Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)

kkhh_rain

Ah, the ’90s: swelling orchestral music, wind machines, flowing chiffons, campy sound effects, foreign song locales, palatial mansions, excess on every front. How I love excess! Especially when it includes Shah Rukh’s twisty almost-crying face. Why is it that he can make that face and I don’t want to toss things at the screen? Why is it that I love this film so very very much? It should annoy me, but it doesn’t. It’s corny and cartoony and shamelessly manipulative, but it tugs at my every heartstring. I always end up awash in tears—and loving every minute of it.

People talk a lot about Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge in context with this movie. I have a confession: I don’t really like DDLJ. What ruins that film for me is that Kajol’s life is completely controlled by the men in it, neither of whom seems very interested in what she might want or need. I just can’t get past that and enjoy the rest. Luckily KKHH contains no such deal-breaker: the people in it mostly behave as I might myself (with the exception of Tina’s ridiculous self-sacrifice in risking her life without including Rahul on the discussion—ugh! how unfair is that?!), and they are all people I wouldn’t mind hanging out with.

The casting has a lot to do with it. There’s no denying the chemistry between Shah Rukh and Kajol, but it’s also there between Shah Rukh and Rani. I have no trouble understanding why Rahul falls head over heels for Tina even though his affection for Anjali is so obvious too.

kkhh_rani

And poor Anjali! She wins you over right away with her fearless, feisty, warm and generous personality.

But for me the way the story and characters are written is truly what I appreciate. These are real people, and although the settings contain all that 90s excess (and the story too, to some degree), I can relate. I feel involved. I love that the grownups actually have good advice to offer, instead of urging the younger generation on towards some destructive and repressive behavior.

kkhh_advice

Even if the advice doesn’t work out so well, it’s still solid! And though Tina understands Anjali’s feelings and feels compassion for her, she doesn’t indulge in any fits of self-sacrifice. Anjali herself—although she steps aside—doesn’t do so as an act of sacrifice, but because she knows that Rahul’s feelings for Tina have prevailed over any he might have had for her. (The same holds true, of course, for Salman’s character in the second half.) His confusion, anger and sadness at the train station—oh clueless man!—are very realistic.

kkhh_station

There is no curse of the second half in this film, either. In fact, it’s a payoff that really delivers in spades! It builds beautifully on the backstory, and I’ve rarely anticipated anything so eagerly in a film as I did the Rahul-Anjali reunion at summer camp, the first time I saw this. First of course we meet Anjali again, and she’s getting engaged to Aman (Salman Khan). No more the tomboy, she looks effortlessly elegant in her bridal attire! Incidentally it’s also one of my favorite Salman roles, even though it’s only a “guest appearance.”

kkhh_salman

In any case, I think I hold my breath every time I watch Rahul race across the bridge towards Camp Sunshine and his beloved daughter as well as—if he only knew it—the other Anjali.

kkhh_shimla

How rare a gift is that kind of anticipation in real life—even onscreen or in a book it’s a treat. Shah Rukh and Kajol both describe the reunion scene between Rahul and Anjali as their favorite in the film. If you have even one romantic bone in your body, how can you not just crumble under the emotional weight?

kkhh_reunited

From that point on I dissolve into tears on a regular basis. Watching as they reacquaint themselves with each other, and argue again like they used to—with an adult awareness now, though, of the intimacy implied in that sparring—is just a romantic’s nirvana. (My staple teenaged reading diet was Georgette Heyer, Barbara Cartland and Harlequin Romances, much to my English teacher mother’s disgust.)

There is romance and tension and passion in this to spare—without a single kissing scene!

kkhh_thehand

And at every turn throughout the film is the music by Jatin Lalit. It’s perfect and beautiful, from the lively “Saajanji Ghar Aaye” to the plaintive “Tujhe Yaad Na Meri Aaye” and including the theme song (which fits any mood). The lavish picturizations don’t hurt either!

kkhh_song

kkhh_song2

How I adore this film: bad wigs, weeping children, Johny Lever and all!

kkhh_farida_johny

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69 Comments to “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)”

  1. My staple teenaged reading diet was Georgette Heyer, Barbara Cartland and Harlequin Romances, much to my English teacher mother’s disgust.

