Film Fridays: Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012)

Trailer

Review

Jab Tak Hai Jaan (As long As I Live) is Yash Chopra’s last film as a director. His death just before the film’s release marks the end of a two-decade collaboration between the director and Shah Rukh Khan, Bollywood’s reigning king.

JTHJ tells the story of Samar, an NRI living in London who works three jobs to make ends meet. While removing snow at a church, he meets Meera (Katrina Kaif). Predictably, the two fall in love. Just before Meera tells her father about the romance, Samar is seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. Meera prays that if God lets him live, she will never see Samar again. When Samar lives, Meera holds true to her promise and lets him go. Rejected and bitter, Samar returns to India where he becomes a major in the Indian army bomb disposal unit. After more than 100 bomb disposals, he becomes known as “the man who cannot die.” He meets reporter Akira (Anushka Sharma), who decides to tell Samar’s story. Akira falls for Samar, resulting in an awkward unrequited love story. When her story is picked up by the Discovery Channel, she asks Samar to come to London for the interview. While in London, Samar is hit (unbelievably) once again by a car and suffers retrograde amnesia. His most recent memory predates his break up with Meera. Many awkward moments ensue for Meera as she tries to help him. Eventually, Samar remembers the truth and returns to his bomb disposal unit duties. Will Meera return to him and break her promise to God?

The film is a fun frolic through a plot that most viewers will recognize as boy meets girls, boy and girl fall in love, an overwhelming obstacle separates the lovers, fate brings the lovers together again. The end.

For those unfamiliar with Bollywood movies, watch for these insider references:

  • SRK stumbling over the word “salmon” is a play on his infamous feud with actor Salman Khan.
  • The kiss between SRK and Kaif is his first on-screen kiss and created quite a stir online.
  • The church featured at the beginning closely resembles the one featured in DDLJ.
  • At a party, Samar role plays with the name “Raj”, his most frequent on-screen name and his character in DDLJ.
  • SRK mentions being “fair and handsome”, a reference to a skin-whitening cream he endorses.

Having just finished Power of a Common Man: Connecting with Consumers the SRK Way by Koral Dasgupta, I viewed the film with an eye toward its presentation of SRK as a commodity. The commoditization of the actor is most apparent in the numerous product placements throughout the film including Royal Enfield, Intel, and the Discovery Channel. Compared to Hollywood films, product placement is a relatively new concept in Bollywood films, and SRK leads the way in exploiting this revenue stream.

Songs

You can read the Jab Tak Hai Jaan poem here.

The following songs are in Punjabi. Although the majority of songs featured in Bollywood movies are in Hindi, it’s not uncommon to feature other languages.

Challa

Samar sings this song in a wandering minstrel mode through the streets of London.

You can read the English translation here.

Heer

Meera sings this Punjabi love song at her father’s birthday party. The love story does not end well and reflects Meera’s perspective on her relationship with Samar. The film’s subtitles indicate “abduct”, but other translations indicate “take me away”, a slightly more romantic idea.

You can read the English translation here.

Rating

[usr 4]

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