There’s nothing pretty about extra-marital relationships. Which is why it’s unusual that Karan Johar - whose emotion-filled films are usually chocolate mousse for the filmi soul - should choose to make a film about infidelity or
the imperfections in a marriage.
So what is Johar’s take on the issue that’s as old as the institution of marriage itself? Well it’s rather long-winded. Three-and-a-half-hours long and somehow the sappy ending - and the running commentary, which sounds like making excuses - doesn’t quite work.
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Johar touches on plenty of issues all right. Through Preity Zinta and Shah Rukh Khan, he explores the ego tussles between a more-successful wife and her husband. Adding to Shah Rukh’s frustration is a broken leg, which cuts short his dream of a professional football career. Shah Rukh is the soccer dad who doesn’t quite connect with his violin-playing son, doesn’t enjoy being the at-home dad, doesn’t like that his wife is too busy managing work and "being the man".
Through Rani Mukerji and Abhishek Bachchan’s relationship Johar explores a marriage that is one-sided and childless.
The problem does not lie in Johar’s exploration of the issues. He observes marriages rather well. The problem is that he tries to find redemption for his lead pair, in love. Ultimately, it is all the fault of
, which, he says through one of his characters, like death arrives without notice and without invitation (any philandering soul would love this simple justification).
About the actors, Shah Rukh and Rani get more mileage than the rest. KANK may have a cast with six stars but the story largely revolves around him. However, Johar does not paint him all white. In fact, his character is probably the least likeable. Amitabh Bachchan, as the ageing Casanova, does his part with ease and his role provides relief. Rani and Preity are equally good in the emotional scenes but particularly believable is Abhishek Bachchan, as the husband who finds out that he has been cheated on.
For those who love the Karan Johar style of filmmaking - gorgeous settings, to-die-for wardrobes, lilting music and get-jiggy-with-it dance numbers - it’s all there. However, he should now relocate to another setting. New York looks exactly as it did in his earlier production, Kal Ho Naa Ho, and one is beginning to tire of dried maple leaves flying around.
Has Johar grown up? Well, he’s found out that marriages aren’t always perfect but like any adolescent his search for a happy ending is naive.