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Film Review - Veer Zaara

Chitra Parayath

"Which era do these people belong to?” Rani Mukherjee exclaims about the Pakistani girl and the Indian man who live with the "idea" of love for 22 years.  My sentiments exactly, as I sat through the three excruciating hours of Yash Chopra’s "idea of love"!

Sappy, cloying, past the saturation point of saccharine, Veer-Zaara was the most nonsensical, cavity-inducing drivel that I have had the misfortune witnessing in a long long time. A sheep in sheep’s clothing, the film tries to make the case for the idea of undying love and leaves the viewer in a wooly state of impatient irritability.

Shah Rukh Khan (dubbed ‘King Khan’, after the runaway success of Veer Zaara worldwide) plays Veer Pratap Singh, a young Punjabi Air Force Pilot who specializes in rescue operations, who falls in love with a bubbly Pakistani aristocrat, Zaara Haiyyat Khan, played by Preity Zinta.

As they gaze deeply into one another’s eyes, SRK’s lips tremble, eyes twinkle and dimples crinkle until you get it: "Egad! the bloke's in love, god help us!"  And while SRK goes through the whole routine (yawn.), Preity does her bubbly bit to the hilt.  And just as you begin to resign yourself to your fate, Lata Mangeshkar jolts you out of your stupor with her warbly croak.  This reviewer jumped out of her tired skin more than a couple of times when the grand old  Mangeshkar broke in with song at the most unexpected moments.


Zaara, who is in India to bid farewell to her Nanny’s ashes, happens to befriend Veer and he decides to take her home to his village and introduce her to his peeps. Here, Yash puts on the mustard field routine, where the two young lovers dance and sing about how wonderful their respective countries are. If the escapist lyrics don’t induce diabetes, the antics of SRK’s guardians on screen surely will. Amitabh and Hema Malini play SRK’s uncle and aunt, both besotted with each other at a ripe middle age. While Bachchan senior plays cute irritatingly, Hema, bless her soul never could and, does not this time either, act her way out of a plastic bag.


Both Amit and Hema fall in love with Preity as well and they all get married. No, I am kidding … they, being the good-as-gold characters they are, convince SRK to marry the girl, Pakistani or whatever.


When SRK opens his tiny heart out to dumb as a doorbell Zaara (hasn’t she seen any of SRK’s films? How could she miss the telltale symptoms of SRK in love, you wonder), he is introduced to a Sherwani clad Raza (Manoj Bajpai), Zara’s betrothed. SRK implores Bajpai to take care of his Zara and exits, temporarily, from the frame.


Well, stuff happens as it happens in Bollywood.  SRK is jailed for 22 years in Pakistan and he meets Saamiya Khan (a wooden Rani Mukherji), who vows to get him out of the prison even though this is her first case and she is pitted against the most powerful, cocky caricature of a lawyer, Anupam Kher.

SRK sucks as an old man. Called to play 52 at the most, he hams it up, overacts and trembles as though he were pushing 80.


The lovers have not met for 22 years. But after spending two days together, the flame still burns, we are asked to believe! In the end SRK reads a poignant poem to a crowded courthouse that has assembled to watch the most exciting case of the century – one of a jailed old Indian officer. There's not a dry eye in the courthouse.


The crowning moment in the film is when Anupam Kher says to a moved trembly Rani Mukherji that he is giving up his practice of the law because … that is when I left to take my insulin shot, so I guess I missed the rest.

The art director Sharmistha Roy and cinematographer Anil Mehta lend Veer-Zaara a glowing classic look, valiantly trying to salvage Yash Chopra's pap.  Unfortunately the good stuff gets completely drowned by the puerile plot, direction and acting.


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