Delightful headline - no it's not mine. That's the verdict from Hindustan Times. Kabhi Alvida na kehna had record first week collections - especially overseas . So commercially it's a 'success'. But, says HT, 'the man on the street is not convinced'.
"A good launch timing with plenty of holidays, and the film turning out better than the low expectations generated by the mixed reports has kept KANK going," says Adlabs chief Manmohan Shetty."People will however not see it a second time."
So I guess I was not far off the mark. A Karan Johar directed production cannot be a 'flop' but I think he underestimated his audience. Yes, SRK and Rani leave their spouses - but the way in which they go about it can hardly be described as 'bold'.
Some of the more ridiculous aspects of their 'relationship':
- Their friendship is based on the premise that "we will help each other save our respective marriages". I think this is pretty unnatural. I mean you don't just connect with a stranger and share your personal problems. Yeah I know - that scene where Dev meets Maya, the bride who's having second thoughts. But, really. It's just too filmi.
In real life, a man and a woman may connect. Become friends. And then one day share deeply personal things, or ask for advice. Dev and Maya behave as if they need an excuse to even be friends.
And what do they do all the while they sit in those New York cafes... Just discuss each others spouses? We, the audience, have no idea.
- The ridiculous schemes they come up with to help each others marriages. The manner in which Dev gives Rhea a 'massage' makes it clear he has no love for her. He has so much anger and resentment inside him - and it shows! In fact, even the one conversation he has with Rhea before his accident shows some amount of irritation towards her. That is compounded after his failure as a footballer.
From what we see of Dev he is suffering from a classic case of clinical depression.
On the other hand the scene where Maya comes in blindfolded from the S & M store to seduce Abhishek is quite hilarious. But, Abhishek isn't the one who needs to be turned on. She is the one who is uninterested. Given that Maya was Rishi's friend for years before marriage, it's not clear why she is so indifferent towards him.
I don't subscribe to the view that "Oh, he loves her so much, he is so dishy.. how could she ask for anything more?" The truth is someone who appears perfect can be difficult to live with (too much love can be smothering/ controlling). But the film fails to bring out that - or any other - reason.
- If Dev and Maya are 'soulmates' why do they go back to their spouses? Sexy Sam has already told the bahu: "In aadhi adhoore rishton ko chood do.." Leave my son, you can't be happy - or make him happy this way. A bold statement by a man on his deathbed.
But then what do the lovebirds do? Tell their respective spouses "I had an affair... it's over now... I'm sorry." Straying and then staying in a marriage - understandable. Except that these two feel so little for the spouses we're not sure what's keeping them back. Especially since they live in New York - not Shiv Parvati co-op hsg society, Ambernath where 'tales will wag.'
But ok, given that they wish to 'save their marriage' - what was the need to go and confess? The result was that much expensive crockery is broken, after which both Dev and Maya are abandoned by their spouses.
Lekin did even that leave them free to get back together. Nope. They spend 3 years thinking the other is 'happily married'. Until one day the met office reports their collective tears may trigger a devastating flood in the tri-state area.
Dev and Maya get together with the 'blessing' and consent of their spouses. They 'pay' for their infidelity by spending these three unhappy years. Perhaps so the audience does not get the message that it's ok to khisko from a marriage that 'easily'.
The fact is anyone who leaves a marriage - even of it is for what they think is 'true love' - does pay. And more so if there are children involved. There are residual feelings, regrets and of course have to face log kya kahenge - at least for a while. And you would have to work equally hard to make the new relationship work.
It's just that the KJo style of depicting suffering is too lachrymose and by this point the bums of the audience are hurting...
However, all in all I would still give KANK 3 stars. Yes, three because:
- it does tackle a difficult subject, although in a flawed manner.
- parts of it are entertaining
- a fresh take on some relationships
eg when Kirron Kher asks whether she can stay with her grandson and Rhea after Dev leaves the house. That's teh very anti thesis of the scheming 'Kyunki Saas' mother in law!
Anyhow, battle lines are clearly drawn. Anyone under 25 and not married will find it difficult to relate to the film in the first place. Whereas the shaadi-shuda types will feel a connect - esp the conversations between Maya and Rishi on the need to have 'discussions' for example.
Lastly, two depressed people spending so much time on screen depresses the junta who has shelled out 200 bucks for a ticket.
Maybe KJo should have got Rishi and Rhea to fall in love instead. And explorethe fact that you don't have to be sad and low to get attracted to another person. It happens to 'normal' people as well.
Interestingly, while I was typing this I switched on NDTV and there was a special episode of 'The Big Fight' on 'Modern Marriage'. The panelists included Shahrukh Khan, Karan Johar, Shobha De, tarot card reader Sunita Menon, the owner of shaadi.com and a psychiatrist.
SRK, KJo and Shobhaji hogged most of the limelight and surpisingly, the discussion was really interesting. SRK is fantastic as a speaker and could easily get into politics (but is too smart to do so!). Lucky man is also one of the few in Bollywood who boasts he is 'very happily married'.
Sunita Menon had this to say,"80% of the people who come to me have relationship problems. 50% of these are related to infidelity... Women are more perceptive and easily come to know when their husbands are having an affair. Yet, they come for advice on how to keep the marriage together."
For the sake of lifetyle, or children, or love. "Because this is not a big enough reason to end a marriage."
Both Sunita and Shobha believe infidelity is 'everywhere' except in case of lack of opportunity. Sunita declared,"I think everyone would do it if they were sure about not being found out."
Of course no conclusions could be reached on whether it is better to stay in a marriage for the sake of the kids- or not. Shahrukh Khan summed it up:"At an emotional level.. you would want to stay, at an intellectual level you think it's better to leave..." There is no black and white, just shades and shades of grey - each one has to choose their own shades and paint their own picture.
No wonder at the end of it all an 18 year old in the studio audience observes,"Good marriages seem to be an exception.. should I marry at all?" That is a question many in the current generation are asking. The answer, largely, remains a 'yes' but often without enough commitment or belief in the institution. Many more Devs and Mayas in the making!
All in search of 'beinteha mohabbat' - whatever that is! Does mohabbat leads to compatibility or compatibility leads to mohabbat - that remains the eternal question.