Let's the get the basics out of the way: these are both Indian films dealing with the very familiar theme of how two people are surprised by love. It's a popular theme in literature dating back to antiquity, probably because Cupid does have a way of sneaking up on you -- I know he sandbagged me back in 1968. Tonight I decided to start working my way through the current Netflix catalog of Indian films, relying on Kathy Gibson's list augmented by Margaret Redlich's minireviews. (Both highly recommended!!)
I decided on "Love Breakups Zindagi", based on Margaret's review and the promised cameo by Shah Rukh Khan, my very favorite actor, and I was not disappointed. Sweet story, great music, and even a small but important role by my age-mate Farida Jalal, playing an elderly grandmother when she was barely in her sixties. (Ageism is global...)
Having just watched "Jab Harry Met Sejal" (also on Netflix!!) for about the fifteenth time last week, I was struck by the similarities between the two films, and one huge difference that really confirmed for me why LBZ was a very good example of the genre, but JHMS is brilliant. And by "brilliant", I mean a movie I will watch another fifteen times because it speaks to my very core. YMMV. Like nearly all Indian romantic films, LBZ is not only about two people who eventually fall in love, but also about their friends and family. This is one of the things I love about Indian movies -- the rich, complicated relationships among all the characters. Imtiaz Ali, who directed JHMS, followed this pattern in his hit "Jab We Met", but then created a film that stripped the story down to the two main characters, spectacularly played by Anushka Sharma and Shah Rukh Khan. The family members appear only on the phone or on Facetime; only one friend has more than a few lines. This may have not have worked for some viewers, but it worked perfectly for me. It reminded me of the first few weeks of being in love, when no one else exists. It also eliminated the clutter (sorry!!) of each person's backstory; we were left to imagine who they were before they met, and concentrate on the transformation.
And yes, I am well aware that not everyone felt the same about these two movies, or is looking for similar treatments of romantic themes. I would happily watch "Love Breakups Zindagi" again; just probably not fifteen times.