A Nostalgic Re-Living Of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna
On August 11, 2006, Karan Johar’s cinematic offering Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (KANK) released – and drew a plethora of mixed reactions. Perhaps because the movie dealing with marital discord and dissatisfaction was way ahead of its time (remember how Silsila was initially looked at with questioning eyes and then, years later, lauded as a thought-provoking movie?) Perhaps because K-Jo, stepping out of his comfort zone of beautiful happy-ever-after relationships made audiences sit up and think of uncomfortable nuances in marriage. Perhaps because a large part of the audience could not fathom why a married Maya Talwar (Rani Mukerji) could be attracted to an emotionally, battle-scarred Dev Saran (Shah Rukh Khan), especially when she was wedded to a much-in-love with her Rishi Talwar (Abhishek Bachchan).
I watched it, and I will not hesitate to say, more than once – and not just because I rarely miss a movie that has K-Jo’s name in its credits. The quadrangular relationship was interesting. In its own way it proved that the heart has its reasons – and works in ways unknown to and unexplained by the human mind. Logically, Maya and Rishi should have stayed together, produced good-looking kids (just look at their gene pool in the movie) and made for a fairy-tale ending. But life is often not like that. And Karan in his creative way showed us that. He explored the grey area of infidelity – and left it open to us, his audience, to interpret if, in this context, it was justified or not.
The actors played their roles with a fair degree of conviction. Shah Rukh – steering away from his popular Rahul and Raj avatars – brought the physically damaged ex-soccer player Dev to life, a frustrated man who is unable to tolerate the success of his wife Rhea (Preity Zinta). Hats off to Preity for so easily becoming the successful fashion magazine editor – a strong contemporary woman who courageously chooses to jettison her errant husband from her life. If only many more women were like her – the no-nonsense tolerating kind.
In supporting roles Amitabh Bachchan – as Sexy Sam, Rishi’s father – and Kirron Kher – as Kamaljeet Saran, Dev’s mother added their contribution to the development of the plot. Although both loved their offspring with parental dotage, their attitudes when the marriage unravelled were definitely not run-of-the mill. For the dignified lady chose to stay with her daughter-in-law and on his deathbed Sam urged his daughter-in-law to leave his son and seek happiness. Society needs many more of these minds to make a difference.
The music, like in all Dharma Productions, was hummable, to say the least. Mitwa and Where’s The Party Tonight were on my phone’s song tunes for quite some time.
Perhaps, today, more than a decade later, a younger film-going audience will grab instantly what Johar was trying to portray. Perhaps not – beyond the major metros and the urban educated set. But, I can only hope that girls and women today have gone beyond age-old stereotypes to realise, search for and find what their hearts desire.