Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee, Preity Zinta, Kirron Kher, special appearance- Arjun Rampal
Director: Karan Johar
There are big movies, and then there are BIG movies. Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna is, without a doubt, the latter. Just look at the massive star cast and you will know why. Not to mention the return of the prodigal son in the director’s chair after five long years. Karan Johar is known for making big blockbusters. This is evident in his first two directorial efforts, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. Both ended up being massive hits and brought Karan the fame he has today. Kal Ho Na Ho only helped bring him further as a producer. The one criticism that has always followed him is his love of making candy floss cinema. In order to remove himself from such accusations, he promised to deliver “different” cinema. Karan, for the first time, was going bold. This got everyone excited even further. Now the expectations were sky high and everyone was waiting with bated breath for the film to release as soon as possible. Now that the day has finally come, does Karan’s magnum opus live up to all the hype it has created the past year? The answer is a resounding NO! It was a novel concept gone wrong. Karan totally dropped the ball here.
The film promised to deliver something different. The concept of extra-marital affairs was definitely something different, especially for a Karan Johar film. But the treatment of the film is where it was affected the most. It may be something new, but Karan still finds ways to put in his elements of cinema. He must put those comedic scenes and song and dance routines that one is accustomed to in his movies. But if you really think about it, does a movie with such a dark subject really require those things? The fact is Karan has fallen in love with his candy floss cinema and he cannot change no matter how hard he tries. You expect so much going into this film because of all the things that were promised, but once you exit the theater, you realize that none of what was promised was actually delivered.
Karan Johar, to his credit, has two movies under his belt as a director. His directing abilities were appreciated in both films. Now taking care of such a big cast and making sure everything goes right in such a big production is no easy task. For that Karan deserves some dap. He always casts the biggest of stars, and always comes out without any controversies, despite what the media tries to feed you about mishaps between co-stars. He is an actor’s director and bends over backwards for them, or just bends over in general, but that’s another story for another day. The fact is Karan Johar the director cannot be blamed for this mess; it is rather Karan Johar the writer that should be blamed for this. He, along with Shibani Bathjia has written an absolutely ludicrous script. There are moments when you wonder what it is that you are actually watching. But what takes the cake in this dismal script is the ending. The ending should not fare well with the people. It has no right to. The movie is disappointing enough, but why must you murder it even further with such a bogus ending. Things like this do not happen in real life. Yet another example of Karan still stuck in dancing around trees land. His direction might have been flawed, but his writing was even worse. Maybe this will be a wake up call for him that he should just stick to production.
Another setback of the film is its length. The film is three and a half hours long. When a film is this bad, it seems as if it is three and half days long. The movie just keeps going nonstop without any rhyme or reason. Just when you think the movie is over, it still goes on. The torture just never ends. The movie could have easily been trimmed, as there were many unnecessary scenes in the movie. Breaking down the film in halves, I must say the first half was at least watchable. It was no great shakes, but you can sit through it. It was typical Karan cinema, with its light and emotional moments. It is the second half that makes you want to put a gun to your head. It drags and drags and makes the film lengthy for no reason. He tries to get too serious and ends up boring the audience. I guess he should just stick to his formulaic cinema because at least that doesn’t want to make you want to kill yourself. A mediocre first half, followed by a horrendous second half, leads to a very awkward film.
Karan’s movies have always been blessed with good music. Then again, his movies have also been halfway decent in the past. Just like the movie, the music of the film bombs as well. Not one song can you say was great or that you would love to hear over and over again. The title track is a bore. It was put in nicely in the film, but could have been better. Mitwa is a solid track, but was ruined with the picturization being centered on Shahrukh thinking he’s a rock star-never a good thing. Where’s the Party Tonight is a funky track that can get you dancing, but nothing special. The whole club setting for the song in the movie was great, as was Abhishek and Preity’s presence in the song. It’s the other part of the song that leaves you disturbed. I don’t want to give anything away, but it is a turning point in the film. Tumhi Dekho Na is just plain annoyance. The song in the movie just reminds you of typical SRK running and dancing. Just hit the skip button. Rock and Roll Soniye is nothing special, but in the movie it was the best picturized song because of the presence of the two Bachchans. Definitely no Kajra Re, but solid nonetheless because of the baap-beta jodi. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy really messed up with this soundtrack. After such a high with the smashing success of the Bunty Aur Babli soundtrack, they totally take a reverse and provide a less than stellar soundtrack. It can definitely be given a pass.
