Veer-Zaara - Movie Review

Laila-Majnu. Heer-Ranjha. Sohni-Mahiwal. Salim-Anarkali. Now add one more pair to the list of legendary lovers: Veer-Zaara.

The wait is finally over. The keenly anticipated, eagerly awaited film of the year has finally hit the marquee. Yash Chopra’s VEER-ZAARA has arrived. And does it sweep you off your feet!

Besides an ensemble star cast, the film follows the Yash Raj tradition to the T. There’s romance, there’s a strong dose of emotions, there’re songs aplenty, there’s drama... But, most important, it has soul, which has been lacking in most movies of late.

Let’s clarify a few myths floating around, within and outside the industry.
* VEER-ZAARA is not HENNA. The only similarity is that both HENNA and VEER-ZAARA had the guy from India falling in love with the girl from Pakistan. The semblance ends there!
* Since the film talks of the two nations vis-à-vis the nationalities of the lovers, don’t expect inflammatory dialogues, jingoism or Pak-bashing kind of situations. In VEER-ZAARA, an Indian youth praises a Pakistani mother, while a Pakistani jailor, in a packed courtroom, heaps lavish praises on an Indian convict.

The relations between the two nations have improved since the past few months and a film like VEER-ZAARA would only cement the relations further!

VEER-ZAARA is the story of an Indian man, Veer Pratap Singh [Shah Rukh Khan] and a Pakistani woman, Zaara Hayaat Khan [Preity Zinta].

Squadron Leader Veer Pratap Singh is a rescue pilot with the Indian Air Force. A caring person, Veer goes out of his way to help someone in crisis. Whilst on duty, he comes across Zaara, the daughter of an influential Pakistani politician [Boman Irani].

A simple girl by nature, Zaara is happy to marry the man of her parent’s choice, Raza [Manoj Bajpai]. She has come to India to fulfil her surrogate Hindu mother’s [Zohra Segal] last wish: To immerse her ashes in the holy river.

But the bus in which she is travelling meets with an accident. It is at this point that she meets Veer. Their initial friendship starts off on a sour note, but before they realize it, they fall in love.

Veer also takes this opportunity to show Zaara the place where he grew up [Punjab]. His uncle [Amitabh Bachchan] and aunt [Hema Malini], who have raised Veer [he’s an orphan], also develop a strong liking for Zaara.

But before Veer could express his love, walks in Raza, who has just landed from Lahore in search of Zaara. While in Lahore, Zaara finds it difficult to forget Veer. Her maid Shabbo [Divya Dutta] calls Veer in India and explains the situation.

Veer gives up his job and arrives in Lahore. He meets Zaara in the presence of her family and prospective in-laws. However, the wedding between Raza and Zaara takes place, while Veer is arrested by the Pakistani police on charges of being a spy.

Twenty two years later, Saamiya Siddiqui [Rani Mukerji], a Pakistani lawyer, comes to his rescue. She meets an ageing Veer Pratap Singh for the first time. He has languished in a Pakistan jail cell for 22 years and has spoken to none.

Why has Veer been silent for 22 years? Where is Zaara? Saamiya takes it upon herself to find the truth about this man.

A mature love story, with characters standing out more than the opulent sets [unlike most Bollywood productions], VEER-ZAARA narrates a story that’s quite novel. Just when you think that the story would turn predictable comes a twist and everything changes.

In a way, VEER-ZAARA does follow the same path as DULWALE DULHANIYA LE JAYENGE. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, the girl is already engaged, the boy reaches the girl’s country to bring her back, the parental opposition that ensues… But there’s more in VEER-ZAARA. The backdrop of Pakistan gives the film a new look, a new color altogether.

VEER-ZAARA starts off as a routine love story. There are half-a-dozen songs in the first half itself. But there’s meat in the script. The screenplay never lets you down. Just when you think that the story is about to stagnate, you’re introduced to two more characters [Amitabh, Hema]. And later Manoj Bajpai.

The actual drama takes place in the post-interval portions. The scene at the mosque – when SRK and Zaara meet again, right under everyone’s watchful eyes – is an indicator of excellent writing and exceptional execution.

The goings-on continue to gather momentum, till the pre-climax. And with Zaara’s re-appearance in the film, the story again takes a new turn. However, the climax – a happy ending – could’ve been better thought of. There was scope for so much drama in the finale, but a somewhat predictable end does dilute the impact. Besides, incorporating a song in the courtroom itself [‘Tere Liye’] looks weird.

Director Yash Chopra proves yet again that he’s a master storyteller. Attempting a film of epic proportions is one thing and doing full justice to it, another. VEER-ZAARA proves that the Gen X directors have so much to learn from our peers. Mainly about effective story-telling.

Even when it comes to drama, there’s none to touch Chopra. The sequence when Kiron Kher meets SRK at Divya Dutta’s house is outstanding. Ditto for the scene when Rani tells Akhilendra Mishra not to refer to SRK as ‘Qaidi No. 786’. Also, the scene in the courtroom, when Rani addresses Anupam Kher by another name, is fantastic.

Aditya Chopra’s writing is another exceptional aspect. The twists and turns in the plot catch the viewer unaware all the while. The dialogues, also penned by Aditya, are outstanding. However, the dialogues in Punjabi could’ve been toned down slightly.

Madan Mohan’s music relies on melody and the tunes fit the story like gloves. Of the songs, ‘Main Yahan Hoon’, ‘Aisa Des Hai Mera’, ‘Lodi’ and ‘Aaya Tere Dar Pe’ are the pick of the lot. The lyrical value of all songs [Javed Akhtar] is rich. Cinematography [Anil Mehta] is at par with any international product. The sets [Sharmishta Roy], especially the portions depicting Pakistan, are authentic to the core. The visual effects [Tata Elxsi] are too good, especially the morphing.

VEER-ZAARA is another feather in SRK’s well decorated cap. The actor enacts the challenging role with amazing ease, putting his best foot forward and emerging trumps. It would indeed be difficult to imagine any other actor essaying the two diverse parts. Simply unforgettable!

Preity Zinta enacts the part with complete precision. Although her part doesn’t really demand histrionics, she carries off her role with elegance. Rani Mukerji is a scene-stealer. The actress takes giant strides with this role, relying completely on her expressions to do her job.

Amitabh Bachchan is lovable. Ditto for Hema Malini, who catch the viewer unaware when they appear in the plot. Manoj Bajpai is fantastic, especially in the scene when he confronts SRK while he is being interrogated.

Kiron Kher is outstanding yet again. Boman Irani proves that he’s a matchless performer. Divya Dutta is simply amazing. Anupam Kher is quite effective. Zohra Segal and Akhilendra Mishra are adequate.

On the whole, VEER-ZAARA is a winner all the way – in terms of direction, scripting, music, performances… The film will sweep the box-office like a hurricane and set new records in days to come. A sure-shot blockbuster!

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