Even after ten years, Karan Johar’s “Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna” continues to remain highly polarized . It had opened to an extremely mixed response back then, and fast forward 2017 still receives brickbats for exploring adultery. While there are many points that validates most of the people’s reasoning that ranges from ‘too long duration’ to ‘being extremely over-sentimental’ in addition to Johar not being everyone’s favorite filmmaker. However, what I personally feel why the film was hated and received polarizing response was, ‘It hit where it was supposed to‘. No matter how much we try to cover up and try to paint our reasons convincingly, we have admit this harsh fact that extra-marital affair is a reality no one can escape.
Dev (Shah Rukh Khan) is a soccer coach and his wife Rhea (Preity Zinta) is a successful fashion magazine editor. Dev, who’d met with an accident permanently damaging his one leg four years ago, lives with remorse of not being able to play soccer and witnessing soaring career graph of his wife develops acute inferior complex. Maya (Rani Mukherjee) is married to her childhood best friend Rishi Talwar (Abhishek Bachchan). Rishi loves Maya but she doesn’t or I would say, she could never reciprocate his feelings because she finds out that she is infertile and seems to believe that he is selfish.
Dev and Maya, who once met each other four years back having had a deep conversation about love, life and happiness moments before she was about to tie knot and he met an accident, reconnect over a not-so-hilarious episode. Realizing that their marriage have hit a rock bottom and are in a similar situation, they decide to help each other to make things workout however in the process they genuinely fall in love with each other, eventually crosses the boundaries of their marriage, and sleeps together breaking apart their wedlock beyond repair.
What I really loved about Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna is Karan treated this sensitive subject with full honesty, It was truly about infidelity and not leftover love. The pace with which the marital cords of the couples gets soured with time is intimidating yet thought-provoking.The desperation to be who they are, their attempt to express what they want to say sans being judged, the social conformity with which they live everyday is portrayed with dexterity. The sequences where on one hand, calm and composed Rhea slaps Dev on hearing his confession of having cheated her for Maya and Rishi breaking things in rage when Maya confesses on having slept with Dev, was masterfully shot.
I read Baradwaj Rangan’s review where he specifically mentioned the diversity in Rishi and Rhea’s reaction to the confessions; while Rishi wanted to know if Maya enjoyed sleeping with him while Rhea -completely composed – wanted to know how true was Dev’s love for Maya. There’s big difference, while he was emphasizing on the sexual aspect, Rhea tried to get the grip on the emotional connection, making it clear – without sounding sexist – that how differently a man and woman’s mind work. It was indeed an insightful thought which I am sure most of us might’ve not noticed.
Dev and Maya did pay for the mistakes they committed, after all they were bad spouses yet I couldn’t help but empathize with the fact that they were truly meant for each other, their love was so strong they lied for three years making an impression that things are sorted when in reality, they were deserted and had to live their life independently believing they’ll never meet again.
“What would you do if you meet a right person at the wrong time and because you married a wrong person at the right time?” and this how beautifully Karan put his point across with this film. Dev and Maya are completely flawed individuals whereas their respective spouses are extremely successful and charming and that’s where exactly their marriage has started getting to rot; compatibility is missing, they’re way too perfect for them as a result leads to suffocation. I know a lot of people who particularly criticized Rani Mukherjee’s Maya for choosing a jerk like Dev over her husband Rishi who is a die-hard romantic and would do anything to get her love. Not many of them realized is she doesn’t hate him, but she couldn’t love him the way he did. After all love cannot be enforced.
The other aspect of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna was ‘Forgiveness’. it’s not easy to forgive those who’ve hurt you knowing that you loved them enough to put your trust on them and if you’re being urged to forgive your ex-lover or ex-husband or ex-wife who’d cheated on you then task is herculean. Rishi and Rhea is seen to eventually comes to term with their permanently damaged marriage, decides for separation but releasing their exes with love, care and reassurance.
Rishi meets Maya to invite her for his wedding as a friend, there Rhea and Maya cross paths, you can see Maya hesitates to see her eye-to-eye because she feels guilty of having destroyed a woman’s life by getting involved with her husband but Rhea, on the contrary, never had such grudges against her, in fact she encouraged Maya to rekindle her relationship with Dev and urged her to put past behind and start a new life.
Forgiveness leads to great clarity of thoughts and heart and opens up wide range of emotions, you get the opportunity to reclaim your life all over again, strategically restructuring your life with new emotions, new desire, new ambition and with rejuvenated sense of love for self and others and that is exactly what Dev and Maya did. They went ahead to create a beautiful world for themselves with no more hindrance.
The film ended imparting a message that Love should be the only foundation of marriage but not at the expense of hurting others, while it is true, sometimes it takes a heart-break to realize the power of love and forgiveness.