Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna


Infidelity and divorce are  ok, if it’s all for love (not merely sex).

Contrast that with the  “Family is family” mantra that Dev (Shahrukh Khan) and Maya (Rani Mukherjee Mukherji), the emotionally unfaithful spouses,  repeat half-heartedly to each other, as if aware that they’re mouthing a bad knock-off of a Karan Johar film tagline.

I’ve wondered a lot in the past 10 years how middle class India would handle the MTV-ization of their increasingly consumerist, globalized segment of society, particularly vis-a-vis the long-held assurance that high divorce rates are a Western problem only.   In Karan Johar’s long-awaited Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, the puckish filmmaker comes down hard on the side of love over the rigid expectations of traditional Indian society.

And who better to help him get that message across than Amitabh Bachchan?  

The man who is the Voice of God in Indian film  (and also in a hellva lot of advertising), is  the widowed father of Rishi Talwar (Abhishek Bachchan).   After catching daughter-in-law Maya  in an illicit  clinch with Dev, and ending up in hospital shortly afterward, he intones to her alone: “Leave my son.   You don’t love him.   By staying with him, you are denying him someone else’s love and yourself true love.   These unfulfilled relationships don’t make anyone happy.”  

Of course, for Bachchan Sr.  to say this, Johar had to make him a Hugh Hefner-lite figure, livin’ large in The Big Apple, far, far away from the prying stares and meddling relatives that help keep everyone in line back in Bharat Mata.   Such a directive would never had come forth from the mouth of Yashovardhan Raichand, the stern patriarch AB played  in  K3G.

The story, for anyone who hasn’t read the million + 1 articles that have already summarized the plot, centers around two couples:   Dev (Khan) and Rhea (Preity Zinta), and Rishi and Maya.  

Khan  and Zinta, in the very early part of the film seem to be ok, but not without problems.   He’s an aspiring soccer player, on his way to the A league and a big contract, and she’s an ambitious fashion magazine editor, who reports to the very deep-voiced Arjun Rampal.   (Forget about him being a former model, he’s still handosme, but my Gawd, with that voice, I wish he did books-on-tape, or at least better dialogue  in his starring roles.)   Dev and Rhea have a young son, Arjun, about whom the young girl next to me at the cinema declared “he looks like Chicken Little”, likely because of the big round specs.  

The crack that is starting to appear in their relationship is Rhea’s excessive attention to her career.   The day of Dev’s big match, and her big job interview at DIVA magazine, she’s completely forgotten about what her husband’s up to, even though the match  is playing on a flat screen TV at the magazine.   (Why is that anyway?   Because the boss is a guy?   I doubt  Anna Wintour had the World Cup matches on over at Vogue this summer.)   In all fairness though, Rhea catches Dev out when she wishes him “Happy Anniversary” and we realize that he’s forgotten that important fact.

Before the opening credits even finish scrolling, we see Maya  in bejewelled,  red sari finery, looking uncertain about the impending wedding to Rishi, the affluent son of Samarjit – Sexy Sam – Singh Talwar.   Sam is a bon vivant, and when we first catch a glimpse of him, he’s not quite ready to depart for the wedding, still wearing the fur-lined handcuffs from  a night with a gorgeous twenty-something (Angrezi, of course) hooker, to the mild dismay of Rishi, who refers to him as “Dude”, not “Dad”.  

In the Manhattan ImaginAsian cinema where I saw this movie yesterday (the 300-seat theater was sold-out), there was an audible gasp when everyone saw the Godly son of the poet Harivanshrai looking very comfortable as a man who enjoys a little cuddly S & M with a girl young enough to be his granddaughter.   To his credit, AB has such a refined air about him, that his obvious enjoyment of all things pleasurable in life, especially young chippies, does not come off as the least bit sleazy.   And if anyone had any objections to the dignified Big B behaving like this, he  is redeemed a few scenes later when he tells a crowd at a party he’s hosting (during the Rock and Roll Soniye number)  how much he misses his late wife and how he regrets not having seized more moments when she was alive to tell her how he felt.

The other couple, Rishi and Maya, do marry, in spite of her doubts, and when the opening credits have finished, are now married five years, and living  an uncomfortable existence.   They both look the picture of beauty and wealth and success, but Maya is unreceptive to the adoring Rishi’s many, many advances, and hiding behind the fact that she is unable to bear children, she takes on a quasi-mother role, treating her husband like a hyperactive, misbehaved son.  

