KUCH HOTA HAI
/ produced by Yash Johar / directed by Karan Johar / starring
Shahrukh Khan, Kajol & Rani Mukherji / music by Jatin Lalit
/ lyrics by Sameer
any convert to Bollywood how he or she got hooked. Some are
lured gradually, over coffee and croissants on Saturday mornings
while Namaste America flickers in the background. Others are
dragged to the theater by friends. But in one aspect each newcomer's
story is the same. We can all cite a single movie which delighted
us in a way Hollywood never did. It wasn't necessarily the first
Hindi film we saw, but the rush it gave us instantly addicted
us to the possibilities of Bollywood.
For many, that film is Kuch
Kuch Hota Hai.
(Shahrukh Khan) has just watched his wife, Tina (Rani Mukherjee)
die from complications of childbirth. She leaves behind eight
letters to be parceled out to their infant daughter, Anjali,
on each of Anjali's coming birthdays. Skip forward eight years:
Rahul is a successful businessman and single father, Anjali
a precocious chatterbox who secretly aches for a mom. On her
birthday, she eagerly opens the last of her late mother's letters,
which tells of how Tina and Rahul met...
to Rahul's university years. He and his best friend, the basketball
jock Anjali (Kajol), rule the brat pack at St. Xavier's, a school
transplanted from the sets of 90210 by way of Disneyland. Rahul
is a lothario who amuses himself with various girls while waiting
for his true love to appear. Anjali's not even on his romantic
radar. She's just another one of the guys, and that's A-OK with
that is, Rahul falls hard for the principal's gorgeous daughter,
Tina. A transfer student from Oxford, Tina scorns Rahul's Casanova
ways. So he launches a "sensitive guy" offensive and
asserts in a class discussion that "love is friendship."
The sentiment not only softens up Tina, it pierces Anjali's
tomboy armor. Suddenly she realizes that her feelings for her
best friend are far from platonic.
decides to fight for her love. But she knows nothing of the
feminine wiles which Tina so effortlessly deploys, and her attempts
to mimic her rival lead to humiliating results. Finally she
comes to terms with the inevitable: Rahul is the love of her
life, but she's not the love of his. Heartbroken, she leaves
in the middle of the term. Her departure shatters Rahul, who
cannot conceive of life without her.
years later, in the letter to Anjali's namesake, Tina reveals
her fear that she may have inadvertantly come between two people
who were meant to be together. She begs her daughter to reunite
Rahul and Anjali, because until they find one another again,
Rahul will never be happy. Young Anjali eagerly takes up the
mission -- but thanks to a few developments in elder Anjali's
life, it may be too late.
is made of the Shahrukh-Kajol pairing, but never is their rapport
more apparent than in KKHH. In their previous films, the couple
played young, bickering lovers, and the easy camraderie that
made those performances so enjoyable is in full evidence in
KKHH's first half. Despite a few scenes of almost unbearable
cheeze (thanks mostly to a child actress poorly chosen to play
Shahrukh's daughter), the film bulldozes us into submitting
to irresistably hammy fun. (Why didn't my college counselor
tell me about St. Xavier's?)
eight years inflict changes more profound and less readily apparent
than a different hairstyle and dress sense (though thanks to
them, Kajol has never looked better). Shahrukh and Kajol carry
off the post-intermission action by pushing their pairing --and
romance in 1990s Bollywood -- to a place it has never explored:
adulthood. Anjali's abrupt departure eight years earlier has
left its scars on these two. Every interaction between them
is colored by anxiety, wistfulness, and ruefulness. And yes,
their charisma translates from comedy to drama: often words
are not even required to communicate the complicated path of
the characters' emotional healing.
Just in case you don't get it, director Karan Johar has distributed
a boatload of glycerin to his cast. And don't think you'll be
it's not all tears.
The fabulous soundtrack saves three thumping numbers for the
post-intermission action. The choreography is fantastic, the
art direction visually delights, and Johar even manages to integrate
the songs into the action. No cutting away to Swiss mountaintops
here. Er, wait...actually, there is a Scottish castle involved
at one point. Well, one out of six ain't bad.
film made debut director Karan Johar the hottest property in
the Hindi belt. With his newfound clout, he went on to assemble
a star cast the likes of which had never been seen for his follow-up
picture. A lot of newcomers cite that film as their reason for
loving Bollywood, to which I can only respond that they must
not have seen KKHH first. It leaves its bloated, melodramatic
offspring in the glittering golden dust. This blockbuster
has a soul...and it's a lovely one.
reviewed by Meredith