: Yash Chopra
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma, Anupam Kher
Rating: 3.5/5

Yash Chopra always had a knack to define and redefine relationships, especially those of love. And his love stories have been winning hearts across generations, cultures and continents. When Yash Chopra recently left for his heavenly abode there was a wave of sadness and the wait for his last directorial venture got more uncontrollable. And finally Jab Tak Hai Jaan released on Diwali 2012 with a grand premiere, just the way Mr. Yash Chopra wanted.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan (JTHJ) is a love story, which tells the complexities associated with relationships in the contemporary world of the 21st century. JTHJ is Yash Chopra's take on love in today’s time, and how it is perceived and practiced today. It is a commentary which tells about the grandness of love, the timelessness and the ever-powerful state of commitment and attachment which comes with the feeling of ‘ishq’ and how misinterpreted it has become today.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan is the story of Samar (Shahrukh Khan) who is “The man who cannot die”. The reason comes with a logic which you will understand when you watch the movie. He goes on diffusing bombs and catches attention of Akhira who is an intern with Discovery Channel. She gets her hands on the diary of Samar and discovers the story of his past. The flashback story goes to Samar in London who does odd-jobs like sweeping, shop-keeping, and singing songs in public to earn some money and survive in the big city. He meets the big city-rich girl Meera (Katrina Kaif) as he sings ‘Challa’ all around the city and they keep bumping into each other. Katrina gets engaged to an English guy and gets upset over it. There starts the friendship of Samar and Meera where give each other lessons in music and English respectively. The friendship slowly turns into love until Samar meets with an accident. Meera, being a religious lady, promises to God to forsake their relation in lieu of keeping Samar alive. Samar gets back to life. And Meera goes out. Samar feels cheated and shifts back to India joining the Indian Army. The story attracts Akhira and she plans to document the life of this man and she sees it as a successful break. During the process, she falls in love with the Army guy and then the story starts to get complex. A typical love triangle woven across two nations and generations is then explored with different degrees of love they are intertwined with. Meera returns into the life of Samar and the movie starts to reach its climax. And then it stretches.

Ever since the poster and promos of the movie came out, they all had “A Yash Chopra Romance” displayed prominently all over them. And it was much before the unfortunate demise of the legendary director. Then the movie boasted of 3 masters – Yash Chopra, Gulzar and A.R. Rahman – working to create a masterpiece. And then there was the King of Romance at the centre of these affairs. One was bound to get goose-bumps with this combo and the excitement level was hitting the roof. And that’s the problem with hype. Gulzar feels out-of-form in the lyrics and Rahman out of steam. Though some tracks like Challa, Heer and the title track along with the background score are good to ear. The pressure to succeed often gets on as a burden and that reflects on the end product. But the cinematography of this movie is superbly done. It still suits the popular belief that Yash Chopra's movies are meant to be experienced on the big screen. A big hand to Anil Mehta for all the great work with the camera.

During the production of the movie, Yash Chopra was quoted as saying that he wants to make a movie in the language of the youth, which the people of today’s time can relate to and understand. Little did we know that it meant we will end up seeing SRK locking lips and sharing bed-scenes with Katrina with such open references being made to sex and English abuses being incorporated freely. Call me a regressive soul or conservative mind, but it was too hard to digest. Not because of the scenes but particularly because of the people associated with it. Yash Chopra. Shahrukh Khan. Love-making scenes. This is a difficult equation to imagine. Or, it was.
We believed all the romances which started with a hug and ended with a peck on the cheeks. Sweet and adorable it was. But anyway it was Yash Chopra’s way of connecting with the youth which disconnected me. I can still watch a Veer-Zaara hundred times. Emraan Hashmi I rarely do.
The movie also explores some of the trademark concepts of Yash Chopra movies like the superiority of love above all other beliefs and complete-dedication to a relationship even when the wait extends to years of isolation and loneliness. In fact, so closely it follows the usually treaded path that for some moments it feels like a rehashed version of Veer-Zaara served in a modern avatar.

On the basis of performances Shahrukh Khan has essayed the role perfectly handling both the generations with ease. The young, chirpy avatar clearly reminding of Kal Ho Naa Ho’s role and the tough, mean look reminiscent of Chak De! India. Katrina does justice to her part and suits the role of a London girl which might have been the reason she was chosen for the part. Anushka Sharma is as usual playing a bubbly happy-go-lucky girl and is fits into the flick like a charm. Anupam Kher has a brief role which I suspect might have been shortened out from a longer performance in the final release. Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor too play a pivotal part and are instrumental in bringing about a new twist to the story.All the roles are evenly distributed and exceptionally performed.

The movie which has a run-time of around 3-hours seems a bit sluggish for the story. The first half has the majority of the songs and the second half is rather intense. All in all it is a good movie, watchable, a simple plot in a twisted story line and above all a welcome breeze among the trend of South-Indian action remakes. Watch it for the Kings of Romance’s last collaboration, and their finesse in doing so.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Saleskids of The Year

A couple is standing near a counter debating what to buy. Husband wishes for a camera, while the wife is adamant on getting a laptop. The verbal duel goes on till the wife threatens to cancel his Thailand trip, and subsequently the husband gives in to his wife’s demand and orders a laptop.
Seems to be a usual household banter, but it is anything but usual. The couple shown are kids who belong the transitional phase between childhood and teenage. The lady takes up mock anger with perfection and the man sports a fake moustache. The counter is of, one of India’s largest online consumer goods store.