As fate, or  the scriptwriter Shibani Bhathija would have it, Dev and Maya, who met and conversed briefly the day of her wedding, meet again  in overdone slapstick circumstances (of which there are too many), and after a few more meetings, where they initially try to help each other repair their failing marriages, they fall in love, thereby setting up several big will-they-or-won’t-they questions that carry us through to the last scene of the film.

During that three-hour-and-twenty-minute journey, while we collectively ponder how unbreakable marriage vows really are, we are treated to some breathtakingly adoring  shots of New York City, luxurious, gorgeous sets (I’d love to know  what the budget for the flowers alone was), and wardrobes fashionable and Vestern enough to satisfy every upwardly mobile, urban Indian who spends hours at the mall getting moist  over the recent arrivals at Armani Exchange, as well as the more traditional trappings for every NRI or firangi who gets a thrill at the sight of expensive, perfectly accessorized  saris.   Overall, it’s all good, from the pastel Burberry scarves to the autumnal amber Crate and Barrel hurricane lamps, though  in one scene SRK wears an Abercrombie & Fitch shirt and all I could think of was a line from an old episode of a sitcom where interior designer Grace says to her handsome-but-insecure, gay friend Will:   “Your youth called and it wants its t-shirt back.”

The one big problem I had with the story is the relationship between Dev and Maya.   Remember how back in school when you did  algebra problems on a test, you couldn’t just state the answer as being ” – 3 “, but rather you had to show  your work,  leaving the detailed  explanation of how you arrived at that point?   KJo has  not done that here.  

I get that they are two hurt souls.   Dev has turned into a sour, bad-tempered man with a limp after an accident cuts short his soccer career aspirations, and Maya’s dying a little bit every day because she went ahead with a wedding that she should have fled from, but, but,  but, there was no proof of what it is that made one so lovable to the other.    There wasn’t any thunderbolt of love-at-first-sight attraction, and the let’s-fix-our-marriages  montage was not enough to convince me that this was such an earth-shattering love that developed over time.      

If you want to play the Moral Police and consider Dev and Maya’s situation, you could say “O.k., she was never in love with Rishi when she married him, and unlike arranged marriages where the love is supposed to come afterward, it hasn’t here.   Then she falls deeply in love for someone who is her real  “soulmate”.   Can she be forgiven if she walks away from her marriage?   Maybe.   Maybe AB is right, better to free AB 2.0 to find someone who’ll appreciate him and stop making the guy’s  life a mess.”  

But what about Dev?   To go by what we see on screen, it seems that he did love, and was in love with, Rhea before his accident, though the encroaching professional ambition of hers has worn the feelings of love  down.   As the Moral Police, do you say “So, he’s gotten so mad at Rhea for her professional success and his own perceived failure that he’s cauterized his own love for her.   Is he entitled to a ‘Get out of jail free’ card and to just walk away because someone else makes him happy?   And what about their son?   Should he be allowed to just dispose of Rhea and Arjun in the pursuit of his own individual happiness?”   If we, in the Moral Police role, answer “Yes” to that and let Dev limp away into the sunset with Maya, then one of us may well ask about that slippery slope  “Where do you draw the line?   Does anyone who’s feeling a little bored or unhappy  have the right to pack it all up and go to IndianDating.com to find something better?”

Past experience would cloud any objective  answers to those questions, so I won’t weigh in, but I do think that now Karan Johar has floated this story onscreen across India  (and the UK and US), and soon to a DVD player near you, he’s  further opened up a Pandora’s box of questions and issues that no developed  country has found the answers to yet, nor likely will for the forseeable future.

On the whole, the performances are unbalanced.   Shahrukh Khan, who is in such a crucial, central role in this film, is as over-the-top as I first saw in Pardes  nine years ago, which is such a pity, because this part called for far more nuance, and less large open-arms-in-a-football-field gesturing.    If only he was more of his “real” self  when he played this part, he would have been great.   Just watch him in any TV interview, where he is low-key and  sober, and the gestures are minimal.  

Rini Minkiji, or however she’s spelling her name these days, is beautiful to behold and able to cry  at the drop of a hat, and not the “ugly cry” that Oprah talks about, but rather the don’t-my-feline-topaz-eyes-look-even-more-gorgeous-with-a-single-tear-rolling-down-my-cheek  kind of cry, but she seemed to me often as bewildered by her love for Dev as she did by why she married Rishi in the first place.   Proof of this to me was a scene after the Interval where she comes home from work one day and sees Rishi, and I honestly thought the plot was going to go off in a different direction.   Like SRK, she is capable of more.

