Tuesday, September 11, 2007

KABHI KABHIE - Love is Life

'Kabhi Kabhie' is a film I was really looking forward to for a couple of reasons – one was its famously beautiful songs. Another was the Rishi Kapoor/Neetu Singh jodi (because I love them both and had heard that this was their best film together). If you had asked me while I was watching the film if it lived up to my high expectations, I'd probably have said 'not really'. Interestingly though, now that I've had a bit of time to mull over the film, I like it more than I did initially.

'Kabhi Kabhie' is a film about secrets and lies. Not the 'harmless' kind; but the powerful kind that can shatter happy homes and destroy blissful marriages. Secret romances, secret children, secret adoptions… those kinds of secrets. Every family has some of those… and as long as they're kept well hidden, life is grand… but the funny thing about secrets is that they have a way of (often many years later), rearing their ugly heads in a way that affects the lives of not only the keepers of the secrets, but also the people they love. The overpowering message of the film is that it takes love – deep love, to overcome the past, to forgive, to accept the loved one 'warts and all', and to destroy the bitterness, anger and confusion that can arise when those family secrets are revealed. (Hence the film's tagline: 'love is life').


I found some elements of the film's plot instantly relatable. Neetu Singh plays Pinky, a carefree, pampered youth who suddenly discovers that the people she calls her parents actually adopted her from a mother who couldn't keep her. Instantly, she no longer feels comfortable with her adoptive parents – irrationally (but then, I guess plenty of genuine emotion is irrational), she feels like a stranger in her own home - even though her parents love her to bits and say mushy OTT things like this to her:


Pinky goes in search of her 'real' mother (and answers to the questions of who she is and why she was unwanted as a child). Waheeda Rehman (in what I found to be a very effective performance) plays Anju, Pinky's conflicted birth mother. Anju is torn between acknowledging Pinky on the one hand, and preserving the fragile new life she has built for herself with an oblivious husband (and their adored, rather stroppy second daughter) on the other. I could instantly relate to the conflicts and confusion felt by these two characters (Pinky and her mother) because their situation echoes recent events in my family...

And then there's the other part of the plot – one which I couldn't relate to and which I thought could've been portrayed better… given a bit more thought, perhaps. At the beginning of the film, Amitabh Bachchan and Rakhee play young lovers (he's a renowned poet named Amit Malhotra, she's a pretty student named Pooja), whose lovely winter romance is rudely and abruptly terminated when Pooja's parents marry her off to Vijay Khanna, played by Shashi Kapoor.

Luckily for Pooja, her husband, a jovial, fun-loving kinda guy, is loving and kind to her; and she apparently comes to love him too (as a duteous fate-accepting wife should(?)). (I suppose a weak-ish case could be made for her being very fond of him, but not wholly loving him until the end of the film when all the secrets are revealed - honestly I dunno). For all her broken-heartedness at the end of her romance with Amit, not much pining is done by Pooja; after their poetry-filled wedding night all is hunky-dory, it seems, and on the honeymoon she is just as ecstatic and affectionate as any madly-in-love bride. Her demeanour does not read resignation and acceptance, but joy and excitement. Was she just overjoyed and overwhelmed at how wonderful her new husband was, how much he cared about her? Did she fall in love with him almost immediately? Not really sure what to make of it – part of me just wonders, was the sex that good? (No judgment of her attitude though, I just wondered about the reason for it).

Our poet Amit, on the other hand, ceases to write poetry, now that his Pooja belongs to another. He goes off to work for his dad and then settles down and has a family of his own, but he seems to have a tougher time moving on with his life than Pooja. His marriage (in the scriptwriter's mind) doesn't seem particularly happy (although, to be fair, we don't see as much of it as we do of Pooja/Vijay's) – his wife (Anju of the adoption storyline) seems a little scared of him, and he seems more passionate about his daughter than he is about his wife. Perhaps it's his naturally sombre and reflective disposition, perhaps it's the fact that his sensitive poet's dil has been broken, or that he's a bit lost without his art and inspiration, or simply that he just hasn't been pragmatic enough to embrace his fate the way Pooja has; or perhaps it's just the fact that he's a man and therefore more 'constant' in his affections (if so, yeeuck!). Whatever it is, he just does not appear as happy in his 'new life' as Pooja is in hers.

This comes across when Pooja asks Amit:



The years keep rolling by… and neither Pooja nor Amit reveal their romance to their spouses. Then Pinky falls for Vicky, Vijay and Pooja's sprightly show-off son (played by Rishi Kapoor – I have to wonder how many 'Vickys' he's played) It's at this point that the secrets all start to unravel.

'Kabhi Kabhie' has a lot going for it. I love the music – especially the title song. The picturisations are memorable – the wedding-night one is lush and romantic, the song in the rain is fun, fresh and charming, as is the one with Rishi, Neetu and Naseem Banu – done with the requisite youthful abandon and (in the latter) a little bit of angst. Speaking of Rishi/Neetu, they really were very sweet together in 'Kabhi Kabhie'. I loved their chemistry and the passionate love/hate thing they had going – they were actually very convincing as young, immature lovers.
There were also a lot of neat little touches in the film that I really enjoyed, like the camp/tacky chair-covers at Amit and Anjali's dining table,
the giant dice in Pinky's room,
and the attention paid to costume throughout the film.

