Saturday, August 19, 2006

'KANK tanks'

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 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.


  1. i just finished seeing it and was wanting to write an entry myself but you summarized it quite well. Good Review and I wud personally give it only 2 stars.

  2. Was really waiting to read what you feel about the `much talked about' movie.The post as usual is an interesting read. I really want to know what this 'beinteha mohabbat' is all me.

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  4. I am a victim pain-in-the-bum watching KANK, though I did not mind wasting 60 bucks for this movie.
    In fact I was just amazed by the upheavals of the first half, and for a moment I thought KJo had matured so much, albeit dangerously, to lose touch with the audience.
    But by the time the first half ended the movie (according to my opinion) was approaching a logical end. But hallelujah, there went the second part which was like an appendage.

    BUT anyways the two stereotypes or rather role-models of maya and rhea was wonderful and different.

    I wonder whether the above was an intended portrayal by the director or a consequence.

    Nice review, eggzactly said.

  5. kank's 1 movie ........ can say worst movie of this yr! lol ........ i regret spending 250 bulks 4 single ticket!!!! :(

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  7. Rashmi,

    Giving this movie 3 stars out of 5 would be too much :-).How much would you give, in that case,to 'silsila',6 out of 5 ??
    People might go to watch this movie,but as you've already mentioned,people won't go to watch this movie for the second time and mega-hit or hits are not just about being watched only once ,people go to watch them several times(atleast in India) which make them a mega-hit.So,in any case,this movie will fall short of expectations,with so much money spent on its making.

  8. Rashmi, nice post, and now I don't regret giving KANK a miss.
    And yes, the NDTV discussion yesterday was quite interesting. To add to the last line of your post: Compatibility leads to mohabbat, but Commitment and Communication keep it going. Thats what Shobha De and Co kept on discussing ad nauseam yesterday :)

  9. Good review...of the movie and the TV show. Thank you!

  10. found the movie to be crap and maybe dats coz i am just 22 and not married.. but it still was crap.. period.!!

  11. Rashmi,
    I think that the odds are in favour of compatibilty leading to and/or sustaining love..

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  13. Thousands of words for a worthless film. Here... let some pictures do the talking! :)

  14. Somewhere towards the end of the movie we hear in Shahrukh's voice that "the basis of a marriage should be true love, otherwise the marriage is standing on a faulty base and the chances of it breaking are more." I totally agree with it. What do you do when you come across your true love a little too late? Both Maya & Dev were in a marriage that was 'just ok';a marriage based more on understanding than on love. I could totally connect with them. What do you do if you are unable to fall in love with your spouse? Many arranged marriages in India suffer from this problem. It's another thing that the family and society in India form a pressure group that keeps these souls in line.

    I read somewhere that Karan has been true to the story. I feel that the whole bit where he shows the spouses having the last laugh and Preity going as far as saying that the three year separation between the lovers is the punishment for breaking houses was put there to appease those who might think that Rishi & Rhea were wronged. Batshit!

    Btw, KANK is a copy of Falling in Love, which stars Meryl Streep & Robert Di Nero.

  15. Kabhie Alvida...Kehnaa

    Mr.big B, DUDE you ain't funny ,you ain't funny at all but one thing is for sure your role is real embarrassment for the family audience.Big B is a letdown, not only is his character is over the top but it is very vulgar as well.And God knows whats with his Glasses, they are simply annoying, his relation with Kiron Kher,with them folding hands with each other is I think too wild an imagination (or am I too old fashioned!!!).Mr/Ms.Karan Johar should know that Indian audience is not that advanced.I feel Big B's role was nothing but a joke, a big joke.The film could have easily done without him.One must know that there are certain things which are still not acceptable in our matter how much we ape west,our thinking is not that forward.I feel Karan has taken the jokes too far, considering that he clearly knows his target audience is whole family and not just adults.

    Preity is plastic and just about manages to fill the screen, please go slow on that makeup babe.

    Rani again has a very complicated role which she does well in, but somehow I feel Karan was not clear (or sure) about her character, However its hard to imagine that Rani is unhappy with such a doting husband, actually one never gets to know why Rani is unhappy from her marriage, that is one of the biggest flaws in the movie, but that doesn't take away the credit she deserves for enacting this difficult role.

    Why is SRK and Rani so annoyed with the whole world, but somehow are happy with each other (which we even cant see or feel), is another drawback.

    I am also not clear about the scene where Rani wants SRK to share her problems " we are travelling in the same boat", she says (both of them were facing similar situations) now thats a bit too hard to digest considering Rani's character sketch, it would have been better if it was the other way around.( SRK saying to Rani)

    Film is a hit and as usual they are minting money, so whatever we say the purpose is solved.

  16. First of all, marriage is an alliance. If the persons concerned are incompatible , it is better to end it. We are in marriage for a happier life and not a compromised life. Broken marriage is not end of life. In any case life should be dealt with in steps.
    We are all humans and are prone to various emotions. and there is nothing wrong with it.
    By the way I have not yet watched the movie but saw NDTV fight. Will somebody tell me the conclusions of their discussions? I always think people skirt around the issue and never consolidate their thoughts in such discussions, and that is what happened here too.

  17. Shitij - "However its hard to imagine that Rani is unhappy with such a doting husband" - is it really hard to imagine that? Try imagining living a life with someone whom you don't love. It is easy to live such a life if the spouse is not a good person. But to live a loveless life with someone who loves you so much is very very difficult (given that you have a conscience). It is not enough that one person loves the other, for a relationship or marriage to work, the love has to be from both the sides. Rani's character made one mistake - she agreed to marry someone she knew well, but didn't love. Her mistake was compunded by the fact that this person loved her a lot.

    About Amitabh and Kirron's characters - I think they made a lot of sense.

  18. Candyfloss Emotions. This is KJo's attempt to give an impression that he wants to make movies with no "Archie" College Settings or crappy "Indian culture" sentiments.

    Well, what still remains true is that this chickflick is as superfluous it gets and goes further in demonstrating that the house of "Karan Chopra Johar Barjatyas" are totally incapable of producing anything more intelligent than the "Kabhi Humaaare Tumaaare Koun Hain Dil Sanam Mohabbat Na Kehna" movies.

    Its time KJo confirms the obvious and gets married to SRK and "settles" down with Sindoor on his Ma Huang. As for Gauri, well lucky many "modern" women can have such a great chance to escape !!!

  19. Kabhi alvida na DEkhna !!

  20. To my mind the film is less about real people in relationships and more about the sights and sounds of New England which apparently, is the film's USP.
    Me and my partner saw the film this past weekend in Kuwait City where mini-theatres did group bookings for local ladies, more ladies and even more ladies.
    At some level, does the film appeal more to the "X factor" than it does to the "Y"or is it purely, a Middle Eastern thing?


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