    Jinx!

    Ah, KKHH – how on earth did an Archie comic helmed by a first-timer become the Holy Grail of Crossover Bollywood? I’ve met plenty of people who like to sneer at this movie – but not a single person have I met who’s walked out on it. I remember screening it for a bunch of Bollywood virgins in college and every single one of them began by going “oh please!” every two minutes and ended by saying things like “if they don’t get together, I’m going to throw rocks at that TV!”

  2. I am constantly reminded of the Archie gang throughout the first half too! :) And I’ll tell you, this post has taken weeks to write…I have no idea how to explain why I love it so. It’s just so ROMANTIC. But so are lots of other films, which don’t match this one’s charm somehow.

    (And I still buy romances occasionally at yard sales.)

  3. “Ah, the ’90s: swelling orchestral music, wind machines, flowing chiffons, campy sound effects, foreign song locales, palatial mansions, excess on every front.”

    –So very aptly put!! The violins (a style brought back by Nadeem Shravan), and chiffons and helicopters and shahrukh khan getting off those helicopters, neat dressing, barring a character or two…and nice, romantic or at the least, hummable melodies!

    When kuchh kuchh hota hain came out, it was a pure sensation. I remember it was the 16 of us, in our undergrads, first year when we went to see this film, and ALL of us were crying with Anjali in that rain scene where Rahul proposes to Tina. And that run across that wooden bridge….that almost killed the girls!! :D

    The funny thing is, now it’s almost a blasphemy in declaring that you love this film. People get very judgmental and worked up that you could love something as prosaic and as silly AND, adding indignation to injury–think of it as romantic! It could be due to the anti-shahrukh air that has come up now or people just don’t want to face the fact that this movie, with all its masala and predictability could be so lovable.

    Much alike how, almost everybody liked the music of “Phir teri kahani yaad aayee” (another 90s movie) which comprised of the anthems of each contemporary teenager, and now those grown-up teenagers condemn Kumar Shanu at every opportunity!!

  4. ..and I just love the song ‘kuch kuch hota hai’, along with ‘tujhe yaad na meri aayi’ Heavenly!!!!!

    I’m also a great fan of romantic films :-) and I love this film (more than DDLJ)

    • Really all the songs are great—they get stuck in my head for days, in a good way.

      Yay for romance! Hindi cinema does romance so very very well.

  5. A classic! I too bawled like a baby the first time I saw this (and the following times…). While the beginning high school-as-college scenes are excruciatingly cheesy, I somehow still buy into it. And the music! You mentioned the two picturizations which make me cry every single time I watch them!

    Ahh, the 90s.

  6. Not feeling the film now. Didnt feel it then. Just annoying. Possibly almost as annoying as kabhi kushi kabhi gham or mohabbatein.

    • Ha ha! K3G is okay but I don’t love it and I positively HATE HATE Mohabbatein. But how I love this film…I won’t ever make you watch it with me though!

  7. An absolute classic, i remember watching this at the local indian cinema when i was 8 and being totally moved and loving the 90’s-ness of it! If only i could twirl around in the Scottish hillside, this movie is one of my favorites coz I LOVVEE archie and the movie translates the characters very well!

  8. Yes me too like this movie a lot. Esp that scene when Rahul is consoling Anjali for her stupid makeover and Tina tries to slip away and Rahul hangs on to her arm.

    It brought a whole new look to Indian cinema, made it more hep, allowed the heroines to look more trendy.

  9. I howled like a banshee at the opening scene where Anjali cries about her mom. sniff sniff.

  10. Well, I still read Georgette Heyers. Barbara Cartland, not in a long while, but I loved her violet eyed heroines. Have still to meet someone with violet eyes, though.

    I agree totally with you. I like only the Europe tour section of DDLJ. The rest is suffocating with all that patriarchy.

