Saturday, August 19, 2006

A letter to Karan Johar

Hi there KJ,

Last night I finally saw your latest directorial venture Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. You were so secretive about the plot line. There were rumors floating around that it’s a remake of Silsila; someone said it’s a desi version of Closer. Of course, it wasn’t…why, its just a bad copy Falling In Love (1984) starring Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep. Now Falling In Love was such a lovely film, sweet and sentimental, packed with powerful performances not only by De Niro and Streep, but wonderful character artistes like Harvey Keitel, Dianne Wiest and Jane Kaczmarek (of Malcolm in the Middle fame). Unfortunately the movie went largely unnoticed when it was made, but watching it now, one gets a glimpse of the amazing talents both De Niro and Streep, before they started selling out to uninspiring, sleep-walking roles in mundane films. Their ability to get under the skin of the characters is incredible... so much is communicated between them in so few words! Falling In Love does not make light of the subject matter of having an affair but instead is a film about finding love itself. In keeping with that theme, the romantic feelings of the two leads are never allowed to reach their natural conclusion.

While watching Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, I was cringing every two minutes. How on earth did you manage to completely massacre the beautiful screenplay of Falling In Love and fill it with so much of inane crap? While Frank (Robert De Niro) and Molly (Meryl Streep) in Falling In Love were people caught in a predicament who you genuinely liked and rooted for, KANK’s Dev (SRK) and Maya (Rani Mukherjee) turned out to be these two obtuse, selfish and insensitive characters you feel like shaking really hard so that they snap out of their senselessness! Not only does one not feel any sympathy for these two for being trapped in their so-called “loveless” marriages, but actually start wishing that their spouses come to about their sordid affair and dump them like hot potatoes so that the movie can come to an end!

I read somewhere that you cannot even think of making a movie without SRK, Kajol and Rani. Your loyalty towards your friends is undoubtedly very touching...but can you please, please, pleeeease ask SRK to stop hamming! Poor Rani Mukherjee tried her level best to rise above the stupid character you wrote for her, but bogged down by the endless bottles of glycerin she put in eyes to generate gallons of fake tears and the hideous bustiers she wore, she couldn’t really salvage the one-dimensional Maya! And may be you can suggest to your other best friend Farah Khan to watch more MTV…her dance moves haven’t changed much in the last decade and a half!

I understand your indomitable urge to make films with a large star-cast, but then choose your “inspiration” films wisely. This movie required great character artistes, not stars in supporting roles. To give these stars screen time, you stretched the story beyond its comfort level and made it into this mammoth song and dance affair interspersed with silly comedy and tasteless digs at homosexuality!

But I’m glad that you finally gave Baby B his due. After all he did tell you that “he’d do ANYTHING” when he dropped by to have "koffee" with you. Hmmmm…wonder what you made him do for Rishi’s role?! What ever it is, I’m glad Baby B is a part of this otherwise sorry tale…watching him interact with the Big B as “Sexy Sam” so effortlessly was a treat! He’s definitely a natural…his portrayal of flamboyant but overall nice guy Rishi is so convincing that you want Maya to get out of his life because he definitely deserves better! There’ll be a serious tug of war at the award ceremonies this year between Baby B and Saif Ali Khan (Ishwar “langda” Tyagi in Omkara) for the Best Supporting Actor category, unless they give Chhote Nawab the Best Villain award!

You started the movie by portraying Preity Zinta’s Rhea as this cool, calculating, corporate ladder climbing bitch. Then you had a change of heart and made her a successful career woman (sweet nonetheless) fighting for her marriage. Then again you changed track and made her into a strong no-nonsense woman towards the climax. I guess hers was the only believable character in the whole movie. And please complement her for her sense of style, even though I personally don’t agree showing that much cleavage at work place!

BTW, why did you choose to set the movie in New York instead of Mumbai, may I ask? Is it because the upper class people in Mumbai don’t travel by local train? And your romantic couple might look incongruous standing outside Churchgate Station wearing designer garb from Manish Malhotra’s boutique? Or having cutting-chai from foothpath stalls instead of high-end Manhattan caf├ęs serving over-priced latte? Or is it because the inspiration film was also set in New York? Anyway, I’m not complaining about your choice of locations… I love New York and your cinematographer did do a great job capturing the beauty of this fabulous city.

