Saturday, May 31, 2008

Jab We Met, or, When I Met Shahid

After Salaam Namaste, I needed to watch a decent romcom, and thankfully the powers-that-be-at-BollyWHAT came through for me, because they directed me to Jab We Met. Jab We Met is a 2007 film starring Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor, and no, in case you're as Bolly-ignorant as me, they are not related except possibly distantly. It was written and directed by Imtiaz Ali. It's also noteworthy because it's the first Bollywood movie I watched without a Bachchan or Khan, although the Kapoors are Bollywood royalty too.

Aditya Kashyap (Shahid's character) has a sucky life because he suffers from too much money and power. His mama ran away with some dude a little bit before his dad died, and now she's suing him for her share in the company she built with his father, which Aditya has no intention of giving her. (Suffer, MamaSkank!) His company's going into the toilet, too, so maybe even if she wins she won't get much. But hey! At least his girlfriend... dumped him. And got married to somebody else. Aditya has kind of a breakdown. He wanders through Mumbai while removing various articles of clothing, rides a bus to the train station, and gets on a train with no idea of where he's going or what he'll do when he gets there.

Previously, my exposure to Shahid Kapoor had been a quick glance at photos that looked like the prize example you see here, followed by rapid navigation elsewhere. And my previous exposure to Kareena had been in K3G, in which she looked like what you see on the right. So, as you can tell, I was not expected what Jab We Met delivered.

On the train, Aditya meets Geet (Kareena), a "Sikh girl from Bhatinda!" who basically never shuts up for the first twenty minutes we see her. She's friendly, outgoing, nosy, and overfamiliar--in other words, everything Aditya can't deal with right now. He thinks about throwing himself off the train but ends up disembarking at a random station. Through a series of mishaps he and Geet end up stranded together in Ratlam. Once he and Geet start conversing, instead of her delivering a nonstop monologue while he tries to ignore her, they end up becoming friends.

This is so not "typical" Bollywood fare. For one thing, there's no song until about forty minutes into the film, and when Aditya does finally let loose with "Aao Milo Chalo," Geet comments on how she's never heard anyone sing as well. In one of the cuter touches of the film, Aditya replies, "At one point there was nothing I wanted more than music." Geet's name means "song," and eventually she becomes his other great desire.

For another, there's the fact that from the beginning of their relationship, Geet is taken ("I'm a one-man-woman, and I have a boyfriend--Anshuman") and Aditya makes no effort to separate her from the other man. As he expresses it to Geet much later, "People who love each other should stay together." Then there's Aditya's matter-of-fact acceptance of the possibility that Geet may not be a virgin--and she might not've lost her virginity to Anshuman either!

And then there's Geet--a different heroine from any I've seen in Hindi cinema. This role made me into a Kareena lover (yes, I said it. Ready your tomatoes for throwing, please). She does such a good job of playing a bubbly, joyous, impulsive girl who believes in living from her heart--and an equally good job of playing the defeated, joyless, colorless woman in the second half of the film. It's quite an emotional range to play in a single film, and Kareena nails it all the way. Geet's going to do what she wants to do, and neither love nor duty will stop her from pursuing her own life. She's witty, she's playful, and when she gets in trouble she uses her brains and self-reliance to find a way out of bad situations.

Speaking of different, Aditya is way different from any hero I've seen in American or Indian movies. He's quiet, slightly shy, but is every bit a match for Geet's quick mind. He can dance, dude. I mean, really dance. He tends to show what he's thinking in his eyes rather than blurting it out. He wears his immense power lightly but isn't afraid to throw it around when it comes to doing the right thing. And how can you not love a guy whose fantasy about his beloved involves her waking him up and the two of them talking over tea all night?
(Personal aside: I have informed my husband that should he kick the bucket at any time in the near future, I will be flying to India following the burial so that I can marry Shahid. He callously replied that if I die, he's bumping off Ajay Devgan and saving Kajol from the ignominy of widowhood. I responded by replacing his computer wallpaper with the following image:

As you can tell, we have a very mature relationship.)

