Friday, June 6, 2008

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, or, I Can't Wait to Say Goodbye

Full disclosure time. There was never any way that I would be able to be fair to this movie, because I haaaaaaaate adultery movies (by which I mean movies in which adultery plays an important part of the plot) with the heat of a thousand newborn suns. I also haaaaate adultery books and adultery anything else that the world has come up with. I don't care how many rave reviews a movie gets from people whose opinion I respect, I am never gonna be able to calmly, rationally and objectively view a movie about an extramarital affair. I can too easily place myself in the shoes of the betrayed spouse, although, let me be clear, such has never happened to me. So I was never gonna watch it.

But. I have a friend who loves me and rented KANK specifically to watch with me because she loves me and knows I like Bollywood and Karan Johar. She waved it in my face and said, "Isn't this that Khan guy you like so much?"

"Yes," I replied, with a sinking, bitter heart.
And so I watched KANK, which translated means something like "Never Say Goodbye." It came out in 2006 and stars Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Preity Zinta, Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, and Kirron Kher. While I'm harping on injustice, why is Kirron Kher not on the movie poster? I want to know.

Dev (SRK) and Maya (Rani) meet on her wedding day. She's sitting on Karan Johar's trademark bench, dithering--pretty much the way she stays for the duration of the movie. He sits down and convinces her to go ahead with the marriage. Then, as they're walking away from each other, they each look back. True love cannot be far behind. After all, this is Bollywood.

Many years later, they're both NRI's living in New York. They both have failing marriages. Dev got hit by a car and can no longer be a sports star. Being the whiny, self-indulgent non-trooper that he is, he has let his bitterness poison his marriage to corporately successful Rhea (Preity) as well as his relationship with their little boy. Has he done anything with his life worthwhile? No. Will he? Nahiin! Meanwhile his mom (Kirron Kher) also lives in their miserable home and watches the disintegration of their union helplessly.

Maya is trapped in a relationship with a loving, faithful, extravagently affectionate husband, Rishi (Abhishek). Poor dear. It's really too awful. His old rip of a dad (Amitabh Bachchan, who gets the best lines in the movie) loves her like a daughter. Yet somehow Maya is incomplete and also doesn't want to sleep with her horndog hubby. I can feel my sympathy shrinking from miniscule to nonexistent at this point.

One day, Dev and Maya meet again. Under the paper-thin guise of "trying to improve our marriages," they strike up a relationship.
Dev-the-Dick with his most common satirical smirk, and Maya with her complete lack of personality.

To his credit, Karan Johar doesn't place the blame squarely upon any one character. All four of the spouses involved make dreadful mistakes with each other. All of them pour acid in the wells of their unions and all of them are cruel at one time or another. However, Rishi and Rhea are both such basically good people, that they should've been the ones to fall in love. It was hard to believe that two such unsympathetic characters as Maya and Dev could have an ounce of true love for anyone except their antibacterial hand lotion and soccer ball. Maya cries at the drop of a hat. Dev is just a huge wanker whom I wanted to get hit by another large vehicle so he would die.

Here's my unsolicited opinion (and if you don't want it, why are you reading?). If you're that unhappy, I think you should be honest about it. Either get counseling or get divorced. Don't lie to yourself and everybody else and embark on a relationship when you're not free to do so. I've only been married ten years, but I've learned that much. And yeah, I realize that might make me a judgmental jerk. So be it.
Well. This is awkward as arse.

By the end of this film, I was throwing couch pillows and Dove Miniature wrappers at the TV every time one of the two principles appeared. The final scene made me sigh in relief because at last, it was over (although it would've been better if someone had pushed Dev and Maya under a train after the climactic moment). My friend turned to me in utter confusion and asked, "Why do you like Karan Johar so much again?" At that point, I was wondering the same thing.

You can read a much more fair (and positive) review of the film here. Meanwhile, I will leave you with one of my all-time favorite fanvids, which makes much better use of the footage from KANK than the actual film did. (It's got some NSFW language in it so beware before you click play.)


  1. KANK really was pain-in-the-neck. Like you, I was really sorry for Rani's character being trapped in a marriage with a loving, caring and hot husband! lol And Shahrukh's character was a lot worse.

    Hey this video is awesome - it is certainly how KANK should have been... :-)

  2. Sigh. I really am the only one. Why? WHY?! I even read other people's negative reviews, and I'm like, "Yeah... yeah... that makes sense!" And yet whenever I hear that deliciously KANKy score, whenever I see SRK's wonderfully KANKy leg... I can't help it. I'm a KANKaholic.

    OMG that fanvid is wunderbar!

  3. Bollyviewer--I think pain-in-the-neck is the best way to put it. As well as pain-in-the-butt for how long I had to sit there to get to the end because, darn it, Karan Johar does know how to hook me into a story, be it ever so distasteful.

    PPCC--The only thing I found interesting about KANK was how KJo basically turned the KKHH "Love is friendship" thing on its head and morphed it into "Love is an inexplicable force." When Dev says at the beginning, "We decided to take our friendship to a new level," my ears perked up because this must be the statement KJo was going to make, right? Except, no. I don't think you're the only one, though... I've read lots of positive things about it elsewhere.

