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Man with the Midas touch

SREEDHAR PILLAI

Karan Johar's feel-good fantasies pale in comparison with his realistic and eagerly awaited `KANK'.



HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Karan Johar's Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna explores human relations.

`Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna' (`KANK'), the most eagerly awaited movie of the year, releases worldwide today. `KANK' opens with a record number of prints and huge advance bookings.

Karan Johar once again brings together an ensemble star cast — Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Abhishek, Rani Mukherjee, Preity Zinta, special appearance by Arjun Rampal and a rumoured one-scene cameo of Kajol, John Abraham and Kareena Kapoor! It can't get bigger than a Karan Johar film.

Karan has always tasted success with his films right from his early days as Aditya Chopra's assistant for `Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge' (1995) to his directorial debut with `Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' (1998), `Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham' (2001) to his productions `Kal Ho Naa Ho' (2004) and `Kaal' (2005). Karan, the `Man with the Midas Touch' to use a clichéd term, is on the verge of a hat-trick.

Creating young movies

On May 25, Karan turned 34. Says the director : "I am getting old and making films for today's youngsters is no longer a cakewalk. I used to feel young when I started out. Now I'm trying to create young movies."

About his new film `Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna,' Karan says: "Call it `KANK' if you are lazy! The movie is about human relationships and failing marriages set in contemporary background. If I say it is different, will you go and watch it? Let people say that after seeing my film." According to Karan, the complexity of human relationships has always perplexed him. The seemingly simple bonds between people cancause such upheaval that lives change drastically. And it forces us to question the age-old definitions of relationships and commitments.

Karan confesses: "The seeds for `KANK' lie in these thoughts. The alarming statistics of failing marriages in recent times, often made me wonder about the relevance of the institution to our society today."

`KANK' is set in Karan's favourite city — New York. Dev Saran (Shah Rukh Khan) is a professional football player whose promising career is nipped in the bud after an accident, which leaves him with a limp. .

He is married to Rhea (Preity Zinta), whose career as a fashion designer is on an upswing, and they have a six-year-old son Arjun. Then there is Samarjit Singh alias Sam (Amitabh Bachchan), a flamboyant, fun-loving man, whose only son Rishi Talwar (Abhishek Bachchan), a PR consultant with a gift of the gab, is married to his childhood friend, the quiet Maya (Rani Mukherjee), teacher in a nursery school.

The two couples seem content but things start to change when a chance encounter between Dev and Maya causes them to look into their marriages with a new perspective. It is a bold film by Bollywood standards as it attempts to delve into the grey area surrounding human relationships that have not been tried out so far in commercial Hindi films.

It shows how pressures of life, work and a permissive society have taken their toll on the institution of marriage. The message is clear that getting married is easy, but staying so is difficult!

The feel-good fantasies that Karan Johar made earlier pales in comparison with `KANK,' which is realistic. After a special preview, Amitabh Bachchan sent a huge bouquet of flowers and a hand-written note to Karan, saying how proud he was of the young director. Later in an interview, Bachchan commended that `KANK' is Karan's best work so far, a difficult and very mature subject that he has handled beautifully.


The performance of Shah Rukh Khan, in a mature role, is also being talked about in Mumbai's film circle.

But Karan is quick to point out that the film has all the essential ingredients such as good songs and his trademark humour. He has written the script with Shibani Bhatija.

Adds Karan: "I am a huge fan of my own music. `KANK's' music rocks and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have come out with chartbusters backed with mind-blowing choreography by Farah Khan."

Some of the numbers which have become popular are "Where's the party tonight... ," "Rock and Roll Soniye... ," the melodious "Mitwa... " and the haunting title song.

There have been media reports that `KANK' is a mixture of that classic Alan Bridges `Brief Encounter' (1974) featuring Richard Burton-Sofia Loren, who meet in a railroad station and find themselves in a brief but intense affair and Mike Nicholas' `Closer' (2004), an intriguing story of passion, drama and love.

Karan denies it and says: " `KANK' has nothing to do with these films. My film raises a few questions about human relationships and will also inspire people to resolve their issues. All this is told in a typical Karan Johar style entertainment format."

The industry pundits predict that `KANK' which has a U/A certificate, will take the biggest ever opening for an Indian film worldwide. This immense confidence and faith in `Brand Karan' is due to the fact that he has never failed so far!

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