Just for your information dear KJ, the game that everyone in KANK kept calling football is called S-O-C-C-E-R in America. Since your characters were so obviously New Yorkers, this bit of a glitch was quite glaring!

Well, you did push the Hindi cinema envelope a bit. Goody-two-shoes characters of your previous ventures are now either black or white…I wish you had experimented a bit with grey too. Anyway, you get an E for effort from my side. But do remember next time you feel like Indianizing The Deer Hunter, SRK and Rani Mukherjee ain’t no Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep!

Yours disgruntled

Nautilus

17 comments:

Pritha said...

Amazing review....

ichatteralot said...

I hated the movie myself - infidelity is fine but there was no beauty attached with the love that went with it.

Arunima said...

Haha, I saved my money. Waiting for the VCD in the local parlour. Watched some very good movies over the week-end instead. Planning to review them but don't know if I can find time.

Ghetufool said...

cool review.
did you notice in that 'football' match, shameless SRK just copied beckham? ditto. with victory in his hand instead of victoria.

http://movies2.nytimes.com/2006/08/12/movies/12kabh.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1156186848-Z4KoVPLnQjz1oWMNoIJRpw

Nautilus said...

@Ghetu: Now THAT was cool review!

"As for the story’s central lovers, it’s never quite clear what Maya sees in Dev, whose emotional switch has only two settings, angry and morose. Perhaps that eye makeup is clouding her vision"

Can't stop laughing :-)

and yes that Victory/Victoria part was quite pathetic!!

Nautilus said...

@Pritha: Thanks :-)

@chatter:Tell me about it!!

@Arunima: Lucky you! The amount spent on ticket price + popcorn could have gotten me a brand new pair of Levis! :-(
I'll be waiting for the reviews!

indianpeppone said...

That was ur best review yet..... if only i saw this before i lost 3 hrs 46 minutes of my life

Anonymous said...

the opening sequence where shah rukh kicks the ball - considering where he put his left feet, the ball should have hit the post - the corner post!!!


big b

hiren said...

A typical hindi movie whould be seen as such and there is no point building higher expectations. The script was not strong enough but presentation was fine.

jhantu said...

now now dont be so harsh.. the secret to watch a hindi movie is to leave ur brain back at home .. if u had done that u wouldnt have been disgruntled and wrote this review.

GhostOfTomJoad said...

I've long since stopped trying to make sense of Karan Johar's films. No, wait, I've long since stopped watching his films!! :-)

De Niro and Meryl Streep selling out? Ouch :-) That's a bit harsh and, besides, even the best don't get the best parts all the time, no?

Lavanya said...

Awesome reviwe:-0 Kind of stole all of my words. Also want to add that I'd never leave Baby B for any soulmate and a limping soulmate has no chance! But well Maya is not me...
Good question abt why KANK was set in NYC, my guess is had it been set in Mumbai there'd be more crowd outside KJ's house with stones than in the theatres. Infidelity without a strong character potrayal and without solid reasons will not work in India matey...

ichatteralot said...

hothaye hawa hoye gele???
:)
Hope all is well with you.

Hiren said...

Try to read Jerry pinto's review in outlook magazine if you can. Its very good. I too felt that Rani Mukherjee and shahrukh had genuine reason to have an affair in the first place.

E said...

Wonderful review!

Shubha said...

It's better to watch Tom and Jerry instead of watching the 50-50 direction.

Anonymous said...

AS a non Indian, the reason i watch Hindi films is because of its traditional values and principle. That film just taught me that if you are a tiny bit unhappy in a marriage, just dump ur spouse and look elsewhere! ghostoftomjoad is right. It is time Karan Johar call it a day and retire. All his films are absolutely ridiculously expensive and crap. He is the reason Amir Khan stopped going to the filmfare awards.