Preity Zinty plays Rhea well enough (for a character who’s sold to us as a careerist harpy in the beginning), though for every article that’s been touting Preity’s reduced bubbliness, I still find her too over-caffeinated, except now instead of being bubbly about love, she’s screeching and gesticulating to her staff at DIVA.

It’s the  Bachchan men who give  the two stellar performances.   AB v1.0 has a considerably less taxing role, but even so, he’s able to go from over-sexed philanderer to morose widow to loving father seamlessly, and making all believable.   As Rishi, AB 2.0 has  done the best onscreen work  seen so far.    While he hasn’t totally filled  his father’s shoes yet, he’s got the right one  on and is easing effortlessly into  the left one.   If he doesn’t implode as the victim of his own good looks, lineage, wealth  and fame, and manages to work at this level over the next few decades, we will be  fortunate indeed.

His scenes  as the happy-go-lucky fella  who’s got the world on a string are what we’ve  come to expect from the guy who’s been Rakesh Trivedi and Roy Kapoor  recently, but it’s in the scenes where he plays the madly in love, yet sexually and emotionally rejected, husband that he seals the deal, with a  subtle  balance between seething anger and soul-burning anguish.   And that’s without even taking into consideration his hospital scenes with his father and Rani.

The Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy music underwhelmed me when I first heard it earlier this summer.    I was disappointed that while it had one passably good dance number (Where’s the Party Tonight), it didn’t have the sort of tear-inducing, heart-string-pulling slow number that KJo’s  previous films have had.  

That said, it’s all grown on me somewhat and I even enjoyed the over-sweet Tumhi Dekho Naa picturization.   Come on, what girl, who’s a New Yorker and who likes color-coordinated ensembles, could resist it?  

Rock and Roll Soniye is KANK’s Shava Shava (complete with a special guest shimmying in front of a piano) and it’s what we’d expect it to be.   I’m amazed that Amitabh Bachchan, who in most dance numbers favours a few stock hand gestures over too much fancy footwork, manages to look suave and elegant in this number and not at all out of place, in spite of being in his 60s.   We should all be so graceful at his age.  

Where’s the Party Tonight (also with a special guest, though  to judge from the excessive right eye squinting, was being hit just a wee bit too much by an off-screen  fan) is another big production number typical  of  Karan Johar and Farah Khan, though in addition to Abhi looking very yummy in a bright red, crushed velvet blazer, this one has the added detail of interlacing an important plot development while everyone’s hoofing it up.

Lest I sound like I’m kvetching too much, allow me to mention just some  small, small  things that bugged me, then I’ll move on to what I loved.  

Why did all of Sexy Sam’s babes have to be pros?   There are tons of beautiful goris in Manhattan who would have happily accompanied him home for free.   Was this Karan’s way of saving the image of firangis in the eyes of lesser-traveled Indian audiences, so that they don’t think all white women are sluts, by convincing them that  the  only ones who’d take  old Sam to bed are working  women?  

And speaking of white women, why did the hospital nurse have to  be such a nutcase?   First of all, if he wanted to be a little more authentic, she should have been Filipina or Caribbean.   Secondly, it’s a tired old chesnut that all Hindi movies (save Rang De Basanti) make  white folks out to be unnattractive spastics, and I would have expected more from a sophisticate like KJo.   But then again, as the NY Times reviewer mused this morning, maybe it’s because Karan’s trying to even  the score for all the bad portrayals of onscreen Indians over the years.      

I also wasn’t wild about all the fur in many of  the costumes, and shame on the make-up team for allowing a five-year-old with a Magic Marker  do Kirron Kher’s eyebrows, but these are picayune things.   And lastly, I thought that the treatment of the impact of Dev’s frequent angry outbursts and the parents’ marriage problems on little Arjun were given short shrift, probably because it’s a hard sell to say that maybe all infidelity isn’t inherently evil, while also implying  it’s a victimless offense.

All that said, there was much that I loved.   In a large part the appeal of Hindi movies for me is the fantastic musical spectacle and escape that they often provide, and no one does that better than Karan Johar right now.  

It was magical to watch this story unfold in places that I know well, from the meatpacking district, to the Columbia University grounds (leave it to an ambitious Indian to shoot on the only Ivy League campus in Manhattan), to  the shores of Brooklyn, Jersey City and Liberty Island, all looking lovingly toward the Manhattan skyline.  