    And KKHH, despite it’s Archie campiness, which I detested when I first saw it, has weathered well. I’ve watched it over and over again, and loved it each time, specially the portion when Anjali and Rahul meet again. Gives me the goose bumps every time.

    • The college scenes made me cringe, I admit, but once I got used to it they were bearable. And the relationships and people and songs made up for it in spades, and the second half–my god, the second half…

  11. I love this film. The scene with Kajol leaving on the train is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen.

    • That’s pretty much the last scene where I can breathe normally. From then on my face is tear-swollen and my sinuses blocked, and I have to blow my nose every ten minutes or so. Really not pretty (I generally watch this alone).

  12. The first half reminds me also of my college days (except that we didn’t play basket ball; but I was at the Xavier’s). In fact I would say that it was taken from my life. Karan Johar please send me my royalties. ;-)
    The second part is still to come.
    *Abhi to main jawaan hu*
    ;-)
    There are some moments in the film, which make me feel totally mushy and I just grin from ear to ear. and then there are the parts with Johnny Lever and “the so-called” patriotic scenes, and the “clever kids” scenes, which give me cramps.
    I could make a whole list about things, which I hate about this movie. But every time I see it, it makes me feel I’m 18 (just among us: an age, where the brain had stopped working but I was of the opinion that it never worked better).
    Thanks for bringing this up!

    • Even Johny Lever doesn’t bother me (much)…it’s a film that actually needs the comic relief! I also don’t usually care much for “cute” kids but they are really cute in this, and I love little Anjali. She is sooooooo sweeeeeeeet.

      :-)

  13. what ever people may say now – KKHH is a real good movie and worth watching for story, direction, acting, music etc etc. It was novel when it released in 1998 when compared to several other movies.

    This is the only Karan Johar movie I liked. Kal Ho Na Ho was a nikhil advani movie which i liked too but would not credit Karan Johar for that although he has written the story for KHNH

    • It’s the only Karan Johar movie that I love unreservedly, although I don’t mind his others…even KANK was okay. But the poor guy really set the bar high on his first effort—can’t be easy to try and live up to it!

  14. The scene where Anjali comes running to tell Rahul that she loves her and their parting sequence in the first half are tragic :( I sulk like anything whenever I get to those scenes. Embarrassing I know, but true! :D

  15. Out of curiosity, why do you dislike Manoj Kumar’s Shor???

  16. I yelled loudly in something like the first 30 seconds : If that kid’s randomly chosen topic *happens* to be mom, I’m walking away. (To the other room, so I could concentrate on the bottle, of course).

    I did.

    Over the years, this is the movie which symbolises to me the cheesy KJ style that started off as an imitation of the Yash Chopra chiffons and gradually went on to become purely and teeth-gnashingly foreign locale/ultra-chic/DKNY and DnG wearing cool and all that trash. With doses of smarmy sentimentality.

    Having said that, many moons later, I did watch the movie. Kajol and Salman (in miniscule role) rock. So do, surprisingly, Johnny Lever n Farida. Rani came and went more than passably. But K Jo and Shahrukh, while being irritating, were actually now more palatable given the garbage they went on to generate later.

    –> Is actually full of milk of human kindness.

    On a different note, as I seem to have commented somewhere, isn’t the whole Kajol “tomboy who suddenly has a attack of girl-hormones” and Farida “sapiently warm elder giving advice” a total, utter rip-off from Love in Shimla ?

    • Possibly, although I’ve seen that sort of trope in lots of films. And books! :-) I know that this film is cheesy and sentimental, but I adore it. Much more than any of his others!

