Kal Ho Naa Ho Hindi Movie

Feature Film | 2003 | 3h 6min
Nov 3, 2003 By Subhash K. Jha

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Karan Johar has scored a hat-trick. His Kal Ho Naa Ho (even though he carries the producer's tag on it) is slated to be a hit. There aren't two ways about it.

The film works - albeit mildly, on almost all the parameters - be it direction, characterization, performances, music and production. Not to mention art direction, locales and the over all look of the film.

To set doubts to rest right at the beginning, it isn't a take off on either Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Anand or Asit Sen's Safar. Except for the fact that a hero has to die in the end - incidentally, for which you are prepared halfway through the film, there is no similarity.

The weeping, wailing and a-tissue-needed-a-minute (which spelt the doom for K3G-detractors) are kept to a minimum. And the credit for that can safely be given to debutant director Nikhil Advani who does a very commendable job for a first timer.

That the film belongs to Advani and not Johar Jr. is clear from the fact that the film is more funny than sad. In addition, not only does Advani have his characters exactly where he wants them, he also contains them - including the biggest hamster himself.

Yes, Shah Rukh Khan - for once - probably after a Yes Boss and a Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa is not Shah Rukh Khan but Aman Mathur, the character he essays. For once you truly forget that SRK is here to play himself. Preity Zinta as Naina Catherine Kapur, her mother Jennifer (Jaya Bachchan) and her 'friend' Rohit (Saif Ali) are the perfect foils for SRK's histrionics, which don't go overboard.

The tenor and tone of the film rests on the dialogues and screenplay, the former penned by Niranjan Iyengar and the latter the brain-child of Karan Johar. More than once reminiscent of Farhan Akhtar's Dil Chahta Hai - in terms of its candid, urbane humour, KHNH's fresh, cheeky attitude comes from its lead characters.

Funny for most part, the film makes a transition to tragedy in the end with ease. Even better rather than find the weepy scenes funny and unbelievable, one finds oneself empathizing with the characters' plight.

The film's music - especially so its signature tune and Pretty Woman number - is melodious and hummable. But lacks Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy's magic. A Dil Chahta Hai score is just too brilliant and maybe one can forgive them for not matching upto it.

What definitely comes through is the fact Dil Chahta Hai has set the tone for future Bollywood romances/comedies. No longer will the melodrama overshadow intelligent, believable humour.

Dil Chahta Hai showed the way (is still light years ahead) but KHNH has taken the hint. The irrerevence for hallowed Hindi cinema and its protected formulae is much in evidence - again a hangover from Dil Chahta Hai.

KHNH has definitely made Karan Johar a Hero once again and SRK gets to retain his King-ly status.

Subhash K. Jha