Usually, when I review new releases these days, I add a spoiler warning. Thankfully, this time neither movie needs one..
In some ways, these two movies are diametrically opposite each other. Jab We Met is a formulaic rom-com that simply tries to do the best it can within the framework of that genre. No Smoking is an experimental sort of film that has style oozing from every frame. They both have things to offer that are admirable. Ony one of them is likely to do well at the box office, and deserves every penny it makes.
Jab We Met tells the story of a serious man at a crossroads in his life meeting a vivacious woman who teaches him a thing or two. Once I tell you that she is in love with another guy, I’m sure you can fill in the remaining gaps in the story. Formulaic as it can get. What makes it work, however, is the skill with which it has been done. The dialogues are sensible and don’t always say the obvious, the funny stuff works and there is genuine chemistry between the leads. This is Shahid’s movie all the way through. More than once, I have heard him referred to as the next SRK. I’ll reserve judgement on that, but his performance reminded me of Shahrukh more than once. There is a scene just before the interval that mirrors one in DDLJ that I once wrote a freeze frame post about. It’s a nice scene, very understated, and Shahid does it beautifully. Kareena does pretty well — there are scenes in the second half where she has some heavy lifting to do. It is to her credit that she makes these scenes believable. On the whole, well worth a dekko. It has two weeks to go before the biggies take centre stage, so I hope it makes good money during this period.
No Smoking is a film about a chain-smoker whose wife decides to leave him because he wouldn’t quit. Some of his close friends, all of whom used to smoke but have now kicked the habit and are behaving in a decidedly wierd fashion, recommend a rehabilitation centre to him. He goes there. It is a strange sort of place, filled with tin cans lined wall to wall. He descends through a series of staircases until he is finally taken to meet a man who promises him that he’ll help him kick the habit. I wish I could tell you more, but this is all I understood. Whether any of the above events happen in the real world is not clear either. The movie unfolds like a dreamscape, with all the vividity and lack of coherence you might expect in one. Visually, it is quite an interesting piece of work, very stylish. There are also some nice movie references, like a song set in a place called The Bob Fosse bar and seems to draw inspiration from All that Jazz in Chicago. But in the end, I didn’t quite know what to make of it. It’s like Charlie Kaufmann and David Lynch making a movie together. And I don’t buy the logic that it conveys an anti-smoking message. No Smoking is above all an exercise in style. The cigarettes are just the MacGuffin.