February 19, 2020
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Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

Watch it; then decide if it

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Kajol
Director: Karan Johar
Rating: **

K3G marks a thumping return to the easy comfort of The Formula—one that is about traditions, relations, generations and also the nation; one that doesn't test your intellect or imagination. But, stretching over three hours, it does test your patience.

Pa and Ma Raichand (the Bachchans) love their adopted son Rahul (SRK) more than their biological son Rohan (Hrithik). Pa Raichand wants Rahul to marry Rani (the Mukherjee). However, Rahul's heart beats for the loud and boisterous Punjabi kudi Anjali (Kajol), the daughter of a Chandni Chowk halwai. Pa rejects the bahu, so beta storms out, heads straight for London and builds a bharatiya nest in Hampstead where youngsters dance at proms but also sing Jana Gana Mana. Finally, Rohan brings the two together and so effortlessly that you wonder what the whole fuss was all about.

The film literally lives up to its name—making you laugh and cry alternately. The narrative is interspersed with sumptuous song-'n-dance items that appear with rhythmic precision. Everything, from the choice of lead actors, their lines and gestures to the good-looking extras and glitzy chandeliers, is perfectly coordinated and beautifully orchestrated. Nonetheless fake and affected; monochromatic despite the profusion of colours.

k3g can make even the rich feel terribly deprived. Its stars are the kinds who'd wear chiffon and pearls even while mopping the house; except they'd never indulge in such mundane chores anyways. The Raichand house is a Scottish castle roomy enough to accommodate an entire neighbourhood. Here people make their entries and exits in choppers instead of a Mercedes. They order firangi dancers to provide party entertainment. What's more, this made-to-order, opulent haven happens to be just walking distance away from the designer lanes of Chandni Chowk. Fantasy, yes. Willing suspension of disbelief, alright. But how long can we keep chewing the same visual bubblegum—from HAHK to DDLJ to KKHH to DTPH to k3g to...

Then what's it that makes the cloying nostalgia and instant patriotism of k3g work? Smart packaging. Johar is able to tap into the charisma of his stars and create set pieces—emotional, comic and dramatic—that tingle with high "70mm" voltage. k3g proves that srk is not an actor, he is THE STAR. His dimpled charm spills over smoothly in the romantic and comic encounters. However, it's Kajol who takes the cake, cream and the cherry. She plays to the gallery with abandon and underlines her over-the-top character with an infectious sense of fun. k3g is watchable as a celebration of showmanship and star power. Watch it; then decide if it's uplifting cinema or slick toothpaste.

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