Jab Tak Hai Jaan makes life look easy. So easy that a self proclaimed 25-year-old, who looks 40, gets to kiss a girl who seems to have walked out of Vogue. You also believe that the latter, despite all her Mercedes and Gucci glory, can't keep her hands off a waiter who has an annoying habit of speaking like he is perpetually in an art of living class.
Life's so easy, that an aspiring documentary-maker, can walk straight into an army camp in Ladakh in barely visible hot pants and prance around shooting, presumably stuff, while there are people detonating bombs all around her. Also, if you have legs like Anushka Sharma's, you belong to a curiously privileged class who can dance around in beach volleyball attire while goats, men and children around shiver through layers of winter clothes.
You can also go from being freeloading floozies to Michelin-starred restaurant owners in no time, you can lose and get your memory back pretty much the same way you get back an iPod forgotten in the shorts pocket, and you can jump from age 25 to age 35 without half a cell on your face withering.
Logic is the biggest casualty of Jab Tak Hai Jaan. You could say, of course it is, in any Yash Chopra film, but there was always a story. In JTHJ though, what you get is a bit of Veer Zaara, only re-packaged with taller women with hotter legs.
Shah Rukh Khan here is Samar Anand. The film opens to tell you he is the Michael Phelps of bomb disposal in the Indian Army. We, predictably, are in Ladakh where SRK whooshes in, in all his week-old stubble and aviator glory to defuse a really dangerous bomb. With the kind of intensity one shows while restarting a PC, he picks on this wire and that, and whoops the bomb's arse - or so says the thundering background music.
Cut to Anushka Sharma - she with her washboard abs, endless legs and holding a perfect cover-girl pose in a bikini in Ladakh - who is an aspiring documentary filmmaker assisting a Discovery Channel crew. She is also called Akira Rai. (Cue to gush, 'How quirky!'.)
So sidekick heroine stumbles upon hero's diary, where he has written down his 10-year-old love story, presumably with the lyrics of the songs he had sung with his girl and details of all the places they had made-out. Filmmaker Rai then bamboozles her way into the high-security Army camp to shoot a documentary on Mr Kick-ass bomb disposer, does cool military-ish stuff while managing to sport a perfect blow dry hairdo and also falls in love with hurt-in-love hero. Oh by the way, hero's ex-girlfriend, Meera - Katrina Kaif with an absolutely drool-worthy wardrobe - had left him ten years back. When Anand had an accident, Meera made a promise to Sir Jesus (cute god-next-door names for Jesus Christ), that she would dump her boyfriend if God makes sure that he lives. Hero lives. She dumps him, because she has promised God she will.
Hang on, yes, you're reading this right.
You don't question how a documentary titled 'A Man Who Cannot Die' has people gushing about it in London. It's important for the story to move on you realise. So, cynical Discovery people have to make sure that Akira was not shooting a Bollywood extra and demand bomb-stud Major turn up in London. He does, is knocked down again and lands up in a hospital again. This time, however, he doesn't lose a girl. He loses ten-year's worth memory.
And a lot of drama, sad song singing and cheesy dialogue throwing ensues. Unfortunately, this goes on till the film ends. And by the time it does, entry rules in Army camps in India have been successfully established as being as stringent as those in coffee shops, so the climax doesn't take you by surprise.
It's probably rude to bad-mouth the dead. But even the highest amount of respect for Yash Chopra cliches can't make Jab Tak Hai Jaan less of a burden on its viewer. If Shah Rukh Khan lip syncing to a Rabbi song every now and then is not annoying enough, Chopra seemed to have completely lost the plot with the dialogues this time. The only times you're reminded you're watching a 2012 film and not some Rajesh Khanna-ish flick of the seventies is when Anushka Sharma talks like an average 21-year-old.
Unlike in a Dil To Pagal Hai from fourteen years back, you can no more sell Shah Rukh Khan as a traffic stopping dancer. Jumping around while juggling a fedora cannot be passed off as hot anymore. A Katrina Kaif in grunge glory and her new-found post-Sheila dancing oomph, for company, doesn't help Shah Rukh Khan's case either. And no amount of bronzer can make him look 25, which you are told he is for one whole half of the film.
AR Rahman's music, on the other hand, fails spectacularly in doing what music is supposed to in a Yash Chopra film - sugarcoat and lull you into not noticing how impossible it is, in our parallel world, to groove in a bikini blouse and micro mini as the sky breaks into heavy snowfall. Or how the hero sings in different voices in different songs, without being drunk or flu-struck.
You have seen everything Jab Tak Hai Jaan has many times before, just in other films. And probably with far better music than AR Rahman threw into this one.