  17. aghhh…i utterly love this film.shah rukh and kajol and their chemistry.*faints*

  18. http://memsaabstory.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/kkhh_rain.jpg?w=450&h=195

    and how can anyone not love this scene?thank god srk n kads are making a comeback.i miss their hot,passionate chemistry. :P

  19. I know, I am looking forward to My Name is Khan although I fear nothing will match up to this :)

  20. I agree with most of what you wrote about this film, memsaab Excellent film with so many memorable scenes! When Shah Rukh teases Rani to speak Hindi and she suddenly starts singing “Om Jai Jagdish Hare,” it brings a smile just remembering SRK’s and Kajol’s reaction! Also, when his daughter is at the school function and is asked to talk about her mom and SRK stands up to speak for her. What a beautifully written and performed scene! And there’s so many more. The music is classic…every song perfectly suited for the movie. For me, KKHH was the film not DDLJ, that made SRK a superstar. And of course, its significant for launching Rani’s career, too.

  21. What don’t you agree with, Mister Naidu? Do tell!!! :-D

  22. I love the film and I love this review. “Tujhe Yaad Na Meri Aaye” is a great song and one of my favorite picturisations. It perfectly complements the scene it follows and viewers’ tears compete the rain on screen. And agree with Memsaab that it is so beautifully romantic.

    And it should be suprising to find out other Barbara Cartland fans but oddly, I’m not suprised :)

  23. I think Hindi films appeal to romantic souls :-) And this one particularly!

  24. I love this movie too…for me the tears come at the very end, when Kajol, in her wedding attire, turns away just at the moment to miss the shooting star. Hmm, maybe I have to watch this yet again, tomorrow.

  25. Hi Memsaab

    My name is Deepak and I write you from Jakarta, Indonesia. I am a regular visitor to your blog and I am really impressed at the insights you dig from every film you review.
    However for KKHH, I must say that its easily amongst the worst movies I have ever seen. The real moral of the story from what I can see that its all about the hair. SRK never went afer Kajol when she was tomboyish and short haired. But give her open tresses and a six yard silken splendour , our man suddenly remembers passion. Cmon what is that.
    And personally my worst pick in that movie, a woman writes 14 letters or so to an child,one for each birthday. Man that is beyond cheesy

    Hey but thats just me. I was just sharing some thoughts

    Cheers and keep up the awesome work

    Deepak

    PS: I would love if you could review my favourite Amitabh Bachchan movie “Kaala Pathar”.

    • It is totally cheesy!!! and I can understand why people wouldn’t like it much more easily than I can understand why I love it so much and can watch it over and over :-)

      I need to watch Kaala Patthar again, it’s on my list of things I want to see again.

    • I just loved these comments.

      I don’t like KKHH. I found it too cheesy, as many have already said. I find it too over the top, and too melodramatic, the acting too loud – I can’t seem to relate to any of that… Anjali, I found was oversmart – the kind of kids you widh you could spank!!

      And this was just the beginning – later on KJo went on to make movies which were such that, in effect this turned out to be his best work…

  26. Hi Greta,
    What fun to have at least a film I know in that surge of unknown marvels you deliver daily (almost)!!!
    And how right you are! I will not refrain lauding KKHH too! I too cried at the end, er, ends, because I must have watched three times (which for me is like 30 for others), and everytime… that was perhaps some time ago, before the Guru Dutts and the Shyam Benegals, but never mind, I still cling to that memory with energy, and I hope you still have (but you do, you do) a little space in your vast storage of Indian movies, a little space for memories of KKHH to fit!
    The charm of the movie for me really rested with the chemistry between the three main characters, as you say, combined with the enchanting tunes. I still know “Tum pass aye, yun muskurae” etc. by heart! I think I will always have that SRK in my mind, in spite of the strange transformations which happened to his abdominals (and perhaps other aspects of himself?!) some time ago!
    And Kajol -nowhere was she closer than here to charm personified… Pity we see her so little.
    I loved your reference to that “one romantic bone”, and as you so superbly say, “how can you not just crumble under the emotional weight?” Well, I can’t! “Romantic nirvana”!!!

    It’s great, isn’t it, what we’re living?
    love
    yves

  27. What a good way to start my workweek :) I have to admit that I cried multiple times in this movie, and I think I also prefer it to DDLJ. Kajol, Rani and SRK are so great together – did you see them on Koffee with Karan?

