Of late we have been witnessing a phase in Hindi films wherein we have realized that the audience is yearning for anything different and out rightly rejecting the clichéd, run of the mill storylines. Having said that, Jab We Met is a wonderful film in spite of the fact that its basic premise is extremely simple and has been witnessed several times in the past; in fact there isn’t a single unexpected twist in the tale. However, it is Imtiaz Ali’s treatment and the performances of Shahid Kapur (undoubtedly his best performance till date) and Kareena Kapoor that transforms this simple script into a romantic film which falls into a class of films like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
The story is actually very simple and the fact that it draws inspiration from Alfonso Arau’s A Walk In The Clouds is evident, especially in the second half, yet in spite of the inspiration from this as well as several other Hindi films like Dhai Akshar Prem Ke, and to a certain extent Ahista Ahista, the magic of Jab We Met is that even knowing that there is nothing original to the story, you still don’t feel like you have seen something similar before, allowing the freshness of the film to grip you. Aditya Kashyap is an industrialist plagued with problems in his personal and professional life and hence decides to just walk away from all of it, boarding a train without really knowing where he wants to go. There he encounters Geet, a Punjabi from Bhatinda who talks nine to the dozen and irritates Aditya, yet along the way teaches him a few lessons on life that stick with him. Aditya ensures that Geet reaches her destination, which first is her family and second is her boyfriend Anshuman, and then heads back to Bombay. In Bombay he realizes how much Geet has influenced him and thinking about her and her approach to life, he starts achieving success in his own. Geet’s family believes that she has run away with Aditya and he eventually learns that Geet’s boyfriend dumped her and she couldn’t face her family after running away and the rest of the film is about how he tries to bring the two together, in the process actually bringing himself and Geet together. As mentioned, the novelty or freshness is not in the story, but in the approach and performances.
The film is filled with several enjoyable and well written moments between the two lead characters. Some witty, lines from Geet (Kareena gets some of the best lines in the film and she doesn’t disappoint) and fabulous chemistry between Shahid and Kareena or rather the characters Aditya and Geet is what lifts the film. The sequence at Hotel Decency, first at the check in counter and later in the room, is just a case in point as is the sequence in the bus during the same night. Geet’s impulsiveness and bluntness is the perfect contract to Aditya’s initial serious, depressed and as Geet puts “angry young man” persona. As mentioned the film is more about the moments between these two characters more than anything else.
Jab We Met is not without its share of flaws; most of the songs seem like they have been added on the edit as they don’t seem to flow into the screenplay and because the story is so flat and clichéd, you do feel the film dragging in parts of the first half and more so towards the end of the film. The problem is that amidst the great moments, nothing is really moving forward in terms of the story and hence one wishes the Aarti Bajaj’s editing would have been a bit crisper. No marks to Imtiaz Ali for the story or screenplay but full marks to him on the dialogues. They may not be hard hitting or impactful in that sense, yet it is the dialogues which exude freshness and realism into the film and the lines seem tailor made for both Shahid and Kareena.
Himachal Pradesh has been captured beautifully for celluloid by Natraja Subramaniam proving that one need not look for foreign locales to capture a beautiful location for our films; we have plenty in India itself.
Shahid no longer looks like a young boy on screen trying his best to be the hero; he has done away with his Ishq Vishq stereotype both in terms of his look as well as his performance. He is absolutely flawless in capturing the maturity of Aditya’s character and letting the lightness seep in after meeting Geet, while yet maintaining Aditya’s intrinsic personality. Shahid has matured leaps and bound as an actor and this performance should surely silence his detractors. Kareena is back with a bang after Omkara. She is perfect both when she is bubbly as well as when she is faced with the harsh realities of her life. One can not imaging anyone but Kareena as Geet and the witty dialogues are given with perfect timing by Kareena, making them sound absolutely natural. But what impresses the most is not their individual performances, but their chemistry together; a combination of the definitiveness that their characters have been written with, along with the actors’ performance, chemistry and of course Imtiaz’s fresh approach to romance takes this film to a completely different level. Shahid and Kareena show sparks of what we have witnessed from Shah Rukh and Kajol or even Aamir and Juhi as leading romantic pairs. Their personal equation withstanding, one truly hopes to see them together again because they are magic together in Jab We Met.
Jab We Met is one of those rare films which is not lifted by its screenplay at all. It is only Imtiaz’s vision of making a simple love story with a breath of fresh air, his ability to repackage something we have witnessed several times before and make it feel new that saves the screenplay. It has been a while since we have seen a fresh love story and we should thank Imtiaz for reminding us that sometimes it not what you say but how well you say it.