'Jab Harry Met Sejal': A sophisticated rom-com made in the vein of European slice of life films

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

SRK and Anushka Sharma in 'Jab Harry Met Sejal'

Jab Harry Met Sejal is the latest offering from Imtiaz Ali, the celebrated director of Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal, and Rockstar. Jab Harry Met Sejal stars Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma in the lead roles. The film is the third collaboration between Khan and Sharma—the first two being Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008) and Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012). Jab Harry Met Sejal is essentially the story of a travel guide named Harinder 'Harry' Singh Nehra and Sejal Zaveri who travel across Europe in search of Sejal’s misplaced engagement ring. A reluctant Harry is forced by his boss to help Sejal in way possible. What ensues is a journey of self-realization for both the protagonists as they gradually begin to come to terms with what their hearts truly seek. The film is produced by Gauri Khan under the banner of Red Chillies Entertainment.

There has been a great buzz around the film ever since its titled was announced. The film remained untitled for a considerably long duration before the makers finally zeroed in on the title suggested by Ranbir Kapoor. Subsequently, the film got entangled in a major controversy when CBFC Chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani objected to the use of word ‘intercourse’ in one of the movie’s mini trails released on YouTube. Box-office hasn’t been too kind to SRK in the recent times. SRK’s second collaboration with Rohit Shetty, Dilwale failed to match the success of Chennai Express owing to severe the competition it faced from to Baajirao Mastani. His next release Fan suffered miserable at the box-office despite receiving positive reviews. However, after the failure of Fan, SRK made a strong comeback with Raees which quite easily entered the100 crore club despite facing tight competition from the Hrithik Roshan starrer Kaabil. Now, Jab Harry Met Sejal was initially slated to release on the 11th August so as to make most of the weekend prior to the Independence Day holiday. But the film’s release was preponed in order to avoid a potentially fatal clash with the Akshay Kumar starrer Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. It is quite obvious how badly SRK wants his film to succeed commercially.

SRK, Tractor, Jab Harry Met Sejal

Imtiaz Ali has been associated with rom-coms right from his debut feature film Socha Na Tha. Although, his rather unique filmmaking style makes him stand out in Bollywood, he has often been accused of laziness in that he tends to revisit his older ideas instead of exploring new themes. Interestingly, Jab Harry Met Sejal too falls in the same category, for the motifs are not new—the film draws from Certified Copy, Before trilogy, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Ali's own films. But there is nothing wrong in revisiting old ideas and themes as long as you can do them justice. While watching the film one gets a feeling that Imtiaz Ali has finally come of age as a filmmaker. The film unfolds like a fantasy but that's what is expected of love stories. Otherwise what's the point in narrating them cinematically? Escapism is often a necessity just as it is in the case of Jab Harry Met Sejal. Here is rom-com made in the vein of European slice of life films and so it's bound to disappoint those looking for a conventional Bollywood masala film.

SRK kisses Anushka Sharma on the forehead, in Jab Harry Met Sejal

However, there is no denying that the film’s core is very much Indian. The fact is that Imtiaz Ali couldn't have made a Certified Copy or a Before Sunrise. Not because he can or can't but because it would't work in India at a commercial level; with such big stars it would be too big a risk. So he tries to do the next best thing—accumulate ideas and try and rework them within the limitations. Jab Harry Met Sejal comes across as an amalgamation of complex ideas. As a matter of fact one seldom gets to see a rom-com of such sophistication in commercial Hindi cinema. Now, a Bollywood filmmaker can only take so many liberties. So even though he tries his best to fuse different ideas he ultimately settles for a predictable ending that’s vintage Bollywood. After all, commercial considerations are often of paramount importance.

SRK and Anushka Sharma in Jab Harry Met Sejal, getting cozy

But the good news is Shah Rukh Khan's much awaited return to his beloved genre i.e. romance. Ali pushes SRK to a point where he is forced to let go of the romantic image that he has been carrying for years and in the process helping him reinvent his persona as the new age King of Romance. As for Anushka Sharma, she provides SRK with the perfect foil. Her characterization is somewhat bizarre but she pulls it off brilliantly. In fact, it's difficult to think of another actress who could have played it with such grace. Needless to say the movie is brilliant on the technical front; the movie’s cinematography, editing, music, and sound design are topnotch. But it does suffer from some pacing issues. Also some might complain that the story is a bit undercooked. But, truth be told, the film is more about character interaction than about plot development. The chance encounter of two strangers and their subsequent journey is what the film is focused upon. And, so, essentially it is a performance driven film made special by some brilliant direction. In other words, the trio of Imtiaz Ali, SRK and Anushka Sharma make Jab Harry Met Sejal a treat to watch… so make sure that you don’t listen to the naysayers!

Rating: 7/10

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!  

Jab Harry Met Sejal - Official Trailer

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  1. It is a movie with nothing original of its own...starting from the name (picked up from hollywood) to plot picked up with dozen of other cheap bollywood films. Irony is; the critics themselves have such poor understanding of cinema.

    1. Obviously you are the most knowledgeable person around.

  2. Some reviewer you are....
    Khan fanboy..
    Universally acclaimed movie like Dunkirk is rated 4.5
    And universally panned movies like jab Harry met sejal and tubelight are rated as and 7 and 6.5 respectively...

    1. At least have the courage to step out of the veil of anonymity.

    2. Of course you cannot review movies in anonymity.
      But it was brave of you to publish a negative comment. That I will concede...

  3. This is a lovely feel good film from start to finish. Who cares if it's formulaic in composition; if the formula is not broken why reinvent it. The wife and thoroughly enjoyed it. It has the makings of a lassic SRK rom-com with the gorgeous Anushka Sharma as his partner in crime


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