    Unfortunately, I have two problems with it: comic side plots and manipulation. I think I’m allergic to Johny Lever, and some of the college stuff made me want to stab pencils in my ears and eyes.

    The manipulation is a little trickier. I love romance, and I don’t mind crying at movies, but I feel like Karan is pulling my heartstrings just because he can… It’s hard to explain.

    • I am generally with you on the subject of CSPs and the college stuff, but I didn’t mind it here. And of course it was deliberate heartstring-pulling and I always hate it from Steven Spielberg (and others) and actually even from KJo in his other films, but I don’t mind it a bit in KKHH. It’s very mysterious, the spell that this film casts over me…

  28. KKHH was my first Bollywood film…I rememberd all the “action” before it :One day,my best friend said me :”Hey !My sister and I watched a wonderful,sweet,adorable…bollywood movie !” Me:”What ?BW movie…ahem…!*yeah,I know…but what ?I live in France and I had a lot of clichees on Bollywood,India and other…* Her :”Heeee !I replied the same at my sister but I promise,it’s one of the most passionate/romantic film ever made !” Me :…okay,if you want…*look the DVD* Ba !Who is “that” man ?He is so…ugly !*My beloved ShahRukh,pleeeaase !forget my HORRIBLE coment on you !*
    So,after that,I watching KKHH…Wa !My God !From the first second,when I heard the music…I was……I was…HE !Kuch Kuch Hota Hai take my words !Okay,for me,It is an”before” and an “after” KKHH…I ADORE this movie,and I LOVE your review !Thank you a lot,memsaab !

    PS :Sorry about my bad,bad english !

  29. Having been succesfully out of Hindi cinema in the 80s and esp 90s I missed this one, except for the music.

    Following your review I deiced to watch it… and I have to totally agree with Deepak.

    What a load of mushy-mush. This is the 2nd SRK film I have seen, and can’t see why he is such a mega-star (ducks here!)

    Actually, with some skillful editing= FFD I reduced the film to an hour.

    i liked that see where he takes Rani’s hand.

    The kid was totally from Mars. Rani dies of what??? hemorrhaging in childbirth and she had time to write 8 letters, including 1 to a 1-year old?? and time to make long speechy goodbyes. They could have given her cancer…

    anyway, enjoyed the 2 or 3 songs and did love the chiffons, so that is something :))

    • well she had time to plan for it, the story give the logic for that a little since she had time before childbirth to think this out.
      ANd seriously, why are you searching for logic in KKHH? I have a rule, unless a movie promises me logic I won’t look for it. Manmohan Desai is the one who got me into forming this rule.
      In fact going to think about it I have high levels of logic deficiency problems in some of the most “intellectual cinema” in recent times including Taare Zameen Par and 3 idiots. At least Shahrukh Khan movies promise to be no-brainers :) which you need to see too. Leave brains at home and enjoy it for the purpose of entertainment. Don’t question and it will rock your brains

  30. My staple teenaged reading diet was Georgette Heyer, Barbara Cartland and Harlequin Romances” – mine too, and I still havent outgrown Heyer. But this film totally fails to inspire any romantic thoughts in me! I’ve watched it thrice now (the last time with Beth, Nida and Gesine too!) – and I just cant get past the fact that SRK is a jerk (in the film) and gets to eat his cake and have it too! Not to mention that he only falls for Anjali after he is able to defeat her in the basketball stakes. As to Kajol’s Anjali, if it was me I would take one look at SRK’s annoying daughter and RUN!!!! I do love the songs and Kajol’s chiffons, and cant help wishing that she had fallen for her fiance (who should have been Ajay Devgan) while still thinking herself in love with SRK. No wait, thats almost Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha! Sigh. I am fated to not love SRK-Kajol…

  31. Ah bawa and bollyviewer…that’s what makes the world go around :) I know that all of what you say is true, and yet still…still I love KKHH.

