Love stories are beaten to death. The genre has been rehashed, visited and re-visited again and again and again. So much so that all love stories look, seem and sound alike. But JAB WE MET, helmed by Imtiaz Ali, takes a fresh look at love stories.
Frankly, the story isn't new. It has traces of the Abhishek - Ash starrer DHAAI AKSHAR PREM KE [2000; which, in turn, was inspired by A WALK IN THE CLOUDS] and Govinda - Urmila starrer KUNWARA [2000; which, in turn, was a remake of a Telugu film BHAVANAGARU BHAGUNNARA], but director Imtiaz Ali's execution of the subject takes it to another level altogether. Also, for any love story to work wonders, it ought to have the germs to make the viewer jump with joy and participate in the goings-on. And the principal characters here -- Shahid and Kareena -- are so real, so natural, so believable and so winsome that the viewer gets absorbed into their world as minutes pass by.
To sum up, JAB WE MET is as refreshing as an ice-cold watermelon juice in scorching heat. Imtiaz Ali's expert storytelling coupled with Shahid and Kareena's sparkling performances make this film a must-watch!
Aditya [Shahid Kapur], an industrialist, is heartbroken as the girl he loves is getting married to someone else. Unable to muster up the courage to return home, he drifts out of the gathering and aimlessly boards a train, bounding away into the night.
As destiny would have it, he meets Geet [Kareena Kapoor] -- a beautiful but annoyingly talkative girl who is leaving Mumbai to go her hometown -- Bhatinda. Later, she has plans of eloping with her boyfriend [Tarun Arora].
Geet irritates Aditya to the point of getting him to leave the train. As she tries to get him back on the train, she ends up missing it and the two find themselves stranded on a desolate station with no luggage or money.
Begins the idyllic journey through the exuberant North Indian heartland in which this odd couple make their way through buses and taxis and camel-carts to reach her house in Punjab.
On arrival, Geet's family mistakes the two for lovers. Before this misconception can be cleared, Geet escapes to her boyfriend in Manali. Aditya leaves with her, confirming the suspicion that they are lovers. In Manali, Aditya feels empowered to return to Mumbai and resurrect his ailing business.
Life takes a positive turn and Aditya begins to do well. One day, Geet's family, who think that she is with him, confronts Aditya. He is shocked to learn that Geet has not returned home. He takes it upon himself to find her.
He finally tracks her down in a Himalayan town and begins another journey to reach Bhatinda and flow into the colors and conceptions of a loud and happy North Indian family. How their separate journeys become one, forms the remainder of the story.
Opposites attract -- that's the essence of this love story. The journey of two individuals who cross each other's path one night and develop a deep bond is skilfully and convincingly depicted at the very outset.
The highpoint of JAB WE MET is its story. Although the story bears an uncanny resemblance to some films, it never gives you the feeling of déjà vu. The sequence of events in the first hour is akin to a roller coaster ride. The journey that the couple undertake to reach Bhatinda first and Manali later is mesmerizing.
But the pace slackens in the second hour. Partly because the goings-on get dramatic and serious. Also, things seem to be stretched in this hour. The love story takes its own sweet time to reach its destination, when the fact remains that it could've [and should've] reached the finale earlier. Thankfully, the end is expertly executed and takes the graph of the film higher.
Imtiaz Ali deserves brownie points for handling the subject with such maturity. The fun-laden scenes are truly funny and the emotional ones make you moist-eyed. Striking the right balance between light and heavy moments is akin to walking on a tight rope and Imtiaz handles the two extremes with remarkable ease. An accomplished storyteller undoubtedly!
Pritam proves his versatility yet again. 'Poochho Na Poochho' and 'Tumse Hi' are seeped in melody, while 'Mauja Mauja' and 'Nagada' are racy, foot-tapping and easy on the lips. N. Nataraja Subramanian's cinematography does justice to Imtiaz's vision. The indoor look as well as the exteriors are dexterously captured by the lensman. The writing [Imtiaz Ali] is almost foolproof. Also, the ambience and setting in the Punjabi household are excellent.
Both Shahid and Kareena vie for top honours. Shahid delivers his career-best performance in JAB WE MET. He goes for a complete transformation vis-à-vis his looks and attire to look the character he has chosen to portray and the understanding with which he enacts his part is worthy of lavish praises.
Kareena is in top form as well. JAB WE MET is a turning point in her career [personally as well as professionally]. Fantabulous -- that's the right word to describe her work this time. The confidence with which she handles the contrasting characterization speaks volumes. This film should do for her what KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI did for Kajol.
Pawan Malhotra is excellent as Kareena's uncle. His diction as also the body language is perfect. Dara Singh is good. Tarun Arora is awkward, but that gels with his role.
On the whole, JAB WE MET is one of the finest [romantic] films to come out of Bollywood in 2007. At the box-office, it has the merits to work big time. Strongly recommended… Go with your family!