Tuesday, August 22, 2006


These days making a movie that deals with different and difficult subjects seems to be fashionable in Bollywood. It's interesting to watch how established stars are willing to appear in movies that they know may not have a favorite at the box office. Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, or KANK, Karan Johar's latest movie, doesn't disappoint in that regard provided you have the patience to sit through the full three and a half hours and overlook “a few” obvious shortcomings.
Why, may I ask, was Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, such a badly written and badly told story?
Was three and a half hours not enough for a director (who rather bizarrely claimed to have matured during its making!!!) to flesh out his characters, to make the audience believe that his point was (I suppose) not infidelity but true love found late, rather late? Was the storywriter sleeping while penning down a romance that didn’t strike a chord…that didn’t tug at any heartstrings? It didn’t even evoke a sigh among the viewers…. for a love affair that was supposedly so passionate that it ended two marriages?
I, for one, did not see the lead pair fall in love, at all. I didn’t see the compelling factors that drew them to each other. You don’t need men and women dressed in blue and red and melodious music to convey that. The actors failed even the soulful Mitwa, their drab emoting a sad contrast to the brilliant score.
KJ should know. He had Kajol crying in the rain in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and the theatre sobbed with her. In KANK, nobody cries. They are too busy looking at the watch, waiting for the movie to get over.
I would not blame the cold treatment to a supposed hot romantic true love found late story, on bad acting alone. The storyteller, I think, simply forgot to write scenes that showed how a much married man fell in love with another married woman.
Yes, I know the film (KANK) was dealing with ``matured’’ people, but, for god’s sake, for all the jazz on maturity the only way the ``committed’’ man and woman think of working on their marriages is by pepping up their bedroom lives? I read somewhere the subject was sensitively handled. Yeah, sure.
Another unexplored angle, which could have perhaps added so much to the poorly etched characters, was how the married man (who was happiest at the birth of his child, we are told) had no lines on the dilemma he was facing choosing between true love and his child? And, a foul-tempered father yelling at his child was the supposed comic element in the film?
KJ does make some calculated departures. He looks at infidelity in a non-judgmental way, doesn’t take any moral stand on the issue and doesn’t resort to the usual sindhoor and mangalsutra formula. But, like his earlier films, infidelity too gets grounded in the familiar friendship versus love debate. Should you marry someone just because you have fallen in friendship than in love? What should you do when true love comes after marriage? And so you have Dev and Maya… both rude, bad-tempered, whiny, grouchy, self-pitying people. That’s ok; losers too have a right to fall in forbidden love.... ... But then what is it that draws them so brutally together; where is the incredible pull? Do you walk out of a marriage because of a bad mood day; do you fall in love with another person because he is as much of a sourpuss as you are? And when in love, don’t you grow and change? Dev and Maya stay stiff and stuffy, more affected than affecting.

I am sure that the movie has already made enough profit for KJ to plan his next venture.
What amazes me the most is the taste of Indian female fraternities who have a big hand (apparently bigger than kanooon ke haath) in KANK's stupendous commercial success overseas. Figure this out: SRK gets slapped by Preity in the movie and there is a huge orgasmic "oooooooooohhhh" in the theatre. If we have such females whose facial contortions change with a speed at par with SRK's, then such success is just a unavoidable conclusion. In the hindsight though, I feel its stupid to watch the second half of the movie which has redefined Hooke's law of elasticity by its level of over-stretch. A small summary on some of the characters of KANK, in case you dont know already.

SRK (Dev): And SRK was, as stereotypical as ever. Now there is this increasing “sameness” in his recent performances. Whether he plays a lover boy, an army officer or an ex-football-player-turned-handicapped-husband, his acting is all the same…it has got that SRK touch in it. Dunno, some people like it, but someday or the other you are bound to get bored of it!

Rani(Maya): why is she unhappy with her hubby when he doted on her so much?? Biggest question which went unanswered. Her character was not sketched properly. But as always, she comes out with a good performance.

Abhishek(Rishi): acted well in whatever scope he got. Especially when he broke down when Amitabh was on his deathbed.

Preity(Ria): looks stunning. But has a very plastic role. Doesnt get much of a scope to display her dramatics.

Amitabh: He plays Abisheik’s (Rishi) father in the movie. Having lost his wife, he keeps flirting and sleeping with women who are half his age. Thats all he does in the entire movie and nothing else. Also, he finds out about the relationship between his daughter-in-law (Maya) and Dev and keeps quite about it for a long time.

KANK is so mercilessly commercial that a serious, sensitive issue called Marriage has been played around with! The theme is novel and maybe true for marriages that happen abroad but the way the theme has been dealt with is very disappointing.

The only worthy thing, in my opinion is the song Mitwa sung by Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, singer from the Pak band Fuzon.
My thought while leaving the theater was that it's a pity Indian movies lack a rating system, for this is not a family movie. Anyone who went as such would probably leave disappointed (as did my friends). The movie and individual scenes did not feel 'cheap', but the topic was certainly inappropriate for children present at the theater.
For people who hate this movie due to the moral issue, I'll say this - It's a movie. It deals with an affair, which doesn't need to have a good reason. It probably wasn't the happy movie with the happy ending you expected. Also, if you're the person who complains that Indian movies always have the same storyline, and then has issues with the subject of this film, I'll call you a hypocrite.
On the other hand, this movie touched a tough subject, tried to include something for everyone, and ultimately lacked the depth to pull it off. If you tell me you were simply exhausted by the 3.5 hours, slow moving story, and the typical forgiveness found in hindi movies, I'd probably agree. A DVD would have been better; alas I didn't have a fast forward option in the theater.

Here is the dialogue that troubled me a little: "Rishtey baaton se nahin, haalaton se bante hain". I hope that's not true, although I know circumstances do play an important role in forming relationships.

At least one thing KJ got right: the message of the film - "All relationships must be based on a firm foundation of love. Coz if the foundation is weak, it is bound to break, no matter what you do."

Lastly I want to say one more thing: THANK YOU KJ, Thanks for making Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna even if the movie turned out so bad. People who have been in relationships which they know for sure were dead and stuck to it because of various reasons will relate to this movie. Most ppl will walk out of the theater and forget this movie but those few who see their old/current friends, lovers and (ex)spouses in the places of your characters will never forget KANK and never forget KJ.

PS: Usually I don’t use the blog space to explain the drawbacks of a movie…but I got disappointed seeing the movie…I had lot of expectations abt this ….went home in heavy rains @ 2 am from the theater….wasted 30 min to dry my hair….all these made me horribly furious…and this is the outcome….