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Review: 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' benefits from a sure hand

The star-crossed Bollywood romance, starring Shah Rukh Khan with music by A.R. Rahman, is a fitting tribute to its late director, Yash Chopra.

November 15, 2012|By Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
  • Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif star in "Jab Tak Hai Jaan."
Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif star in "Jab Tak Hai Jaan." (Yash Raj Films )

Those who scour the fringes of movie houses to wade through countless slacker American indies, dour European art films, sappy Asian historical romances and all the assorted odd flotsam that washes up on screen do so hoping to find something rather like the new Indian film "Jab Tak Hai Jaan."

The film is directed by Yash Chopra, a towering influence in Bollywood filmmaking who died last month, and stars Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan with music by A.R. Rahman. The film tells a tale of two star-crossed romances, one of a man (Khan) who must leave behind the woman he loves, the other the story of that same man being pursued by a younger woman 10 years later who forces him to come to terms with the unresolved feelings of his earlier relationship.

With retrograde amnesia, explosions, the Discovery Channel and a few catchy songs all part of its story, "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" isn't just a good movie, it freely pilfers from countless other good movies looking to become some kind of supermovie. A daring military bomb squad as in "The Hurt Locker"? Check. Spectacular dance numbers that rival the "Step Up" films? Check. A romance tinged with the metaphysical? Check that one too.

The structure even allows for two romantic interests for Khan, as he originally pines for a character played by Katrina Kaif, a regal beauty typical of Chopra's other films, as well as a character played by the spunkier, younger Anushka Sharma, whose modernity is frequently commented on in the story.

The film has a freshness that would never lead one to think it was directed by an 80-year-old while at the same time it has a sureness of tone, a certainty about itself even at its most audacious, that comes from the hand of a seasoned master. Featuring footage of the director at work during the end credits, "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" serves as a fitting tribute to the career of Chopra.

mark.olsen@latimes.com

'Jab Tak Hai Jaan'

Rating: Unrated

Running time: 2 hours and 55 minutes

Playing: In limited release

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