Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, (2006)
So clearly I am posting this immediately after watching the movie, sleep be damned. I feel as though I have to get this out right away, because I don't want the strength of my feelings to fade.
I'm going to be honest.
I'm not going to hold back.
It's going to be brutal.
I'm going to tell you the complete truth.
I LOVED IT.
I almost hate to admit it, because this film had everything going against it from the minute I walked into the theater. My expectations were low, critics hadn't been kind, and it appears that the box office hasn't either. Still, there was a decent crowd for a Monday night showing, but I was still reserved. Knowing what the movie was about (adultery! infidelity! oh me oh my!) definitely dampened my view of it.
But I won't lie to you - after the obligatory 10 minutes of exposition, I was in stitches almost clear 'til intermission. I was laughing so hard I cried, including when I saw myself on-screen (more about that later). And then, just as you get comfortable with the film's lightheartedness and humor, the drama hits you like a punch in the gut. There's no middle ground in this film - Karan Johar will try to push your emotions to the extreme, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't work on me.
And it's not that I was pulled in by the characters' likeableness, which is the case for so many Bollywood films. Hell, the characters were downright dislikable, for the most part: Dev (Shahrukh Khan) is nasty and bitter and a terrible father; his wife Rhea (Preity Zinta) is too ambitious to devote much time to either her husband or her son. Maya (Rani Mukherjee) is distant and cold; her spouse Rishi (Abhishek Bachchan) is hilarious but childish, and with a one-track mind (he clearly gets that from his father). Even the parents, Samaljit (Amitabh Bachchan) and Kamaljit (Kirron Kher) were imperfect. It's the character flaws that get the ball rolling, and the story that pulls you in. Sometimes heads are rolling, sometimes hearts are breaking - and if you're as involved in the film as I was, you'll enjoy every minute of it. And I loved the guest appearances, too.
Now about my infamous "part" in the film (spoilers ahead, so be warned!), yes, I was an extra, and yes, I can be seen. The first time I can be seen is when Maya sprains her ankle and is being put into an ambulance - if you look to the far right top corner, I'm descending the stairs wearing a red coat and a green scarf.
The next part I'm in I just love, because I am a freaking continuity error! All by myself! It's me in the red coat again - in the first scene with Dev and Maya descending the stairs at the train station, when they're arguing, I run behind them about a kajillion times. I kind of lost track of myself, but I think this is the sequence in which I go by: first I go downstairs talking on a cell phone. Then I reach the bottom of the stairs and all of a sudden turn around and run back up (the PAs had us keep moving in order to make it appear like there were more people at the "station"). These first two times I'm to Dev and Maya's left. Then I think I go upstairs again chatting with another girl. Then I come downstairs, behind Dev and Maya, arguing with some guy. And then, towards the end of the scene, I run upstairs diagonally behind them. Anyway, with all this going on, I went upstairs twice in a row at one point, and then at another I came downstairs twice in a row. I must have given the ediitors a freaking heart attack. "Oh no! What shall we do about this girl in the red coat?" "She's so freaking close to the stars in every shot, I don't know! She'll just have to be in all of it!" "Do you think anyone will catch on?" "No, no one will notice. I bet there are lots of girls in red coats and green scarves and blue bags running all over Manhattan."
In my defense (as though anyone else will notice this goof and use it to assail the film, the director, or, more specifically, me) I was only doing as I was told. When I signed up to be an extra, I was told not to wear black (black is the New Yorker's uniform, I'm not sure why they didn't want us to look like New Yorkers). I was also directed to run in all those directions by Sahira Nair, who not only played the Indian reporter in the beginning of the movie, and is not only Mira Nair's neice, and who is not only appearing as Sonia Gogol in The Namesake, but is also a genuinely nice person (especially to us lowly extras) so be nice to her.
I think I could see myself in two other scenes in the movie. I think I caught a glimpse of myself during the cafe montage, but that may have to wait to be determined when I get the DVD. I was also in the scene when Sam and Kamaljit discover Dev and Maya's affair (that's the one with me in the burgundy blouse) but since I am sans suitcase, I am hard to spot. I didn't see my sisters at all, but I will do my best to find them next time I watch it (because you know there's going to be a next time... probably this weekend...).
Of course, please don't take this review as an affirmation of the movie's perfection. There were some very definite flaws, mainly that KARAN JOHAR HAS MANGLED NEW YORK CITY GEOGRAPHY and I don't know if I can forgive that. Why did Dev and Maya always buy tickets at the Metro-North counter at faux-Grand Central Station (actually a station in Connecticut) and then take the SEPTA train (which services only Philadelphia and the surrounding area)? Speaking of Grand Central Station, there is no way "up" into it - it's completely underground. There are no above-ground platforms or grand stairway entrances. And why did Dev and Maya meet at Exchange Place in Jersey City so often? And why did they frequent cafes in Brooklyn? I know, I know - Karan Johar wanted beautiful vistas of the Manhattan skyline, without explaining why the characters were suddenly outside of Manhattan.
It's a mature topic for an Indian movie to handle, and it handled it well. This is not a film for the whole family to enjoy, but so leave the tots at home - it's an evening out for adults. I'll leave you now to form your own opinions of the movie, so feel free to agree or disagree with my assessment. The true test will be whether it's just as good when rewatched; I may have more to write this weekend if I see it again.