Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Is KANK really so lank?

Well well, everyone's gone and panned KANK, so I must be contrary. Never thought I would say this, but it really turned out to be better than what I'd expected.

You can say clever things about having low expectations and you might be right. But the fact remains that in spite of having to clutch my head in agony at times, I still thought the film did get a few things right. And no, unlike this gentleman, I don't believe a film about infidelity in marriage has to be dark and sombre.

Yes, it was too picturesque. Rani Mukherjee got on my nerves too with her photogenic crying. Both heroines looked as if they'd had to spend the better part of the day putting on eye makeup. Rani's clothes were all wrong, magnificent though her bosom looks. Some of the attempts to make the film wholesome family entertainment, such as by including bits of a kiddie football match, are pathetic. Some of the humour is quite misplaced, as Jai has pointed out. As for SRK, we must all be inured to him by now and must not complain. On the contrary, I am tempted to forgive him for some of the funniest lines which I suspect came from him (like asking Rani in the last scene if she isn't a bit overdressed for the station).

And also, I still haven't figured out why the two lovers go off to make noble confessions to their respective spouses, after having decided to call their affair off. I mean, one of the partners might have such misguided honourable feelings but two people at the same time? That's stretching it a bit.

And yes, I am coming to the reasons why I liked the film. I loved the way Amitabh and Kiron Kher flirt outrageously, I like how Amitabh while dying doesn't hold Rani's hand and beg her to save her marriage, I liked Preity Zinta's character immensely (and that well-timed slap), I like the fact that even smaller characters like the kid Arjun are developed to some extent. Also, I like the way Rani and Shah Rukh delude themselves into believing they are meeting up to discuss their failing marriages, while their attraction towards each other become quite obvious.
Needless to say, people having extra marital affairs do need to have a high degree of ability and willingness to delude themselves , and I don't think it at all unnatural that they take their spouses out for dinner (though to the same restaurant is again silly and unlikely) and spend it staring at the each other.

Which brings me essentially to my main point. Which is that KANK is a majorly confused film made by a director who has a certain set of sensibilities, which he tries to sugar-coat for presentation to an audience that comprises (in a big way) of people with an entirely different understanding of such matters. Which then results in tedious and unnecessary explanations (like the one for Amitabh and Kirron Kher's friendship), several expository scenes (such as Shah Rukh and Rani finally taking the sexual plunge after she makes him jealous at the theatre) and lots and lots of contradictions and over-emphasising.

Clearly, Karan Johar needs to get out of the family entertainment trap before he can translate his 'modern' ideas into a really modern film.

And oh, I also wish he would quickly get tired of New York. I just cannot bear to see autumn leaves swishing around ever again or Shah Rukh Khan walking/shuffling/running with arms outstretched along a picturesque bridge.


At August 23, 2006 9:27 PM, Blogger Jabberwock said...

No major argument with anything you've said here, except that for me the things it got wrong just spoiled the whole show and put a cloud over whatever good there was in the film.

Btw, the idea that everyone has panned KANK is shown to be less true with each passing day. A few of my friends who had a lukewarm response to it went and saw it again (which I could never do at this point) and came out with vastly nicer things to say. And one colleague's written a decent long piece for BS about the Preity Zinta character representing a new avatar of the Bollywood career woman.

Also, the NDTV We The People with KJ, SRK etc might make some viewers rethink their original assumptions about the film (I made the point that SRK and Rani's characters were such losers they probably wouldn't even be happy together. Well, that's exactly what SRK said on the show - so maybe you're not supposed to think of it in standard happy-ending terms.)

I suspect it will develop a cult status of sorts, and in 10 years or so most people might have revised their original opinion of it.

At August 23, 2006 10:42 PM, Blogger Bald Monkey said...

Good discourse. One of the first balanced ones I have seen. However, what you have attributed to confusion would be something I would attribute to ineptitude on the part of the director.
Karan Johar is not capable of narrating a story. That is his problem. He is the master of creating rosy situations and attitude movies. That is the limit of his ken. In this movie he has tried to narrate a story and has failed. To cloak his failure, he has thrown in a bunch of his tried and tested smarmy situations.
I still have no clue as to why the two fell in love, or what they really wanted and were looking for, which they found in each other. Rather unconvincing. To convince the audience, one needs story-telling skills and Karan Johar simply does not have any.

At August 24, 2006 1:00 PM, Blogger Priya said...

