Thursday, November 02, 2006

Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna


Considering that Karan Johar’s previous films(both his directorial efforts and his productions) reinforced – maybe even banked on – Indian traditions and values, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna is a brave change of track for him. While his trademark touches make sure that the presentation is sugarcoated, the film still works as a difficult look at the affairs of the heart.

The film’s biggest surprise is its characterization. When someone (especially when that someone is portrayed by a big star) strays in a marriage, we’re used to sympathizing with that person. We’re used to believing that they were driven into the arms of another by an unloving or uncaring spouse. That’s not the case here. SRK and Rani clearly are the guilty ones. While he is a bitter, egotistic man not able to come to terms with his not being the “man of the house”, she is a woman who is unable to reciprocate the feelings of someone who genuinely loves her. They are the ones who come off looking bad in arguments with their spouses.

Preity and Abishek are, on the other hand, good, decent individuals. Preity initially comes off as one of those work-obsessed women but she gets to justify that pretty convincingly in a couple of scenes. And she makes it clear what her priorities are. Abishek doesn’t have even that problem of explaining him. He is this cute, adorable, loving guy who any gal would love to have as her husband. Their initial banter about having an affair reveals their honesty too, apart from being ironic considering the later turn of events.

So when SRK and Rani are questioned by Preity and Abishek about the affair(in 2 terrific scenes, especially the one between SRK and Preity), SRK and Rani are the ones who are speechless and are unable to justify their actions. They know – and we know – that they have erred.

Johar has this grand, operatic touch that is not suited for a human drama of this sort. His characters look great, are always immaculately dressed and meet at these great locations with nobody around. That worked for fun, fantasy-like movies like KKHH and K3G but here it makes things rather impersonal. And that’s not good for a story like this. There are a lot of emotions but the movie isn’t emotional and we watch the proceedings with a sense of detachment. And then you have characters like Amitabh’s Sam, who are a step away from being a caricature. Veering between being over-the-top and delivering moralistic lectures, the character never lets us take the movie seriously.

On the other hand, Johar’s touch is perfect for the light-hearted initial portions. There are some very funny set pieces, like the confusion in SRK’s and Rani’s houses when they think Abishek and Preity are having an affair, that feature nice choreography, dialogs and editing. Rani’s S&M appearance too is hilarious even though we know exactly what’s coming. These are sequences that make me wish Johar would, just once, make a full-length comedy, without all those darn sentiments getting in the way.

The way the screenplay proceeds towards the end reveals Johar’s mindset. He has taken a harsh theme but is unable to deal with it harshly. So the movie goes on and on until he is able to fashion what he feels is a happy ending where all the characters come off looking nice. But there is an overload of sentiments, some of them being gag-worthy.

SRK, looking quite old, hams it up as always. He always overacts but a serious film like this brings it out more(as compared to, say, an over-the-top, fun movie like Main Hoon Naa). Rani looks gorgeous but she is just required to look sad most of the time. Abishek has no problems portraying the ‘perfect husband’. Preity’s character is not as well-defined as the others but she definitely has the best lines. Amitabh makes his character enjoyable even if not convincing. Songs definitely have a hangover from previous Johar films but are picturized well. Rock n Roll Soniye… and Wherez the party tonite… are great dance numbers and Abishek shows off from rather cool moves. Mitwaa… and the title song are nice melodies that manage to be catchy too.

18 Comments:

At 12:16 AM, Anonymous Sandya said...

On the whole, it looks like you may have enjoyed KANK a wee-bit more than the average viewer... almost 100% of everyone who has seen the movie has told me that KANK is JUNK! :-)..

I might end up watching the movie for the star value at least.. though I don't care for Karan Johar or his 'goody two shoes' philosophy of sugarcoated filmmaking..

 
At 12:50 AM, Blogger srivatsan said...

Sandhya,

Opinion differs :-) actually I had same fight with Balaji for *Manathodu Mazhaikaalam*. I hate the movie and in fact many of them whom I met lately seem to agree with Balaji's view :)

Rgds,
Srivats

 
At 4:18 AM, Blogger Ram.C said...

The theme was not attractive eventhough it was bold... Karan was trying to justify the decision taken by Khan&Rani eventhough they are not justifiable... by the way the characters were etched. I could give only negative marks for that justification....

 
At 6:03 AM, Blogger skanda said...

All the characters except preity zintz's character are just weak and thier action are not justified enough...i still dunt get why Shahrukh wants to leave his wife and child...all the trouble seems to be caused by his own troublesome nature...
Rani fares even worst and there is no reason for her to detest her marriage to Abishek at all. she comes across as manipulative and hard hearted.

Both Amitabh and Abishek's charcter are also confusing. Amitabh comes across as womaniser but yet says he loves his dead wife so much...Abishek chases his wife away but later comes searching for her..what the heck..cant they stay true to thier characters...

 
At 6:41 AM, Blogger rajesh said...

Balaji..
thaanga mudiiila SRK's antics..
semma dragging movie and irritating scenarios.
Thats my view..

 
At 7:12 AM, Blogger Filbert said...

Completely agree with you on Amitabh. That was one irritating character. KJ makes it hard to criticize him by roping in stars like Amitabh to play such stupid roles. SRK was another major irritation, Like you said, this is the first movie I thought SRK looked very old.

This guy - Karan Johar - has the easiest recipe for success in Bollywood - assemble a great star cast, get SEL to compose some good but very repetitive music, shoot the movie in some of the most exotic locations and there you go - you have the biggest commercial hit of the year.

