Friday Classics: For Preity’s Birthday Week, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Her Most Interesting Role

Happy Friday!  I think this can legitimately be considered a classic, don’t you?  Not a perfect movie, but one that is also a little bit better and a little more interesting, and a little more memorable, than the run of the mill films.  And anyway, it’s Preity’s birthday week.

I remember when this movie came out, and I remember being disappointed in it.  I think most people were disappointed at the time.  It wasn’t the movie we were expecting, not from Karan Johar and this cast.  We wanted another Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham.  Or, to be more accurate, we expected another Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham.  This was too far off from what we expected to accurately gauge whether we enjoyed it or not.

To put it simply, we expected another Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, and instead we got Silsila.  Adult, complicated, heartbreaking, and a little bit bitter.  There were no easy answers and no good people and bad people.  It broke the cardinal rule of Hindi film, and suggested that sometimes things DON’T turn out all right in the end.

Image result for kabhi alvida na kehna

And what was most disturbing is that our actors, our pretty happy dancing singing Hindi film actors, also turned in adult complicated heartbreaking and a little bit bitter performances.  Top to bottom, they did an amazing job.  An upsettingly amazing job, making you wonder how they feel being in all those other movies where they don’t get to play nearly as interesting a character.

I’ll start at the top with Amitabh.  Partially a caricature, the randy flirtatious old man surrounded by call girls and sexy young things.  But at heart, something a lot more complicated.  A widower hiding his grief in shallow affairs, only able to connect with his son on this superficial level, and wise enough to see the truth everyone else is hiding from, that his son’s marriage is failing.

And then there’s Abhishek.  The guy who always has a smile on his face and refuses to face up to, or even admit, that he has problems.  Which just lets them grow and grow in his life and he refuses to hear what people are saying to him, refuses to try to be better or do better.

Rani, the co-lead of the film, is on the surface a typical heroine.  Mature, sensitive, kind, loves children.  But what makes it different is that this film shows underneath that perfect sweet heroine is a person with needs and desires and fears.  She wears the mask, because she is afraid to show herself or anyone else the truth, the truth that will ruin all their lives.

Shahrukh himself, of course, the center of the film.  And the most upsetting character.  He is wrong, he is mean, he is unpleasant.  And it’s not because he is hiding a golden heart, or even because of his hidden pain.  It’s because he is wrong and mean and unpleasant and not willing to do the work to make himself any better.

And finally, Preity.  Who I find most fascinating out of all of this.  Because she hasn’t done anything wrong!  She is doing the best she can for everyone around her, not lying about who she is but also not being selfish about it.  And, remarkably, the film lets her keep that, lets her know that even as her world comes crushing down around her that it is NOT her fault.  That she is the real “heroine” if virtue makes a heroine and deserves to get her reward in a happy life, a happier life than she had before.

(See her determinedly not letting her sulking husband ruin her fun?  I love it!)

Maybe the film would have done better and been better if it focused on Preity, the blameless one, instead of the other characters.  But then, it wouldn’t be as memorable, it wouldn’t be remembered the way it is.  And perhaps Preity wouldn’t have stood out as much, not if she was surrounded by purely “bad” people making herself shine through as perfect, instead of surrounded by complicated people with shades of grey.

The thing is, this movie is about people trapped in an untenable situation which is forcing them to do things they know and feel are “wrong”.  And Preity is the only one who resists that urge, resists doing anything she finds “wrong” no matter the temptation.  It makes her even more notable, to see how she is surrounded by weakness and remains strong.

Strong, but still herself.  She smiles, she dimples, she laughs.  She doesn’t play the tragedy queen or change into a depressed housewife, she is always still “Preity”, the actress persona of joyful happiness, and the character Karan wants her to play, unapologetic about her life and her person.

 

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Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna has a deceptively simple plot.  Two couples, both struggling with marital issues.  The husband (Shahrukh) of one and the wife (Rani) of the other become friends, and friendship leads to an affair.  They decide to end it and tell their spouses the truth.  Shahrukh’s wife (Preity) and Rani’s husband (Abhishek) both decide to end their marriages in response.  Shahrukh and Rani do not stay in touch or even see each other until over a year later.  At which point Rani learns that Shahrukh is divorced and runs to meet him, finally finding him in the train station where they used to meet, and he kneels down and proposes to her.

