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Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna movie review

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Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna

Cast Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Preity Zinta    more...
Director Karan Johar

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The Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna Movie Review

Likeable, but not exceptional
By Nitika Desai
Rating: 0.5/5

When the most awaited movie of the year, with a star cast as stellar as it gets, hit the theatres, expectations are naturally high. Karan Johar's Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna partly lives up to the expectations. But watching the 3-plus hour movie, filled with emotional, tear-jerking moments from the first reel to its conclusion, is a tad tiresome.

KANK is a departure from Karan's previous works ( Kuch Kuch Hota Hai , Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham ) in the sense that the film deals with a theme that is relatively bold in Indian context. The movie simply says that it is better to walk away from a marriage if it is not working.

However, KANK is akin to Karan's previous works in its lavishness and grandeur - the slow-motion panoramic shots, the very Johar-esque treatment of the songs in which almost all the star cast indulge in celebratory song n' dance, and, above all, the centrality of the movie's story being the complexities of relationships. So in a way, with KANK, Karan has only turned more dramatic than his former self. But in his zeal to tell an emotionally moving story, Karan goes overboard at places.

Having said this, KANK still makes for a thoughtful, delectable, digestible entertainer primarily because of some well-conceptualized sequences, some good humour (courtesy Amitabh Bachchan in a superlative performance) and the chemistry between Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee.

It is the visually stunning cityscape of New York against which the story of the two troubled marriages unfold.

The sign of the things to come is flashed in the very opening reels of the movie with Maya (Rani Mukherjee) sitting in a park just moments before her marriage to Rishi (Abhishek Bachchan). She is filled with doubt if she should tie the knot or not. It is then a stranger, Dev (Shah Rukh Khan), appears and gives her the advice on marriages while betraying expressions of doubt regarding his own marriage with Rhea (Preity Zinta).

In an interesting parallel, as Maya gets married, Dev meets a tragedy that changes the course of his life.

The clock moves years in the future.

Dev is now a limping, disgruntled cynic with a loose temperament. His wife Rhea, now the major provider of the household, is too busy in her work to care about little things that can become important enough to make or break a family. Dev is the caretaker of his son.

On the other hand, Maya's marriage with Rishi isn't really working either. She can't bear a child. Nor can she feel any romantic passion towards Rishi who is very much in love with her.

A slightly ludicrous situation marks the re-meeting of Dev and Maya at a train station. Dev's outright abrasiveness and his caustic frankness initially offend Maya. But the more they meet the more they realize the similarity of the situation they are in their respective marriages.

Adjacent to this is the hilarious track of Rishi's father, Sam (Amitabh Bachchan), a self-admitted philanderer who likes flirting around and sleeping with young foreign blondes and brunettes. But there are moments when the Samarjit behind the Sam comes forth and shows the shades of a sensible, emotional, wise man. He becomes particularly fond of Dev's mother (Kiron Kher) whom he fondly calls 'Chandigarh' because of her waistline.

As Dev and Maya draw closer to each other, Rhea and Rishi too change themselves to make their marriages work, without knowing about the extra-marital affair of their spouses. But the two marriages break up after Dev and Maya's relationship is open.

What happens next should be seen than written about.

KANK has its share of high points and downers. There are certain sequences in the film that have been well conceptualized - like the dinner when Shah Rukh jokes that he is in love with Rani, but Amitabh senses that there is more to SRK's joke than just jest, or another sequence when SRK is holding a bouquet for Rani and it is Preity who bumps into him on the road, or Amitabh giving Rani the advice to leave Abhishek. To some extent, Johar has managed to convey the intricacies, the complexities, the dilemmas of two separately married people in love with each other.

But, on the flip side, Karan overblows some emotional scenes out of proportion. The second half of the film has SRK and Rani in tears in almost all scenes. The talk of love, commitment (or the lack of it), relationships, gets stodgy after a while. And as the movie moves into the third hour of its running time, you feel sated of the mushy sentimentality.

Although the chemistry between SRK and Rani is the mainstay of the film, SRK's performance, if seen in isolation, is reminiscent of his previous portrayals of similar pained-in-love characters. It is the same trembling of lips, the same high brow, the lump in the throat, the tear-filled eyes, the same histrionic packed in a new character.

Rani cautiously doesn't repeat herself and gives a rather noticeable, even laudable performance. She does the best of the lines she has been given, enacts best the scenes and situations her characters goes through.

Amitabh Bachchan is the most outstanding in the film. Although he has lesser footage, the Big B adds humour, fun, frivolity and also wisdom to the film with his portrayal of an aged philanderer young at heart.

Abhishek Bachchan's character is the most credibly written of all. And the junior Bachchan does show moments of brilliance. Preity Zinta has more of a cardboard role of a modern, career-oriented wife who prefers her independence to anything. Kiron Kher plays her part well enough.

To cut to the chase, KANK is not a path-breaking film. It has a stellar cast, good music, good background score and some good performances. But the biggest flaw is the overblown sentimentality, the emotional outpouring which repeatedly fills the movie's ever-stretching, never-ending 3.5-hour story that lives up to the film's title.

Worth a watch.

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