June 26, 2003
Best of Bollywood!

A child in the seventies and a teenager in the eighties - my memory of being a second generation Asian in Britain in my formative years is dominated by my fanatical consumption of “Bollywood” films. Oh my - I remember most vividly wasting away whole weekends with my mum - watching film after film after film on rented VHS cassette - at first on a rented VHS cassette player and then on our very own (Ferguson) VCR. Sometimes three films on a Saturday - and two or three films on the Sunday. At 3 hours a go - you can imagine how much time was spent sitting on the sofa - drinking endless cups of Indian tea - shedding tears and laughing in hysterics along the way. Yep - this is Bollywood - gauranteed to play with the extremes of your emotions - but nevertheless highly addictive.

As I progressed through my teenage-hood and college, I shamefully lost all affiliation to my closely-mothered upbringing - and it is only now as a father of two lovely young children do I execute on the urge to ensure my own kids get some exposure to the sort of things that I did when I was as young and innocent as they. Only now it’s on DVD - and in full glorious surround sound!

There is a particular film that captivates us. Captures everything that mainstream Indian cinema is all about. Transfixes my kids to the point that they will not want to watch anything else - and want to watch over and over. It is a film called Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. A film that repeatedly makes us all shed tears within minutes of its start - makes us laugh throughout - and leaves a resounding sense of emotional bliss at the end. Only Indian Cinema can do this: play on your emotions so much. But this is what makes this genre so popular and successful with millions from the homeland.

It would sound so crass if I was to try to explain the plot to any indigenous “westerner” - as it is rife with political incorrectness - but to me it is all about a time and a place that has some place in my heart - and I would conjecture also does in the heart of any mortal, whatever the race, creed or colour, but do not dare to admit or acknowledge. A time and a place that is not today in any case. For this film (like many that precede and follow it) is centred around a value system that is exactly perpendicular to what we expect from society today - whether it be in the West or the East. A value system which includes the controversial man-is-dominant and woman-is-subservient - even if woman is demonstrably more capable than the man - both physically and intellectually. Yes - it’s downright silly - but it is fascinating nevertheless how in this day and age the spirit that draws upon the essence of Romeo and Juliet still lures the masses into the cinemas of India.

Anyways - in order to articulate the crassness of this particular film - I reproduce an “alternative” review of the film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai - (which when literally translated means “Something Happens”) by Premjit (http://www.mouthshut.com/user/premjit.html)


(Or How to be a sensitive lover in 10 simple steps: by the director Karan Johar)

Step 1: Ignore the feelings of love a tomboyish girl harbours for you (any blind retard would know that she loves him). Also, ridicule her in front of classmates reducing her to tears.

Step 2: Trample all over her feelings by wooing a college hottie right in front of her eyes. To make her feel worse, face her and say I love you 6-8 times without clarifying that you are merely practising it for the hottie.

Step 3: Marry the college hottie, who later dies while childbirth.

Step 4: After 8 years, feel a sudden surge of love for the tomboy, build up a fondness for her you neither felt nor displayed hitherto.

Step 5: Hunt for this tomboy ably supported by your mind-grating brat of a daughter.

Step 6: Return to her long after she has gotten over you, and lay claim on her like an ancestral plot of land.

Step 7: Cast doubts in her mind about marrying an eligible bachelor, who incidentally is better looking, loves her tenderly, is seemingly richer and has no added appendages like mind-grating daughters.

Step 8: Mess her marriage up by weeping copiously during the ceremonies, get your mom and daughter along to shed more tears.

Step 9: Chase the eligible bachelor away

Step 10: Marry the girl 8 years too late, after having sown all your wild oats with the dead college hottie. Obviously the post – domestication tomboy will now make a good wife and a good mother to your daughter. Congratulations!

I was surprised why this movie did not raise the hackles of feminists. And the tomboy…does she have a mind or not? Later Sensitive Lover accepts her as marriage material only after she is suitably domesticated (that means donning heavy silk costumes, applying kilos of make up, wearing everything available in Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri, and losing to him in basketball.)

The result:
Girls loved Shahrukh Khan’s character (“Rahul is so sweet.. he is so cute..”) Somehow, I missed the point!
A superhit is declared. The movie sweeps all important Filmfare awards …

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai was conceptually one of the worst love stories ever written. Terribly sexist and flawed. The lead character, Rahul was selfish without any justification. The only upside was the breezy music score by Jatin-Lalit, and of course the leading ladies.

And so there you have it! But this review does no justice whatsoever to the fact that this was an enormously enjoyable film in the eyes of millions of people. Why? Probably because it’s PURE ESCAPISM - and this is what mainstream India is always desperately in need of.

I recommend any “westerner” to get this film - if there’s any “Bollywood” film you should have in your DVD collection it is this one. You will almost certainly liken it to “Grease” - and you will probably cringe something rotten at the plot and certain scenes throughout the film - but if you watch it on your own with your emotional barrier lowered - you will understand what makes this film so great. (But remember to turn on the English subtitles!)

PS - By the way: the music in the film is simply brilliant. And here I reproduce for satirical purposes a property of most Indian “formula films” - there is almost always a song that gets the Indian cinema-going crowd going. Usually a male/female starring-role duet - that almost always starts with the “he he he heee he heeeeeeaaaay” invocation. Click on the red button below to hear it and you’ll know what I mean!

Posted by jag at June 26, 2003 10:24 PM

hello Mr johar
i want askinga question?why you allways make your films about love story.i can give you diffrent idea ,ofcourse if you want.thank you for your beautifull movies.bye

Posted by: tala on September 18, 2003 12:08 PM

I just want to contact you.. gotlotz to tell you…
Wanna buy you a pizza…
Bye for now

Posted by: Farzana on April 29, 2004 01:57 PM

Hello Farzana! Are you talking to me? Or is it Mr Johar you want to buy a pizza for?

Posted by: Jag on April 30, 2004 07:30 AM

exceelent observations on the fillum kuch kuch hota hai..they were so true n makes u look at the movie with a total different perspective…keep inkin…

Posted by: khushi on October 1, 2004 11:45 AM
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