By Vidya Pradhan
Sometimes it is all about the treatment.
You can have a complex script, big name stars, special effects and professional comedians or you can have a simple love story that is well directed, smartly edited and best of all, well written.
With a plot loosely similar to a Ben Affleck/Sandra Bullock movie called ‘Forces of Nature’, Jab We Met is director Imtiaz Ali’s second movie after Socha Na Tha. His forte appears to be small, intimate, slice-of-life ‘dramedies’, if I may coin a term. SNT was also expertly directed, though I didn’t enjoy it as much as JWM because I can’t stand Abhay Deol( or at least I didn’t, before Manorama Six Feet Under).
Jab We Met has a rather unfortunate title, because it sounds cutesy, pretentious and very ‘desi’ but it is, in fact, one of the best romantic comedies I have seen in a long time. You just have to watch the first few scenes of the movie to make out that this is a classy product and you are in for a real treat.
Businessman Shahid Kapoor’s world is crashing around him as his company fails and his girlfriend dumps him. He is just wandering around in a daze when he comes across free spirit Geet, played by Kareena Kapoor. Her non-stop babbling( very funny in bits) and joie de vivre pull him out of his stupor as he reawakens to life and happiness under her spell.
To us fogies in our 40s, Shahid Kapoor is not exactly sex symbol material, but he displays a sure touch for the nuances of comedy and romance. He is helped by sharp dialogues and expert editing. Kareena, whose acting skills are not in doubt after Omkara, makes an endearing Geet, even though some voice modulation could have helped. In the second half, when the inevitable complications threaten the budding romance, her vulnerability is touching. Their amazing chemistry is all the more poignant given their real-life split soon after the movie finished shooting.
Even the supporting cast is good. Unlike most movies, where bit players show up and sometimes ham the movie out of a 5-star rating, each of the many supporting players acts like a real honest-to-goodness drama school graduate and this elevates the movie tremendously, giving it a polished, professional look. Add to that terrific music from Pritam( whose Metro album is one of my all-time favorites), and you have all the ingredients for a block-buster. Like Bunty aur Babli, the movie is set in suburban India with memorable scenes filmed on trains and stations in various parts of the country. This gives it a local appeal that many movies pandering to the NRI audience miss out on. I could have done without the excess of Punjabi bonhomie but after Ishmeet’s undeserved win on Star VOI, I can see why pandering to this vociferous and influential crowd can be a very, very good thing for a movie’s fate at the box office.
While JWM can be fairly termed as a ‘chick flick’, the direction and the dialogues make the movie worth watching with your spouse or significant other without eliciting groans of contempt. The second half drags a bit and seems unnecessarily long but probably is there to appeal to the 'Paisa Vasool' crowd. The movie is also pretty clean for the kids and though there is a kissing scene at the end, it is very aesthetic, normal and credible.
Jab We Met is available on DVD in some Indian grocery stores but it is probably a pirated version and if your conscience bothers you, check to see if your local theater is still running it. It is worth seeing the movie either way.
Picture courtesy Bollywood Sargam