"I don't want to see Kabhi Alvida na kehna," said my daughter as the promos played on TV last night. "It has too much rona dhona."
Well, honey, I wasn't planning to take you to see it anyways. But the point is - much of the youth audience seems to share that assessment. Is it my imagination or is KJo trying a little bit harder than usual to get the audience to see his film?
Not only do we have the usual posters, telly teasers and an official 'making of KANK' on NDTV. Youth channels such as MTV and Zee Music have hour long features spread over the week. Suddenly songs like 'Rock n roll soniye' are getting airtime. As if to say - it's not that weepy, there is a fun element as well.
The fact is - for the very first time, Karan Johar is venturing into slightly unfamilar territory. The guy whose films defined feel-good and 'family values' is suddenly dealing with a subject which is very contemporary but will make people uncomfortable.
So what exactly is KANK about?
First of all, let me tell you that contrary to popular belief, KANK is not just about infidelity. It’s not a frivolous tale of just an extra-marital affair. The film delves into the grey areas of all relationships. It also tries to look at the reasons why people get married and also looks at the psyche of those who look for love outside marriage. They don’t have it easy; there is guilt and sadness there too. In a way, KANK is my take on modern human relationships.
But it is a Karan Johar film so...
"It is a human drama with glam and gloss intact but I have tried to keep it real."
In short - we have the KJo 'look' and 'feel' (the songs sound exactly the same! the actors are exactly the same!). But we are working with a subject which is taboo as far as big banner film makers go.
Yes, we once had a Silsila but I think there half the attraction was the real life parallel in the casting - with Amitabh, Jaya Bachchan and Rekha in the lead roles. And there, the folks having the affair realised 'what we are doing is wrong' and went back to their original spouses.
Is that what will happen in KANK? From what is being said by both SRK and KJo in interviews, I think the film plans to go further. And that is why the makers of this film are scared to death.
As Anupama Chopra recently wrote in NYT in a piece titled "Sex, Turmoil, Infidelity, Divorce: That's Bollywood?" :
"LEAVE my son," a dying man tells his daughter-in-law from a hospital bed. "You don't love him. By staying with him you are denying him of someone else's love and yourself of true love. These unfulfilled relationships won't make anyone happy."
Amitabh says this after he stumbles upon Rani Mukherji nuzzling Shahrukh Khan - both happen to be married to other people.
This is wholly logical but the trouble is how do you provide a 'happy ending'? In previous films KJo has resolved triangles by killing off one of the spokes (Rani in KKHH, SRK in K2H2). Unfortunately, killing off two people is a little more difficult and difficult for the audience to swallow.
You can't have a take on modern relationships which goes - strap up the other two spouses into one car and hope they either fall in love with each other or have an accident.
Here's what I think will happen: SRK and Rani will leave their marriages - and the movie will also show Abhishek and Rani finding love elsewhere (not with each other), after a period of time. In typical K Jo style, the whole story will probably be narrated as a flashback.
"Mohabbat aur maut - donon bin bulaye mehmaan hote hain..." goes one of the dialogues in the film. Whether this film will live or die at the box office is the big question.
The answer lies in SRK's own words: "I was embarrassed doing some scenes of the film. I am not a prude but I found it odd that I sleep with someone else's wife in the film. I felt shy doing them (the scenes) and I blushed while saying certain dialogues..."
If that's how we felt doing the film - you can imagine the effect of watching it on the typical middle class Indian. Who wants to go to the movies and come out feeling disturbed/ asking uncomfortable questions...
For all these reasons I think KANK will do reasonably well - recover its money - but not be a superhit. That distinction will go to Munnabhai Lagey Raho - whose music, trailers and promos promise a laugh riot, just like the original.
But all said and done, it's good to see KJo try his hand at a theme which is different and relevant to modern India. How different and relevant... in 48 hours we shall find out!