Last word on Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
So, this man tries to kill his wife as she wouldn't let him leave for another woman, like in KANK, where Preity slaps Shah Rukh and tells him to leave.
They had watched the film before that.
Pitiable, isn't it?
Actually, that's a word which came to my mind when I saw KANK on Saturday. KJ has taken a subject which has probably not been done in bubblegum India cinema before and churned out a long, boring film. This has made some hail him as the vanguard of change in Indian cinema, society and psyche. This is like calling Friends the vanguard of change in American culture. Which often people do.
I wish KJ would stick to bubblegum, though. For infidelity and broken marriages need more sensitive hands and depth in thinking. Otherwise, you will end up just a notch above Biwi No. 1.
Coming back to pity, when I went in to watch the film I was told that I should go with an open mind. I did, only to get bored by the lack of imagination. And felt appalled by KJ's suggestion that people straying in marriages are to be dealt with pity and sympathy.
Except for when Amitabh Bachchan was on screen, the rest of the first half was just plain boring. I must also thank the chorus which spent a lot of the film delivering subliminal messages of "Sexy Sam".
As far as the story is concerned, essentially, Maya (Rani) gets married to Rishi (Abhishek) because of their friendship. There are no explanations given for why someone would enter marriage on such flimsy grounds, except for the advice given by Dev (SRK), a football player, that she could spend the rest of her life searching for true love or she could get married to a friend and enjoy it. The advice did sound grand when accompanied by the forty-five piece orchestra in the background.
Then Dev breaks his leg, loses his five-million dollar contract and gets into a perpetual sulk, exemplified by his behaviour towards a man twice his size and his little kid. We know that Dev is in anger towards his wife (Rhea) who is quite successful... at warding off advances made by her boss. We could have understood all the jealousy in one scene itself, when Dev refuses to wear a natty suit bought by Rhea to a party celebrating Sam's first date. However, KJ required a few more.
Then, Dev and Maya end up meeting to save their marriage. This results in David Dhawan entering the director's chair for twenty minutes. Unfortunately, their efforts (both David's and Dave's) do not bear fruit. The audience further gets bored and the marriage is on the rocks. We break for interval.
This is when we get into the deep part of the film. Or should I say the terrible part. By this time, it has been established that Dev and Maya are weak. They are dependents in the marriage, being lowly school teachers or football coaches. They refuse to sit and discuss their problems in any meaningful manner. They either are jealous or refuse to share the success of their spouses. Plus, they feel good feeling each other up and staring at each other instead of their spouses during their respective anniversaries.
The spouses, Rhea and Rishi, are on the other hand, plain stupid. Except that they dress really well, have amazingly successful careers and have great relationships at work. They are unable to see that the spouses have spent all the anniversary staring at each other across tables in the same restaurant. They do not understand that something is missing in their relationship inspite of the efforts made by KJ. Or perhaps, they come to expect so less from their stingy partners that they are happy with frigidity in bed (for years actually) and obnoxious behaviour outside of it.
Hence, what we have in the end is a message that weak people stray in relationships. Marriages based on flimsy grounds (friendship in the case of Maya or hamming in the case of Dev) fail as the angrier/ bored partner can't see a reason why it has to last and looks for a soulmate instead.
There is of course no exploration of any of these themes. The film does not take a stand on anything as KJ thinks that is what is meant by shades of grey. Nothing is ventured. Even irresponsible behaviour by Dev (including abusing his own child) is displayed as humour.
KJ, in bubblegum world, this would be the equivalent of shades of grey, but in real life, honest, responsible people who enter into marriage with love-shove also do slip. At times, the people strongest in love are the most vulnerable. There's no need to justify failed marriages as an error of judgment or on one partner's misfortune. Plus, often failed marriages based on such little real stress as these two can be nurtured back to life by counselling, real effort and care. None of which you cared to explore.
Also, KJ, you present some kind of crap on how marriages should be based/ are based on real love/ soulmates and all that jazz and that unless it is so, one of the partners would roam the earth with a sulking expression, visible to everyone but their stronger partner. Also, the stronger partner being the stronger, sees through it all and forgives. Though while doing so, they do it with immense doses of pity like Rhea does to Maya ten minutes from the end of the film.
Plus, there's a message that breaking apart marriages actually leads to three years of pain as punishment and is pitiable.
All this is what has been hailed as believable by some rather intelligent members of the crowd around me, which have been brought up on a diet of Friends and coffee shops.
Now, all a film-maker needs to do to appear brave is to take a taboo subject* (lesbianism in Friends and infidelity in bubblegum world), make mean comments about it (in the guise of realistic dialogues), put in a few moments of slapstick and end with a message, howsoever contrived.
What KJ did forget is the twenty-three minute rule for each episode in Friends. Instead of that, we have three hours plus of trash.
*Not really. Arth, anyone?