Monday, 24 June 2013

Veer Zaara

Almost 10 years ago, Yash Chopra (referred to as Yashji) directed a love legend that attempted to change the modern, common and traditional person’s perception on India-Pakistan politics. Since its release in November 2004, I can proudly confess that I have probably watched the movie over a hundred times. Veer-Zaara is, without a doubt, the best Bollywood movie of the modern generation; and quite possibly, of all time. The greatest love stories are those that are improbable in society’s eyes. Look at Romeo/Juliet, Ennis/Jack and Shrek/Fiona for examples. Similarly, the story of an Indian army officer falling in love with a traditional Pakistani girl is improbable and heavily frowned upon. It’s a risky move, because I am not from either country, but I want to present this movie as a political example of how modern Indian and Pakistani stereotypes should be with one another.

Yash Raj Films ©
Veer Pratab Singh: a happy, simple and charming man who gets on with life and his work. He visits his home town whenever he has time but has fully devoted himself to his job. Zaara Hayaat Khan: quite a fun, bubbly girl who cares greatly for those that are close to her. Both characters don’t really stand out as individuals. What stands out is that one is Indian, one is Pakistani and they fall in love with each other. The simple characteristics of both characters are juxtaposed by the complex background of their story. This contrast is one of the many attempts to not only show equality between the two countries, but to show similarity; Yashji presents love as something that should not have any set requirements. The song ‘Aisa Des Hai Mera’ ( is a beautifully shot example of Yashji's political message. Throughout the song, Veer guides Zaara on an educational journey about India and Indian people. None of his patriotic three verses are relevant to Yashji’s overall intentions but in Zaara’s only verse (at 5:46), we begin to see them more clearly. She responds to Veer by saying that the Indian soil, the Indian weather, the Indian people, they all seem very recognizable to her. They remind her of her home, Pakistan. Stories with such sensitive topics need to be directed with maturity (Karan Johar’s attempt at Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna being an example) and Yash Chopra has proved himself to be -  potentially - the only director that could have arranged the presentation of such a story. One of Shahrukh Khan’s most incredible moments as an actor is in the final scene where he reads his 786 poem. A poem about how he felt at home in his time at a Pakistani prison. A few of the supporting characters are very important to the message of this story and it’s [not] ironic that they are all ‘Pakistani’. Saamiya (played by Rani Mukherjee) is the modern Pakistani woman who challenges traditional views on the India and Pakistan feud. She’s revolutionary in her attempt to free Veer and send him back to his
country. Her rival in the movie, Zakir Ahmed (played by Anupam Kher), is the complete opposite and in the name of his country, fights to keep Veer rotting in hell. By the end of the movie, Zakir realises that his country are in desperate need of people like Saamiya and as he retires as a lawyer, one presumes that he has retired his old school views and grudges against India.

The only small problem I have with this movie is that on one hand, Yashji presents India as the colourful and perfect nation; on the other hand, he presents Pakistan as the unforgiving, conflicted and corrupted one. I imagine this didn't go down too well in the Pakistani community. I’d like to have seen at least one character from Veer’s home that has a problem with him loving and marrying a Pakistani. In a sense, I regret taking a political agenda in this review because I am taking away value from the romantic quotient. Veer-Zaara will make you want to fall in love; the moments involving the title characters have gone down as some of the most iconic scenes and dialogue of all time. If you are reading this and you're not Indian-Pakistani, then read up on the history and treat yourself to this beautiful example of a Bollywood movie. To those people that are however, no one is asking you to fall in love with each other; but this movie is an example of how you can work together to avoid hatred passing down to your newer generations. If you don’t want to take advice from someone who isn’t Pakistani or Indian, take it from someone who comes from a country that is currently under ruthless attack.


My theatrical version of Stan

My theatrical version of Stan