The quintessential Bollywood hero can get away with a lot of things. But the one thing that the audience cannot digest is the man being unfaithful to his wife. And that was the main reason why I hated Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna when it released.
How could Shah Rukh Khan, the one who epitomizes love in our hearts step out on his wife? I had hated every bit of SRK in that movie when I saw it for the first time. He was angry, mean, manipulative and just a big pain. I felt like shouting out to him, “Grow up dammit!” On one side there was this ideal husband/ boyfriend kind of person in Abhishek Bachchan. And on the other, there is this grouch. Why in the world would someone fall for him?
I saw the film again a couple of days ago and I realized that I had not understood the movie back then. I understood it now. And let me tell you, that movie made me fall a little bit more in love with Mr Khan (if that is even possible). KANK is SRK’s boldest move till date.
Yes he has played out and out negative psychopaths before. But this is different. He had the courage to play a man who cheats on his wife. We have had mainstream heroes earlier who have done this role before. But there has always been a subtle sadness to their stories, giving some kind of justification to their actions. Here in KANK, there is no other justification than pure attraction. And the character’s own shortcomings.
I don’t think anybody mainstream has ever attempted it so beautifully. He took my breath away. He is not the good guy of the movie. Nor is he the complete baddie. He is somewhere in between. In our society, people can tolerate their patriarchal heroes doing violence, eve teasing, and all other kind of shit. But they always come home to their wives . That is what the audience wants.
Shah Rukh Khan had the guts to play a guy who is totally unsuccessful in life according to society standards. Who is mean, angry, and cynical. And who steps out of his marriage. SRK, at the height of his stardom, had the courage to, firstly take up that role, and then secondly play him the way he supposed to be played. He is not supposed to be loved by the audience. The sympathies of the audience are not supposed to be with him. And he put aside his star ego and did just that.
The movie is lovely. But too ahead of its time at least for me personally. Today when I watched it, I could appreciate all the beautiful nuances of the characters. I could see the justification behind the decision of Dev and Maya stepping out in their own heads. Today the characters were not so frivolous because they were not using any other plotline reasoning to get together. They were being the characters.
The credit goes to Mr Karan Johar too. Most of it. It’s a beautiful, underrated story of relationships, their frailties and the human shortcomings. I wish it could have released today.