Special Feature: Revisiting 'Veer-Zaara' Ten Years On
I remember the hype surrounding Veer-Zaara a decade ago. It was touted as Yash Chopra's comeback, was another Diwali release for Shah Rukh Khan, and one of the slew of films that saw the leading ladies of the time, Rani Mukerji and Preity Zinta in the same frame.
Just like Jab Tak Hai Jaan, most of Veer-Zaara (including its title) had been kept under wraps although at one point, it was nearly called Yeh Kahaan Aa Gaye Hum as a tribute to an evergreen song from Chopra's underrated Silsila.
Veer-Zaara, a cross border romance, was one of Chopra-SRK's better collaborations, purely because it had an undeniable old world feel about it that oozed charm, and a stellar star cast to boot, comprising of heavyweights like Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Manoj Bajpai Divya Dutta, Kirron Kher, Anupam Kher and Boman Irani in small albeit important cameos.
Its music too, which had been compiled from a bevy of unused Madan Mohan melodies exuded nostalgia, notable among them being 'Main Yahaan Hoon', and the patriotic 'Aisa Des Hai Mera'.
In Veer Zaara, SRK plays an ex-squadron leader, Veer Pratap Singh, a convicted felon serving time in a prison in Lahore, who hasn't uttered a single word in 22 years for reasons best known to him. Saamiya Siddiqui (Mukerji), a rookie lawyer who takes on his case, manages to uncover the reason behind his silence, and becomes hellbent on proving his innocence to the world. We get to know about the circumstances in which he was framed, about his love for a Pakistani woman, Zaara Haayat Khan (Zinta), and how they were separated due to reasons beyond their control. How Saamiya, fights his cause and re-unites the couple forms the crux of the film.
Veer-Zaara was classic Yash Chopra. The romance, the old world melody, a leading actress who looked flawless and heavenly, fly duppatas, astounding performances and most importantly, a hammer strong script, that sadly, was sorely missed in his more recent farcical love story Jab Tak Hai Jaan.
Veer-Zaara has a timelessness about its love story that is relatable even all these years on. Be it the sepia yet detailed and luminous frames, SRK-Preity's chemistry or Rani Mukerji's show stealing turn – they all still hit the right notes today and then some. Chopra wanted to create a star crossed tale akin to Romeo & Juliet and Heer-Raanjha and with this film, he succeeded to a large extent.
Everything about the film was grand with intricate detailing but undoubtedly, Veer-Zaara's major trump card was its show stopping performances.
I was never a huge SRK fan, and until then, I found him repetitive and unwilling to take chances with his parts but as the old convict who conveys a longing pain with just his eyes, he was simply spellbinding.
It was reported that Zinta was chosen because Chopra was keen to break her modern day image, but there was in fact more to that story if rumours are to be believed. Zinta was earnest and looked gorgeous, but was in fact a replacement for Chopra's original choice, Aishwarya Rai (who had some issues with SRK due to her tempestuous relationship with Salman). Rai would have definitely been spot on in that role, with her classic and ethereal looks, and till date, I still have a major niggle with the fact that she was replaced, even though Zinta was suitably competent, and did a good enough job.
Of the two female parts, this film was undoubtedly Mukerji's show though. She had the shorter role, but it was by far the more challenging of the two, and her courtroom scenes with Anupam Kher were amongst the film's highlights.
On the flip side, Veer Zaara, was FAR too long and definitely needed to be cut down. Chopra was clearly besotted with the film and refused to trim down his labour of love, but at times the film became painfully slow and tested your patience.
Despite its excessive length though, Veer-Zaara, till date, remains one of the more decent romances this side of the noughties, and will undoubtedly remain etched in our memories as part of the legacy, that the king of romance, Yash Chopra left behind when he unexpectedly died at the fag end of 2012.
What are your favourite scenes from the film? Let us know in the comments section below!