    And yeah, the girl who did that fanvid ROCKS. ;-)

  4. That is SUCH a smart video- brilliant timing. I am in happy awe.

    And it is a very fair review. In my own fantasy, very mean version of the story, Dev would be killed off the 1st time he was hit. Priety would cry a bit, then meet Abhishek and live happily ever after, while Kirron would meet and marry Amitabh, who would forget womanizing and not die. Rani's character could become a nun :B

  5. Shweta, I LOVE your version. I think you should volunteer your services to Karan Johar for the "My Name is Khan" project. Please, for all our sakes, keep it from sucking. ;-)

  6. First, ppc - I've read many a positive review in the BollyWHAT? forum thread for KANK. So such are out there.

    Second, I agree with ajnabi, though. I'm a huge KANK nay-sayer and also with a dislike or just disinterest of adultery films. However, when this movie came out, I was curious (probably thanks to the all-star cast).

    My biggest problem is that the film just seems so confused. The main protagonists are so one-dimensionally negative and annoying. Are we to hate them or to side with their love? Their personalities suggest the first, the way their love story is portrayed suggests the other. The discord there is obvious. They're just not the kind of characters I cheer for, and I think KJo underestimates the audience by making them out to be these horrible, annoying people. The Indian audiences can swallow adultery, but the confusion of portraying these unpleasant people as the couple we should side with ultimately doesn't lead to "ohmygod, what wonderfully complex human relations!", it just makes me want to turn the movie off.

  7. veracious, that's a really good point about the confusion. It's like KJo couldn't decide whether or not understandable adultery could really happen, unless the two adulterers were so unsympathetic that obviously they didn't deserve any better than each other. At least it saves me the trouble of actually having to think about the film as opposed to reserving it for my "unadulterated hatred" list. LOL

  8. Confusion is the right word since many things have been muddled in this movie. For me the most irritating thing beside the both “soul mates” was the embarrassing inconclusiveness with regard to the movie style. As far as I know, Karan Johar’s intention was to make a “serious” movie, but then he should have left those lavish city palaces, glamour parties, glitzy fashion magazines etc. beside and resorted to more serious settings and means of movie making. I have heard someone referring to KJo as to Leni Riefenstahl of Indian cinema – simply brilliant! As for his earlier movies, I don’t mind e.g. that bilkul desi palais in K3G because the movie itself is over-the-top, boisterous, and artificial and therefore it is perfectly clear that we are in Bollyland, and the things shouldn’t be taken too seriously. But KANK? Oh my God! Supposedly a serious topic, but no living people to deal with - only zombies in candy-floss. I loved the remark of Mira Nair made in an episode of “Coffee with Karan” telling you know, Karan, I really think that there are more Indians in New York busy with daily things like laundry than living in palaces, and so on. He couldn’t but agree.

  9. madaboutmaddy--thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I agree, the OTT visuals in K3G didn't bother me at all, but in KANK it all just added to the general irritation of the film. I think that KJo needs to find projects that marry his sentimentality with a real-world aesthetic, both of which were lacking in KANK as far as I'm concerned.

  10. PPC: i'm with you - all the negative reviews make sense, but that doesn't stop me from swooning when I hear the soundtrack, coyly eyeing the DVD from across the room about twice a month and considering watching it, and breaking down in sobs when abhishek says he has no one...

  11. summer, the scenes with Abhishek would have made this movie worth watching... If they were all by themselves. It's been months since I last saw the movie and I still start seeing red when I think of it. LOL

  12. Aw, I feel so sorry for your friend! xD She was trying to be nice, but brought you a disaster! *pats her*

    "I can feel my sympathy shrinking from miniscule to non-existant at this point." Lmao. Totally agree with you, here! I don't get Maya... Rishi is so sweet, and even though his dad's a bit of a creepy perve, he loves her, too. BUT, if she doesn't love Rishi... WHY DOESN'T SHE SAY SO?! Ugh. I'm sooo with you when you say you should be honest in a relationship... and this is coming from an 18-year-old who's never even dated before. xD

    I personally think those with failing marriages should be shown KANK and be told "Do YOU want to become a Maya/Dev?" And the shock and horror will either force them to patch things up and live happily ever after, or break things up and do the same! :p

  13. These characters are just so inhuman. I *think* he was aiming for "flawed-but-lovable" and instead ended up with "hateful-on-every-level."

    I think your idea for marriage counseling should be mandatory treatment for all unions on the brink. Our divorce rate would go as low as India's! LOL

  14. Spot on review Ajnabi!! I hate KJo movies, but still watched the previous ones to laugh at them and this stupid movie did not even let me do that!!
    I can totally understand flawed protagonists but I need to be able to at least sympathise with them, if not relate to them.
    This was one in a series of movies, which made me a Rani hater (not that I ever loved her in the first place!!) - a stupid character who could summon tears on the drop of a hat. Instead of feeling sorry for her, I only wanted to give her a tight slap and ask her to just shut up!!

  15. Rathi, I'm so sorry I forgot to respond to your comment. In fact, I don't hate most of KJo's movies; KKHH is a personal favorite and K3G is one of those things I love (to make fun of). However, I can't but agree... I need to understand flawed protagonists and where they're coming from, and I couldn't understand a thing about Maya and Dev. There was nothing with which to identify; their actions and attitudes were inhuman and unjustified in the narrative. And oh my Lord, was Maya annoying. I kept on muttering, "Shut! Up!"


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