So you can’t say you never saw a Bollywood movie reviewed on this blog, here’s one.Last night my wife and I went and saw Kabhi Alvida Na Kahna (Never Say Goodbye). We got a baby-sitter for the kids and went and saw the 7pm show at Naaz8, the local Indian cineplex. This was the first day and the shows were all sold out. I haven’t done this in a while and it was great fun.
The movie was quite remarkable. It was an out and out ‘commercial’ movie with a star cast, grand locales and great music. But the plot of the movie is where Karan Johar has explored the boundaries of a commercial movie. Besides being the director of the movie, the story is credited to him as well. At the center of the movie is an extra-marital affair between Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee, who are married to Preity Zinta and Abhishek Bachchan. Khan and Mukherjee are trapped in loveless marriages. The find each other and become friends. The friendship grows into love and passion which takes them down a dangerous path on which there are some twists and turns that are straightened out at the end of the movie.
As I said, the movie is quite remarkable. If you just look at the plot, I don’t remember seeing a commercial Bollywood movie which revolves around an extra-marital affair – one that involves sex. The leading characters are neither heroes nor villains – they all have their flaws. Amitabh Bachchan (Abhishek’s father in the movie) is a raunchy old man. Abhishek is fun-loving but immature person. Mukherjee doesn’t love her husband. Zinta is so involved in her career that she doesn’t have time for her son. Khan was the most flawed, though the central character in the film. He is a bitter man, cruel to his wife and a bad father. Everyone acted their roles very well. Zinta and Khan, who generally tend to ham a little, did very well. Which all points to good direction.
The screenplay was unusually good. Written by Shibani Bathija the lines were fresh, and in parts very funny. I have long felt that screenplays in Bollywood needed to catch up with the quality of direction, acting and music. This movie had all of four of them right. If there is one thing I thought was sub-par it was the editing. Too many jarring transitions.
Johar tries to dull the edge of the extra-marital subject by putting the entire setting in New York (different place, different rules). One of the couples doesn’t have any kids. Khan and Zinta do have a son but she is the bread-winner. The divorces don’t leave anybody without support. The usual Bollywood taboos apply. No kissing on the lips, which makes it really hard to show the passion in the relationship.
I do hope the movie does well at the box-office. Johar has been bold in moving outside some the established boundaries of commercial Bollywood movies. The movie is well made and I hope box-office success will encourage others to stray from the beaten path.