Happy Salman Week! Salman in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Leading from the Heart

Oops, I forgot to put up a post yesterday!  Oh well, no one is reading these anyway.  But I still feel bad, so I will put up two today.  First, Salman in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai!

Salman’s character is so brilliant in Kuch Kuch.  We never learn much about him, but we don’t need to know much about him.  He is in love with Kajol, and also a little bit in love with Shahrukh, and Little Anjali and Reema Lagoo (okay, A LOT in love with Reema Lagoo).  We don’t know how he met Kajol, what he does for a living (to be fair, we don’t know what anybody does for a living in KKHH), if he has any family of his own, any of that.  Because that would just blur the issue.  All we need to know is that he is handsome and charming and happy and very very in love with Kajol.

(Yes, this is the best version I could find.  Sony is evil and mean and only makes some of the songs available on youtube)

Kajol has a decision to make in this film.  Will she hold out for her one true love Shahrukh, or will she settle for Salman?  But Karan wanted to design her decision so that it is purely between two kinds of love, not anything else.  And so Salman has to be immediately as charming, handsome, wonderful as Shahrukh is, even in those first few moments when we meet him.  This isn’t a simple decision of “should I marry the mean rich fiance or the nice loving poor man?”  Both men are equally nice, equally young, equally rich/poor.  We even see the two of them together at the same business conference, so we know they are at an equivalent professional level, there is no social advantage to marrying one over the other.

There is only one difference: Salman loves Kajol more.  That’s the brilliance of casting Salman.  Because he loves HARD, and he loves BIG.  It’s a combination of the extravagant gestures, and our ability to believe that he really feels those extravagant gestures, they aren’t just for show.  Salman’s character is all heart and all love and he wants to give all of that to Kajol.  He doesn’t care that she doesn’t love him as much, he just hopes that some day she will love him a little bit.

Image result for salman khan kajol kuch kuch hota hai

Ultimately, Kuch Kuch is a competition between two kinds of romantic heroes at the top of their game, Salman and Shahrukh.  While Shahrukh is intense and clever and fast-talking, Salman is demonstrative, excited, happy in love.  You can compare their characters in DDLJ and Maine Pyar Kiya and see the same thing, one hesitates and holds back and thinks about what is happening and tries to control it, the other rushes in without thought, letting his feelings rule his head.

That is the conflict in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.  It’s all about Shahrukh thinking too much, essentially.  While Salman loved Kajol, wooed Kajol, waited for Kajol, and won Kajol, Shahrukh was off there stuck on step number one, still not even sure if he loved her.  Kajol has the choice between a man who will do anything for her and one who will do nothing at all.

Even at the end, Shahrukh does nothing.  It is up to Salman to let his heart lead him into one final sacrifice, forcing these two people together since they aren’t able to force themselves.  Shahrukh didn’t love Kajol enough to fight for her, but Salman loved her enough to fight her own battle, even when it was against himself.

Part of what makes this film so feminist is that Kajol gets to decide for herself, even when  her decision isn’t really the best.  Salman is, clearly, the better choice.  He has no baggage, he has no shadow on his heart.  And he makes her happy (she smiles all the time when they are together) and makes her mother happy.  And he will do anything at all for her, from delaying the wedding to visiting her at camp, to hanging out with her old friend from college if she wants.  If the choice is simply between “who is the more loving caring potential spouse?”, then Salman is the clear winner.  But he’s not the one Kajol wants.  She wants difficult complicated slow to move and hard to read Shahrukh instead.  And so that is who she gets.

What I think works really well in Ek Tha Tiger and (hopefully) in Tiger Zinda Hai, is the way Salman let’s his heart take the lead so much, enough to sweep Katrina away with him.  It’s his love that wins out, that he forces her to feel, that convinces her to take a risk and have faith and leave everything.  And because he loves her so much, he wants to make her happy, and this time, what she needs to be happy is him.