A particular friend has been trying to coax, cajole, emotionally blackmail and even pay for me to watch it. Even your balanced opinion, can't drag me to watch it:P

At August 24, 2006 2:09 PM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

Jabberwock: Ya, like everyone's praising Silsila to the heavens these days. But in some ways that's an even sillier look at extra-marital romance in which the couple were actually in love with each other before they were forced to mary other people.

And to answer Bald Monkey at the same time, there isn't always a solid reason why we fall for certain people is there? I could rationalise Rani and Shah Rukh falling for each other quite well -- some people are naturally attracted to negative, sad people. And their partners are the exact opposites: positive, energetic, practical. So it might be quite natural for them to gravitate towards characters similar to their own, no?

Priya: Try it, it's really not so bad. Though tedious in parts and not a very satisfying film if you know what I mean. But all I'm trying to say here is its theories are actually somewhat in place, it's the practice that goes wrong.

At August 24, 2006 2:49 PM, Blogger Anamika Anyone said...

This is the first "a little good,a little bad" review I've read for KANK. Wonderful effort, but still not going to watch it.

At August 24, 2006 4:44 PM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

Actually, B Rangan did a far more balanced and coherent review earlier, so this is definitely not a first:


At August 25, 2006 10:14 AM, Blogger the cowlick said...

I must first confess I haven't seen the film, but am only giving my opinion based on reviews. I simply think we are not the target audience for this film. The topic only seems 'modern', but so is divorce - the latter being embraced by Indian society in general at an alarmingly fast rate; and not always for the right reasons. Divorce has become an option now and so have perhaps extra-marital affairs (just because people can). We cannot expect people in general, the ones who are the main target of this film and of all the saas-bahu serials, to have the same reasons for acceptance of/conversation about the two topics as people with higher sensibilities do.

What I'm saying is that modernity has taken on a completely different meaning in India. It isn't this or that anymore. It's a combination of this as well as that. It is common for a guy to be cool with a wife who smokes, yet expect her to wear a sari every time she meets his parents.

Maybe KJ has tried to do exactly that. Mix two contrary sensibilies and make an Indianised version of it?

At August 25, 2006 3:59 PM, Blogger Ron said...

Well, I havent seen the movie, but the promos looked exactly like the ones for Kal Ho Na Ho, complete with swirling autumn leaves and SRK with those inevitable outstretched arms and equallyinevitable constipated expression!! Sigh!! I struggled long and hard against watching this movie, but now the boy is using your post to tell me "even your friends gave it a try and liked it, why cant you ". Sniff!! Its all your fault.

At August 28, 2006 1:16 AM, Blogger Rapid I Movement said...

The demise of SRK is the saddest part...he should do another of those Darr, Baazigar ones...

At August 28, 2006 5:35 PM, Blogger kaushik said...

Well, one of the best ways to like a movie is to have the least expectations of it.. I have not read thru your post but anything to do with KANK and Mr. Big Mouth Khan anyways is uninteresting.. However I wud disagree on one count.. Who said KANK is panned. Who dare do that to cosy gay pair who is supposed to be the a powerful combo.

At August 30, 2006 9:38 AM, Blogger Sue said...

Your post (and Dhoomketu's) got me thinking on other things, so I've linked. Hope that's ok.

At September 03, 2006 4:38 PM, Anonymous Avantika said...

First-time visitor here...found your review very perceptive.

What I found most interesting about the movie is how much it reveals about its audience. Talk to people what they thought of the movie and its characters, and you get to know a lot about their values, attitude to relationships and understanding of human nature.

At September 04, 2006 9:12 PM, Blogger Rimi said...

Where's the new post? X-( Amake to khoob resting-on-past-laurels and wotnot bola hochhilo!

At September 05, 2006 4:53 PM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

The Cowlick: Don't know if you've seen the film yet or not, but the point I'm making is that this film can't decide who it's for. It tries to be a rom com, a serious look at marriage and a saas-bahi serial AT THE SAME TIME, which is its biggest failure.

Ron: (evil laughter)

RIM: Err, demise? In what sense do you mean? Surely not artistic?

Kaushik: 'I have not read thru your post but anything to do with KANK and Mr. Big Mouth Khan anyways is uninteresting..' Yeah? How flattering you are!

Sue: I read your post and liked it immensely. Thanks for the link.

Avantika: That's a great point you make there, about the film and its audience.

Rimi: Here we gooooo.


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