I was aghast at the beauty of some of the settings, the rich reds and golds of the flowers in the wedding and party scenes, the green lawns and the burnt marigold shades of the autumn leaves, and don’t get me started on the night Maya comes home to the apartment that Rishi has covered in candles and flowers.   I’ll easily bet good money that 99%of the  women in the audience yesterday afternoon wished someone would do that for her at least once.   (I’m allowing for the  possibility  that the remaining 1% may actually have a love who has done something like that for her already.   If  she does, I’d like to know if there’s also  a similarly inclined,  eligible brother-in-law in the hubby’s family.)  

What kicks it up for me a notch higher is when a Bollywood movie is also able to touch on some difficult or meaningful aspect of contemporary life and do that well, and I think Karan Johar deserves praise for what he has attempted here.   For what does save this film, in spite of its flaws (too crammed, too long and unevenly acted), is the fact that it’s a darker shade of Karan Johar’s depiction of Indian romantic life thus far.  

Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham stretched what could be acceptable to a traditional Indian family (unsuitable choice of spouse  and defiance of parental authority), Kal Ho Naa Ho still had the self-sacrificing for love common in so many Hindi movie love triangles, but it also had sly, accepting  references to alternative lifetsyles (a gay couple in the Kuch To Hua Hai number, and the whole SRK-Saif-Kantaben breakfast scene), and now  Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna sells the idea that people should be able to question if they have to stay in an unhappy marriage.        

See it or skip it?  

It’s not a perfect film, but it’s an important one for the subject it broaches and the position that Karan Johar takes at this time in 21st century  popular Hindi movies, and on a more superficial level, it’s beautiful to watch.  

See it, but bring a hankie and do get up and walk around during the Interval, otherwise you’ll have a sore tush by the time you leave the theater.

57 thoughts on “Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna

  1. Filmiholic,

    Your review is so refreshingly analytical; it is indeed, as one of the early replies mentions, almost a dissertation on this movie. I was feeling a wave of nostalgia listening to a flute rendition of the title track, and searching for tracks capturing the soul of KANK when I found the post. I’m trying my hand at movie reviewing myself, and I must tell you that this is the level i aspire to review at. This work is part of canon for me, and I shall refer to you for pointers. Brilliant verbiage!

    With respect to KANK, I think Johar shall be hailed in later years as a director who at least tried to break out of the mold he was ‘cast’ in. As AB 2.0 said when he received his Filmfare for Best Supporting Actor, he didn’t care what people said about it; “you’ve made a fantastic movie.”

    I’m just so at the effect of your writing right now, I can’t say much more. All I can say is that I’d love to be in the company of more people like you, to form a film appreciation society of sorts…! Once again, thanks for an amazing analysis.

  2. I’m probably reading this review way after you wrote it but I also thought it was a very interesting and a brave film for a mainstream filmmaker, known for his lavish love/ family stories, to make. I reviewed the film recently, after seeing it again on DVD, and it’s on my website in case you’re interested.

    YOUR FILMS ITS AMIZING :do you now how much I love you:

    I m Mina writing from AUSTRIA:

    love you love you Im coming from afghanistan.THANK YOU FO YOU TIME

  4. esta fanatica te dice que eres bien guapo y ademas bien lindo con tu mirada impresionas mis chica de PERU con tu dulzura has encantado a todas las chicas desde LIMA-PERU TE DECIMOS :

  5. me llamo SANDRA me encanta como actuas y mi linda gentes de mi pais PERU aman tus peliculas a mi en particular me fascinan,
    en verdad soy bien romantica y tambien las musicas eres un actor
    guapo y bien conocidisimo en mi pais quisieramos que hagas una presentacion en PERU sabes te esperamos SHAHRUKH KHAN
    que tengas mucho exito y sigas asi tan decidido MUCHA SUERTE¡¡¡¡

  6. Esta es una de las peliculas que me agradado muuuucho
    KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA es la mejor pelicula y sus musicas lindisimas a mi pais les encanta muchisimo
    MUCHA SUERTE¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡

  7. rani, i miss you. you are a best actress. your laughing is best.and your all picture is best.,
    what is your birthday? please send your birthday and contact number .
    i want wish your birthday .

  8. no one is better than the king khan!!!!!
    he is the no11111111111111111111111111111111111111111.
    he is not sexy but he is the most handsome and cutest boy. he i the best actor that i have ever seen!!

  9. no one is better than the king khan!!!!!
    he is the no11111111111111111111111111111111111111111.
    he is not sexy but he is the most handsome and cutest boy. he i the best actor that i have ever seen!!

  10. One of the worst film to be made. The story lacks substance. The charecters and its execution lacks strenght. The deed of infidality is not justified anywhere but they are mistaken for platonic love. Karan Johar Indian film industry is touching new horizons. Stop making unnecessary lavish tearjerkers. Or if you still want to stick to your genre, then please study Bhansali, Maniratnam or some good directors work.