(Also, this wonderful song happens)

But what makes it complicated is the careful way in which these relationships are built so we see that there is no simple answer, some things just happen.  Preity and Shahrukh are best friends who decided to get married, they enjoy each other and have a casual happiness with each other, and are both happy with their small son and Shahrukh’s mother Kirron Kher who lives with them and helps out.  But then Shahrukh is in a car accident.  He can’t work any more, goes from a high powered athlete to a part-time children’s soccer coach.  And Preity, whose career used to be as good as his, is now the primary wage earner in the household.  Which she accepts without bitterness, and also without guilt.  She enjoys her job and her success in it, and also enjoys being married to Shahrukh.  He may have problems not being the “man” of the house, but she does not.  Besides a few small moments of feeling disconnected with her son.

Rani and Abhishek, on the other hand, grew up together.  Rani’s parents are dead, she feels like Abhishek and his father Amitabh are her family.  And Abhishek is passionately in love with her.  She doesn’t feel the same way, but agrees to marry him anyway.  Only to realize as time goes on that she loves him, but is not in love with him.  She sees him as a little boy she has to clean up after not a grown man and a partner, and is incapable of feeling sexual attraction to him.  It’s not Rani’s fault that she just doesn’t feel that way.  And it’s not Abhishek’s fault that he is so in love with her he was willing to marry her knowing she didn’t feel that way.  And Abhishek is still happy now, happy just having her around, doesn’t even care that she is unable to have children.  But Rani cares.

The female characters are so much more interesting than the male in so many ways in this film!  Rani is infertile, and she and Abhishek talk about wanting a child.  But what is not talked about is that she wants a sex life, a satisfying sex life.  Because that is not something a woman is supposed to say.  So she avoids the topic and avoids her husband and doesn’t examine her own feelings.

And Preity, what she doesn’t say, is that she knows her husband is putting his unhappiness on her, and she will not accept it.  She doesn’t say it, but she shows it, through every determined smile and brisk announcement, and putting on a good face for outsiders.  What she also never says, but shows that she knows, is that Shahrukh has never loved her as she loved him.  They were best friends, but she was the one who proposed to him, and she is the one who is in this marriage no matter what, while he is the one looking for an escape.

The affair starts with Shahrukh and Rani, finally, acknowledging the problems in their marriage and suggesting a partnership to help each other solve them.  Rani acknowledges that her sex life is a problem and looks for a way to improve it.  Shahrukh acknowledges that he needs to be more supportive and involved.  But it doesn’t matter what they do, their marriages are already broken.  They were broken as soon as Rani and Shahrukh found it easier to talk to a new acquaintance about their problems than their own spouses.

Abhishek has a similar problem, he can relate more easily to his father than to his wife, is more likely to look to his father for sympathy and support.  It’s not a cause of problems in his marriage, but it is a symptom of it.

But Preity, she has no one.  Her son is closer to his father than his mother.  And her mother-in-law would, presumably, always pick her son over her daughter-in-law. And so Preity keeps working, and keeps smiling and hides her pain away.  The one person in her life she could share it with, her husband, is the one who is causing it.  And so she shows it to no one.  Only, briefly, sharing her joy with Abhishek, a random stranger, when she thinks her marriage is having a rebirth and she is determined to make it better.

The triumph of the ending is the triumph of Preity.  Shahrukh goes to her to tell her what he has done and we, the audience, almost think she might forgive him.  She so clearly loves him and was happy at one point in her marriage (unlike Abhishek and Rani who were never happy), and they have a child, and she is the wife, the wife always forgives.  But, she doesn’t!!!!!  Karan and Preity remained true to the character they had built.  This woman can take care of herself and she can forgive a lot, but she also knows her own worth.  She will put up with a husband who doesn’t support her, a son who doesn’t know her, but she will not be cheated on, will not sink to that level.  She is the better person, she is the wrong woman, she is innocent.

