We meet all three characters early on in the film. An army-man's diary (Samar, played by Shah Rukh Khan) reveals a different life lived before. His life in London, waiting tables, and falling in love with a moneyed businessman's daughter Meera (Katrina Kaif). In an outdated twist, the girl (Katrina Kaif) is all set to marry a boy of her father's choice. With her mom having left her at age 12 to re-marry, Meera is unsure about the meaning of love!
The army-man meets sprightly documentary filmmaker Akira (Anushka Sharma) who’s interested in his stance of never wearing a safety suit while diffusing a bomb.
In a way, the film deals with three stages of each character’s lives, which gives the film an epic sweep. It relies on age-old tools to take the story forward (a diary, something to do with a character’s memory, moral obligations). These story developments complicate the love triangle further.
Relying heavily on human emotions, the story puts all three characters in impossibly difficult situations. The viewer, having connected with all the three characters, waits and watches as the story develops.
Sadly, there are several loop-holes. A character returns home after ten years, and everyone seems to recognize him as if it were yesterday. And the central conflict on which the film is based is simply too weak!
Katrina and SRK have definite chemistry but their romance appears improbable. She lives in a castle-like home in London; he shares a grungy room with a room-mate. This disparity is never discussed between them and never crosses their mind!
The SRK-Anushka coupling is equally interesting, and in fact, more believable. With the SRK-Katrina track you have the romance breathing in a hyperbole with each sentence. It’s the old-school conversation style, where you wonder how the actors keep a straight face while speaking them.
The fluttering chiffon sarees have given way to ultra-feminine short dresses, but the colours speak volumes. In order to symbolize her as the ultimate romance icon, Katrina is often dressed in beautiful whites and pastels.
The SRK-Anushka romance is also solid, and both these romances, equally deep and passionate, have been handled differently.
Characters and Value-systems
The three characters have a sense of nobility to them. The quintessential Yash Chopra heroine has evolved, but only so much. For example, Meera is sitting at board meetings, smoking, and has no hang-ups about pre-marital sex – but she still won’t marry against daddy's will!
Samar transforms through the film—his journey is the most prolific. From a fun-loving, charming, lover-boy (SRK’s turf completely), he turns into the somber man, approaching middle-age, and pining for love.
Akira’s character is a go-getter, but very emotional at the core. And again, the value-systems are in place, despite her talks of wanting to sleep with men from each country around the world!
Both as the lover-boy and the loner, Shah Rukh Khan is in form. Having seen him do the lover-boy act several times, this performance strikes one as tad repetitive (the same glance, cocking of the head to one side, deep-dimpled smile). But where he really impresses is his army-man act, where he gives what Akira calls the ‘angry, intense looks’.
Katrina Kaif performs well in a role tailor-made for her. Anushka Sharma shines in a role that shows off her acting chops as much as that wide, sunny smile.
This is a film where the actresses contribute as much as the hero. Each role has its own track and they facilitate each other’s. This is truly a case of perfect casting!
The story remains punctuated with AR Rahman’s songs—while a couple are exceptional, the others are missing the Rahman touch.
Cinematography by Anil Mehta aptly captures the beauty of both London and Leh.
Director Yash Chopra makes several moments memorable. Even the equation between the two leading ladies—both with contrasting personalities—makes for some great cinematic moments.
Be warned. The film is all about love. It explores love between God and disciple, the love between a mother and her child, the love seen in friendships and of course, romantic love in all its cheesy and mushy avatar.
This is an idealistic world – so intense conversations take place against scenic lakes with the heroine’s hair fluttering ever so softly. In short, it’s romance, Yash Chopra style.
You may chaff at the exaggerated sentiments, but you sit through the film, completely involved in the story. Despite the flaws, the film is recommended for Yash Chopra’s magic. After all, they didn’t call Yash Chopra ‘King of Romance’ for nothing!
Rating: Three stars