  11. hiiiiiiiiii ,man u loook cooooooooooooolllllllllll u r the best . i want to meet u . srk i had meet your uncle in bangalore , he name is saleem , he says that u always come at night at 3 oclock to meet them ,with out anyones knowledge . he says that u always wanto become a great man.

  12. Hi, just wanted to say that I’ve havn’t read a more comprehensive post about this movie, well done. I agree it was way to long. I knew how it would end sadly, but as Degrassi says it this movie “went there.” To a place no other director may have wanted to go. I was a little shocked, I must say, after living in a very traditional Asian culture myself that Karan Johar actually went there but he did bring up a subject that was perhaps taboo in hindi films before and much like yourself I loved the sights the movie had to offer!

  13. I happen to disagree with most of what you said. I think this is Karan’s best work yet. Rani and Shahrukh give great performances but Abhishek takes the cake especially when “Maya” tell him the truth. Shahrukh and Rani look amazing on screen! Preity was a waste of time, her character should have been killed off. Amitabh was amazing as sexy sam and Kirron was nothing special. Overall this film deals with real issues that occur everday but most indians feel that it is wrong, I believe they need to wake up and step into the 21st century. Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna is amazing! Karan Johar did an amazing job. Best Indian Movie I have ever seen!


  15. Hey- does anyone else agree with me that this must have been SRK’s most over-acted performance to date? Filmiholic: I totally agree with your point when you say that when you watch SRK in an interview, he is much more articulate, sober, ‘believing’.
    In KANK, did anyone else notice the REALLY REALLY annoying voice that he would put on to express himself at junctures? That kind of voice that your uncles used to use when telling you a story when you were little, and if they wanted to stress a point, they’d put on that over-dramatic voice, just to scare you/drive the point across.

  16. Hi Filmiholic! (Hey-great website dude!)
    Okay: SRK wore glasses in the scene just before him and Preity went to Sexy Sam’s “Rock ‘n Roll” party. It was the scene where they were getting ready, and SRK felt put down by the way that Preity told him to wear the suit that SHE got him. He was sitting on the bed wearing these amazing glasses.

  17. the red rimless spex srk wears in khabie alvida na kehna is a tag heuer frame. it retails at £225. i sell them at my opticians in london.

  18. I totally agree with Raj Rangarajan : if you have had your own palette of life experience to know how realistic this movie depicts people in that sort of situations and the development of the story. Maybe the movie did not do that well in India, where the majority of the audience consists of very young people, that are not yet capable to connect to that topic, but were missing their action scenes and Garam Masala…
    I have seen all the actors in the movie giving brilliant performances. There is no point in calling Shah Rukh’s performance overacted…in the beginning I might have thought as bit like that, but after watching the movie a second time its very clear: he very well portrays the character of the football/ baseball/or whatever sports-world –
    these men are like that, over the top – I have come across a lot of them in the U.S.A., just behaving, overacting, like that.

  19. wow! I’ve watched the film aleady and that is the best review i have ever read! u are really good at writing reviews you know, that’s exactly what i think about the film – i just cant put it into words as good as u can!

  20. My God, never mind SRK, the great ARK has dropped by! This is indeed great. Welcome, Ashok.

    Martyr, hmmm, I don’t know, maybe it’s my own personal bias colouring my impressions, but to me in the film he just looked like a guy who had given up on the woman he made a vow to, and turned his back on her and their son. The one who I think audience sympathy was with is AB 2.0.

    Interesting point about the women. To a degree, they seem incidental, as most movies are so male-focused. The other side of this coin I’m seeing at home now, with all the soap operas on StarTV and their focus on the women.

  21. Well, I decided against C-ing it cause Karan concentrates on Shahruk just too much. Everybody is saying he makes him look like a martyr when he’s not.
    The women always get the bad end of the stick in Karan’s films, don’t they?

  22. Nadia, I guess we have to agree to disagree. I did see (the second time around) that SRK was good at the moment at the end of the ballet scene, where he really looks twisted by pain and jealousy, but I still think he was too big in his acting and gestures for the most part.

    Aditi, little Arjun WAS good. Did you know the pasrt was played by a little girl?

    Raj, yeah the fact that AB fils was marrying “Catherine” barely registered with me (or was she Anglo-Indian?).

    Simran, thanks for visiting. It was so surprising to see how shiny and gorgeous he made the city look, though I think some friends found it too perfect.