Superfantastic Bollywood Moments: Thankfully, most of them are in the first thirty minutes of the film, specifically in one particular scene. As Aditya and Geet chase the train, it turns into a claymation spectacular. No, I only wish I was joking. See for yourself:

There is also some horrible green screen work in the first shot of Geet running to catch the train and also in the taxi as they're hurrying to catch the train at the next station. Everything looks like it was painted in phosphorous.

Then, (slight spoiler alert!) there's a moment in the second half when Geet hugs Aditya and it turns into slow-mo 70's-porn-music weirdness. Aditya nuzzles her hair while his hands almost feel her up and Geet's chin gets all bent as she shoves it into his shoulder. Then they both freeze and back away from each other. Upon repeated re-watching of this movie, I have developed a theory that perhaps Aditya gets a little more, um, excited about the hug than a Bollywood movie's gonna implicitly convey. Okay, I'm a pervert, but you kind of have to wonder exactly what Aditya's talking about when he blurts out, "Don't worry about it--it happens!"

Also, at times the subtitles royally suck and lose all meaning. For instance, one line in the lovely "Tum Se Hi" which, according to the BollyWHAT translation marvels should be translated "If I don't belong to you, why should I exist at all?" is rendered, "Your absence is like your presence." In fact, the whole song is very poorly translated. No surprise with a Bollywood movie, but darn it, they got my expectations up! Then, in the utterly incomprehensible final dance number (what the heck, dude, I wanted to see a freaking wedding!) Mauja Hi Mauja, there's a line: "My beloved is like lemonade/Beloved let me glove you down," which inevitably leads to me thinking of the full-body condoms in The Naked Gun. (For the record, it's supposed to say "drink you down." Still weird imagery but not quite as Michael Jacksonish.)

And then there's Anshuman, as played by Tarun Arora. He's such a bloody boor that he makes me want to spit like a cat at the screen. I can't tell if this is Tarun Arora doing a fantastic job of playing a dim bulb or of him just being himself. Still, he is good-looking, so if you catch Mike Myers' The Love Guru look for him in it and tell me if he's any smarter. Usually by the end of the movie I and any other viewers are yelling, "Yeah, that's right, leave, you dumbass!"

I like this movie so much that it's difficult to put how much into words (very useful to read in a Bollywood review blog, right?).
One of my favorite scenes: Aditya confesses his love for Geet without saying anything but her name.

It's my automatic go-to whenever I want cinematic comfort food, and also the best introduction for my girlfriends to Bollywood since there aren't too many Indian cultural-specific things in it. Plus, it has some really cute kissing. It's one hundred percent worth every penny. And the soundtrack is great! Here's a clip from my favorite song, "Nagada Nagada:"

Added: The absolutely AWESOME Nehaflix synopsis. Seriously. It rocks.


  1. Great post Ajnabi. I loved this movie, and now that I've read your analysis, I realise why! :-)

    Kareena did Geet so well I wondered whether its rather true to life. Shahid looked a bit too young to play the brooding tycoon but still the movie works. Apart from the story and characters (which were great), the nicest part of the movie for me was that there was no Bachchan on the horizon (its difficult to find any recent movie where the Big B doesnt act/do a guest appearance/voice-over)!

  2. Bollyviewer--I think Geet must be pretty true-to-life for Kareena, although Imtiaz Ali said he didn't really know her before this movie.

    I agree that Shahid had a bit of a babyface but I was able to attribute that to his dad dying young and leaving him the company prematurely. I was so surprised with his role in Vivah after this film--so much more callow that I couldn't like him.

  3. I particularly liked your "Ass" written on Anshuman's photo! LOL!

    Againd, I'm really enjoying your blog, as a co-westerner bollywood fanatic, I'm really digging this. Here's my 2 cents on Jab We Met:

    All the best!

  4. Sita-ji, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. :-) I'm always on the lookout for more Bollywood blogs so it's fun to discover another.

  5. Hello Ajnabi,
    just found your blog and think it is great! So nice to find someone else who loves JWM :)
    Have you seen Asoka? Ok, it's got a Khan in it, but Kareena is really good in it. But then I am a fan of hers ;)

    I think that Aditya's remark "don't worry about it, it happens" was meant like "hey ok, a hug that started out like a comforting hug changed into something else, but it's ok. you're not cheating on Anshuman, and we're still friends". At least that's how I understood it.

    All the best!

