The recent release of Milenge Milenge prompted me to watch Jab We Met (“When We Met”), a 2007 romantic comedy. Both movies star Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor (no relation). Had I not committed myself to reviewing the movie, I would’ve turned off Jab We Met within the first 45 minutes.
The movie’s first act is a prolonged meet-cute between the two leads, Aditya (Shahid) and Geet (Kareena). Aditya, emotionally exhausted by legal battles over the rights to his deceased father’s wealthy corporation, wanders the streets in the kind of depression that only exists in movies. He stares at nothing, silently boarding buses and trains, with no idea where he’s going.
He’s a lot more mobile in his melancholia than most depressed people. If the movie was going for authenticity, Aditya would’ve left the boardroom, headed home, and crawled into bed.
On the train, Aditya is verbally assailed by a fellow passenger, Geet. To call her a chatterbox is insufficient; Geet won’t shut up. She jabbers in a manner that, like Aditya’s ambulatory despondency, only exists on film. She flits from topic to topic without pause, utterly self-absorbed and failing to notice Aditya’s blank stare out the window.
The clueless chatterbox is one of my most hated movie clichés, because she doesn’t exist in real life. At least not in such an extreme and irritating form. An ordinary person wouldn’t last a minute on the receiving end of such a soliloquy before faking a trip to the bathroom and finding an empty seat at the other end of the train, thus depriving the clueless chatterbox of her audience.
Writing deliberately annoying characters is tricky because — as with Geet — they often wind up annoying the audience as well as their fellow characters. An example of annoying-done-right can be found on the television show Glee. Supporting characters refer to the main character, Rachel, as annoying, but she rarely acts in a way that’s irritating to us viewers. We get that she annoys the other characters, without having to be annoyed ourselves.
Through a series of idiotic decisions, Geet gets herself stranded at a station, minus her wallet and luggage. She berates Aditya into helping her, then berates cab drivers and beverage vendors on the way to her parents’ house. Geet’s abuse of service workers further diminishes her attractiveness.
Thus ends the first 45 minutes of a 140-minute-long movie.
The rest of the movie is pleasant enough, as Aditya finally engages with his surroundings. There are colorful wedding decorations and Geet’s equally colorful family to liven things up. But, for the most part, the remainder of Jab We Met is just above average.
The big problem is Geet. Though Kareena Kapoor does a fine job acting the part, Geet is not a nice character. She starts out annoying and fails to develop throughout the film. She reacts but doesn’t grow, remaining clueless until the last few minutes of the movie. It’s hard to believe a decent, rich guy like Aditya couldn’t have found someone better.