Yash Chopra's thinly veiled plea for reconciliation between India and Pakistan is cloaked in a decades-spanning Romeo-and-Juliet romance. In the present day, principled, Pakistani human-rights lawyer Saamiya Siddiqui (Rani Mukherjee), who overcame entrenched prejudice against women in the legal profession to fulfill her late father's progressive ambitions, is about to try her first case. It's a tough one: Prisoner 786 (Shahrukh Kahn), an Indian national, has been imprisoned in a Lahore jail for 22 years and his case is up for review. But he hasn't spoken since he was imprisoned, so how will Saamiya even begin to build an argument for his release? Saamiya breaks through the silent prisoner's defenses simply by addressing him by his real name — Veer Pratap Singh — not the name under which he was convicted. Veer pours out his heart to Saamiya. Raised by his forward-thinking uncle (Amitabh Batchan) and aunt, who devoted their lives to turning their small village into an oasis of educational opportunity and tolerance, Veer joined the Indian Air Force rescue squad and met Zaara Hayaat Khan (Preity Zinta) while helping victims of a bus accident. The headstrong Zaara, a pampered, willful rich girl already resigned to the fact that she'll never do anything more important with her life than be a dutiful spouse like her mother, is on a mission to fulfill the dying wish of her beloved nanny. Zaara intends to immerse nanny's ashes in the river that runs past the Sikh temple in Kiratpur, reuniting her with the family she left behind in 1947, when her employer — Zaara's grandfather — took her to the newly created Muslim state of Pakistan. Veer is smitten, but Zaara is already engaged to Raza, whose politically powerful family is the key to Zaara's father's political ambitions. Mindful of her family responsibilities, she returns home to her arranged marriage, but is so haunted by thoughts of Veer that her faithful maid, Shabbo, secretly calls him and begs him to rescue Zaara from the lifelong prison of a loveless marriage. "What century are these people living in?" Saamiya marvels as the full extent of what Zaara and Veer sacrificed for love is finally brought home to her. "Are they people trying to behave like gods or gods pretending to be human?" Though Chopra's film is emotionally extravagant even by the standards of India's epically unrestrained cinema, the star-crossed lovers bear the weighty metaphorical significance of their travails surprisingly lightly, particularly Zinta's radiantly lovely Zaara.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: NR
- Review: Yash Chopra's thinly veiled plea for reconciliation between India and Pakistan is cloaked in a decades-spanning Romeo-and-Juliet romance. In the present day, principled, Pakistani human-rights lawyer Saamiya Siddiqui (Rani Mukherjee), who overcame entrench… (more)