Twenty-years-ago Veer is a rescue pilot for the Indian Air Force, saving stupid skiiers from their own idiocy on the double-black diamonds and stuff like that. One day he rescues a girl stranded down a cliff in a bus accident. I love the little details he gives--it's obvious that the moment of their meeting has been cherished in his memory over and over again. When she drops her bag and hysterically insists that he re-descend to recover it, however, he decides that she's a spoiled brat and gives her a good reaming when they reach safety.
Little does he know that the lady, Zaara (Preity) was hysterical because her bag contains the ashes of her Bebe (her affectionate name for her governess), who was a Sikh. Sikhs believe that their ashes must be immersed in the river in Kiritpur, apparently, and even though Zaara is a Pakistani Muslim she loves her Bebe enough to undertake the journey without her parents' knowledge.
Once she explains the situation to Veer, he takes her under his wing and escorts her to Kiritpur, and then on to his home village to celebrate Lohri (a Thanksgiving harvest festival which is rendered "Lodi" in the subtitles). Afterwards, on the urging of his parents (Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini, who have the cutest song in the movie and great cameos), he takes Zaara to the train station where, to his shock, he discovers that she's engaged (to Manoj Bajpai's character Raza, boo-hiss). Zaara innocently apologizes for forgetting to mention the whole engagement thing, and he takes his leave after telling her to remember that there's a man in India who would die for her.
Once home, these words stick in Zaara's mind, until eventually every moment of her life is filled with Veer--picturized in the extremely steamy (for Bollywood) "Main Yahaan Hoon."
For a good Muslim virgin...
An excellent imagination.
The rest of the tale, as my husband pithily puts it, "pisses me off no end." Injustice, blah blah blah, separated lovers, blah blah blah, parental emotional blackmail, blah blah blah.
Good golly, they both look great in this still (from a deleted song on the DVD). In fact, they both look great in the entire film, with the exception of SRK in the prison. Actually, come to think of it, this is the best I've seen Rani look too and she doesn't even have a love interest in the film.
There's a completely unnecessary cameo by Anupam Kher in the end, playing the bad lawyer, and the trial tends to drag a bit, especially its conclusion. Boman Irani's kind of wasted in the Preity dad role, although in a less skillful actor's hands he would've been a completely unsympathetic tyrant and plus I just like to see him, period, so I guess it's okay. And the film's a little heavy-handed in its "we all need each other, men need women, women need men, Pakistanis need Hindustanis etc. etc." message. But one of the messages that I love about this movie that isn't heavy-handed is that the family who adopts you--or whom you choose to adopt--is just as valid and important as the family you from which you came.
Preity does a great job playing a conservative, mostly traditional, but strong-willed girl. After Kal Ho Naa Ho, I wasn't sure that she and SRK could pull off the romantic aspects of Veer-Zaara since they evidenced no chemistry whatsoever in that film. However, after Dil Se I decided to give it a shot and boy was it worthwhile 'cause they smoke together! SRK actually evidences more than his Five Faces of Shah Rukh, and proves again that yes, he can act, if you want him to, which I do. And Rani is great as the young attorney who wants to do her father's memory proud while taking strides on behalf of women in her country. I think some of the aging effects were a bit overdone but overall they were pretty believable.
And like I said before, I just like this movie so much that I don't want to nit-pick. The star-crossed lovers are unbelievably noble, but that's why I love them--as Saamiya says, "What century are these people from?" Whatever century it is, I'd like to visit, please. Veer-Zaara is worth every penny, in my opinion.