  32. Ahh,Pleasant memories,Was in the 5th grade when this movie released,must’ve seen it like 15-20 times that year :D

  33. This one used to be my sheer favourite in my teens. I could watch it any no. of times, and still enjoy it as much (not to mention, weep as much in the 1st half)
    But once I grew up and understood words like “manipulation”, “cheesy”, “Reality”, KKHH did fall a bit too many places though. ;)

    However, keeping aside the fact that its protagonists are anywhere near grown-ups, I still love it as much. Kajol was Wow for me throughout! :)
    While I’ve never stopped adoring SRK ever since.. ;)

  34. I avoided reading the review till now since KJo makes me cringe. But glad I read your review. Since I have no sisters and since my wife is a judo black belt who LOVES action movies far more than me, glad to see
    This review is proof that Men really are from Mars and women from Venus You girls are just so hopeless romantics, no wonder we men exploit you so easily. :)

    P.s Abve comment is not a criticism. :)

  35. An will all these kids waxing nostalgic about watching this movie when in Kinder Garden please respect their elders? You are making me feel old. :)

  36. Actually the comments are proof that some men have romantic souls too! and quite a few women do not like KKHH either :) Also I love Bruce Lee movies (and have a red belt in tae kwon do)!

    And I AM old :)

  37. Wow memsaab – red betl in tae kwon ! I too love James Bond movies apart from my steady staple of romantic movies.

    Actually Alfred has a point about women being hopelessly romantic and prone to be exploited by men. women

  38. Great review, fantastic screen caps (especially “the hand”, which gives me shivers everytime I see it!) I can not describe how much I love this film. It was one of the first I’d seen and WAY before I started reading Bollyblogs, so it remains pure to me. I think if I were to go back and watch it now it may be hard to put aside that critical eye.

    Also, I proudly put myself into the category of hopeless romantic, but I’d rather die a slow death than let any man exploit or manipulate me (well, unless your name is Shah Rukh Khan – then I’m putty!)

    • Yes, I’d let Shammi manipulate me, but at least I would know he was doing it. Otherwise, romantic or not—well, you put it best: I would rather die a slow death :-)

  39. To my shame, I just recollected that in my friends’ friends circle – ther was pne attempted suicide and countless academic failures – all due to what is known as love failures. So in reality, boys take love failure just as nadly (if not more so) than girls.

    • Yes, that’s different than being manipulated, but I agree in general that men/boys have a harder time with breakups, mostly because they don’t have anyone to weep and discuss it to death with like we do :-)

  40. Love the film, feel like watching it again(for the nth time) after reading your post..

    Thanks for sharing
    Abhimanyu

  41. i like watching this film

  42. love you rani

  43. I watched this disdainfully, as I was ironing (only TCM makes me want to iron all the time and we haven’t had cable TV in six years, so abs. no ironing any more – hah!), way back in 1998. What brought on my tears was when I realzed Rahul loves Tina and not Anjali (tujhe yaad na meri aayi still makes me tear up.) Then I stopped ironing and watched the movie more respectfully, forgetting to cook dinner and my then 3-year-old child watched along and she liked some of the songs. Then husband came home from work, I watched it again with him and repeated sobbing at all key moments. You didn’t mention Neelam as the cute MTV anchor(?), nary a screencap – not a big fan of hers, but I believe she’d come back to the movies after a failed marriage.
    Ooi ma, Rani’s mini-mini!
    I read Georgette Heyer and a few Barbara Cartlands too – Mills & Boon was the teenagers’ staple in Bombay, when I was growing up, Harlequin came around later – my friends then must’ve spent a mini fortune at the circulating library, catching up on every title, even with all their darn sharing and fighting over reading times, tucked between text book pages, trying to meet desperate return `deadlines.’
    Yes, I remember thinking the movie was rather Archie-ish (uff, the traitor finally married Veronica after all!)

  44. this was one of the films which i didn’t like :(
    other than Darr(1993) and chak de india(2000+), i don’t like any of shah rukh’s films…
    but you must see darr. it’s awesome!!!

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