Welcome to a world that has gone smaller to appeal to a larger number of people. From the Flipkart advertisements which regularly features small kids acting as adults (which is very sweet to watch) to the Oreo advertisements, Allahabad Bank, McDonalds and to the latest commercial spot for ICICI Bank, everyone seems to be looking up the small kids. This trend of using little wonders to sell big numbers isn’t new. In fact, it has been present since the advent of advertising itself. Some little brand ambassadors who became synonymous with the brand are the Murphy Baby (from the Murphy Radio advertisement), the Dhara boy who leaves home in sadness and comes back with the offer of “Jalebi!” and the Parle-G girl who has been our companion during most of the tea-and-snack hours.
By presenting children in advertisements the brands usually want to establish a quick connection with the audience. And they are very much successful in this attempt of theirs. I have seen people flipping through channels to skip advertisement, but they pause to watch if the screen gets filled with the innocence of some kids. And personally I act similarly too.

Following is a list of recent advertisements which I enjoy watching and going by the YouTube numbers, I am sure so do many others. Check them out.

ICICI Bank Rewards Program

This is a sweet 1 minute 20 seconds tale of a little girl, who starts running as soon the school gets over, crosses a small river bridge, jumps through a broken wall and moves at a brisk pace until she sees a solitary building standing on a hill. It is a shop, from which she buys herself a toffee after much deliberation over which one to buy. She returns again the other day with a younger boy who tags along on the magical journey which will reward him with a candy. On reaching the candy shop, the girl discovers that her pocket is torn and she has lost her money. Unable to get the candies, she and the little boy get visibly upset and start to leave the shop when the shopkeeper calls and gives them both a candy, with a smile. And all this while a beautiful Kashmiri poem, “Hukus bukus telli wann che kus” rings in the background in a cute voice, apparently of a girl. The poem, which translates to ‘Who are you and who am I, and tell us who is the creator that permeates through both you and I’, was penned by Lal Ded, one of the greatest poet-saint of 14th century Kashmir. The advertisement sweetly informs about the bank’s rewards program with “Accha lagta hai, jab mile kuchh unexpected” (It feels good when you get awarded something unexpected) and the cute kids drive home the message with ease.


McDonalds has always been very popular with the kids and grown-ups alike. With the onset of inflation and subsequently declining number of people opting to eat-out, McDonalds brought out its Happy Price Menu. Happy Price Menus are either deals on meals or discounted meals in ‘Happy Hours’. And both the steps have been successful in keeping the restaurants crowded and demands sustained. To promote the friendly prices, McD has been regularly releasing advertisements with kids in focus. One of the advertisements which came some months back featured a little girl sitting with a boy his same age. She asks him if she is they are girlfriend-boyfriend? The boy replies in negative and reasons that girlfriends are too demanding. The girl replies that she only wants McAloo Tikki. The boy ponders for a moment, checks his pocket, then smiles and says ‘Okay then’. The next shot shows the ‘couple’ sitting cosily and the girl plants a kiss on the boy’s cheek and then the McD rhetoric “I’m lovin’ it” follows.
Another of the advertisement came around Dushhera, which shows a small boy sitting in the costume of the mythological character Raavan and laughing heartily, very loudly as he scoops through twelve desserts one by one. He is sitting with his father in a McDonalds and the happiness is both expressed through the boy and his father. McDonalds has experimented in advertisements with other adults but needless to say they have failed to make this much of an impact.


Open Karo. Lick Karo. And Dunk karo. This is the lesson which the kids in Oreo’s commercials impart, which tells the best way to enjoy Oreo. There have been a series of Oreo advts. in which little kids impart the valuable teaching to relish Oreos it its full essence. There is this advt in particular where a sweet little girl dresses up as a lady in salwar-kurta et al and brings milk and Oreos for his dad who is just back from his office. She teaches him the ‘correct way’ of having the biscuits. And before the man could go for his last step, the girl snatches it away and eats it with a clever grin. The advertisement plays on the childish-naughtiness and through a playful description establishes the biscuit as a ‘kids-favourite’ product.

Now these advertisements have won me over completely. A series of them are out on air. And they all have children acting as adults. In the opening paragraph I have already spoken about one of the advertisements in the series. And for the rest I will be posting links, as they are much better to be seen than to be written about.
For me personally, Flipkart has ceased to be a chosen medium of online shopping as the products are usually costlier than competitive websites. But these advertorial spots keep me glued to this brand. I watch them on TV, find them on YouTube and these never fail to tickle my funny bone, or any other part of my anatomy for that matter. The way Flipkart has used children tells about how a child’s play it is to use and order from their website. And in most of their advertisements, there is an in-home Flipkart counter where the family members order the product of their choice. This setting further underlines the ease of ordering and getting the products delivered, all from your home. Flipkart has got all the chords right in this advertorial series.