Lost in Europe: Jab Harry Met Sejal is not even a visual delight

Harry and Sejal listlessly travel from one city to another, none of which is distinguishable from each other,

Even before Imtiaz Ali’s Jab Harry Met Sejal (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.

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”. Read more

Woman battles open defecation in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. Here’s the reality

The woman’s revolt leads to social change but women do not appear to be a position to rebel in India

 

Akshay Kumar’s movie Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (A love story), releasing on August 11, 2017 tells the story of a young bride who walks out of her marriage when discovers that her in-law’s home does not have a toilet. The satire deals with open defecation and Kumar calls it his “contribution” to the Swachh Bharat Mission spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The prime minister responded with words of appreciation for the film.

In the film, the young woman’s revolt leads to social change, but in real India, women do not appear to be a position to rebel–even if they are educated.

Women have limited decision-making powers in the construction of toilets in homes, according to a 2016 study conducted in Puri, a coastal Odisha district, by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Women and girls are most vulnerable to problems associated with open defecation.

In 80% of households, decisions on the construction of sanitation facilities were made exclusively by men, the study found. In 11%, the decision was made by men in consultation with their wives, and in no more than 9% was the decision made by women.

These findings are relevant because only 37% of households in Puri district have improved sanitation, according to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16 (NFHS-4). However, this is higher than rural Odisha’s average of 23% and state average of 29.4% of households with toilets. Read more