Movie Review: Imtiaz Ali Rom Com Jab Harry Met Sejal

First half: breezy but unabashedly banal. Second half: riddled with toe-curling romantic mush. Sum total: a journey without maps that weaves concentric circles around sweet nothings and empty prittle-prattle. That, in a nutshell, is Imtiaz Ali's perambulatory rom com Jab Harry Met Sejal. It leaves you wishing they hadn't met.

A raffish man who isn't getting any younger, a standoffish girl who has a whole life ahead of her and a not-so-brief encounter in Europe that takes the rootless duo across several picturesque locations add up to a mothballed bromide that holds no real surprises.

To be sure, Jab Harry Met Sejal possesses the unfettered, Sufi spirit of Ali's previous free-wheeling explorations of love and longing. It, however, lacks the flashes of ideational, experiential and tonal originality that livened up parts of those earlier films.

SRK's return to conventional lover boy terrain - he plays a louche but lonely tourist guide in Europe - does not yield the expected magic. Anushka, in the guise of a young, chirpy lawyer looking for a lost engagement ring, is high-spirited enough to push this plotless whimsy along for a while. In the end, the task proves too onerous for her not to be weighed down by its demands.
Not that there is nothing in Jab Harry Met Sejal for hardcore SRK fans but those moments come only in fits and starts as he dons the persona of the footloose Harindar 'Harry' Singh Nehra, who makes no bones about his womanizing tendencies and even brags shamelessly about his amorous conquests while admitting to the many ways he's got into trouble owing to his rampaging libido. He is a superficially charming man all right, but not particularly likeable.

Sejal Zhaveri, on the other hand, is a diamond merchant's snooty daughter who does not think much of Harry's calling and loses no opportunity to take jabs at it. Yet she has no qualms in taking offence when the guy dismisses her as "nice, sweet and sister type". There is a limit to shallowness.

The beautiful locations are obviously eye-catching, but surely surface gloss, star power, lively music and sparkling camerawork can never be enough to turn a patchy and whimsical film into a convincing two-hander about a pair of individuals thirsting for more than what their lives have offered them.

Harry seeks true love. Sejal, too, is on a voyage of discovery. Do they get what they are looking for? Not a chance in hell. So flabby is this flighty film that it moves only in hops and skips. It never really takes off.

Jab Harry Met Sejal is cinema's equivalent of a shiny bauble that glitters wholly in vain. Watch it only if you fancy a vicarious romp through Europe with an off-colour megastar trying hard to get going.

Today, Jab Harry Met Sejal released worldwide. 




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