  6. Hey Lisa--I'm glad you like the blog! :-) Yes, I've seen Asoka, and I thought both Kareena and SRK were great in it. I'm a fan of hers too.

    As to the hug, well, like I said, I have a dirty mind. ;-)

  7. Hi Ajnabi,
    I saw your list of reviews right after I had posted my comment here...
    Thanks for your comment on my blog :) Jodhaa Akbar is so much for the eye, esp if you're a fan of Hrithik! Don't know if I'd watch it a second time, but the visuals are great, and anyways, I like historical films with great costumes... And there's definitely one reason to get the dvd, one can make screenshots from Hrithiks sword practicing ;)

    I'll re-watch JWM in the cinema next week (yay!), just wondering how I'll respond to that hug now ;-)

  8. Awww, you get to see it in the cinema? I'm so jealous! Let me know if I've corrupted your "hug impression." ;-)

  9. Ajnabi,

    This was soo hilarious--especially the part about the cute banter between you and your husband!:)

    I had forgotten all about the "70s porno hug" as you so accurately put it until reading about it here! I remember laughing out loud at that part--like, are you serious? Is this hug supposed to be some erotic moment?

    I love your writing style, by the way!

  10. Hi Nida! Thanks for the props. :-)

    That hug still strikes me as so weird. Now every time I watch the movie (which I think averages about every two weeks) I kind of turn my sideways when he walks away from her, trying to figure out if there's anything more to the whole deal. LOL Then I usually wish I could meet Imtiaz Ali so I could ask him about it. I'd probably just end up stammering out a request for his autograph if I did meet him though. :-D

  11. "And how can you not love a guy whose fantasy about his beloved involves her waking him up and the two of them talking over tea all night?"
    Yup amazing fantasty and my kinda guy ;)

    That was a very nice review of Jab we met. I also had no xpectations from Kareena but she delivered and how..wonders never cease

  12. Hi B! Thanks for stopping by and commenting--and for the compliment. I had no expectations of Kareena either since this was very early in my Bollywatching career...I caught the terrible bootleg version on YouTube and opened a separate window and bought it while watching, that's how good a job she did.

  13. Hi ajnabi,

    Great review. I fell in love with Shahid after watching this movie. He is enormously talented. I loved the scene where he tells her, 'Yes I love you but that's my problem, not yours'.

    I will have to read all your other reviews.

    Keep blogging!!


  14. Hi Neha, thanks for dropping in and commenting! Aditya's character is soooo sweet; I love the scene you mentioned too; and the one where he shows her how she's *supposed* to be smiling instead of all that "ugly" tension on her forehead. LOL

  15. Oooh,that scene was good too.

    Have you seen Ishk Vishq? Shahid was so young in that movie and his character, Rajeev, was a jerk. But the movie was quite enjoyable. You should give it a try.


  16. Here goes my one of the favorite movie. Thanx for the words. I loved loved Kareena in this one. similarly Shahid. And after watching the movie, I cursed both a lot.

    Why? Cause they parted their way in personal life, during shoot of this movie. :-( just imagine this pairing in real life. Both of them would have rocked if this story became a reality.

    True, the train sequence was AWFUL. But another scene followed to it, Geet chasing Aditya on platform, runs after him 'chor chor chor' and telling the policeman 'Nalayak, utar ke phenk de vardi'. ROTFL.

    I can watch this movie Daily. OK, the first part.

    I din't like Shahid before this, except Vivah. But I loved this one. Especially a scene in Shimla, when Adi finds Geet near convent, and tells her that 'whatever he is today, its because of her'. Sparks of act.

    P.S. Have you seen Imtiaz's first movie 'Socha Na Tha'? Its an unofficial prequel of this flick. Watch and review it, its equally lovable movie with equally lovable stars 'Abhay Deol and Ayesha Takia'

    Waiting for your review.

    and why are you bolly ignorant?

  17. Neha, I have seen Ishq Vishk and it kind of reminded me of the first half of KKHH. Did it make you think of it too?

    Darshit: thanks for dropping in and commenting! Personally, I'm all the more impressed with Bebo & Shahid's acting skills considering the emotional turmoil they were suffering during the shoot. And yeah, the two scenes you mention are awesome; I love when he's watching her eat her lunch without her knowing he's there and how upset he looks. Sooo sweet.