20 thoughts on “Happy Salman Week! Salman in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Leading from the Heart

  1. I feel horrible for neglecting this community lately! I don’t even have my old “exams-grading-graduation” excuse, now that I am retired. But instead, I have been throwing myself into holiday fun and preparations like never before!

    Anyway, this really helps me like Salman and his character in KKHH better. I just wish he didn’t have those puppy eyes; not my favorite feature in either sex. I will try to concentrate on his giant heart instead.


    • I love Christmas soooooooooooooo much, so I really shouldn’t be complaining about everyone taking a break from reading my blog in order to enjoy it. It’s what I want you to do! Go off and be happy! And I will try to ignore that little selfish voice inside myself that says “but what about me? How can you leave me behind?”

      Which I guess is the same journey Salman want through in this movie, going from selfishly wanting Kajol for himself, to just wanting her to be happy even if it mean the was left behind.

      On Thu, Dec 21, 2017 at 12:29 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      • “just wanting [Kajol/SRK] to be happy even if it meant [Salman/Kajol] was left behind.” Yet another thing Salman and Kajol have in common in this movie! Shoot, now I’m thinking they should have ended up together after all. Except that she and SRK enjoy their fights so much, I guess she’s not someone who wants that much of a pushover.


        • Not to worry, Shahrukh will die in a few years, and then 8 years after that, their child will find letters from him directing them to reunite Kajol with Salman, and the pattern will continue.

          On Thu, Dec 21, 2017 at 12:43 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 2 people

    • He really was! Of the 3 Khans, Salman is by far the most traditionally handsome. He hasn’t aged as well as the other two, but he’s still got something there.

      Have you seen Maine Pyar Kiya yet? Just breathtaking in that.

      On Thu, Dec 21, 2017 at 1:45 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. It was the first time I saw Salman and I immediately liked him…it was indeed a very special appearance.
    I wonder what Aman would have done if he hadn’t had that (also rather special) conversation with little Anjali in the camp. He had already sensed that Rahul had strong feelings for Anjali but somehow I doubt that without little Anjali and what she had let him guess/know he would have taken the same decision. Although Anjali was Aman’s first love he reacted in a more mature way than Rahul and Anjali. I really admired Aman for his decision because what he showed was the love that wants the other to be happy and to be ‘his’ not in a possessive way but in the way of reciprocated love. I also liked that Aman did exactly what Anjali’s mom had told her: that one should put the feelings/heart above principles…and therefore Aman was a special man.

    Later, after I had watched more movies with Salman, I genuinely was happy that Karan had chosen him for that role.

    And now, as I know more about Karan, I think, that already in his first movie his focus was on the subject of unrequited love.


    • I like that they establish that Salman knows, in some way, that Kajol doesn’t really love him and loved someone else. He doesn’t know all the details, and doesn’t seem to care, but it also seems like he puts it all together pretty quickly, like Shahrukh was the missing piece in the Kajol puzzle he was already working on. He knew she was holding back from loving him for some reason, and with the help of Little Anjali he could see that Shahrukh was the reason.

      On Thu, Dec 21, 2017 at 2:47 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  3. I agree with your overall take, but how can you call this a “feminist” movie? The heroine does absolutely nothing to go after her desires/goals, and only achieves it in the end due to the action of another, and that, too, a man. Yes, he’s a very loving man, and a great guy, but still. Where’s her “agency, voice”, and what was the third item? I think Anjali showed a lot more agency when she decided to leave college and let the two love birds (SRK & Rani) do their thing.


    • It’s not an entirely feminist movie, nothing is, but overall Kajol’s character makes a lot of decisions for herself. And, my point here, gets what she wants in the end. she doesn’t have to settle for setting aside her desires in order to please the rest of society/her family. Salman is the choice that makes more sense in every single way, except that he isn’t the one Kajol likes.

      On Thu, Dec 21, 2017 at 6:40 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



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