I can’t help comparing her with Jaya in Silsila.  Jaya is similarly strong, refusing to reveal her hurt to the general public.  And she is brave in telling her husband that she has come to love him.  But she doesn’t slap him, she doesn’t leave him.  She doesn’t take a chance and branch out on her own rather than staying with a man who doesn’t love him.

(This song just makes you want to slap Amitabh, doesn’t it?  Both in the film and in real life)

Preity takes that chance.  And is rewarded for it!  Perhaps my favorite thing about this whole film is when Kirron tells Preity that she is staying with her.  Preity isn’t alone after all, Shahrukh can’t take her family away from her.  All her lonely strength and struggle with a smile didn’t go unnoticed, and isn’t unrewarded.  Kirron stays with her, the real heart of the household, and her son stays with her too.  A working woman can still be a beloved daughter-in-law and a needed mother.  Even a woman who separates from her husband can still be a mother and a daughter-in-law.

And she is rewarded immediately.  While Shahrukh and Rani go through their lonely exile, and even Abhishek has his period of sadness, we see Preity smiling and laughing with her son, happier already now that she is not carrying the weight of an unhappy husband around with her.  She does not need a new husband or a new relationship to make her happy either, she is and always has been able to take care of herself, Shahrukh was more a burden than a joy.

At the end of the film, Abhishek has moved on and is getting married.  This seems right, he never experienced even a temporary joy in marriage, Rani was unhappy and out of love with him from the very beginning.  He needs that, a woman who loves and desires him, in order to complete himself.  But Preity, it seems right that only know at this wedding is she beginning to consider the possibility of a relationship with her handsome editor and good friend of many years Arjun Rampal.  She is not unlovable and she deserves to have that part of her life fulfilled.  But she doesn’t need it, not the way the other 3 leads do.  She is stronger than that, and wiser than that.

At the end of the film, Preity is the only character who was and is wise enough not to be stuck in an unhappy marriage.  She kept going so long as Shahrukh was willing to stay with her.  She fulfilled her own needs and kept her promises to him.  But once he broke those promises, she threw him out.  She wasn’t like Abhishek, desperately trying to make a woman who was uninterested in him pay him attention, or like Rani desperately denying her own unhappiness, or Shahrukh bitterly acting out his misery instead of trying to resolve it.

Preity is also the best example of the meaning of the title of the film.  It’s not that Rani and Shahrukh are fated to be together and therefore can never say good-bye.  It’s that you can’t say good-bye, not really, to the people in your life you once loved.  Abhishek, he seeks out Rani and invites her to his wedding, having realized that she will always be a part of him.  But Preity and Shahrukh knew that all along.  They had a child together, they had a long life together, that will always be there and they will always care for each other.  One of my favorite moments in the title song is when we see Preity, happy, and Shahrukh looking on with a sad smile.  Sad for himself, but still happy for her, because their bond is never really gone.

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37 thoughts on “Friday Classics: For Preity’s Birthday Week, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Her Most Interesting Role

  1. I don’t remember being disappointed when I watched KANK for the first time. I liked it. And I even forced my husband to watch it few years later. But last year when I wanted to rewatch it, I found it terrible, and couldn’t finish. There are so many unneeded scenes, dialogues and stuff.
    You know those tv shows where they take a women with horrible make-up and trashy clothes and make a makover? When the woman wash all the mess off her face people are like: wow you are so pretty under the make-up. KANK is like those women for me. Beautiful story covered with unnecessary filmi mess.
    In my opinion Karan wasn’t ready to do this kind of movie in 2006. He wanted something different, something bold but at the same time he had still this idea of big sparkling hindi movies in his head. And you can’t make it work. At that time he still hasn’t recovered after his father death, and had people saying: your father would not approve this kind of movie. So he had mess inside him, and it shows.

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    • Yes, I was so happy to read his autobiography and realize he saw and recognized the same problems with the film that we all saw.

      My first reaction when I watched it was to want to remove the realness and keep the sparkle. I wanted Shahrukh to be less difficult and more charming, and a soapy reason for the marriages to fall apart. Keep the songs and the romance and all of that, but get rid of the unpleasantness.

