Hmm, the chiffons have been packed; the Alps are missing; the heroines are brash; and the biggest change: the Lata Mangeshkar’s velvety vocals are frustratingly absent; but what remains in Yash Chopra’s swan song is his biggest asset : a straight-from-the-heart, somewhat old-school but deeply honest story-telling!
The narrative flow is stupendously fluid with characters and scenes unfolding in a seamlessly lucid way, with little background details tucked in small dialogues.
The character build up is logically consistent, even though they may do ostensibly illogical things. For example, you may hate Meera for her childish bargains with God, but take it or leave it, that’s the way she is, and that will propel her and Samar’s destiny. In all likelihood, you will grudgingly accept her! Hence, the story unfolds more character-driven than event-based.
Though of course, accidents, car-or-air-crashes are a recurring motifs & tools in all Yash Chopra movies, and may seem a bit too convenient; the accidents are present in this one too at critical junctures.
The story is really nothing much, but its the direction and the script and the narration that holds the weight.
Well, let me get on with the standard stuff – the production values are befitting a big-budget film ( every one wears awesome clothes, lives in palatial houses, and are generally well-off even when they are down and out!). The cinematography is again old-school; the camera is an equipment to show what is on screen, and does not assume any life on its own. (At times, though I felt that Yash Raj has slipped in the overall quality – too much image noise in the dance-sequence shots, could be something wrong with the theatre’s print!). The editing follows the narration and scenes are not allowed to overwhelm, nor do they suddenly snap.
And now we come to what stays back – the romance! It’s not for nothing Yashji is called ‘King of Romance’ – he literally lords it over. Moments, moments, and more moments – that’s the stuff that makes a film viewable a second time round, and this one is stuffed to the brim. The first half glides by as Samar & Meera discover their own selves, and the love for each other, and their love creeps in unobtrusively, and is stated calmly but with a deeply satisfying assurance. Dialogues play an important part. Yash Chopra manipulates the audience to the last drop as the camera lingers lovingly on Samar when he states his love, alternating with hesitant shots of Meera, flabbergasted & speechless & unsure, yet so surely in love. Aha! That’s the centrifugal moment that the master crafter has created his film around! (Actually, it begins from one scene before but I will leave it to you to feel that)
Same goes for the second half where Akira finds her own love ( though not as fluid as Samar-Meera’s romance!) and then quietly steps aside to culminate Samar-Meera’s unrequited love. The second half is a little convoluted (it should have been an exact replica of the first half in reverse!) and should have been smoothed out a bit, but that’s being obsessively critical.
One very important and sweet moment : years back, in Yash Chopra’s classic Kabhi Kabhie, Neetu Singh played a daughter who goes to meet her estranged mother. The wheel has turned full cycle, as she receives her own estranged daughter in this one. Nice touch there!
Katrina Kaif looks ravishing and is really good, Anushka’s vivacity explodes on the screen. Anupam Kher is so wasted in his brief appearance.
About the music: honestly, it didn’t work too much for me barring ‘Challa‘ and ‘Saans‘ ; decent, but not the high quality stuff befitting a Yash Chopra movie- but that could be because I have not come to terms with the fact that Lataji is not there in the music at all.
The film’s length will be an issue – three hours is practically unheard of in current times! But for the narration to unfold at its own pace, well I think it was justified.
Boring – no way? So, why get into too many details and just sit back, relax and savor the narrative.
Overall – I’d say go for it, and enjoy the romance, and let your heart go all mushy mushy.