Kabhi Alvida Na Kahna

“How could Maya (Rani Mukherjee) not be happy with such a doting husband as Rishi (Abhishek Bachchan)?”

This is the most repeated question I have seen by those criticizing the movie. I have not been overwhelmed by the movie as such and I will come to the problems later. But I think the kind and level of criticism it has received in the circle I know is overdone. With the questions like above.

So, I will take up that question. Rishi was a very, very nice person. And extremely tolerant. At least for his patience and tolerance, I would admire him. But that does not mean every woman in the world must be happy with him as a wife. People’s expectation vary, and they vary wildly. His expression of lदve, his notion of caring were not what would suit Maya. To many of us he’d be a picture-perfect husband for never bothering about Maya not being able bear a child. But that wasn’t the kind of behaviour that helped Maya. Her frustrations, her anxieties did not find an outlet. What would have really helped her was something Rishi kept making fun of – “Discussion”. Probably she’d have been able to come closer to him, if instead of pretending that the issue did not exist, he’d have talked to her. If they could share each other’s disappointment, she’d have been able to get, whatever was bothering her, out of herself. She could not do that. Not discussing made her feel that she was fighting with her problems alone. No – once again, I do not blame Rishi for his intentions. There can’t be nobler ones. Its just that, the way he tried to achieve them wasn’t the way that would have worked with Maya. He did not understand why should it be so. It’d have worked with him, had he been in Maya’s place. Ultimately Maya did not do any better either. Probably she knew his intentions, probably somewhere she recognized what the problem was. Her guilt for Rishi is very clear when she is cheating him (unlike Dev’s [Shahrukh Khan]). But she found herself incapable of solving the problem. If you have been in a situation like this, you’d know how difficult the solution is, if one exists at all. You do not hate, rather like the other person. But in that particular relationship, he/she is just not the one suitable for you. And if you try to get out of the relationship, you’d hurt the person, which is not the thing to do on your agenda.

There was a time in Indian Literature, when in order to be a hero, a character had to have certain number (was it 16?) of (good) qualities. Otherwise he’d not qualify as hero. Over time, the things have changed. Now, we would rather not have the lead character as someone with all possible “good” qualities of the world. If it is so, the story/movie becomes a subject of mockery by us. But we still want the lead character to be someone who is lovable or with whom we can sympathize. Yes, we are ready to accept even underworld dons as the lead characters, but they have to be lovable like Munnabhai and Circuit or, by now traditional, don who had fallen into this world because of his bad and cruel circumstances. If the person is bad because of his inner weaknesses, we are still not ready to accept that person in the lead role. And probably that’s why the prominence given to the character of Dev (Shahrukh Khan) does not quite seem in place to us. While the relationship problems of Rishi and Maya was not about any of them being inherently bad, but rather about their incompatibility; the problems with Rhea (Preity Zinta) and Dev can be mostly traced to Dev’s personality and behaviour. Even before the accident, when he was a rising star and hence had no reason to be frustrated with his professional life, it was clear that he did not like Rhea’s attempts at making her career. He’d expect her to follow him in his pursuits, but would not display even slightest interest in hers. Rhea’s character is the strongest of all the main ones in the movie, and if Dev was not so terribly bogged down by his complex (sometimes superiority complex, sometimes inferiority – and probably the two are very much linked together), Rhea was ready to make attempts. If Dev was only a little more supportive of her dreams, Rhea would have reciprocated even better. The accident and the resulting professional disappointment of his only worsened the situation. A self-centered person that Dev was, he never tried to make things easy for Rhea. He presumed that Rhea had a superiority complex, which she never really had. And kept pursuing it to an extent, where even Rhea had to give up. She is a reasonable character. She knows how far does she want to go and knows that at a certain point, she has to give up. If the other selfish person is so burdened with the feeling of self-pity, then her attempts at making the situation normal would ultimately fail. But whenever she saw even the slightest hope, she tried to come back. Dev was just too hopeless.

Dev’s is a character that is easy for almost anyone to dislike. I, myself, disliked it. But that does not mean he can not be the lead character. He is not unreal. He is bad, but very, very real.

About Dev and Maya coming together. Well, their situation is not a mirror of each other. However, given their discontent and frustration with their lives, I would not be surprised that they came together. But this is where comes the weak point in the movie. Projecting their love as the “true, made for each other” love is naive. Even in the movie, the role of circumstances has been brought forth again and again. Their love was a result of closeness resulting from their circumstances. Eternal love is difficult even if your personalities match, because people themselves change. And circumstances change only faster. So, fine! Their earlier marriages did not work out because they were not with compatible people. But that this love is eternal and will survive is not so obvious. Maya may pretty soon find out that Dev is not a nice character after all. That while his bare attacks at her woes felt good somewhere earlier, this are not likely to remain so forever. That his meanness is not so attractive as it seemed when she found Rishi’s doting overdone.