  23. I think Raj has the best take on it- to a Westerner, well accustomed to the ‘freedom’ of being able to choose lover(s), spouse(s) & to know something of your own feelings- rather than being surrounded by prying family/friends who decide your entire life for you- the film was very poignant & real. (One could only wish our ex’s would help us get together with our soul mate(s) after the fact!) Additionally being of an age (in the West/for ferengis & some pardesis it tends IMHO to unravel this way at least) where one has experienced a variety of emotional highs & lows with various persons- adds to the connectedness a viewer can feel with the plot of this film. The reviewer herself seems to not follow the main point- that 2 persons pulled into circumstances destined to keep them apart by obligation are bound to feel some magnetism & find common ground. Moreover, that true love (perhaps this point is entirely lost on Indians coming from traditional BGs? somehow I can’t believe that entirely) is exactly as it’s shown- two persons meeting, often under ordinary circumstances (in a train station, cafe etc..), can share a profound sense of relief & even joy at finding a kindred spirit, which can easily turn into passion, love, & something quite out of the ordinary. Period. You don’t have to run through a field singing or have 200 dancing extras appear to loud bhangra music- or worse yet- get married to a complete stranger- for true love to happen… at least in the West.. lol 🙂

    I’ve been really disappointed in most reviews I’ve read, other than this one (which is both astute & still Indian in perspective lol- kudos)… in that it is obvious the general desi (non-NRI or Westernized) filim-going public really isn’t able to examine these crucial (for Indians, even more so) issues, even as a metaphor in a film. Yet coming from a society where arranged marriage is still *the* defining feature of a person’s life, the Indian audience’s general reaction reads to me like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand.

    I agree on the gori/hooker thing, being a gori ferengi who has dared to foray extensively into desi land 😉 I am constantly battling the exact stereotypes Karan chooses to exaggerate further in this film, which was disappointing in general in it’s lack of portrayal of NY/’Amrikan’ ethnic mixing/integration (unlike KHNH, which had correlary racial stereotypes intermingling with a multi-ethnic cast of extras in the dance scenes etc.. lol)… at least there was a queer mention in the form of a bystander in this one, as with KHNH- Karan “pushing his own agenda” in a way I entirely applaud 😉 Kudos to Karan, I have become a big fan of his SRK films, and he is an intelligent, brave voice of progressiveness in a society that in general cannot take criticism (especially from an outsider female like myself lol).. I admire his work & what he represents a great deal.

    I’m a huge SRK fan, so I’m biased, but I actually enjoyed the sort of Bollywood-overdone roles bridging into Western drama-type portrayals in KANK. It was nice to see SRK (mostly) play a ‘real’, or at least non standard-‘heroic’ character, and although it’s difficult to gauge/translate value between the different acting styles typical of each of the Holly/Bollywoods, it was (by my estimations) stronger acting & less-stereotypical than many of his roles. (I’ve seen like 90% of *all* of his films- from the horrible (to me lol) early ones to the opulent recent pieces.. sometimes spending many hours with BFs translating films too old to find copies with subtitles in Angrezi-speak bc my Hindi is marginal at best lmao).. But then again, I tend to like pieces that bomb in India (of recent SRK films, I prefered Paheli & Swades to Veer Zaara, for instance- the latter of which I found long, pointless, drawn out & boring, as many have accused KANK of being- perhaps drama is more interesting when we have strong emotional ties to the subject matter? 😉

    At any rate, my take on Abhishek is that this is the first film in which I’ve seen him give an equally strong performance to SRK or Rani, and he was really wonderful. The lack of attention given to his (again, Western perspective here) abusiveness vis a vis spousal violence, or SRK’s character’s abuse of his own (nevermind the hair gel & fake glasses) child is as much of an affront for me to watch as the ‘marital infidelity’ subject is to Indians. Still, Abhi’s character was surprisingly sympathetic in his no-so-quiet desperation. This is the first Bolly film I’ve seen where I liked all the leading actors (not a big fan of the big B- so shoot me- loved him as some queeny fur-coat wearing naughty old man though, lol!), thought the characters were portrayed well (within the bounds/definition of the genre -which must be taken into account), & was thrilled by the (being a big fan of Rani too) ‘happy ending’. I’m so used wasting 3 hours only to find out SRK dies of some ridiculous illness or Amrish Puri kills the heroine lol. You cannot imagine the misery a ferengi feels watching the poor people who are in love separated in the end because ‘daddy says so’. It’s totally nauseating, disappointing & miserable to think you spend an entire evening watching a film, only to come across some utterly stereotypical/predictable/unhappy outcome time & again. And what that implies about the reality/social conditioning for the movie’s intended audience- I suppose that’s been the truly depressing part for me. Major Kudos to Karan again for moving the plot resolution out of the stone age.