      Now though, I can appreciate that it really was a different kind of film and a different kind of performance. I think Karan made something closer to the film he wanted to make with Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, a balance of songs and real emotions.

      On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 6:37 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters.I don’t mind flawed or selfish characters.It’s not just the cheating which is a no-no for me.None of the cast made me ‘feel’. The emotional connection which I expect from a Hindi movie was lacking here.I would have watched it with the same detachment if any of the characters -including Priety the most sympathetic one-was hit over by a truck. I feel that the movie lacks soul which I can’t say about any of Karan’s other movies.

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    • Interesting! Do you think if the plot had stayed the same but it had been filmed differently, more like Ae Dil Hai Mushkil for instance, you wouldn’t have had that problem?

      On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 8:37 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I don’t exactly know why I couldn’t connect with the characters.Maybe because they were all so detached and independent and would get along perfectly fine after some nominal rona-dhona?I don’t think that more suffering is the answer either.Certainly the musical numbers in KANK were jarring and too cheerful and didn’t fit the movie.But in Ae Dil hai Mushkil the music was just right.

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    • Thank you! I knew it was at least a year because of the seasons changing in the song, but I wasn’t sure beyond that.

      The first time I watched the film, I felt like that period of separation was “punishment” for them, but now I have come around to seeing it as necessary for growth, for everybody. Rani and Shahrukh had to live alone for a while to be ready to start their relationship together for real. Preity and Abhishek needed time to recover as well. Coming back together after 3 years also underlines the theme that you can never really say goodbye to these people, no matter what changes in your life.

      On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 8:53 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • It’s also what happens in real life! The rebound relationship, the affair that goes straight to marriage, doesn’t usually work out. Because it’s too hard to make the leap so suddenly from sneaking around and forbidden romance to boring every day life. If this film is giving life lessons, the lesson is “end the affair, and focus on your marriage”. In their case, that meant that the marriage ended too, but they still sort of focused on their marriage, at least ending it properly and finding closure, before moving on to a new relationship.

          On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 9:26 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • That makes sense. Plus when things start to go wrong, you would probably be blaming your affair and the person you’re with now about how you ruined a marriage instead of blaming yourself? I don’t know if that really makes sense…

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          • Yes, that completely makes sense! You would start thinking “I gave up my whole life for you, you had better put the dirty dishes in the sink!”, like that.

            Here’s an interesting thought. The way the affair plays out in this movie, two unhappy marriages, a couple that is a better fit and makes a connection outside of marriage, an affair, and then guilt and a decision to end it and tell their spouses the truth, and then the marriages ending, it could have all happened even if the affair WASN’T true love. It’s possible that the title song would have ended with Rani and Shahrukh realizing that they just needed a way out of their marriages and they weren’t really in love after all. It’s only during the title song, when they keep thinking of the other one for 3 years, that you know for sure it was love. Everything else before that could have just been bad marriages.

            On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 9:36 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. I’m glad you kept on with the idea of KANK being Preity’s most interesting role. She really is a functional adult in this movie–while being very likeable, and not self-righteous. Tough to get right. I’m sorry Kirron Kher isn’t on the movie poster. She is the heart of this movie for me. Her scenes with Amitabh are the only things that redeem his character as far as I’m concerned (and a couple of his with Rani). I think some of the messages of this movie are that love doesn’t automatically make someone a better person, and that erotic love can be scary, irrational, and unpredictable. In Shah Rukh’s case, the lesson might be, “even assholes can love, and need love”. I respect his 100% commitment to playing a jerk in this movie–he doesn’t flinch from being right on the edge of abusive to those closest to him–a couple of times over the edge when it comes to his son.

    A couple of thoughts I had while reading this. I disagree that Shah Rukh is close to his son. He is more physically present than Preity, but has no interest whatsoever in who his son is, and mostly just uses the son to vent his anger and peevishness. Thank goodness Kirron is there to unconditionally love this little boy, otherwise he might have been really screwed up. Also–I wonder if, consciously or not, the film makers made Dev such a bad dad (even on his good days he’s not the greatest) because that makes it more acceptable for him to be with a woman who can’t have kids. (Of course they could adopt.) May be a stretch, but it just occurred to me. I’ve never really gotten why it was necessary for the character to be so mean to the kid, so maybe I’m just reaching for a reason.