So, overall, the characters and situations are very real in the movie. But it is the conclusion that seems highly flawed. And not at all convincing.

But you know there is a catch. The voice-over (of the narrator) is that of Shahrukh Khan. So, one could possibly conclude that the conclusion has been shown from his point of view. And possibly at a time when their relationship is working well. Possibly he has been able to overcome some of his complex by being with a comparatively low profile partner this time. However, that’d be too far fetched, wouldn’t that be? 🙂

To repeat, a movie with realistic characters and situations, but naive and unconvincing conclusion.

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About Jaya

Jaya Jha is an entrepreneur, a techie, a writer and a poet. She was born and brought up in various towns of Bihar and Jharkhand. A graduate of IIT Kanpur and IIM Lucknow, she realized early on that the corporate world was not her cup of tea. In 2008, she started Pothi.com, one of the first print-on-demand publishing platform in India. She currently lives in Bangalore and divides her time between writing and working on her company's latest product InstaScribe (http://instascribe.com) with a vision to make it the best e-book creation tool. Blog: https://jayajha.wordpress.com Twitter: @jayajha Facebook: http://facebook.com/MovingOnTheBook

7 thoughts on “Kabhi Alvida Na Kahna

  1. Before writing anything I want to clear that for me this is best creation of karan johar and after dil chahta hai this is the film that touched my feelings too much. I am happy to see that u have written some good things about this film, because in my circle everyone has criticized the idea of this this film. But I am not agreeing with ur conclusion. For me this is best conclusion. It says u have at least a way to free from a worsen relationship. If a matrimonial relation has failed, this will create continuous tension for both. They can’t solve this and only tolerate each other. I have seen many pairs who are facing similar problem. And amitabh (in this film) has said the abject cause of why maya should leave rishi. If she didn’t left him he willn’t get any happiness in his life. Neither he nor rhea. I haven’t married yet and always fearing how could I manage if my relation will not work. May be I do this by other way, leave the society and became sanyasi. I think our society should became more liberal on this point something like tribal society or like some most backward caste of our society where there always a chance to come out from any failure marriage. And now something about ur conclusion on dev. may he is not hero but u can’t say him wrong. He is a man who only expects some attention from his wife. But rhea is totally self-centered character in first half; being successful is her only desire. Though dev is an arrogant father who compale his son learn playing football instead of piano, but rhea has not even know that whether her son is interested in piano or guitar.

  2. I think you should read little more carefully. I am not saying that Dev and Maya coming together was wrong or anything. All I am saying is that propagating that as an ideal, be-intehaa love was naive. If the movie ended on the note of carrying a practical message, it would have been fine. Instead, it carried an idealistic message, which was not the case, according to me. You may choose to differ on even that, but that’s a matter of individual’s choice.

  3. hi… I also feel that the movie is a nice one … it shows realistic scenarios. How you interpret them or opinion about them is as varied as possible for a single movie. I have seen some people simply getting too scared by movie in the sense that it shows relationships that my start off well (ofcourse no one marries people they do not like at least) may evetually become sour.

    Now let me put some stats into the picture. This happens 70-80% of time for marriages in UK. It happens 70% of times for marriages in US. It happens 56% of time in 30 countries in OECD (a group fo economically good countries from Europe, Americas, Asia and Australia). It just goes to show that people have today started expecting wonders from relationships. They want the relationship to make them complete to realize their potential to make their life happily ever after like fairy tales.

    Now life should not be lived on basis of fairy tales is my personal opinion. Relationships work only if people make them work. If people are so sensitive like Rani Mukherji in KANK, and say that ohh, this guy does not make me feel good … so I am missing something … then they will always find a reason to look beyond…. What I feel they can do instead is to lower the expectations (they will be happier after it)

    In my interpretation of movie … I agree with Jaya here that very soon Both Dev and Maya may realize that they too are not perfect for each other… How can they be ? We ourselves are not perfect if we are honest to ourselves. Then is it fair to expect others to be perfect always or in everything ?

    Also I feel people feel today entitled to a relationship that is effortless. Instead I feel it is everyone’s personal responsibilty to make it work. There will always be problems. Being sensitive to every problem is basically invitation to failure.

    I also feel people nowadays easily blame the relationship rather than communication problems which can be solved. People I feel feel that love is magic… it should be as effortless as it is during the wooing phase of courtship when differences of opinions are not so apparent. There is decreasing sense of duty … since duty means you have to make an effort when it was supposed to be perfect…

    The question I think is important is how much of it is magic of love and how much is actually belief of committment and trust and readiness to work on relationship which is neither black nor white (not perfect always) … I feel people today are too much into mushy mushy love and too little into committment, responsibility and trust

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