    I was actually on pins & needles until the credits, after reading some erroneous online commentary that stated the couples would go back to their original partners in the end. I was expecting some miserable plot twist (many of which were hinted at, which another person in this commentary thread noted as ‘bad acting’ but seems a fairly deliberate part of the script, lol).. and was pleasantly relieved/surprised when all (to a gori) worked out perfectly well in the end 😀

  24. “aghast at the beauty” — is that a good thing or a bad thing?

    other than that one phrase, which made me furrow my eyebrows and wonder, i’m in agreement with all of what you say — and in awe of how you say it. well-written!

  25. Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna was a touching movie. Brought back pleasant
    memories and helped me walk down Nostalgia Lane. I have a feeling
    younger folk, who have not experienced the entire gamut of emotions in
    their lives, may not be able to relate to most of the messages. Older
    persons with a versatile string of personal experiences such as
    disappointment in love or in marriage, divorce, loss of a spouse or
    indulgence in forbidden love or other variations would like the movie.
    It is also a reflection of the society we live in today in the West.
    KANK may not have the same impact in India where many a time emotions are buried and not allowed to flower.
    Set in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania (Northeast) the movie seemed
    to be made for the desi living in the West with so many scenes of
    different seasons here, Metro North stations, Columbia University,
    Jersey city and American expressions being bandied about in abandon
    such as for example, father and son calling each other “dude” or other
    endearing ways of greeting buddies. Introduction of a brown Indian
    marrying a white person in America, which indeed has been noticed and accepted over several years now, is another indication that Karan Johar had the right pulse for the the real world. Big B comes through again specially when he dances with Abhishek in the walking stick act (I almost said “gov’ner”!). Rani Mukherji and Shahrukh Khan were commendable. Wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

    Raj Rangarajan

  26. Abhisheik did it again this time…
    But well….the people who totally rocked were Amitabh Bacchan and the lil’ kid arjun….
    the ‘lil kid’ was tooo cute for words and the scene btwn him and the other girl……(wotever his name is…..)
    Its a good movie on the whole but just a bit dragged (as usual)….;)

  27. What are u all on about??
    I think Shahrukh Khan was fantastic in the film, he gave the best performance and also looked gorgeous as ever.
    Even though he was the one having an affair, u still felt sorry for him rather than the others, and every time he cried it made you cry to.
    Shahrukh is the King of bollywood.

  28. Welcome back, Maja!

    Yeah, please have a great meal there the next time and I’ll live vicariously through your report afterward.

    If/when I get back to London, Rasa W1’s the first place I’m heading to.

    I’m going for a second viewing of Kabhi Alvida soon and am curious to see what I notice this time around…

  29. Abhishek was freakin fantastic in this movie, I’m glad everyone thinks so, not just me and my biased ways …
    The friend who went to see KANK with me also said Dev and Rhea’s son looks like Chicken Little, and that SRK can’t act but looks hot, lol. I had to agree with her but despite all its faults, I couldn’t help but love KANK wholeheartedly. The colours, the clothes, the scenery …! And I’m still at the stage where I love to see people throw their arms open in the middle of a football field and sing about love. There should be more of that kind of thing going on in real life, na? 😉

    Thanks so much for recommending the Rasa restaurant in London btw, unfortunately we ran out of time to go there, but I made a note of it and I’m definitely checking it out next time I’m there. The menu looks SO delicious!

  30. Nee, well, I guess we never go into a KJo film expecting to see how average folks live…

    Hey Sakshi, how’s the Tour of America going! Yes, no matter the quality of film, the company was good! I’ll catch up with you later about Omkara (it’s still running). Happy trails!

  31. Hey girl! Was watching this movie with you…atleast the experience was worth it. 🙂

    On the subject of performances…Priety was totally wasted. Just the way..Viveik was in Omkara. She barelly had any scenes in the movie..a movie were she was claimed to have given a performance of a life time.

    Both the Bachchans were the ONLY decent bits in the movie. I thought it was bold of Johar to talk freely about the ‘SEX’ bit in outside affairs, so shud be given brownie point for that.

    As for Shahrook…ahhhh the less said the better.

