Friday, August 25, 2006

A Bollywood Offering: KANK

Those of you who know me well will know my penchant for Bollywood movies, so when "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehana" (Never Say Goodbye) with its controversial theme of adultery was released last week, I was determined to go see it. Alas, EVERY show in EVERY picture hall in Bangalore was houseful, so I had to wait to return to Canada in order to go see it and I'm glad I did.

"Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehana" or KANK as we will affectionately call it, is one of the first Hindi (read that as Bollywood) movies to tackle the topic of adultery head on. I know some of you might wonder what the fuss is all about, adultery after all, is not that uncommon, its just that Bollywood creates mostly 'feel good' movies packed to the brim with family values and where good usually overcomes evil. By providing a fairy-tale ending for the erring lovers this film perhaps glorifies adultery,something that Bollywood and its large Indian following find hard to swallow.

While the movie itself was rather long (3 1/2 hours) and formulaic in some parts, it did manage to generate a lot of talk, both on TV chat shows and around office water coolers, about what course one's life should take should you happen to find your soulmate after you are married to someone else . Do you drop everything and grab him/her or do you unselfishly stay where you are?

The movie suggests that if you don't love your spouse, it doesn't make sense to stay with him/her, for you are keeping him/her from finding love/happiness with someone else. But a large chunk of the Indian public have a problem embracing that message believing it to be a very western concept. The reaction is not surprising considering that most marriages in India are still arranged by one's parents and this message of following your heart is an impossible dream for many Indians - love in a marriage, if it has a role, comes later.

The movie for all its flaws has had one of the largest box office openings ever, and you can credit that to the cursiosity factor,the star cast and the fabulous music (especially the Sufi rock song titled "Mitwa") together with its elaborate song/dance sequences.

If anyone reading this has seen KANK or plans to, do write in, I would love to hear from you!


Susan in Italy said...

Hi Lotus, The film sounds pretty interesting, especially given the unorthodox message. Forgive my ignorance (I've never seen a Bollywood film and I don't think Monsoon Wedding counts) Are they ever originally in English? If you would have to choose the best/most important Bollywood film ever made (for a first-timer) which film would you suggest? I've got Italian friends who've seen B'wood films before so it's not impossible to find them here.

Susan Abraham said...

Hi Lotus,
I would agree with the message in the movie.
When you've had one too many hard knocks like me then have had the chance to taste a real happiness in abundance, I would grab the passing bliss or any hope of it. Especially if it doesn't mind coming with me for the long haul. Bliss, that is.
Life is too short to stay in the mediocre, once a good thing is long gone.
Love as always

Angela in Europe said...

My friends and I were talking about this movie the other day and we all want to see it but I dont think it has been released yet in Paris.

Sylvia said...

Hi Anjali:
Nice to know you are back. Hope you had a beautiful holiday.
This film is at my top of to see. I just adore Abhishek Bachchan and of course the adorable Shahrukh Khan. Bollywood movies are about all I watch, can't stand the Hollywood tripe.
I'll let you know when I have seen it.


Lotus Reads said...

Suse Thanks for your thoughtful response, as always. How I wish it was everyone's right to follow their hearts. Unfortunately, in some societies it is virtually impossible to marry the one you love or leave the one you are married to for the one you love. Sad, no?

Angela Wow! Are Bollywood movies popular in France? How did you get to hear of this one? You must let me know what you think when and if you get to see it!

Sylvia Hi!!! Yes, they are both hunks, aren't they? My father used to know the director's (Karan Johar) father and I even "played" with Karan as a child (or so they tell me) but sadly I have no contact with him now.

Hope you can see the movie soon!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure this film will "hit home" with many of the East Indian culture.

Lotus Reads said...

Thanks for the comment, anonymous, but actually I think many Indians cannot relate to the issues in this movie. It'll be interesting to see the responses to the movie as time wears on.

hellomelissa said...

i'm in the "if you don't have kids, do whatever" camp. kids would negate any possibility of straying, at least 'til they're grown and gone. i am one of the lucky ones... married to my one true love. i actually respect a society that promotes staying together-- as long as the relationship isn't dangerous in any way.

sasgirl said...

Hi Lotus!

First of all, welcome back! :)

I saw the movie too and loved it! So sorry we couldn't see it together! We should definitely plan to see the next Indian blockbuster.

I love Shah Rukh's acting and he was in top form as usual. I liked how it was very different from a typical Indian movie. I wonder if the same story could have been in India instead of New York? Something to think about. :)

Did you see it with your daughters? If you did, what did they think about it?

