Namastey London, Jab We Met: 6 Best, Most Refreshing Romantic Comedies That Bollywood Got Right!
Another Friday, another romantic comedy hits theatres. This time, Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma try their luck with Imtiaz Ali’s Jab Harry Met Sejal. Could he recreate the magic?
At the risk of inviting heat from SRK fans, I must say there isn’t much that attracts about this film. The self-alluding title that attempts to pay homage to a Hollywood classic, or the fact that it took Ali (Ranbir Kapoor actually) so long to come up with it, doesn’t help. The songs are hummable but are hardly the kind that will stay with you forever. The story looks like yet another rehash of the ‘troubled guy finds his manic pixie dream girl’ trope, something we have already seen in Jab We Met, Rockstar and Tamasha.
This is not an attempt at being cruel to Imtiaz Ali. His talent was proven early, in the second film of his career itself. Jab We Met changed the way Bollywood approached romance and comedies and often, the mix of both.
However, not everyone always succeeds. Even in the plenty of ways they fail, there is never a dearth of romcoms to come out of Bollywood, one often indistinguishable from the other. Pick anyone from Alia Bhatt, Shraddha Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor or Katrina Kaif and pair them with Arjun Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapur, Sidharth Malhotra or Varun Dhawan. Add a relatively unheard of director under the umbrella of Yash Raj Films or Dharma Productions and let Karan Johar tweet about each poster, trailer and song from the film. Voila! You have yourself a new-age Bollywood romantic comedy. Serve hot with a remake of a Punjabi pop song.
With such a streamline approach to making films, it is no surprise that several of them go unnoticed. But the one that choose to be original, do leave an impression behind them.
Here’re the six best, most refreshing romantic comedies that Bollywood got right:
1. Namaste London
One of those times Katrina Kaif has fit a role to the bone. If Katrina had a reason to join films, it was to play Jess. Things went so right for her mostly due to things beyond her control. Her accent, which still causes trouble for her, wrapped her persona seamlessly as the uptight, snobbish Brit and Akshay Kumar was her manic pixie dream boy. The two had a sparkling chemistry, aided by one perfect song after another. The comedy was earthy, pulled through mostly by the antics of Askhay and Rishi Kapoor.
The two acts, in Punjab and in London, balanced each other with their own separate tones and life, both captured with equal appreciation of the place by director Vipul Amrutlal Shah.
2. Dum Laga Ke Haisha
How wonderful is that feeling when you walk into a film expecting nothing and leave it with a massive smile on your face and new found appreciation for Bollywood in general? Dum Laga Ke Haisha is one of the best things to happen to this genre of films and why it is still so underrated is beyond me. Ayushmann Khurrana, as a man miffed with the cards he’s been dealt in life, and Bhumi Pednekar, as a woman trying to make the most of those cards, prove themselves worthy of all the appreciation they can get. The film has not a single bad egg with even the supporting actors giving performances far more worthy of awards than the ones who usually end up getting them.
The 1990’s aesthetic, visually and aurally manifested on screen by director Sharat Katariya, gave a soul to the film, a feat that many find difficult to master. From minute details like making Ayushmann wear plaid shirts and v-neck sweaters to including Kumar Sanu’s almost entire discography, to the stress given on the essence of the story: loving the true beauty of someone, everything was addressed with great care. And that makes all the difference between a good and an exceptional film.
3. Cheeni Kum
R Balki weaved a magical love story in what could have gone so disastrously wrong. Cheeni Kum, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Tabu, was one of the most refreshing stories told by Bollywood that year. It was the story of a 64-year-old Indian chef in London in love with a woman half his age and the ordeals he had to go through to get her dad to accept him as son-in-law (a man six years his senior).
Balki does not shy away from getting his characters to speak easily about sex, condoms or porn but still manages to make it all seem so innocent and familiar. A few things, like killing a child from cancer as not even a plot device, could have been avoided but because that happens mostly on the sidelines, this film can still qualify as a romantic comedy, unlike Kal Ho Naa Ho, the second half of which turns it into a full-fledged sob fest.
4. Band Baaja Baraat
One of Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma’s first films, Band Baaja Baaraat separated them from of a host of other newcomers struggling to leave a mark.The two had a sizzling chemistry together, the story was simple but executed with enough simplicity and focus by director Maneesh Sharma that something really refreshing was delivered to us.
5. Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na
Imran Khan and Genelia D’Souza’s career-best film also marked the former's Bollywood debut. The adorable little film, directed by Abbas Tyrewala, was like a breath of fresh air in a genre that has grown lazy over the years. Sure, the premise is all too familiar. Two friends who fall in love for each other while harping on how they are just friends. We have heard and seen the story several times but to see it brought to life on screen and still look so familiar was unexpected.
Their friendly banter, their realisation of love for each other and the great performances by the rest of the cast, made it worthy of repeated viewings.
6. Jab We Met
At last, the one that rescued romcom in Bollywood. Kareena Kapoor’s performance was one of her finest in Jab We Met. We had never seen someone so incessantly ‘on’ and still so adorable in Bollywood before and so we accepted Geet with open arms. Her quirky oft-recited dialogues and her wide-eyed expressions were accentuated by the muted, sweet guy performance of Shahid Kapoor.
The songs, in their variety, were groovy, soulful, full of life, or of melancholia. The direction stood out for the mere simplicity and genuineness of the way Ali chose to make his film.
Will Jab Harry Met Sejal be able to hold water against Jab Aditya Met Geet? We’ll find out soon enough.