Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (KANK), directed by Karan Johar, is a film that explores complex human relationships. The film focuses on two married couples, Dev (Shah Rukh Khan) and Rhea (Preity Zinta) and Rishi (Abhishek Bachchan) and Maya (Rani Mukherji). However, the film is centred on the love story of Dev and Maya, which starts off as an extra marital affair and goes many trials and tribulations. This causes uproar not only in their relationship, but with the relationships they share with their married spouses.
KANK, which hit theaters in August of 2006, opened to a lukewarm reception at the Indian box office, and to huge fanfare and large collections to overseas box offices around the world. The differences in reactions to the film were attributed mainly to the cultural differences that existed between the Indian communities in India and abroad. The concept of divorce and extra marital affairs were not well received by Indian audiences mainly because the institution of marriage is considered sacred, and viewers felt that KANK was promoting extra marital relationships – despite there being a love story woven into the film’s plot. As much as the reactions of international audiences were mixed, most viewers found the film and the relationships to be well portrayed, coupled with strong performances. In addition to that, Amitabh Bachchan’s and Shah Rukh Khan’s star power outside of India also helped propel the film to very successful run at the box office. The film was also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival as well. The film was nominated for a total of 10 Filmfare Awards, of which the Best Supporting Actor trophy was bestowed upon Abhishek Bachchan for his portrayal of the loving and vulnerable spouse of Rani Mukherji. Rani also walked away with a Best Actress award at the 2007 IIFA Awards.
Like most Karan Johar films, the soundtrack of KANK was a beautiful medley of Indian and international influences varying from beautiful and melodic love songs, to catchy and up beat dance tracks. The soundtrack for the film was by musical trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Their trademark flare helped delivered chart busting hits such as “Mitwa”, “Rock N’ Roll Soniye” and the film’s title track “Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna”. The films music was quite successful in the awards category, resulting in many wins including 4 Filmfare Awards including Best Music Directors, Best Lyrics (Javed Akhtar), Best Male Playback Singer (Sonu Nigam) and Best Female Playback Singer (Alka Yagnik).
The film was set in New York City and most of the film was shot mainly in Philadelphia and Connecticut with a few scenes being shot in Mumbai and the soccer game sequence being shot in the UK. Some interesting facts about the film is that the main cast initially included Johar’s favorite actress Kajol in the lead role with Rani Mukherji appearing as Rhea in a supporting role. However, Kajol turned down the offer because she did not fully agree with the portrayal of the relationships in the film as she clearly stated appearing on “Koffee with Karan” during the same year of the film’s release.
This film is an all-time great and in my opinion; Karan Johar’s best film to date. KANK had the perfect balance between Bollywood romance and a serious drama – with a dash of songs to suit each mood, occasion and emotion. The casting of the film was perfect, and the stylized locations and interiors as well as the clothing cemented Karan Johar as not only a master storyteller, but as an aesthetic genius as well (of course, the cinematographers and costume designers had a lot to do with this as well). But what makes KANK a film that truly shines in these beautiful 100 years of Indian cinema – is that it portrayed the taboo. Extra Martial relationships and divorce are highly taboo in the Indian culture and for Karan Johar to portray that so beautifully and with ease was a masterstroke in these 100 years. The building of tension between the characters, the ups and downs, the moments and experiences between them may be highly rehearsed and stylized. However, they represented something that happens every day, all the time….love.