The performances of the film are a mixed bag. Some were good, while others were not up to the mark. Let us start with Shahrukh Khan- the main man in Karan’s life. Working with Karan yet again, you expect Shahrukh to deliver a knockout performance. Nothing is further from the truth. Shahrukh is actually one of the weaker links of the film. He brings it down a notch with his repetitive performance. This is the same character he has beaten to death in the past. The name may be Dev, but you still feel it’s Rahul/Raj. The only difference is he is older and has a limp and likes to cheat on his wife. Other than that, it is nothing new from him and actually he has done this role better in other movies. He hams so excessively, that it starts to get on your nerves. Everything about his performance is just off. His character is supposed to evict emotion from the audience, but not once do you feel sorry for him. This is a highly disappointing and forgettable performance.
Many have said how this is Rani Mukherjee’s greatest performance of her career, even surpassing Black. Obviously these people are drinking the Karan Johar Kool Aid. There is absolutely nothing special about her role. It is far from being one of her finer performances. She cries and cries and you just want to tell her to shut up and suck it up. It is nothing special that you must rave about it. Her character of Maya is by far the most annoying in the movie, even surpassing SRK’s Dev. Another person you were supposed to feel sorry for, but it doesn’t happen. As a matter of fact you start to dislike her very much. The way she treats her husband is appalling. If anyone had a husband like her, they would never treat him the way Maya did. Put an s before KANK and you get skank. That is exactly what Rani portrays in this film. A very cold woman and a pretty cold performance.
What can one say about Abhishek Bachchan? He was the saving grace of this film. The only reason you want to sit through this debacle. He delivers a knockout performance and completely steals the show from everybody. His character of Rishi was the perfect man and someone you actually sympathize for. Abhishek is taking strides as an actor and is growing right in front of our eyes. It is amazing how he handled the light, as well as, the serious moments with such ease. It was a truly remarkable performance and the best supporting actor award has his name on it.
Preity Zinta’s role of Rhea is the smallest of the four leads, but it does not mean she goes unnoticed. She looks great all throughout the film and performs decent as well. Some of the lines she has are truly powerful and stay with you. The way she stands up to SRK is something to see. She is another bright spot, albeit a small one, but that is only because of the length of her role.
Amitabh Bachchan as Sexy Sam provides the comic relief in the film. We have never seen him in such a flamboyant character. It is going to be uncomfortable for some to watch because he is the Big B, but he still does his part well, even though the character is horrible. The dinner table scene is one scene that shows that he still can provide the Bachchan magic even when his role is pointless. One wonders why someone of Big B’s stature would say yes to a role like this, but what can you do when you are friends with the filmmaker. Those who say he needs to quit just need a reality check because Mr. Bachchan is still in top form. He proves it yet again in this film, even with such a terrible role. Like I always said, Big B can make shit look good.
Kirron Kher as Kamaljeet does a solid job. It is a role that was made for her and she plays it ably. Her scenes with Big B are light and humorous and bring a smile to your face. Then when she needs to get emotional with SRK, she does that well too. Overall, a job well done by Kirron.
Arjun Rampal is just there to make the cast bigger than it already is. He does nothing special and has nothing to do in the movie. He is just there to look good and smile. Let’s just say he did what he was supposed to do. John Abraham and Kajol add to special appearances. They are found in two songs. Nothing special, but still nice to see familiar faces.
Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna ends up being the biggest disappointment of this year without a shred of a doubt. I can say this with a straight face because there was so much talk about this movie and then you realize it was all for naught. It is overlong, has a shoddy screenplay, sub par direction, and mixed performances. It is Karan’s worst work as a director. He deserves some marks for attempting something different, but he totally blew an opportunity in being known as a legitimate filmmaker. One wonders how many more chances he should get. We shall see what he has in store for us in his next film, whenever that is. But for now you just cannot wait to say Alvida to KANK. Give it a pass!