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    • Interesting with Kirron being the heart of the film. It goes back to my favorite part of the ending, that Kirron choices Preity over Shahrukh. If she is the heart and moral campus of the film, then it is clear who is the one “right” character in the movie. Actually, both in-laws choose the daughter-in-law over the son, Amitabh encouraging Rani to leave the marriage if she is unhappy. An interesting statement on marriage in a way, that the in-law bond can remain and the love can be unchanged, separate from the bond between husband and wife. Which rang true for me, I have certainly seen that in real life, parents-in-law who remain close with their children’s partners post divorce. Not always, but it can happen.

      What I found interesting with both Rani and Shahrukh’s characters is that the unflinchingly unpleasant way they played them (yes, Rani too, hers was more passive. but she was still very difficult to live with). They were culpable in the breakdown of their marriages, not the innocent victims of unloving spouses as these characters are usually played. And yet there was a soulmate out there, someone who would be a perfect fit in their life. My sister always compared this to Dil To Pagal Hai if Madhuri and Shahrukh had met later, which is completely accurate. Both women pressured to marry the son of their foster family, both men feeling pressured to marry the woman who they like but don’t like-like because she loves them so much. It’s not exactly an arranged marriage, not in the “marrying a stranger” kind of way, more just a marriage because you don’t think there is anything better out there. And just like in Dil To Pagal Hai, the problem was that they had a soulmate out there, someone who was just right for them, which would blow up all of these “Settling” plans. But unlike in Dil To Pagal Hai, they aren’t perfect wonderful people that anyone would love, they are difficult and unpleasant and unlikeable. But they still have a soulmate somewhere. That’s why I find that train station proposal scene at the end so moving, they are broken and old and cynical, but they still find within themselves this fantasy romance just like anyone else would have.

      For Shahrukh and his son, I saw it as him taking his unhappiness out on the boy. Which, no duh. But with the large message of “sometimes divorce is good”. As in, yes he was a less present father post-divorce, but a much happier one. We saw that, when he really focused and stepped up he could be a good Dad, it was just the daily grind of disappointment in his life that made him forget how to be a good father. After the divorce, he was better and Preity was better and it was better for their son to have them apart and happy then together and miserable.

      On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 10:24 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I meant to say in my first response–I agree that Kirron choosing to stay with Preity and her grandson, and the way she kind of asks permission to stay, are so wonderful! Good point about all the healthy messages KANK sends about love between parents-in-law and kids-in-law being possible, and transcending the marriage to their children. My paternal grandma was close with my mom long after my parents divorced. Grandma (a small-town Ohio lady to her core) would say, “He divorced her, I didn’t!”–which would make my mom roll her eyes, but also smile. Especially because the divorce was ALL my mom’s idea, lol.

        Agreed that Dev is a better parent after he and Preity separate. And I like your idea about all of the main characters still caring about each other, and better able to be happy for each other, once they’ve all moved on from the bad marriages.

        Rani would indeed be impossible to live with. I think that I find Rani so beautiful it is hard for me not to like her, haha. I was thinking that I’m glad she ends up with Shah Rukh as the perfect partner in Paheli, because in Chalte Chalte and KANK he’s got serious anger issues!

        Interesting comparison to DTPH. I’m glad that Abishek and Preity don’t get together in KANK, but I hope that Akshay and Karisma end up together after DTPH. 🙂

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        • When I first saw the promos for this movie, I was sure it was going to be Preity and Abhishek having an affair, and then Shahrukh and Rani finding comfort with each other. I’m really glad it didn’t go that way, first because I like the idea that Preity and Abhishek had to go out and find themselves and then find the people they are really meant to be with instead of just neatly tying up all the loose ends. But also because it was kind of playing with the audience expectations! The wild cheerful event coordinator guy loved his wife and was entirely faithful to her. The bouncy ambitious clubbing career woman was all in in her marriage. It was the old-fashioned stick in the mud guy, and the homebody sweet teacher, who had the affair.

