Filmy Talks is a series where I discuss films in a stream of thought style. These are not reviews and are intended for readers who have already seen the film but would like to think about it more.
You can read my review of the film here.
It hit me during my second viewing of the film that the lead characters are very confused. Jordan wants to be a rockstar, a successful singer and he’s willing to work for it. But whenever Heer comes into his life, he forgets all about music and makes her his priority. And Heer supposedly loves Jordan but she isn’t willing to break-up her marriage and home for it.
Jordan lives life as it comes. Everything happens to him by chance, except for Heer whom he pursues every time. He doesn’t have a plan. All he has is an attitude, which is ironically what he lacked in the beginning of the film. And Heer was all he needed to get that attitude.
Heer is even more interesting than Jordan. She’s a high-class Kashmiri girl who likes to watch striptease, drink and hang out around red light district for fun. But she can only do this with Jordan. She has two faces, one that she shows to the rest of the world and the other that she shows to Jordan and herself. So she’s basically a hypocrite. Is this why she fell in love with Jordan? Because she can be herself, careless and free and he doesn’t judge her?
And why did Jordan fall in love with Heer? The movie doesn’t seem to explain that. All that is shown is that there is some kind of unexplainable passion between them, a passion that reads destruction for both when they are separated. Without Heer, Jordan becomes an aggressive punk that beats journalists and policemen. And Heer, she falls ill.
It’s such an odd notion but not a new one, someone getting sick when separated from their beloved. But this is what Jordan thinks. He thinks that whenever Heer is away from him, she gets sick. But couldn’t she be sick because she can’t live life on her own terms? She has to constantly act like a lady because that’s the only acceptable way for her to be. Couldn’t this be suffocating enough for her to get ill anyway? Is she really getting sick out of love, Devdasi style?
The fact is that Heer is not courageous. She can do “crazy” things in secret, but she doesn’t have the courage to choose Jordan, not until things have already gone awry on their own. Only when she’s terminally ill and her husband is aware of her cheating, she is willing to be with Jordan. It’s true that she confessed her affair to her husband, but I don’t think she would have if Jordan hadn’t landed up at her house in the middle of one night.
Even though she was supposed to be the first one to have fallen in love, Heer didn’t have the guts to stop her marriage and go with Jordan. I don’t think he would have refused her if she wanted to. In the second half, Heer collapsed when Jordan went to her house at night in Prague and fell sick. But she was more worried about her marriage breaking-up, she was not worried about losing him.
Heer is very different from the female characters in Imtiaz Ali’s previous films. In Socha Na Tha, Aditi had the courage to leave her engagement to be with Viren. In Jab We Met, Geet ran away from her house during her wedding arrangements to be with the person she loves. In Love Aaj Kal, Meera left her husband before the nuptials because she realized that she’s in love with Jai. Heer is not as spontaneous and courageous as these characters.
Obviously, there is a reason for this, Jordan has to experience heartbreak. How else would he get the attitude that supposedly made him a rock star? I say supposedly because I think he became a rock star by chance, not because of his attitude. Yes, he sings better and differently with time, but it’s not why he was signed on to make an album. He was just at the right place at the right time.
Thinking about Jordan and Heer and why they do what they do makes me go in circles. It also strengthens the thought that music is extremely important in this film. The music is like the glue that ties everything together and makes sense of what doesn’t make sense. The music heightens the senses and the emotions. The music tells me the part of the story that was left untold. Without the music, the film would have been weak and less impactful. Imtiaz Ali made the best decision by going to A.R. Rahman for the music of the film.
Speaking of the music, how amazing is the Sufi qawali, “Kun Faya Kun.” Taken from the Qur’anic expression that Allah says Be! And It Is!, this is one of the best songs in the film. I loved the fact that Jordan, a non-Muslim could take refuge in an Islamic place and connect with the divine through music. This is my favorite scene from the movie– when he sings, suddenly glares toward the sky, clearly connecting with God. And after having sat there for two months, how he suddenly “wakes up,” gets up and leaves. Suddenly he knows what he should be doing and is ready to do it.