During last week, Kuch Kuch Hota Hain trended for more than 48 hours on twitter. Reading the re-ignited and re-thoughtful opinions about the movie was quite fascinating. I say 're-' because it has been close to 13 years since its release but the movie has become a polarizing one - you either hate it or love it. This is also compounded by the fact that people bring personal characteristics of the stars associated with it and hardly provide any objective opinion on the movie. It is not a generalization, but my personal observation that people who have grew up on the movies of 1990s tend to like it more than people who have grew up on the movies of 2000s. But then latter is a generation for whom 'showering of love' means having 500 blog followers and 2000 twitter followers. Oh, well!
KKHH will always remain benchmark in Indian cinema because it started the trendy-hip-cool young romance in movies. Before it, the college scenes were shot in real, shabby locations which no doubt provided authenticity but hardly any visual appeal. It brought the escapist romance genre back, one in which you get drowned into the world of emotions and feelings and still enjoy it completely. Of course, the top notch technical team took the film to an altogether level; be it , cinematography(Santosh), art direction (Sarmistha Roy) and editing (Sanjay Sankla). But at the bottom of it all, it was the freshness and a lot of heart which took the movie to great heights.
It's not that film was free of flaws. Here are some nitpickings - (a) Tina leaves 8 letters to Rahul's daughter Anjali with a wish that each letter be read on her 8 birthdays. Fine, but what does a child till the age of 3-4 read in those letters, forget understanding it. (b) The character of Rahul turns to be extremely contrived, how can he be selfish to come right back in the life of Anjali when she was about to be married to Aman. That too when he has never bothered to be in touch with her in all these years or confess his feelings. Sexual frustration or emotional vacuum, some would say.
The tidbits associated with the movie are now tales in their own right - (a) How the role of Tina was rejected by at least 8 actress at that time including the newcomers Twinkle Khanna and Aishwarya Rai till it went to Rani Mukherji, a relatively unknown face who made her debut in a B-grade flick Raaja ki Aayegi Baarat. (b) How Javed Akthar refused to write the lyrics of KKHH after penning down beautiful lyrics for Yash Johar's Duplicate released earlier in that year only. He found the title of the movie too cheesy and asked KJ to change it. (c) How Salman Khan graciously offered to star in the movie in a relatively smaller role, rejected by low-grade actors of that time including Saif Ali Khan and Chandrachurn Singh.
The star of the movie for KKHH, however will always remain Kajol who transforms from a gawky, outspoken tomboy to a sexy, demure siren. Watch out for her in the scene where Tina gives a befitting reply to Rahul by singing the devotional song Om Jai Jagdish. Without uttering even one single dialogue, Kajol steals the show just at the strength of her pitch-perfect expressions. She is one actress you can't take your eyes off every time she appears on screen.... And then we had the the cute sardar who always left a smile on your face every time he appeared on screen and just ONE dialogue in the whole film - Tussi jaa rahe ho, tussi na jao!
The success of any film depends on how it brings around a cultural shift specially towards its target audience. The lines between Rahul and Anjali became folklore among the teenagers. The irritating nasal twitches, the i-don't-like-you punchline, the 3-step-handshake and the triangle-head-photographs; all this became part of life. It also brought back film merchandise into the market long time after Sooraj Barjatiya's Maine Pyaar Kiya started the trend. Instantly, the market was flooded with those tight red-and-black jackets, those multi-coloured POLO shorts, those C-O-O-L chains hung around the neck, those fancy cartoon-ish school bags of Anjali Jr., those Channel orange ladies handbags and soft toys with F-R-I-E-N-D-S-H-I-P engraved on it. Hell, it even brought back basketball into fashion...The badminton court at a club near my house was turned into the BB court overnight because of constant pressure of teenage children to play the sport.
Obviously, all this was repeated ad nauseam in the 2000s by the directors of Dharma Productions and Yash Raj Films that it all became plastic, too common and sadly, lost its charm. The high gloss, branded clothes, NRI tagged synthetic syntax became too overbearing and implausible to relate to. Everyone got into a herd mentality, the change from relatable cinema to escapist cinema became the way forward. The over line sensibilities were seduced and because it went for too long well into 2000s, it all turned unbearable and consumer started rejecting it.
The question is can there be another Kuch Kuch Hota hain? I doubt it. The innocence and the vulnerability has gone out of relationships. Everything has become materialistic and had to be satisfied instantly. The understanding of companionship has become more virtual, complicated and devoid of straight communication. The earthy feeling of being in romance has been substituted with the sudden bouts of unrealistic expectations and inherent puckishness. And that's why, KKHH will always remain the last genuine bubblegum romance of Bollywood.