Quite often, we come across certain characters in movies which you either love or hate, period. There is no middle path to relate to them. They are generally most talked about, continuously deliberated and still the opinion about them always remain divided. In this new film series, i will share thoughts on characters in movies which i have always found myself hooked to and fascinated with.
Maya (Rani Mukherjee) in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (2006)
A lot of people raised questions about the kind of women who is projected in KANK as Maya. She has a caring and devoted husband (Rishi, Abhishek Bachchaan), probably a rarity these days. Still, she don't feel anything for him...hardly reciprocate his feelings and later, fall into an extra-marital affair with another married man (Dev, Shah Ruk Khan). It was labelled as anti-Indian, dangerous to (sham) cultural values and an encouragement to have relations outside marriage. This basic conflict and point of contention is quite preposterous to me.
How can it be wrong for a women NOT to feel attracted towards a particular man, in this situation unfortunately, her own husband. Don't we know of women who are forced or emotionally blackmailed into arrange marriages or in the case of KANK , married to make the other family happy. Don't we know of women who don't feel attracted to men at any level - be it emotional or sexual...but still carry on the relationship all their lives. This is pretty much part of Indian culture, still the so called superficial torch bearers never see this side of the relationships. Or they refuse to see and acknowledge it.
Yes, you can argue that be it man or woman, you have to constantly work on the relationship to make it better. Non-attraction of any form should not be an excuse to stray away from the marital bond. This was probably my problem in the character portrayed - there was hardly any indication (except one, see next paragraph) about Rani working on the marriage even when she knew exactly what is not working in the relationship. But if you peel the layers of the film you will realise that the character is deliberately designed to confuse. KANK does not offer solutions, it unabashedly offers mirror to some pertinent loopholes in Indian arrange marriage structure. The character in itself is complex, but made even more engaging by the constant deliberations of Maya... in between being a good wife or an happy person.
Some people would say that the S&M act by Maya is an indication that she desperately wants to spice her married life with Rishi. But clearly the provocation of taking that plunge is provided by Dev, who himself is suffering from the inferiority complex of a disturbed relationship. The effort put in by Maya is just a sham; it does not arises from her own interpretation of a successful marriage but from the sensibilities pushed from another failed marriage. You can instantly tell why Maya fall for Dev; they both are covered extensively inside the emotional turmoil. Their problems are more in the minds; less in reality. He can't play soccer any more, she can't be a mother any more. He has a broken leg, she has a broken womb. He is sick of his wife being serious all the time, she is sick of her husband being funny all the time. He is embittered by his professional shortcomings, she is disappointed with her personal failings. They are imperfect people trying to find perfection in their respective marriages; in turn making it even more imperfect.
Watch the scene in which sitting in a dinner hosted by Sam, Dev utters the truth of his affair with Maya, but at the very next moment makes a joke out of it thinking about the consequences. This perfectly encapsulates the vulnerabilities of their relationship; one part which wants to break down all the barriers of previous relationships and another which wants to hold on to the sanctity of marriage.
I don't think it was a particularly good film; there were few loopholes in the script and was about 30 minutes too long for me. But that is the matter of another post. I wanted to convey the dichotomy of Maya's character. Because in the end, which ever way you want to look at it...only she can fully make you comprehend the film's basic premise - Perfect lovers don't make perfect husbands, you need perfect, or almost perfect love to make a perfect marriage.