When We Met



CHENNAI, India -- Director Imtiaz Ali's delightful "When We Met" ("Jab We Met") in Hindi is reminiscent of Frank Capra's 1943 Clark Gable-Claudette Colbert romance "It Happened One Night." It's a rail movie -- a subgenre perhaps of a road movie -- where his lead characters use train stations and bogies to meet, part and meet again. There is even a kissing scene, something still rare in Indian cinema.

Breezy and romantic "When We Met" is entertaining to the hilt without sliding into too many coincidences and exaggerations. While the movie makes little pretence of attracting the serious art cinema fans, it is bound to race on the commercial track.

Aditya (Shahid Kapur) is a rich industrialist who suffers business losses and is jilted by his girlfriend. Heartbroken to the point of wanting to jump off a moving train he is stopped by Geet (Kareena Kapoor), another traveller. Vivacious Geet is all set to elope with her boyfriend, Anshuman (Tarun Arora), living in the northern Indian hill resort of Manali. Later, when Aditya gets off the train in a desolate station in the middle of nowhere and in the middle of the night, Geet runs after him to try and coax him back into the carriage. In the process, the train, which often forms the backdrop and a kind of cue for the characters to course correct their lives, steams away, leaving both behind on the platform.

Thus begins a journey that takes the pair on a roller-coaster ride through India's heartland. Geet's non-stop chatter and zest for life irritate Aditya, but finally draw him out of his depressive mood. The plot weaves through Geet's own heartbreak and disappointment. We know how the story would eventually end but a surprise or two comes as a bonus.

Kareena and Shahid, rumored to be very much in love when the movie was shot, work up a magnetic on-screen chemistry. Kareena is absolutely versatile, making a complete about turn from a chirpy, carefree girl to one in shock and sorrow at having been rejected by the Tarun character. Shahid is good in parts, but a little too stiff even when he gets over his blues.

Often humorous and captivatingly shot by Natarajan Subramaniam, particularly those parts where we see Geet's Punjabi Bhangra-dancing family in their full garrulous form, the film nonetheless could've used more judicious editing. Still "When We Met" is one of the better works to have come out of the Bollywood stable in recent months.

Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision
Writer/director: Imtiaz Ali
Producer: Dhillin Mehta
Director of photography: Natarajan Subramaniam
Music: Pritam Chakraborty
Costume designers: Manish Malhotra, Shabina Khan
Editor: Aarti Bajaj
Aditya: Shahid Kapur
Geet: Kareena Kapoor
Anshuman: Tarun Arora
Running time: 142 minutes
No MPAA rating