I am no Karan Johar fan. His Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham did not impress me.
But when he announced his new movie, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, I was intrigued. After all, it had all the top stars, and told a story not very typical of Johar's movies.
I enjoyed KANK. It was no Closer like I expected it to be. Instead, we had two unhappily married couples -- Dev (Shah Rukh Khan) and Riya (Preity Zinta), and Rishi (Abhishek Bachchan) and Maya Talwar (Rani Mukerji), trying to lead happy lives.
Dev is a failed football player who had to make do with being a coach, thanks to an injury, while his super successful wife Riya -- a fashion magazine editor -- is juggling work with home. Of course, jealously raises its ugly head, as Dev realises that Riya wears the pants in the house.
On the other hand, Rishi, an event manager, married to a school teacher (Maya), is unhappy, as Maya never seems to reciprocate the love he feels for her.
As the film progresses, Dev and Maya fall out of love with their respective spouses and fall in love with each other, indulging in an extra marital affair.
Now, Karan Johar has never tried going beyond traditional values in his films before, and KANK is a first. But the director has managed to delve into a bold film with promise.
Dev is not the perfect loverboy, we expect him to be in this film. Instead, he has a limp, is a failure in life, and looks beyond his marriage.
Maya -- Rani Mukerji, who has the lion's share of the screen time -- is not the regular pativrata woman one expects Karan's heroines to be. She has opinions of her own, does not like her husband's flamboyance, and finally, wants to live life on her own terms.
Their respective spouses, on the other hand, are not the villains they would have been in a 1980s or even 1990s films.
Riya always puts her career before her marriage. While she would easily have been the vamp in a film before this era, she is softer and identifiable. She loves her school football coaching husband, but understands that she needs to put in extra hours of work to buy that playstation her son likes.
Rishi truly loves his wife, and doesn't care about the fact that she can't bear children. For him, his life revolves around his public relations firm, his wife and his father's (Amitabh Bachchan) string of women.
The actors do their part well. But there's no doubt Abhishek is the best of the lot. The actor seems to be finally emerging from his father's shadow and showing off his talent well.
From the light-hearted scenes of him coming to terms with his dad's frivolous ways to the hugely emotional scene when he learns of his wife's affair, Abhishek is awesome. Even his dance sequences are one of the best in the movie, and enhance the song picturisations to the next level.
SRK slips into his usual loverboy routine, but shines in a few instances. He underplays his role and while his performance may not be as good as the one in Swades, SRK has done well.
Preity does not have much to do except look pretty. Quite a waste of talent.
Amitabh Bachchan plays a Casanova with ease. There's no doubt that Big B is one of the best actors we have today, though he may be a tad overexposed. He manages to slip into any role the directors have for him. His scenes with his onscreen and offscreen son are very natural. But though he carried himself well, one does not know how he becomes such a compulsive sex addict, especially since he seemed still in love with his late wife.
I also wish Karan Johar had refrained from giving Big B an Ali G kind of look, thanks to the glasses.
Rani had the weakest character out of the lot. One is never quite clear why she had an unhappy marriage, especially since her husband (Rishi) was so loving and understanding. One never understands why she fell in love with Dev, or why she never loved Rishi. While Rani does well in the film, her half-baked character does injustice to her.
But it's really not only the stellar star cast that Karan should be proud of, should the film do well.
It is also the brilliant music.
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy takes KANK to new heights. Their awesome music, coupled with Farah Khan's choreography enhances the film greatly.
KANK, I think, is Karan Johar's best film till date, because this is the first time that he seems to deal with a more realistic subject. And he does rise to the occasion. One of Karan's best moments in the film are when Dev and Maya check into a hotel to make love. The guilty expressions and the intensity later are very aesthetically done.
However, the film is way too long. Maybe Karan did not pay too much attention to editing or maybe he got carried away with the film. The whole (SPOILER ALERT) 'after three years' sequence at the end, seemed very unnecessary. In fact, people in the theatre that I watched the film in, got up and left even as the climax was well in play.
It would be a good idea for Karan Johar to time his movie well next time, make SRK perform just as well as he did this time, and definitely rope in Abhishek in a bigger and better role.