    I added Socha Na Tha to my queue, so when it comes available I'll definitely review it!

    And I'm bolly-ignorant because I just started watching Hindi movies almost a year ago. I don't know much yet. LOL

  18. Thank God after 2 years of not watching any bollywwod movies (i dont know what happened, i suddennly lost interest in them), my Indian friend gave me this dvd, and it revived my faith again for Bollywood movies. I watched it over and over again, and realized there were actually no meaningless scenes. Each scene delivers something, mostly balance of romance and laughters.
    The scene when Kareena bursts into tears when they discuss about hotel descent was the first time I realized that she could deliver some heck of performance.
    LOL during the finale, when she runs to catch him but the background score is the "catching the train scores".
    It is my favourite hindi movie of all time.

  19. Sahat: thanks for dropping by and commenting! I agree, if anything could make you love Hindi films JWM will. Its narrative is unusually tight for a Hindi movie (Imtiaz Ali deserves major props). And yeah, Kareena shed real tears and won my heart in that scene in the hotel.

    You know what's weird, is that almost everybody asks, "Um, where did the banjo come from?" when they watch the film for the first time and she's running after him. I'm always like, "Hello, it's been playing every time she runs after a train!"

  20. jab we met is a kind of moviei can relate to my life,i too have a anshuman in my life,nd dis reel life anshuman resembles a lot to my real life anshuman,jst dnt knw who is my shahid
    may be but i think ill have diif endng,i wont leave my anshuman.......

  21. Hi Deepali,

    I hope that if you don't leave your Anshuman that he turns into an Aditya for you. Every person deserves to be cherished by their significant other. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting.

  22. shahid kapoor. i am head over heals in love with him lol I've never had such a serious celebrity crush :S

    I've watched Jab we met (with subtitles ofcourse because i'm not indian and i don't speak hindi either. i'm just a bollywood-hollywood-shahid kapoor fanatic ^^)4 times and I could watch it again! I love everything about it. the onscreen chemistry, the soundtrack, the's all wonderful!
    It's definitely the best movie shahid has starred in.

    I can't wait for Kaminey..although i'm already hating the onscreen pairing. Priyanka and Shahid? EW. BAAD CHOICE. I hope my thoughts change after the movie... :/

  23. Hi Mirfat! LOL about your celebrity crush--if we're going to have one, it should be Shahid, right?

    I've watched JWM sooooo many times I've lost count. It's my favorite Bollywood Conversion Film. I can't wait for Kaminey either, or Dil Bole Hadippa! They both look really fun in different ways. I'm a little leery about Priyanka too, but let's hope for the best. She was good in Bluffmaster so we'll see!

  24. hey Ajnabi!
    the first time i watched it, couldnt help myself to laugh!
    and just last week watched again on tv.
    its so funny, you never stop laughing, and definatly its a movie that you wana show your friends, also another in the same sense is jaane tu ya jaane na, check it out and let me know.

  25. Hi ajnabi,

    Cute review, made me giggle especially about the little spat with your husband!

    I loved Shahid ever since his debut even with that ridiculous, awful "Ishq Vishk" movie I ate it up and loved it (to be fair, I was in middle school!) He was just so charming and sweet boy-next-door and eventhough I loved and still do love SRK, Saifu and Aamir it was refreshing to have someone new.

    As for Kareena I hated her (no not for jealousy reasons :P) the movies that she picked then were truly awful (avoid anything with her and Tusshar Kapoor and Fardeen Khan at all costs if you want to still like her) and thought she zero chemistry with Shahid. I sort of (not really watched I was mostly trying to do my project and juggle online surfing while watching!) watched Jab we Met on Tv when I was in Mumbai for holidays and did not like it a least bit to be fair I had no idea what was going on I missed the first hour) but still bought the DVD to watch it with my family and then dislike it but, when I watched it again in the first ten minutes I was sucked in and the watched it again two times again the same day!

    I totally fell in love with the characters, totally identified with Geet, Loved Aditya and wanted to smack Anshuman. And Kareena made me tear up a bit in the second half! ( I very rarely get emotional during watching movies) and could not stop laughing the first half.