          On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 11:15 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Yes! And I like the idea that Preity and Abishek are bonded in a way by the painful experience they shared, and are still good friends three years after it. Even though Shah Rukh fans (well me, anyway) find it annoying that Karan intercut the hotel room scene with Abhi and Preity dancing, it is playing with those expectations again. People seeing Abhi and Preity having fun together at the club could be judgy, while the real transgression is going on out of sight.

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          • Exactly! Being outgoing and modern and westernized and being traditional and silent and introverted are totally unrelated to being happy or unhappy in a marriage, and cheating or not cheating.

            Another advantage of the 3 year gap is that it might make it easier for everyone to remain friends, or at least friendly, despite the affair. Shahrukh is always going to be part of Preity’s life because they have a child together, and Abhishek made it clear that he wants Rani back in his life as a tie to his father and his family that he doesn’t have from anywhere else. But could Rani and Preity or Abhishek and Shahrukh ever be able to be together peacefully if there hadn’t been those 3 years between? Making it clear that they aren’t the “reason” the marriage failed, there was something else happening too?

            On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 12:32 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • You’re right about Amitabh being emotional. It seems like he really needs to trust a director before he can open himself up in that space. And now, with all the aging-Amitabh gravitas, it is easy for him to be used as just sort of a God on a Mountaintop role instead of a real person. Baghban is the film that really sort of breaks down the strong perfect Amitabh to a human level in a way that is heartbreaking.

      On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 11:23 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Thank you for shining your spotlight on one of my most favorite Hindi films, or more accurately, one of my most memorable experiences of witnessing my own thoughts and emotions interplay with the film as it unfolded itself to me on the big screen.

    I suppose we all see what we want to see in any film, so if something resonates with you, then that resonance can overshadow any flaws.

    I walked into KANK expecting something grittier than K3G, and that’s exactly what we got. I mean, just look at the movie poster. The foreboding grey blue sky of winter, everyone dressed in black and somber colors, all serious somber facial expressions and body language, and everyone except preity all bundled up in winter clothes. That’s not a poster that screams “masala entertainer” or even “rom com”. The poster says “relationship drama among adults” (as opposed to “coming of age story”, which so many Bolly romances are). My concern, from the poster, was that it looked like KJo was going to attempt foraying into Mahesh Bhatt territory, king of the personal but overwrought, over-plotted, melodramatic relationship drama. So I was worried that this movie would veer into soap opera territory. Instead, I was so happy and relieved to realize that KJo kept it reined in and was giving us such a balanced film.

    As for all the masala-ness interspersed throughout the film, this was 2006, so masala relief elements, like club songs, uber-choreography, lip syncing, cameos, and comic relief characters & elements, were just the accepted and understood language of even the best Indian commercial films. Bollywood has evolved so much since then that this movie feels so dated now, despite so much about this film – the stories, the acting, the cinematography – is as fresh as ever.

    Most people who I knew that didn’t like this film, didn’t like it for a much different reason than K3G nostalgia. They felt the movie accepted if not condoned extramarital affairs, and that it condoned if not advocated for the breakup of unsuccessful marriages. I don’t think the Indian or diaspora audience was ready for that in 2006, esp from KJo. But I thought that K2H2 already telegraphed KJo’s interest in messy relationships and life choices, I.e. Rani’s death was really just code for the inevitable divorce or dead marriage, and KHNH only heightened this.

    I know a lot if ppl were annoyed with the “SrB doing his best Johnny Lever” relief character, complete with comical musical sound effects to cue audience laughter. But what I struggled with most was SRK’s showy overacting in his role. I don’t mind that he wore his bitterness on his sleeve and that his acting was so physical, but he was chewing the scenery a bit, making it difficult to concentrate on the scenes as a whole. KJo should have edited or redirected SRK a tad.

    Another reason I enjoyed the movie is that I have been all 6 of these characters (incl kiron and SrB), and I have been in relationships with all 6 of these characters, at various points of my life. No extramarital affairs per se, but there are ways to “cheat” on a marriage besides physical intimacy with another human.