The acting is good, although not excellent – I really like Amit Ji playing restrained, quiet roles ('Zanjeer', 'Sholay', 'Kasme Vaade'), so I enjoyed watching him here even though I didn't warm to his character much. I thought Rakhee was alright, and although Shashi (whom I'm a recent convert of, thanks to 'Deewaar') guffaws way too much and too loudly for any normal/sane human being for most of this film (I kept wondering what kind of mood-enhancers his character was on); I liked the fact that beneath all the excessive cheer, he really brought out the sensitivity and depth of his character. This saved me from wondering if I should go back to my not-really-liking-Shashi days – that and his relaxed and very enjoyable scenes with his real-life nephew, Rishi.
I've already praised Waheeda (very good job), Rishi and Neetu… and Naseem Banu is also memorable as Amit and Anju's bratty daughter, Sweety. And it was interesting to catch Simi Garewal, looking much the same as she does now.

'Kabhi Kabhie' is a flawed film. The last Yash Chopra film I saw before 'Kabhi Kabhie' was the brilliant 'Deewaar', a tough act to follow in every way, so perhaps I was a little harsh on 'Kabhi Kabhie' as a result. I don't think so, though. To my mind, 'Kabhi Kabhie' suffers from defects in the pacing of the scenes and the development of the characters and their relationships. There are too many rough edges, and some 'disjointedness' in the script. And this is a minor quibble, but the shower scenes (one with Rakhee and one with Neetu) felt gratuitous and a little silly. And putting a little chalk (or at least something that looked a lot like chalk!) on the temples of Amitabh, Rakhee and Shashi actually did not make them look older at all – they looked pretty much the same as they did at the start of the film. Not a very good job by the make-up people. The editing could have been much better and I think the whole winter theme was overdone – it was pretty and made for compelling visuals in some parts of the film, but it felt pointless and boring in others.

For all its faults, though, 'Kabhi Kabhie' does have a whole lot of charm and some very interesting themes, and is probably a film I will come to enjoy more and more with time. And I like it when that happens…

10 comments:

Allied said...

Like the title of the movie "Sometimes". Love story of generation is something that happens sometimes. What i couldnt getover was how Amitabh in a moustache and as a father of two young adults. I thought it was a lovely story, but i felt pooja surrenderd to fate while Amitabh thought he could change something.

Daddy's Girl said...

Ah yes... the 'tache. I am not a big fan of mustachioed Amitabh, but I think he actually wore it very well in this film, and much less so in some of his other films. Thanks for your comment Allied... especially grateful for your views on Pooja and Amit...

Beth said...

Yeah, the fake-smile Shashi isn't as much fun. He does a lot of that in Trishul, if memory serves (and it might not). His character is a little too brashly cheerful here - it almost seems fake, which would suit him if he had known about Pooja and Amit's relationship and was just putting on a brave face. Ach well. More Shashi for me! And good call on the aging makeup - not very effective.

Oh, and how can I forget - loved the comment about the high-quality wedding night between Shashi and Rakhee. She certainly seemed over all her reservations :) You go girl!

Daddy's Girl said...

@beth: 'High-quality' is right... it must have been quite something ;-). Thankfully Carla had warned me beforehand about Shashi's tendency to ham it up in masala flicks... I was just glad for the moments when he was 'normal' and you could feel that the character had depth and sensitivity to him... the guy (Shashi) can act, no doubt about it... and I love your 'ach well, more Shashi for me' comment - I often feel the same about some of SRK's less-accomplished turns...

Uzo said...

Me think a re-watch of this movie in in order seeing as i didnt like it much

Daddy's Girl said...

@uzo: I wasn't exactly wowed... but I think it's growing on me now.

Sanket Vyas said...

This movie is OK but will live on eternity for having one of the top 10 soundtracks in Bollywood history. Every Indian person I know (whether they like Bollywood or not) just melts when the title song plays. In fact, I was playing the soundtrack in my room before we were having a house party around 12 years ago. An early guest wandered back to my room because she heard the song and it was one of her favorites from childhood. We got to talking & ended up being good friends - the guest? My future sister-in-law to be who introduced me to my wife a few months later. Kabhie Kabhie ;)

Daddy's Girl said...

@sanket: How lovely... music brought you together...

Anonymous said...

Daddys Girl,

Actually i was a bit disappointed that u didnt mention the scenes and the dialogues right at the end when Shashi Kapoor confronts Amitabh about his hidden past with his wife and the very mature and different way in which the entire sequence is handled. That piece is a classic which amazing acting all round, from amitabh, Rakhee, Shashi Kapoor. Its the high-point of the film.

Otherwise your review was top notch.

Simi and Parikshit as the parents of Neetu, are quick sicko, dont u agree?

Regards

http://www.nirvana73.blogspot.com/

Daddy's Girl said...

hi nirvana73: I think I probably need to go back and re-watch that scene so I can appreciate it more. You're right: it was very maturely handled and the acting is great - I thought Shashi was brilliant in the way he brought out the sensitivity and depth of the character, and I liked his scene with Rakhee after the confrontation very much.

You're right about Neetu's parents - they are rather weird - who actually says things like that to their children and acts that way around them? A bit bizarre...