Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bollywood film on Marriagedom is sans Karwa chauth, Pativrata lectures, Sindur and Mangalsutra: in fact it actually talks of (gasp!) love and understanding

Kabhie Alvida Na Kehna a.k.a. KANK

After every Tom, Dick and Harry and their dog, have seen commented and discussed KANK ad infinitum, it's would seem a bit too late (if not entirely irrelevant) in the day to state one's views on it. But when has lack of necessity ever deterred certain verbose souls (that would me, of course) from making their pronouncements on elements of popular culture. After all, given that man doesn't live by bread alone, a few cents gotta be spared for the glittery world of the Bollywood celluloid.

1. First things first.

KANK. Very suitable acronym for the 193 min of noisy clank (read: barrage of tears, endless arguments, screechy n sad songs and more tears). In fact so appropriate is the acronym that it is in danger of usurping the original. As for KANK's after effect, the feeling after the last scene could succinctly be summed up as...as KLPD (and for those of you sniggering! let it be known that this is an acronym for Kabhie Lambi Phillum Dekho-maat!!!)

2. The story:

Has been hashed and rehashed but for those poor souls who haven't got around to seeing it here's a summary.

Story is set in New York; later moves to city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. Anyone expecting any dose of brotherly love, please stay away. Besides it's not fair. After all a bharatiya filmmaker can't possibly tackle all taboo subjects under the sun in one shot (and thereby send a thousand year sanskriti for a chakka. And so (mercifully) only one subject is tackled. That of love, adultery, divorce, remarriage...in that order. For the brotherly love bit there would be other Bollywood productions, I'm sure.

Back to the story. In New York live couple no. 1 consisting of Dev (SRK...or Shahrukh K. for the uninitiated) and Priya (Preity Z.); and couple no 2. made up of Maya (Rani M). and Rishi (Abhishek B.). A bit of rubic cubing brings up a third combination; that of Dev and Maya. To enable this bit of swap, the story proceeds through the following stages; first, Dev and Maya are unhappy (somewhat!!) in their respective marriages; next, Dev and Maya fall in love...adultery sequences follow whereby everything including the fireplace is photographed through soft focus lenses (ah...such is the power of love!); then they leave their spouses and eggsxactly as you are getting ready to tear your hair after 185 min of agony, the duo get together and ride into sunset...oops..er into the train.

Interspersed are Big B as Rishi's father, Samarjit Talwar (a.k.a. Sam) who we're told is sexy. This bit of info is constantly hammered via a jingle that plays "sexy sam" in every frame that the bloke appears in. Given how pea sized the bollywood audience brain is said to be, obviously no one in their right minds would bet on their memory. And so there's the jingle, just in case you went away with the wrong message that Sam-jee in yellow jumper with red belt and black sunglasses was "un-saxy".

Then there's Kiran Kher as SRK's mom, who when she's not flirting with big B is giving a ton of advice on love, labor lost and every possible topic. To be fair though, the scenes between the older actors were quite welcome and refreshing. Sadly the same couldn't be said for their (screen) kids.

3. The foursome

SRK: True Shahrukh comes with his own brand of mannerisms....one knows and one is prepared....and often one loves it.....after all who can forget those K..k..k..k..Kirans. But beware of a SRK in a form of deep, abiding and understanding love. He then starts to remind you of a special variety of meat; one that rhymes with jam and is forbidden to a particular community. Now add to that big doses of nostril flaring and cheek quivering and squeeze or two of tears and you get the picture.

Rani: Tries hard to do a good job but such are the demands of her role (that of being in a perpetual teary eyed state) that it isn't easy. She does, however, despite bucketfuls of tears that she has to shed at regular intervals, manage to look nice, sweet and elegant (read: no runny nose and all). Which brings me to the moot question. Why don't Bollywood's crying babes ever have puffy faces, runny noses or smudged make up? Why is it that their lachrymal glands function as poetically and elegantly as a poet's pen or an artist's brush; manufacturing those round lovely drops of pearl which are never in a hurry, never in a rush, never jump the queue but just ever so gently (and that too in a single file) flow down the cheek landscape.

Preity: As SRK's wife she has the role of a gutsy woman and plays it with ease. Quite liked the scene at the breakfast table where she smartly slaps her hubby. No, no, I am not one of those worshipper-of-the-violent types, but surely 140 min of SRK ham should allow for a bit of anger.

Abhishek: To portray the discarded hubby of Rani was no easy task. But Abhishek mouthed his lines as well as the story/script would allow. Whether shy, reserved, sad or angry, this fellow's done a competent job. Remember the scene where he shyly asks Rani to attend his second wedding!!

4. The saving Grace

The only reason one can sit through the movie is the lack of all those sindur and mangalsutra ki saugandhs. Karan Johar could easily have had a few pativrata dialogues and milked them to their full potential, but thankfully he refrains. There is not a single dose of bharatiya nari-twa nor any spiel on her mahanta.

We are also spared from what (to me) seems to be the bane of Hindi cinema. The Karva Chauth spectacle. What began as an innocuous scene in those Jeetendra-Moushumi starrers, gradually grew in stature so that over the years (DDLJ and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam) we saw the lady loves waiting for their men to hand them food and water to end the fast followed by a song and dance sequence. Of late this spectacle has assumed gargantuan proportions. Not content at being limited to mere fasting, moon spying and song and dance; it now threatens to become Bollywood's symbol and statement on home and "femly bhelues" as well. Recall K3G where Jaya's advice and tips to daughter-in-law Kajol are all about "femly" tradition (obviously the in-law femly...what after all is a femly!!!) giving you the uneasy feeling that the transformation (and commercialization) of Karva chauth into Bollywood's parampara flag is now complete.

But Karan Johar spares us that. And for this alone I am grateful.


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