Jab Harry Met Sejal: Shah Rukh Khan and Imtiaz Ali respond to criticism over film
Imtiaz Ali's film Jab Harry Met Sejal, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma, opened at the theatres on Friday, 4 August, to much buzz. However, on its very first day, it received a lot of flak from film reviewers. The dip in viewer footfalls at the theatres over the weekend indicated that the audience reaction wasn't very different from that of the critics.
Here's a sample of what critics had to say about JHMS:
"...The problem is that Imtiaz is unable to mould the larger-than-life romantic persona of Shah Rukh into his own more bruised brand of romance. Twenty-two years later, Shah Rukh is still Raj — tender, sensitive and resolutely chaste – at least with the woman he loves. Imtiaz and Shah Rukh coming together should have created a romantic classic. Instead Imtiaz has made his weakest film to date..."
"Imtiaz, who has been frequently – and let’s face it, prematurely – described as the Yash Chopra of this generation, falters on account of an undercooked script. There is just not enough meat on the bones to keep you invested in the protagonists’ journey, or in their relationship, which feels clumsy and muddled but not in an interesting, honest way..."
"...there was something so crass and insensitive about the latest Imtiaz Ali release that watching it any longer felt like an insult, felt like an act of personal debasement. And it wasn’t just because the film was shoddy, mirthless and regressive, but also because it was clueless and tone deaf, completely bereft of any shred of self-awareness, using humour as a crutch to peddle its problematic notions of identity and acceptance – arrogant even, erroneously believing that the audience would lap anything up in the garb of a love story helmed by a superstar..."
...Jab Harry Met Sejal forces scenes and dialogues in so that a song could follow. Why not directly play the song? After all, it’s the music that offers some respite from this drag-fest.
On second thoughts, it’s not even a typical Imtiaz Ali film. Where is that self realisation of the characters who want to run away from the burden of love? At most, it’s a stretched out meet-cute that then melds into a search for a goddamn ring. From the title to its climax, everything screams ‘been there, done that'..."
"Jab Harry Met Sejal is a lost cause from the word go. Sejal’s reasons for staying on in Europe, her pile-on behaviour, Harry’s back story, her carelessness as she wanders lonely streets and darkened nightclubs in alien lands — none of it is credible and frankly, neither Sharma nor Khan appear convinced of why Sejal and Harry do what they do.
As Harry and Sejal wade through philosophical bullshit about finding oneself, finding the one you are meant to be with and so on, Jab Harry Met Sejal gets more exasperating with each passing minute. There is a fantastic Indian word for pretentious art of this kind: pakau."
However, Imtiaz Ali and Shah Rukh Khan have come out in defense of their film.
Speaking about the censure the film received owing to the claim that it doesn't seem like a "typical Ali film", the director told IANS, "I am sure that a lot of people do not think that Harry Met Sejal is an intellectual masterpiece, but I did not intend it to be one...I have not made this film for praise. You know I would like to be the director who can make different kinds of films. This one is made to reach the maximum number of people. Not to just get praise for myself...I have been a veteran at this. When Tamasha released, lot of people praised the film but the film was not reaching the audience."
Supporting his director, Shah Rukh Khan said that the real test of a film lies in going beyond the ordinary and create some "magic". He said, "I think sometimes the bigger feeling is to try something new. I have been in the business long enough to try a formula film and to try a film with no formula. Succeeded and failed at both...So every writer or director does not want to go back to the same magic because he/she does not know how it was created.
"Some critics have talked about the magic being missing. I think he would not like to recreate that magic that he has done in the past. This one has a new magic. It’s a new trick. Maybe just the newness of it is going to take some time for people to understand the magic of the film," added the superstar.
Meanwhile, social media was rife with memes at the expense of JHMS.
Jab Audience Met Disappointment.
— Trendulkar (@Trendulkar) August 5, 2017
People are saying that first half is good but second half is very bad, can't say if Jab Harry met Sejal or SRK's career.
— EngiNerd. (@mainbhiengineer) August 5, 2017
Friend who had gone to Harry Met Sejal returned back at interval. He says he'd rather watch Rahul Gandhi's speeches on TV
— Ra_Bies (@Ra_Bies) August 4, 2017