    Finally, I really enjoyed how realistic the clothes, the homes, the mileus were in this film. It wasn’t cinema verite, it still provided some level of aspirational fantasy, but it wasn’t OTT. People with these careers and these incomes would wear these clothes and live in these homes. The coffee shops, park benches, living rooms, work spaces, all felt right. My only beef would be that south Asian immigrants and first gens in the usa aren’t typically fashion magazine editors, pro soccer players, or even school teachers – these are the kind of “follow your passion” careers that second gen (I.e. grandchildren of immigrants) would foray into.

    A lovely film at its core. I agree with KJo that this film in particular deserves a reboot, retold in the language of modern Bollywood cinema, without changes to the actual story or characterizations. I think it could even use a sequel, like the Before Sunrise/Sunset movies, following the characters and their evolving relationships throughout their lives.

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    • You just blew my mind with the idea that K2H2 was supposed to be about a failed marriage, not a death. You are absolutely right! It kind of goes there already, with Rani’s awareness that Shahrukh doesn’t “really” love her and just won’t admit it, which is part of why she decides to leave him in death. But she could have just as easily left him and stayed alive, after realizing that something was missing in their relationship, Shahrukh’s guilt and obsession with “one love” works almost better as an ex-husband who is determinedly clinging to the idea that he can’t remarry, and Rani’s helping him to get together with Kajol also makes complete sense if she wants him to understand finally why their marriage failed. It even fixes the uneven power dynamic, it’s not that Kajol had to grow up and stop being a tomboy, it’s that Shahrukh had to grow up and stop just looking at the surface of things and realize that what he felt for Rani was an allusion.

      I am fascinated with the way Karan deals with relationships, he seems so interested in drawing those fine lines between them in a way most other directors don’t. It’s not just “love” versus “hate”, it’s a particular kind of love versus other kinds of love. This film is maybe the pinnacle of that, because there are so many varied relationships overlapping between everyone. Even the way Kirron and Amitabh interact, I find fascinating.

      You are right about the clothes! It was the same in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Very nice interesting clothing, but also the kind that people would wear just walking down the street. And in My Name is Khan too. He talked in his autobiography about how he was different from his filmi friends because he came from the real world and they were excited by how he knew the way people dressed and spoke in that world. I notice that most in his overseas set films. Gorgeous coats and outfits and so on, but just the nicest version of what they would be. And the same with apartments and houses and everything else, like you say. It’s yet another thing he shares with Yash Chopra. Yes, the clothes are amazing, but they aren’t the sort of “wearing a party dress to college” ridiculousness that other directors have. They are legitimate upper middle class outfits, appropriate for the situation.

      I’d love the idea of a sequel! I wrote my own, but I want to see what Karan would do with it too. I don’t want to see Rani and Shahrukh break up or anything as predictable as that, but I would like to see Rani and Abhishek navigating a new relationship as siblings (people with a shared childhood and shared parents who they have lost), and Preity somehow managing to make her peace with Shahrukh and Shahrukh able to be sincerely happy for her.

      On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 3:41 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Thanks for your response. Thinking about the sequel, do you think that KANK suffers from the same “KJo throws in a death” and “KJo doesn’t know how to end a film” tropes that his other films get criticized for? I think the death in this film is the most obvious and natural one of all his films. And I was satisfied with the ending, though I would argue that it was a bit too “tying up loose ends”. I would have preferred promising endings with slightly less closure. Like Abhishek in a passionate relationship where they are demonstrably into each other, but not yet engaged. Or the Rani SRK reunion ending with a clinging-for-dear-life never-ending embrace, then walking away hand in hand, but no proposal. That would have felt complete without feeling contrived. Plus, this would leave more room for play in a possible sequel.

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        • I think this death was definitely natural, as were the complications from it. All it did was remind Rani of how much Abhishek needed her and how it would break him if she were to end the marriage. Which weren’t things that happened because of the death, it’s just what reminded Rani of it. I think she would have gotten there anyway, she wasn’t ready to confront what she would be doing to Abhishek by leaving him, something would have made her think about it sometime.

