Contemporary Romance — Movie Review
When Love is Patient
Indian cinema produced a number of wonderful films in the early to mid-2000s, and this is one of them. Released in 2004, Veer-Zaara tells the love story of one Veer Pratap Singh (Shah Rukh Khan), a pilot in the Indian Air Force, and Zaara Hayat Khan (Preity Zinta), the daughter of a respected Pakistani politician with some serious goals for the future of his career.
Directed by Yash Chopra with a screenplay by his son, Aditya Chopra, Veer-Zaara is widely considered one of Yash Chopra’s finest films and marked his return to directing after a seven year hiatus. Combining a melodious soundtrack drawn from the work of the late Madan Mohan with vocals by Lata Mangeshkar, Udit Narayan and others, stunning scenery, smooth scene transitions, and excellent pacing, viewers will find themselves easily immersed in Veer and Zaara’s love story. Just make sure you have some snacks on hand, because at 3:12 runtime, you’ll probably be hungry before the end.
Longtime viewers of Chopra’s work will be unsurprised to find a number of outstanding actors filling out the supporting roles, including Rani Mukerji as the young lawyer Saamiya, a Pakistani woman who is intentionally given a case that everyone believes is impossible to win—that being the defense of Khan’s character on charges of espionage, complicated by his 22 years of silence. Heading up the prosecution, Anupam Kher makes a short but notable appearance as a slightly vindictive attorney with an unblemished record of perfect victory.
In separate scenes, Kirron Kher appears as Zaara’s mother, delivering a sound, believable performance; and Boman Irani plays Jehangir Hayat Khan, Zaara’s politician father who can’t bear the shame of his daughter refusing the marriage he has arranged for her. Additional cameo appearances are made by Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini as Veer’s adoptive parents, while Manoj Bajpayee delivers a masterful, understated performance as Raza Sharazi, Zaara’s intended groom from an influential Pakistani family.
Zohra Sehgal deserves special mention, despite the brevity of her appearance, as her role serves at the catalyst that puts the whole story in motion. Portraying Zaara’s aged governess, Bebe, it is her dying wish to have her ashes dispersed in India, the land of her birth, that sets Zaara’s path on a collision course with that of the charismatic rescue pilot, Veer. From there, a trip to his home village ensues, and the two gradually fall in love with one another as the film unfolds.
No good Bollywood film would be complete without its share of drama and heartache though, and so it is that Veer and Zaara must overcome the distance between them, the differences in their family backgrounds, religions, and the cultural divisions that separate their countries if they hope to be together. All of this is accomplished without any heavy-handed moralizing or stereotypical typecasting of one country being superior to the other, which is refreshing given the propensity for such treatment in many other films. So grab yourself a copy, settle down somewhere comfortable, and prepare to fall in love with Veer-Zaara.