    Salman Khan Rocks !!! 😉

  32. I did like the film overall too.

    I actually thought Rani was pretty good – seemed like there were quite a few scenes that were saved by her presence, for instance, the first meeting between Dev and Maya. SRK is all jerky and distracting and generally looks like an actor uncomfortable/bored with the babble about soul-mates. Rani on the other hand, mouths the whole mohabbat/dosti BS will such conviction!

    Yeah, the nice-looking places that these two moved into post divorce had me wondering if I should consider teaching for a living! I tried to rationalize Maya’s with the alimony bit, but then again, would she have gotten anything given that she’s the one who committed adultery? Then I rationalized saying that since she’s supposedly a family friend of the Talwars, her folks probably left her tons of money.

    But Dev’s new digs…hmmm…maybe he was carrying on with the landlady on the sly? Hah – KANK 2. 😉

  33. CP, Quite a bit longer! And yes, there seems to be a general consensus that, whatever people may find fault with in KANK, Abhi’s receiving high marks all around.

  34. Azy, incredible!

    Lisa, thanks. I don’t know how Rani does it. And with multiple takes? If I cried like that my eyes would be so puffy the make-up crew would have use and entire tube of Preparation H and ice packs to try and make them presentable again!

    I must say one thing, that Shoefi mentioned in an email, and that I totally agree with, and that’s the way they portrayed the physical aspect of Dev and Maya, and Rishi and Maya. It was actually realistic, the scene with Abhi in particular, could have come from a Hollywood movie (except with a cutaway before you saw anyone’s naughty bits).

  35. Another wonderful review. Thanks Maria for making sense of it all!
    I agreed with much of what you said.
    The way little Arjun’s character was shunted aside, though, and treated with such emotional cruelty by his dad was really egregious.
    KJo may have his pulse on the connection between adults and their parents, but he has his head squarely up his arse when it comes to children.
    One other tiny complaint — is it possible for a person (Rani) to cry for three YEARS STRAIGHT?

  36. Kamla, thanks for your comments. Yes, it was a long film and stirred up a lot of thoughts and comments.

    Shoefi, girl, you really are obsessed with shoes, I didn’t even notice them, and I’m a pretty detail-oriented person!

    And yes, they both were able to live very well (though I was guessing Maya got a generous divorce settlement too).

    Aside from that, the other thought I had was “How much free time do these two have??” From everything you hear in the US, teachers are totally over-worked. Plus, I think most people having affairs are forced to rushed segments of an hour here or an hour there, whereas Dev and Maya seemed to have nothing else going on at all.

    I liked that Karan had the scene where Dev, Maya and Preity were walking (almost) into each other. People think Manhattan is so large you can easily get away with things like affairs, but it’s actually the opposite. When you least want to be seen, you’ll run into people you don’t want to. There were two guys in an office I used to work at who were having a long-term affair (and one was married with a college age son), and me, on a day off up at the Cloisters witha girlfriend visiting from overseas, as we get on the bus back to midtown, who gets on up in Spanish Harlem, but the very same two guys?

    And yeah, fair play to Preity, she was good in the scene you mention.

    By the way, did your head spin throughout the first half? I felt KJo was cramming SO much in, it was almost too much to absorb. I normally scribble copious notes when I’m watching a film, and I barely could write anything because there was so much being tossed at us in every scene.

    I’m planning to go with some of the NYC-based extras to a show in another week or so, and I’m looking forward to seeing it with a different set of eyes at least once more.

  37. I agreed with alot of what you said.

    I thought in bits it was good. I love AB big and small – like you said Big B didn;t come across as sleazy at all, though why all the hookers?

    Rani was boring, whiney but beautiful. ANd it seemed to me like she didnt even want to give Abhisek a chance. at all. which was sad – because I just couldn’t empathise with her character.

    Preity I thought did well. Though she was screechy, I liked how she took the news of her husbands infidelity and then gave him a good thappad. (Though was I the only one staring at her shoes in the scene where she tells Shah Rukh about her promotion on their anniv night?> they were hot!)

    Shah Rukh was very disappointing. I keep waiting for him to give a performance like he did in Hey Ram, Dil Se and even Swades – but to no avail. You can see his incompetence as an actor at the party AB throws for Kiron Kher. AB’s final one look at him just steals the scene.

    Little b was excellent.

    I thought it dragged abit at the end. Did they really need the title song a second time?

    Also, it looks like teachers and football coach salaries have been hiked. Did you see the pads those two moved in to?

    🙂 there. my inexpert thoughts on the film

  38. Maria:

    This post is a thesis on KANK. I guess you were ok with the film. I loved the AB v1.0 and AB v2.0 reference in the post….

    Thanks for writing this review.


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