          My problem with the ending is all the coincidences. If Rani hadn’t happened to run into Preity at Abhishek’s wedding, they never would have met again. Really? That’s the only part that feels unearned to me, that feels like filmi magic. They could have just changed it slightly, had Rani and Shahrukh agree that they shouldn’t even think about each other and should focus on their marriages no matter what, and then years later have them google each other, or Rani sees a thing in the newspaper about him being the new coach for whatever team, or something like that. I just hate the “we will both lie in that last phone call and then bump into each other years later by total coincidence” idea.

          I also have to say that I like the proposal. That part of filmi magic works for me, because it feels like it is a reasonable decision, after all their loneliness and unhappiness they want this magic and romance, Shahrukh would want to give her the romance and she would want it from him.

          On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 10:05 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I don’t like Priety’s character either, all 5 of them are pretty awful. Not saying it would be easy or pleasant living with such a grump but I find her so condescending to him. One of his biggest problems is he feels disempowered and she is a big contributor to that. There is resentment on both sides – why would you want to stay with a man who treats your child so viciously anyway?

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    • I think part of Preity’s strength is also her weakness. She isn’t someone who is going to be made to feel guilty, or sacrifice for no reason. Which is something I like in her as a character. But it makes her a terrible match for Shahrukh’s character, someone who needs to feel needed. Obviously it was fine when they both had successful careers and fulfilling lives outside the home, but once Shahrukh became homebound, he needed a partner who would aggressively build him up, and that just wasn’t something Preity’s character could do. At least that’s how I saw it.

      On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 3:59 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Film Reviews | dontcallitbollywood

  7. This movie was a little messy. I think the issue was it had leads whom you just didn’t connect with. SRK’s character really didn’t have anything uplifting about it, and for me was what I hated most. He’s not a good husband to even begin with (he and Preity aren’t in sync even then, but its ok as long as its going well). He also then goes on to become a really awful father. I didn’t even realize SRK could play unpleasant so well. And Rani is pretty whiny as well.

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  8. This IS a messy film~in part because I don’t think Karan really knew what he was doing here. I think he made the same mistake many writers make in writing about people & events & emotions of they have no experience.

    As far as Dev goes~he had clearly planned his entire life around one career~A League professional soccer player. He had no fallback position because it had never occurred to him that he might need one.

    Once the accident took away that career~and at the precise moment he had attained his dream~he was completely & utterly lost. He had married Rhea because she also was a ‘topper’ and their lives were laid out in front of them as one success after another. She even said to Maya that the day their son was born was the happiest day of his life~another success. But we never see him with his son when he is happy & a success~only when his life has been destroyed by this act of fate. True he was not happy in his martiage to Rhea when he met Maya on her wedding day~but he had no intention of doing anything other than soldiering on in it.

    Maya NEVER should have married Rishi. They were just too different. I see why she did but their relationship was doomed from the start. Whereas Dev & Rhea’s wasn’t. It just required success on both their parts as far as their careers went.

    Sam has to have been the most disgusting character I have ever seen in a Hindi film. He was SO slimy. And none of the justification for his creepiness rang true.

    Dev’s mother was probably the best of the lot. But I understood how Dev fell into an affair with Maya. She was as damaged as he was & as unhappy. I found Rhea superficial & self-centered~not as noble as you did. If Shah Rukh hadn’t looked as hot as he did the whole film would have been less interesting for me.

    But even I was disappointed in him in the very last scene at the train station when he asked Maya to share his incomplete life. He hadn’t learned all that much after all in those 3 years.

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    • Now you’ve got me thinking about it, and I think you are right about Shahrukh and Preity’s marriage, but also that it was doomed. Because no one has perfect success without any problems. At some point something would have gone wrong. Maybe it would have been another 20 years down the line, Shahrukh’s career starts to trail off due to aging, and he becomes bitter and has a hard time supporting Preity’s success. Or Preity loses a big promotion and Shahrukh isn’t there to comfort her and she disconnects from him and starts hiding her feelings. They were always on a tenuous footing, it just happened to be Shahrukh’s injury which revealed it.

      And meanwhile, like you say, Rani and Abhishek just shouldn’t have been married. They were never going to be a good pair.

      On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 6:59 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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