Can't believe you played with Karan as a child! Thanks for the interesting tidbit!

Lotus Reads said...

Melissa How true. Kids deserve to have their parents together, unless ofcourse, things between the spouses are so violent and unbearable that they are better apart. I am guesing many couples do stay together for their kids and that is why there are so many divorces that take place after coules become empty-nesters.

sasgirl *clapping hands joyfully* So glad you enjoyed the movie and YES we must do a movie together and soon! N. was over at a friend's cottage, but S. saw it and I guess she's a little young to have an opinion. She did love the song and dance sequences tho'! :)

I don't remember playing with Karan as a child, but I've been told that we did! :) If he's reading this I hope he will reintroduce himself to me (I can hope!) ;)

paris parfait said...

Must look for this movie in Paris. I'd be interested to see the Indian take on such a messy love situation. Reminds me of Keely Hawes, the British actress who was nearly married with a young baby when she met her "soulmate" Matthew McFayden and left her husband to be with him.

Sounds as though you had a fascinating trip! Nice to have you back in the blogosphere!

Angela in Europe said...

One of my students did a presentation on Bollywood! I heard about the movie from a friend and then did some research on it.

nomadica said...

welcome back! hope you had a good trip. i haven't seen KANK..but i haven't heard good things about it. the main complaint i heard was concerning SRK's character...what was it about him that made rani's character fall in love with him? i'll wait till the movie's out on dvd to pay less attention to the story but to enjoy the music :)

Lotus Reads said...

Hello ParisParfait It is always so wonderful to hear from you and thank you for the welcome back! Yes, it does take guts to leave a marriage (with a kid or kids involved) for the sake of one's personal happiness. It seems selfish almost, but I guess that's because of the guilt society imposes on us.

Angela You know, you've given me an idea. My kids are always having to do projects in social sciences and the Arts etc. Bollywood might be a good topic for them to explore! ;)

Hello Nomadica Lovely to see you here! Good question. I think perhaps SRK's character (the bitterness, the injury etc.) brought Rani's character's maternal instincts to the fore (even though she didn't have any children of her own, she was very maternal and domesticated). Perhaps she saw SRK's character needed her TLC?

And sasgirl You asked a good question, too. What is this movie had been set in India would it have had the same outcome? I doubt Indian society would have let the couple (Rani and SRK) get away with their adulterous relationship. What do you think?

booklogged said...

Hmmmmm...difficult question. In fact, I've started and erased my comment a couple times already. Personally, I would stay with my spouse.

J said...

Gosh, I'm tempted to see it...but at 3 1/2 hours, I may wait for Netflix.

As for the question involved, I kind of think the American/Western view of "The heart wants what it wants" is pretty selfish, and I suspect it rarely leads to true happiness. I think if people were more careful about who they married to begin with, that would solve a lot of problems. Of course, if you have an arranged marriage, then you just have to hope for the best. I also think staying together no matter what is foolish. People shouldn't be miserable. So I guess I fall in the in between camp. Marry carefully. Do everything you can to make things work out. If they don't, pay attention, and leave if you need to.

Amin said...

Hello Lotus.

This sounds like an excellent film to watch - thank you for your review. Fortunately, it didn't contain any real spoilers!

SRK is my favourite actor in Bollywood. He has tremendous screen presence. I have to wait for the DVD with subtitles since I only speak English and although Bollywood movies show in some of the local cinemas they are not subtitled - which seems like a wasted opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Kabhie alvida naa khena est un super beau film ! je l'ai vu au cinéma à londres ! dommage qu'en france les films indiens ne sortent pas au cinéma ...j'adore shahrukh , preity &rani ! they are the best !!!

Lotus Reads said...

Yup, J I have to agree with you, one should do all one can to save a marriage before you end it. I think dissolving a marriage is way too simple these days, perhaps that is why more people are tempted to do it.

Hi Amin Subtitles, even for speakers of Hindi like me make the movie a lot more enjoyable and easy to understand. These days, certain cinemas in India, too, employ the use of English subtitles which I think is waaaay cool!

Thank you anonymous It's a real thrill to see how much Bollywood movies are enjoyed in Europe. I have to wonder when North American audiences will show the same enthusiasm! :)

iselldreams said...

i watched it and i guess no need to say i loved it. it was too good, the story, acting of the main characters, the way they render the feelings, the situation itself was quite impressing...and yeah SRK was just breathtaking as ever.

Well what Rani and SRK did in the movie, how many of us can dare to do?

Hope noone comes across such a situation, i think it wouldnt be easy to overcome!