The film has many flaws, and quite frankly, they overwhelm the film towards the climax. And that is very disheartening actually, because one hour and an intermission later, I actually thought it was turning out to be just brilliant. Whilst walking out of the cinema, I tried to figure out what changed in the second half. Perhaps it is a problem only I face, but dialogue is the crux of any film. It is what layers an idea into a screenplay, and what distinguishes achievement from ambition. Like I’ve said before, this script has ambition aplenty, but somewhere along the way, and it is my belief that it happened whilst penning the dialogues, it veers away from living up to its potential.
There are moments in the film where Johar and his collaborators could have perhaps opted for silence but instead choose to go for dramatic emphasis. It is the single threads of wool that make the quilt warm though, and in this particular case, just as you start to feel toasty, it shrinks to nothing. Also, unbelievably disappointing was the way they wrote bits of Kajol’s character and the initial interaction between her and Khan. Her opening scene and the terrible dialogue make you cringe at best, and then the constant fixture of Khan, a traveling salesman in her salon, was inexplicable.
There are two points on which I am going to elaborate here. First, the premise of Khan’s journey, whilst interesting, and some of his moments on the road, such as his meeting the motel owner played by Vinay Pathak, agreeably insightful, there is such a thing as too much. By the end of the film, the only good deed Khan had not done was blowing away Hurricane Katrina with the power of his breath, and honestly, I feel sure that Bathija at least considered giving him the Nobel Peace Prize. To go from entertaining to arduous in 20 minutes is a lesson to be learned from this screenplay. Secondly, the crisis in the film, once again, seemed so juicy to Johar and his associates, that they gave it not just one harrowing scene but two. Whilst the first was passable, if only because of Kajol’s natural talent, the second was just overkill. It was loud, obnoxious, unreal, and odious. What should have been a pivotal moment became a terribly overacted sham.
These may seem like a lot of shortcomings, but in truth and in all honesty, these are all of them. And since I’m being honest, they are far fewer than I thought they would be. And at the point of the interval, I couldn’t remove the smile plastered on my face, even if I tried. Whilst the second half may have been a tremendous letdown to the buildup of the first, it wasn’t all bad, and in a hackneyed sort of way, Johar does somehow get his message out. And it is a message that needs to be out. This may not be the best film Johar has made (KKHH will retain that for some time to come), but it is, at the very least far better than any other film to come out of his direction (and I’m counting the awful Kal Ho Naa Ho in that mix). Watch it, if only once, if only for Shahrukh Khan and Kajol together on screen, if only for the beautiful landscape of the US through RKC’s lens, or if only because not every Khan is a terrorist.