This day marks 20 years since Kuch Kuch Hota Hai released. Feeling old yet? On October 16, 1998, when Karan Johar’s directorial debut Kuch Kuch Hota Hai released, it became a smashing hit and shattered the Box Office. The movie left everyone raving about it, from school kids to young adults. The movie is considered ‘holy’ by many Bollywood buffs who count it as one of the most romantic movies Bollywood has ever produced.
But if you revisit the story today, you’ll know How Karan Johar’s venture strengthened gender stereotypes, gave an unsettling idea of love and friendship and demeans women in many forms. Here goes:
- The part that we never understood in this movie was the main dialogue - "We live once, we die once, we get married once and love once..." Deep down Shah Rukh must have been in love with Anjali (Kajol) but what was it that pulled him towards Tina (Rani). He did all those things twice ...so who did he really love? Also, if Rani was still alive, down the road would Shah Rukh ever have realized his feelings for Kajol?
- A bewildering idea of a woman who is about to die and who has her heart set on getting her husband married to his ex-best friend, made a master plan of contacting her eight years later via her daughter who was just born then. She could have just called her or wrote directly to her. But whatever! Logic may rest in peace.
- Fast Forward – Anjali (Sana Saeed) meets Anjali (Kajol) at summer camp. Creep that she is, the kid doesn’t spare a minute before freaking out her teachers and does everything possible to get his dad hitched again. For God's sake, which eight-year-old has the emotional capacity to understand relationships and interpersonal equations?
- Rahul likes Anjali as a friend. That's okay. But when her daughter asks him about her, all he could recollect is that Anjali used to dress up like a boy. Is that the first thing you remember about your best friend after years? And after seeing her dressed ‘lady-like’ in a Saree, he falls for her. Rahul’s love for Tina is considered more of an infatuation than true love. Rani played Tina, who was a super hot college babe, wore short skirts and yet could jolt you by singing a perfect ‘Aarti’, which implies that she was cultured too. Rahul’s character seems too shallow, immature and forces women into gender-specific dress codes.
- The only sensible character in the film is Aman played by Salman Khan, who likes Anjali, knowing that she doesn’t love him back, yet behaves nicely and respects her for who she is and at the end, leaves their wedding for a Rahul-Anjali reunion. Why did Anjali go running to a demeaning, Rahul leaving a much-in-love, Aman? The question is as impactful as ‘Why did Katappa killed Baahubali'.
- When Anjali starts feeling jealous of Tina and Rahul’s growing friendship, she tries her hand at sexy-dressing and dons a midi skirt to college. Rahul, who claims to be her best friend, sides with Tina, while laughing and humiliating Anjali in a public place? What a philanderer!
In a recent interview with PTI, 20 years after making people fall in love with his idea of romance in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Karan Johar too agreed that the film's much-fancied hero, Rahul was "a bit of a fraud". Karan has confessed that he didn’t think enough while making this film as he was preoccupied with the idea of a stereotypical, commercial potboiler.
However, with all its ridiculous bits, we still find this movie entertaining. But there’s one thing for sure: there are no life lessons to be taken from the movie. No, Please don’t!