 
At 8:25 AM, Anonymous vijay said...

"This guy - Karan Johar - has the easiest recipe for success in Bollywood - assemble a great star cast, get SEL to compose some good but very repetitive music, shoot the movie in some of the most exotic locations and there you go"

and the NRI audiences will queue up before the theater :-) Seriously, I have always wanted to know more about the kind of audiences in US that crave for these kinds of movies. Atleast in India its understandable. But here ABCD gumbals seem to be making a beeline for such movies as well.Maybe just to check out Shah rukh khan, the interesting girls and costumes in a typical Karan movie I guess :-)

 
At 9:12 AM, Anonymous ram said...

I'm surprised you didnt mention the movie, "Closer" (Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Clive Owen) in your review. Maybe you didnt see that one but this plot seems to be heavily inspired by "Closer." rented the dvd of KANK a few days ago...will pro-ly watch it this weekend...I love Rani though...she's a fantastic actress...very charming...think she's been the best of the bollywood lot for a while now...esp. in Black n Yuva...

 
At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Shwetha said...

Yowwwll....My thumb still hurts from all the fast forwading I had to do while dvd-ing KANK. Very interesting theme, unexplored grey area which Johar has treaded into with (LOTS OF) caution (and uneccessary sweet endings) but his story telling is so darn painfully exhausting - So much so that I thot the movie had ended at 3 points and almost got ready to switch off the tv when it continued.... yet again. The most kadi kodumaida saravanan part was whn the "Kabhi alvida na kehna" song comes towards the very end of the movie when they shud be rolling the credits.

Balaji, your review is perfect for KANK. Painfully exhausting interesting watch.

 
At 12:21 PM, Blogger Filbert said...

Exactly Vijay. I too dont understand why the ABCD gumbals watch his movies with so much interest.

 
At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is S&M?!!

 
At 1:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

as an "abcd," i didn't really like this movie, but karan johar movies definitely have a mass appeal here. the first hindi movies post-seventies that i saw was "kuch kuch hota hai," and it's still one of my favorites. i think the popularity of his movies with second generations is their lush production value (making the movies similar to the american romantic comedies that we grew up with) and their crossover appeal. my non-indian friends watched "kkhh" and understood the storyline with little trouble (and enjoyed the movie immensely) but when i showed them a tamil favorite of mine, "baasha," they were confused by the movie and didn't really get it. "kank" was a lot of pretty costumes and locales, but not a lot of substantial story in my opinion, especially when compared to the similar concept in "closer."

 
At 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever our reservations about his film-making qualitites, his movies are ringing at the box office, domestically & internationally. That plainly shows Karan feels the pulse of his audience & he delivers what is expected with massive gloss, style and lots of eye candy.
That, in brief, is BOLLYWOOD!!

 
At 9:22 PM, Blogger mysorean said...

You are late in getting onto this one.

Read my review. I promise you, you won't waste more than 3 mins of your time!

 
At 11:06 PM, Anonymous ram said...

finished watching the movie...i didnt think it was bad...but it was looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong...

 
At 11:11 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

sandya, i think star value is definitely what brought in the crowds. and before the last segment(after the news about the affair comes out), i liked the movie quite a bit :)

srivatsan, yep. thats what makes discussions about movies so much fun :)

ramc, SRK's and rani's characters r just a reason the affair happened. every affair has some reason behind it and so it was in this case too. so why do we need to think johar was trying to justify it? he had to provide a reason for the affair happening and he did, thats all...

skanda, those r the reasons i liked the film! it just shows that human nature is unpredictable. preity and abishek are perfect spouses. they would be the right spouses for most men and women but just not for SRK and rani. and i liked the fact that it was because of SRK's and rani's own problems. but i do agree with u on amitabh's characterization...

rajesh, to each his own :)

filbert, yeah amitabh was irritating. but SRK being irritating was probably cos of his character. that means it was a good performance since the character was supposed to be an a**hole :)

ram, no haven't seen 'closer'. there were rumors that KANK was based on that film b4 it came out. but after KANK released, the rumors stopped...

shwetha, surprisingly i didn't FF any scenes in KANK. as i mentioned b4, wasn't bored and was actually quite entertained by the movie before the last segment. But yes, the artificial happy endings and stretching of the screenplay towards the end were frustrating...

anon, see here

anjali, i think that "like american romantic comedies" point was spot on. and movies like these almost seem geared towards NRIs wrt the locations, character's lifestyles, etc.

anon, true...

adi, had to wait for the dvd :)

 
At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

balaji did you realise that everyone kept bumping into everyone? where in manhattan does that ever happen? i think karan johar should have played the role of rani mukherjee. would have been more interesting that way!

 
At 8:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I just came across your site by accident and read your review of KANK... and you know what I think? You're right.... but for some reason I enjoyed KANK... not in the sense that I thought what they were doing is right... but in the sense that... you can't just love someone because they love you... it has to be within you to love someone... Rani and SRK found this in each other... and being in the U.S... everyone knows that this is not extremely out of the "culture" and at the same time... they show Abishek getting married to an American... so I guess this is okay but leaving your spouse for someone you love is not okay... I don't know... I've heard from tons of my friends that KANK is junk because what they show is "out of our culture" but nowadays... no one seems to understand what "is our culture" and at the same time forget that this "is a movie!" Hope I made some sense.... :)

 

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