Why Kuch Kuch Hota Hai still remains an infectious take on love and friendship
As Karan Johar's directorial debut, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, completes 21 years, it still remains a memorable directorial debut and a contagious take on love and friendship!
Karan Johar's directorial debut, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, completes 21 years today. It came out at a time when the nation was unaware of the fact that love is friendship. In 1989, Sooraj Barjatya taught us via a scheming and lewd Mohnish Bahl in his debut, Maine Pyar Kiya, that a girl and a boy can never be friends. And every time we peeped at a boy and girl together, we gazed them with suspicion, assuming them to be lovers.
Almost a decade later, another novice splashed on the celluloid to make a film about love and friendship and turn the thought on our own heads. Shah Rukh Khan was Rahul, Kajol was Anjali, Rani Mukerji was Tina and Salman Khan was Aman. This was a love triangle where Rahul loved Tina, Tina loved Rahul, Anjali loved Rahul and Aman loved Anjali. It may sound complicated but Johar simplified the narrative, adding his touches of froth and finesse. Since it was his debut, the audiences and critics were unaware of his understanding and definition of human relationships.
It came in the same year as Ram Gopal Varma's Satya, which consolidated its position as one of the greatest gangster films of Hindi Cinema that was for the ages. It was also the time when Govinda and his antics were at their peak, he was the infallible and highly impressionable movie star masses adored. Johar was battling some mammoth waves but had the support of Khan, who already became a force to reckon with, thanks to Yash Chopra. The music by Jatin-Lalit, as always, was composed for posterity.
Coming to the plot, the first half was a breeze, and highly contagious. Rahul and Anjali's banter could be two ordinary college students with ego issues and superiority complex. Tina was the college hottie everyone tried to woo, but in vain, this plot point inspired a barrage of filmmakers in the future. Rahul was the cool dude and the most popular student of St. Xavier's College. He could charm any girl he had his eyes on, and the 'Cool' chain became a major fashion statement. But Johar humanised his character when we discovered he clandestinely visits the temple every Tuesday.
Anjali was the geek, and probably one of the first female characters of Hindi Cinema to be friend-zoned, a term that became a lot more meaningful and popular with Johar's own, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. How often do we see girls falling for the boys first and subsequently being told, "We are just good friends?" Wasn't this line reserved for them? Shah Rukh and Kajol never came across as actors pretending to be these characters, for us, they were Rahul and Anjali. Their fights and banters, their separation and reunion felt real and rousing.
My favourite scene in the film is when they both meet again eight years later at his daughter's (also called Anjali) summer camp. It's a speechless scene powered by their expressions and reactions. They don't need to communicate to express their respective joys of seeing each other after so long. They let their faces do the talking. There were no villains in the story, unlike other love triangles where one character becomes the villain when he realises he cannot have the girl he loves. Aman was a pure soul and an equally affecting character.
You know he loves Anjali but also the fact he cannot have her, as she loves Rahul and Rahul too realises he loves Anjali. A part of you may feel upset for Aman, but you knew right at the beginning Rahul and Anjali were always meant to be together. Johar made a film that continues to be viewed and loved even today. The lenses captured the leads and the landscape with precision and panache, especially at a time when Bollywood made some dated and disastrous titles.
Somewhere, someone may have replicated the nuances of the three central characters in college or after. It's impossible not to react to their actions and dialogues. The legacy of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai continues to live on, and Johar will always be remembered for giving us Rahul, Anjali and Tina. Wish I could have a college life like Rahul!
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