Cast: Shahid Kapur, Kareena Kapoor
Direction: Imtiaz Ali
Who can resist a good love story, and this week's new release Jab We Met is exactly that – a warm, fuzzy, and for the most part, original love story. Both passengers on a Delhi-bound train, Shahid Kapur stars as Aditya, a dejected young fellow who's nursing a broken heart when he bumps into Geet, the annoyingly cheerful chatterbox played by Kareena Kapoor.
At first exasperated by her over-enthusiastic disposition, Aditya soon warms up to Geet's spontaneity and even embraces her inherent joie de vivre when he's forced to make a long journey with her.
Traveling all the way to her home in Bhatinda turns out to be an eventful trip for Aditya and Geet who go their own separate ways after a few days spent with her extended family. It's many months later and under entirely different circumstances that they meet again, and must make another long journey together, but this time with the excess baggage of their confused feelings.
Despite the film's severely flawed second half which is too long, too contrived and predictable to the extent of being seriously boring, Jab We Met is still an engaging watch because it sets off on such a fresh note. It's the film's first hour or so that wins you over with its simple charm, its immensely likeable characters, and the intrinsic humour in the writing.
Making a conscious effort to avoid cliché, the screenplay rustles up a bunch of pleasant surprises in the form of some unforgettable scenes that stay in your head long after you've left the cinema. Like that one in which Aditya and Geet hire a room for the night in a shady hotel in a small-town, or the one in which a talkative station-master is put in his place by the sharp-tongued Geet, or even that one in which Geet tries to persuade Aditya to elope with her cousin. It's the film's excellent dialogue that ensures there's never a dull moment – at least until intermission.
The real magic of this film lies in the performances of its two main leads who seize your attention from the moment they first appear on screen. Uninhibited and spontaneous, Kareena Kapoor is the soul of this picture, its biggest strength, as she brings alive her character with not just those smart lines, but with the kind of candor actors seldom invest in their work. I can't think of a greater compliment to pay her than to say with full confidence that no actress could play Geet better than Kareena has.
Despite the risk of being overshadowed by Kareena, her co-star in the film, Shahid Kapur, leaves an indelible impression with a performance that is understated and mature, and indeed the perfect foil to Kareena's boisterousness. Together, they set off such sparks, that the strength of their chemistry alone is enough to make up for several inconsistencies in the screenplay.
Fresher than any romantic comedy you've seen this year Jab We Met works because it delivers what it promises – a snug, heart-warming, relatable love story, indeed a respectable follow-up to director Imtiaz Ali's last film Socha Na Tha.
But because much of that freshness is replaced by mundane predictability in the film's second half, Jab We Met cannot claim to be a perfect film. Too many songs, hummable though they may be, slacken the pace of the screenplay, and the DDLJ influence is a little too in-your-face to ignore. In the final analysis, however, these are a few wrong turns in an otherwise entertaining film.
So I'm going with three out of five for director Imtiaz Ali's Jab We Met, it's a film bursting with the kind of lovely little moments that'll bring a smile to your face.
Rating: 3 / 5 (Good)