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Indian Cinema

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna: New Bollywood?

I love Bollywood, but I’m a real starter when it comes to knowing about the films, so it would be great to hear people’s responses to Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. (Director: Karan Johar). I remember Lagaan seemed to promise the first Indian cross-over success, but KANK is far more modern. Not your typical Bollywood product, it’s set in New York and deals with divorce and infidelity. The characters drink and there is a definite lack of the trademark Bollywood music and dancing, given the ‘hero’ is an injured football pro. Any musical numbers are modernised and often set in discos.

I’d made a mental note to discuss it with my students who are Bollywood fans, but saw (Screen International 1/09/06) that is has had the biggest box office opening in territories other than India, for a Bollywood film. It has some of the brightest stars of Bollywood, such as Shah Rukh Khan, not for the first time tackling a quite unsympathetic hero. The film is pretty tortuous – there’s loads more dialogue than usual – and some of it pretty dreadful!

I’m not sure how far it represents a true Bollywood film for the global market though – although it seems it might be targeted at younger viewers. It certainly is different from Johar’s 2004 film Veer Zaara (which had three out of the four leads) which was far more traditional, particularly in gender representations.

I’d love to know how it fits in with other, earlier Bollywood or how younger people (i.e. students) have responded to it? Or any other films that people think make ‘westernised’ Bollywood, for the global market? (I’m thinking particularly about A2 Film and Media options re World Cinema, and for teaching institution, generally?)

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