    This is actually my most favourite Romantic-Comedy ever. ( even higher than DDLJ, I actually never like DDLJ but everyone thinks thats the Holy Grail of rom-coms so,)

    Anyway my crush on Shahid is still on strong ( cannot wait for Kaminey and Dil Bole Hadippa!) and Kareena is now one of my favourites, I don't really read any of her interviews as to not hate her again (though she is not going to be anymore if she keeps choosing crap movies like Tashan, KI yuck)

    Lol, this turned out to be longer comment than I intended and also the translation given for Tum se hi on bollywhat (what is that?) is very wrong trust me I am a native Hindi/Urdu speaker ;-) the correct translation of those lines are :

    "Tera na hona jaane kyun ho na hi hai"
    "Why is your not being here like your being here" word by word literal obviously "your absence is like your presence" same thing, much more poetic. The people on bollywhat? there should change it. Just wanted to correct that translation (it is an problem I have even if someone is wrong on just the internet. I hate misinformation)

    Keep writing your blog, it's fun to read!

    - Natasha

  26. fifi--Hi, and thanks for commenting. I agree, JWM has lots of laughworthy moments. I think my favorite has to be the part where he's teasing her about how she knows Manjit isn't impotent. Sooo funny.

    Hi Natasha! Thank you for your comment, and don't apologize for its length--I love hearing others' thoughts about my favorite movie! It's definitely my favorite romantic comedy (although I like DDLJ I can understand why others don't care for it). I think that it's so cool that it made you rethink Kareena. I'm actually a big fan of hers and giggle all through her interviews because they're so ludicrous.

    Oh, and thank you for clearing up the translation thing! I still don't think the subtitles capture the sentiment although they certainly capture the wording--but neither does the BollyWHAT translation either. BollyWHAT is a website for newbie fans of Hindi films. It's found at and it also has a message board which is populated by English-speaking fans of all levels of filmi experience, although its performance has been spotty the past couple weeks. Maybe I'll see you there!

  27. I do have to say, in Kareena's favor, she did not annoy me at all in this one. :) Shahid did very well, too, I think.

    And I know Mauja Hi Mauja comes at a rather weird place... but it sure it catchy!

  28. I just saw this movie on the IFC channel - I've only just discovered they have a Bollywood film every Sunday morning at 10am, so check your listings and set your DVR's, everybody!

    Oh, I loved it! Kareena had a bigger than life role here and she charms you from the first moment. Shahid was great, subtle but very convincing. I also loved the fact that they alluded to sex in a very refreshing, matter-of-fact kinda way(as opposed to something sinister that can God forbid corrupt the young and should not be mentioned..) My favorite line was when Aditya tells Geet that marrying Anshuman is the right thing to do, and she says - but what about you? He responds - well, I can be your first extra marital affair..! And she doesn't feign shock but smiles and says - done!
    Talk about getting down to the nitty-gritty!

  29. Tumse Hi

    I didn't understand the whole song, because some words were hard, but here's some stuff I got.

    "Tum se hi din hota hai
    tum se hi shaam aati hai":

    It's because of you that it becomes day, and because of you it becomes night.

    "Mein kahin bhi jaata hoon
    Tumse hi mil jaata hoon
    Tumse hi tumse hi":

    No matter where I go, I meet you. It's all because of you.

    "Shoor mein khamoshi hai
    Thodi se Behoshi hai
    Tum se hi tum se hi":
    In all the noise there is some silence. There is a little bit of unconsciousness.

    "Aadha sa wada kabhi
    Aadhe se jyada kabhi
    Jee chahe karlu is trah…
    wafaa ka":
    More than half a promise, more than half of something. Can do it this way.

    "Raste miljate hai":
    The roads meet.

  30. I know this comment comes really late, but better late than nevah!
    What a wonderful blog you have. Your posts have brightened up my day. Will keep coming for more.

  31. rhilex: I became her true fan after this fan. No, really. :-)

    E: Imtiaz's dialogues are really stellar, aren't they? Even in translation they shine.

    honeybunny-aboutaguy: That is so wonderful! I can't thank you enough for your translation. It really is a beautiful song.

    Aline CineHindi: Thank you so much; your comment (which I just saw) made my day. :-)


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