Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kuch Kuch Is Missing: Return to the roots (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, hindi, 1998)

Yesterday I was in the mood for some good, old-fashioned Bollywood and I watched KKHH. You know, the one where Shah Rukh still has dimples, Rani has horrible make-up ad Kajol is a boy. Compared to today´s standards of movie production values, the ability of the hero to dance and to the thinness of the heroine(s) it´s pretty bad. But this film has something that most of the movies made in Bollywood today sadly lack: A good, healthy dose of DIL.
It´s not fashionable, it doesn´t have an item number by the latest Most-Popular-Starlet-Of-The-Day and the hero is not buffed up to look like the Hulk. Which is not something bad in general but in the last time I get the feeling that Bollywood is putting all these things in front to the disadvantage of the story. I don´t care if the movie I´m going to see has Katrina dancing half naked in front of me and I don´t care that "to-be-on-par-with-Hollywood", you have to sacrifice all these awesome and beautiful songs, the thing I came to Bollywood in the first place. I also dont´care that the SFX is "exactly as Hollywood" because I´m not here to see some Blockbuster-SciFi-movie, I want to see Shah Rukh dancing and romancing the heroine. You see, I am a little at war with Bollywood right now.

KKHH is the story of Rahul and Anjali. You see, Rahul and Anjali were The Best Friends, the only problem was that Anjali was in love with Rahul and Rahul was a selfish, stupid and arrogant idiot. With a capital I. That doesn´t change much with the time and Rahul remains pretty much the same even after he finally realises that Anjali is THE girl for him.
Anjali and Rahul in one of their fights. By the way, I actually think that Kajol looked pretty cute with the short hair.
But before Anjali realises that she is in love with Ra-"Cool", a new girl enters the picture: Tina. The moment Tina enters college, Anjali is lost. How could Rahul not fall for her? Even a guy who´s not as superficial as Rahul would be right out of his mind not to take the girl. Because Rani just ROCKS. In the song Koi Mil Gaya she has more attitude and sexappeal than any Deepika or Katrina ever could dream to have. She is a star born and almost overshadows the actual hero-heroine-duo.
Oh Rani...err, Tina! I WUV you!
Anyway, back to the story, things take their way and Rahul does fall in love with Tina, leading Anjali to leave. The rest of the story is how the two get back together. In the meantime, there is Salman, cute children, Johnny Lever and an extended vacation at a summer camp that looks like a place where Teletubbies live and a lot of crying and melodrama. There is even divine intervention at one point.

KKHH does many things right, but that doesn´t mean that there are no flaws in the script. Rahul is one such mistake. K-Jo did say once in an interview, I think, that writing for female characters is much easier for him than for male ones. Rahul is only a sketch, a superficial outline of a character and it probably would have broken the movie´s neck had he been portrayed by someone else than Shah Rukh. He plays Rahul with just enough charme and honesty and straightforwardness that rescues the movie for me. Rahul doesn´t want to be mean, he doesn´t want to hurt Anjali on purpose but he´s just so blinded by his image of her and so struck by Tina that accidentally he loses the thing that is most important for him. And he doesn´t even know. People make mistakes and sometimes you are just so stuck in your perception of a person that you don´t realise that that what you really want is right in front of your nose.
Anjali leaving is really heartbreaking and if you´re still not crying then this is not the movie for you.
The symbolical handling Rahul over to Tina by giving her her shawl and the ongoing theme was pretty neat, too.
I had no problem with the story device that Rahul falls in love with Anjali only after she became pretty and a proper girl. Or that she throws away her perfect fiancee for Rahul although he treated her like crap. She was in love with Rahul. She never loved Aman and if she did marry him, we probably would have had KANK much earlier. Also, I love the fact that she became pretty only for herself and not for Rahul. It´s her own choice. It proves to me that she is still pretty much the same girl with her own opinions and principles as she was in college. I also like to think that Rahul did grow up enough for falling in love with Anjali after their re-encounter even if she would still have been that boyish as she was in college. 
The infamous gazebo-scene. Fun fact: Before knowing what "gazebo" actually means, I thought it would describe SRK´s "gaze" at Kajol. :) Also, where out of the sudden did he get that see-through shirt!?
I also love the portrayal of Tina. On the outside a pretty, miniskirt-wearing ditz but on the inside an outspoken girl with her own mind. At the core, Tina and Anjali are actually very much alike. It´s no
wonder they became friends. Anjali would have hated Tina and only made fun of her, has she had been not this nice, sensitive, thoughtful girl. They both know what they want and are not afraid to show Rahul the way back to his corner. Tina wears miniskirts because she wants to and Anjali wears sportsuits because she wants to.

Making Tina nice and lovable and and an actual person instead of just a plot device is actually pretty smart because a) it makes Ajali´s unreturned love even more heartbreaking because you root for both the couples and b) it´s also an important device to make Rahul sympathetic. How can you hate him for hurting Anjali if you understand why he falls for Tina? Their romance is believable beyond the "She´s so pretty, so she has to be mine!"-lines. I love the scene where he tells her "I love you". Its so normal and by the way.
I love you too, Shah Rukh.
The movie is actually full of strong female characters. The plot is being driven along by the little Anjali, supported by her feisty Dadi. Rahul would never have begun of thinking again of Anjali had the thought had not been put before in his mind by his daughter who in return has been made aware of their friendship by Tina. Even Miss Briganza who from them all seems to be the most of a mindless ditz, she too knows what she wants and is not afraid to go for it.
Miss Briganza, OHO!
I really like Karan Johar as a director. I really do. What he did with KKHH was amazing. It´s proof that it´s enough to have a simple story when it´s infused with so much genuine soul and heart as here. But I am sad because I know that he will never make such a great movie as KKHH again. There are too many things to consider, too many things that just wouldn´t work today but I sometimes wish that one day Shah Rukh and KJo would just forget their status, their personas and fly off to Ireland and just do their thing again. I don´t need superheroes, I don´t need post-9/11conflicts, I just want Shah Rukh in a small, sweet and romantic movie again. But not in college anymore, please.

KKHH is made with so much sweetness and innocence, so much joy and honesty that you can feel it in every frame. Such movies aren´t made today anymore. It´s funny because the movie is only 13 years old. That´s not that much. But I understand why, I understand that people have changed, that the Bollywood industry has changed and the world itself. And that´s good. I really enjoyed watching "Mujhse Fraandship Karoge" but that was not a "Bollywood"-movie for me. Or at least it was not the Bollywood I learned to know and love. But I am glad that there is a KKHH where the world is okay and I can return to whenever I want. With the melodrama, the OTT-ness, the dance numbers and an unapologetic celebration of kitsch and glycerine.


  1. Hello,
    I'm such a sucker for KKHH that when I saw your blog and stumbled on an actual LONG review of the movie, I felt that broad smile... You're right, you know, I think the film belongs to an almost bygone era... 13 years ago isn't a long time as you say, but trends go fast and the digital, i-phone age means that such films are pushed further back in time than they should. Anyway, I had my *sigh* once again thinking of KKHH, and was pleased to see that we seem to share the same good things about Bollywood! Thanks.

  2. Aww.. :)! You´re welcome. I really can´t understand why so many people seem not to like the movie and Karan Johar, too. Well, I proudly confess that K3G is my all-time favourite movie and I hope with all my heart that he´ll make another sweet movie like KKHH one day.


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