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Romancing the young

Friday, October 19, 2018

It doesn't seem like it, but 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' (KKHH) is twenty years old! The film is still so much a part of our conversations about Bollywood, that it hasn't yet been relegated to a memory. Heck, you flashback to films that came out fifty years ago, but this one seems like it came out yesterday.

The director and lead actors are still on top of their game, still loved, still youthful. Where did all those years go?

For those who have been living under a rock, or are below twenty years of age, KKHH (released on October 16, 2008) was the first film directed by Karan Johar – who was then just a kid worried about being fat, and is now all over the place – movies, TV, radio, web – a walking-talking style guide, and a father to twins. The years have treated him most generously. So much so that he had enough material to write an autobiography, 'An Unsuitable Boy', while just in his forties.

When Karan was assisting Aditya Chopra on 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge' (he also did a small part), the stars Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol promised him that when he made his own film, they would act in it. As son of producer Yash Johar, it was relatively easy for Karan to get a film on to the floor, but what he did with that opportunity was up to him. He found he was a good story teller and, obviously had good business sense too, because he took his family's production banner to great heights of success.

'KKHH' was a love triangle with a difference. In college, Rahul (SRK) and the tomboyish Anjali (Kajol) are best friends, but when he falls in love with Tina (Rani Mukerji), Anjali is so heartbroken that she leaves college and cuts off all ties with Rahul.

When Tina dies in childbirth, her daughter, named Anjali (Sana Saeed) finds eight letters written by her mother to be given to her by Rahul's mother (Farida Jalal). In the letters is the story of the three friends. Little Anjali then sets out to reunite her lonely and grief-striken father with his college buddy and lost love, as her mother wanted her to do.

Meanwhile, the older Anjali is engaged to Aman (Salman Khan), and working with summer camp, where the younger Anjali enrolls to get her plan into action. Rahul arrives at the camp, and he delighted to meet his collegemate. Over the next few days, romance strikes again, but there is Aman to consider. It's no spoiler by now, that Aman graciously steps aside, knowing how much Rahul and Anjali love each other.

The film brought a fresh, young look and style to Bollywood, and gave a new twist to an otherwise formulaic love story.

It caught the attention of a young audience then, and with its hit music (Jatin-Lalit), was not just a box-office smash, but also collected numerous popular awards and a National Award for providing Wholesome Entertainment.

The success of the film and Karan Johar's shaping of Dharma into a top banner over the years, proved that 'KKHH' was not just a fluke, but the beginning of a triumphant career. It was, in many ways, a milestone in Bollywood – the film by a new director, who showed old Bollywood how to be young.

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