Movie Review: Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna ...


By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service

Film: "Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna"; Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Shah

Rukh Khan, Rani Mukherji, Abhishek Bachchan, Preity Zinta, Kirron Kher;

Director: Karan Johar; Rating: ****

Sometimes you hold a film close to your heart not because the

characters embrace you, but for the opposite reason.

The four protagonists who colonise Karan Johar's marital romance are

so distanced from their spouses and their dormant desires, you wonder

why they got married!

Or, why any two people decide to opt for what many would say is an

obsolete institution in the first place!!

"Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna" (KANK) is indeed a definite sign of Karan

Johar's maturation as an artiste and a filmmaker. This is a film that

derives its inspiration energy from Karan's favourite filmmaker Yash

Chopra's interesting but abortive "Silsila".

Even more interesting is the casting... the role of the unfaithful

husband played in Chopra's film by Amitabh Bachchan has gone to Shah

Rukh Khan. A cranky bitter failed footballer Shah Rukh uses his wounded

ego as a battering ram to destroy his marriage to the career-driven and

yet domesticated Preity Zinta.

So far so cool! It's Abhishek Bachchan playing the utterly devoted

husband's role done by the dependable Sanjeev Kumar in "Silsila" who

hits the most honest notes.

KANK showcases the biggest Bollywood stars in roles of fatally

flawed spouses that normally would shake up the egoistic equilibrium of

our stars.

Hats off to Shah Rukh Khan for moving away from his Peter Pan image

to play a husband and father who's churlish and unreasonable -

believably so. Shah Rukh imbues the tough role with his inherent charm,

playing off his character's bitter sarcasm against the two female

protagonist's supple femininity.

Rani playing Abhishek's cold cleanliness-obsessed wife who comes

alive in Shah Rukh's company is the toughest character to play. A lot

of eyebrows are going to go up at her unpredictable and often cruel

rejection of a caring doting sensitive (etc, etc) husband for an

embittered sharp-tongued man who projects his frustrations on his wife

and timid 10-year-old son.

Walking the tightrope of caprice and unreasonableness, Rani plays

the most challenging role of the film with a calm conviction that

collects the scattered lives in this New York-based drama, into a clasp

of classy emotions.

But why is her relationship with her husband dead when he's equally

good in the head and the bed?

Some of the comic moments among the principal actors are evoked in a

borrowed giggle... The sequence where Rani barges into her home with an

eye mask determined to try some rough-and-tough stuff on her husband,

is straight from the serial "Sex & The City'.

But the emotions remain largely and gently indigenous. KANK is a

triumph of star-driven opulence. If at heart it's a clever take on

infidelity, on the surface level it remains to the end a very good-

looking film. Every technician from Anil Mehta (cinematography) to

Sharmishta Roy (production design) to (Niranjan Iyenger (dialogues) and

Javed Akhtar (lyrics) has striven passionately to furnish Karan Johar's

mellow-drama with a bedrock of aesthetic believability. The film looks

glossy and glamorous and yet believable.

Some episodes (for example the prelude where the bride Rani Mukherji

sits chatting with a complete stranger Shah Rukh while her groom-to-be

waits inside for the wedding) acquires unintentionally surrealistic


The search for true love (an ongoing obsession in the cinema of Yash

Chopra) takes the characters of KANK into self-destructive areas of

self-indulgence. Fortunately Karan Johar's journey into forbidden

territory is far more smooth and satisfying than his characters'

unattainable yearnings.

Karan Johar redeems and sublimates them through deft fingers that

knit the pastiche of pain and passion into palatable episodes of

varying sensitivity. Finally, the film moves the adulterous couple into

the 'safe' zone of self-sacrifice and martyrdom where they'd have

remained were it not for the couple's respective spouses (Abhishek and

Preity) getting together to encourage the 'forbidden' union.

It's hugely interesting to see how Karan Johar bends the rules and

reverses conventions. While Abhishek plays the devoted sincere husband

and son, his wife Rani and father Amitabh Bachchan are cold and

raunchy, respectively. Indeed Bachchan Sr's spirited performance as

'Sexy Sam' brings the house down.

But junior Bachchan in his anguished vulnerable moments with his

screen wife Rani steals the show.

A shimmering showcase for exceptional talent, KANK reveals the truth

about marital disharmony through vibrant and vital vignettes. Not all

the pieces of the trendy jig-saw add up. But who said the age-old

problem of marriage had easy solutions?

In his latest creation Karan Johar goes into a taboo territory. But

we don't come away after looking at fantasy creatures. Each of the

characters, from the chic magazine editor Rhea Saran (played with

endearing equanimity by Preity Zinta) to her earthy and practical mom-

in-law (Kirron Kher, who shares a wonderful platonic relationship with

'Sexy Sam')... the criss-cross of relationships formed among a clutch

of anguished Indians in New Yorkers besieged by domestic trouble,

refuse to leave your mind.

Love them or hate them. You can't easily forget these capricious and

full-blooded characters looking for love in a cold but non-judgemental

city of New York.

Love never seemed more desirable... and unobtainable. There's only

one death in KANK, besides, of course, two dead relationships. Rating: 3

What do you think of this movie? Comment below!