Review of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna



Karan Johar is a talented storyteller.  This particular movie is important in the larger context since it asks the question- “Can the Indian ideal of love exist in a Western milieu?”  In doing so, the movie juxtaposes Western notions of love on the Indian ones.  The result is an interesting movie that has offended cultural conservatives in India who view it as endorsing infidelity.  This is harsh criticism for a movie that wants to desperately argue for the fallibility of marriage as an institution and to make the case for honest dialogue within a marriage rather than prolonged pain. 



The movie centers on two New York city couples who are trying to navigate their complicated relationships.  Sharukh plays a bitter husband (Dev) who has never come to terms with the loss of a soccer career as the result of a freak injury.  The movie successfully shows the deep-seated bitterness and constant pain in the marriage between Dev and Rhea (Preity Zinta).  Abhishekh plays Rishi- a successful executive and a doting husband.  The movie’s central character is Maya Talwar (Rani Mukherjee)- a wife who is struggling with the idea of love.  She frequently confuses attention for love and is struggling to come to grips with her sexuality.   The movie turns on the decisions that Maya makes.  



While the depiction of pain and bitterness in a relationship is not new, it is what the movie does with these things that breaks new ground.  The traditional Bollywood movie argues for reconciliation.  This movie certainly does not and in taking this stance challenges the desi idealized view of a marriage.  In the end, the movie asks if Indians are ready for honesty within marital relationships?  Are we?



December 10, 2006

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