Harry and Sejal listlessly travel from one city to another, none of which is distinguishable from each other,
Even before Imtiaz Ali’s(JHMS) released last Friday, concerned voices had made themselves heard. “Why couldn’t they at least come up with an original title?” said a fellow Shah Rukh Khan fan to me. Indeed, the title was similar not only to the genre-defining 1989 romantic comedy classic When Harry Met Sally but also to Ali’s wildly successful Jab We Met (2007). In the run-up to the release, almost everything — the trailer, the songs — seemed to disappoint fans eagerly waiting for the old Ali or SRK-Anushka Sharma magic. Finally, on the big screen, all the fears seemed to have come true.
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Within hours of the release, critics panned it almost unanimously. Rajiv Masand for News 18 wrote that SRK and Anushka deserved a better film, Anupama Chopra bemoaned the loss of the filmmaker Ali, who gave us Rockstar (2011) and Highway (2014) and could once combine stars and demands of mainstream cinema with raw narratives. Others were less kind: HuffPost said the film was everything wrong with Bollywood, and in a visceral review, The Wire described it as a 144-minute tribute to Shah Rukh Khan’s ego. In fact, the responses have been so devastating that the director and the leading man have been compelled to defend their project with such clichés as this film was not an intellectual exercise but aimed to appeal to masses.
But a look at the box office figures prove how this ambition, too, has been thwarted. In its first weekend, considered the most important in determining the success or failure of a film, JHMS managed to rake in only a dismal Rs 45.75 crore. This is a personal low for Khan in five years, and it prompted a Mint analysis piece: “flop show signals star power alone can’t guarantee success”.