Bollywood’s biggest release of 2012 is a sumptuous if rather soulless love story. In present day Ladakh, explosives expert Samar (Shah Rukh Khan) defuses a bomb without the defence of protective gear. In an extended flashback, we learn that Samar has lived in London where he had a rich British-Indian girlfriend Meera (Katrina Kaif) – a Christian. When a bus hits Samar, Meera makes a bargain with God: if He saves Samar’s life, she will do as her father wishes and marry her childhood friend Roger. Samar survives and Meera keeps her promise, while Samar returns to India and becomes ‘the man who cannot die’. Ten years later, faith conspires to bring the pair together again.
Fans of Yash Chopra’s trademark ‘chiffon saris set against a Swiss backdrop’ formula may be disappointed with this tepid, soapy romance. That said, the first two London-set hours are Bollywood bliss. Khan and Kaif ignite the screen with their good looks and dirty dancing to Oscar-winner A R Rahman’s disposable ditties. We buy into Chopra’s customary corny dialogue (‘be true to yourself’, ‘if you are not happy, you cannot make others happy’). But there’s a preposterous plot development in the last hour and the reunion ending fails to invoke the intended tears.
Chopra, Bollywood’s most respected director, passed away a month before the film’s Diwali release, leaving an incomplete film. It shows. The catchy ‘title’ song was not filmed and is tacked on over the end credits. Chopra’s taste for gloss fails this time to detract from the gaping holes in the script and the inconsistent characterisation. Nevertheless, the film’s universal message is to be applauded: ‘Stay true to your religious beliefs, but not at the expense of your personal happiness.’