queue up for KANK
NRIs paying to see themselves as unfaithful spouses and sex
crazy old men?” asks an irate Indian filmgoer from New York.
it is a reference to the super hit ‘Kabhi Alvida Na Kahna’
or KANK. Karan Johar’s latest film has created a lot of buzz,
both in India and abroad, and in the bargain netted an estimated
$15 million worldwide since it opened a few weeks ago.
$5 million of this box office bonanza has come from NRIs queuing
at the box office to see how Western values have influenced
them. In its opening weekend, the film grossed a huge $1.35
million in North America, set a new record of $1.4 million
in Britain, opening at no less than 60 theatres, and also
collected $3.5 million in just three days in overseas markets.
new in a super hit to generate such buzz? The media is full
of KANK: Indian newspapers carry long articles, TV channels
screen talk shows, global news agencies have written about
its impact in India and even many major Western newspapers
have reviewed the movie. The urban elite in India flock to
see it to gossip about it no end even while small towns and
rural audiences have rejected it. Indeed some activists want
watching KANK, a husband murdered his wife suspecting her
of having an extra-martial affair near Delhi. In Thane, a
suburb of Mumbai, a rickshaw driver stabbed and shot his wife
because she did not allow him to marry another girl he loved.
The wife is fighting for her life in hospital. That incident
too happened after the couple had just finished watching KANK.
KANK arousing all this passion?
couples in New York are at odds with their partners. Their
marriages are not working nor moving ahead. In one, a wife
is suffocated by the unlimited husband’s love in a loveless
marriage and finds a soul mate in another husband neglected
by his career-obsessed wife. The stifled wife yields to him.
Ah, it’s infidelity. But hundreds of films have been made
on this theme - not forgetting Raj Kapoor’s Sangam way back
in 1964. There is nothing new in this since men and women
have been unfaithful to each other down the centuries.
twist is the father-in-law of the suffering wife. Sexy Sam,
played by Amitabh Bachchan, causes ripples of laughter with
his Playboy escapades as a great lover boy. So what’s new
here? Plenty. For a start, most NRI first generation fathers
now turning grandfathers are always presented as virtuous
and pious hankering for the eternal family values of the Indian
way of life.
lives it up with a new blonde every weekend and - instead
of a prayer meeting - he wants scores of scantily clad sexy
dames for his birthday bash. When he gets a heart attack he
does not breathe his last without blessing the new relationship
of his daughter-in-law based on love and not marriage. Here
we have a Casanova who is too much for the Indian film buffs
to digest. He is sending a message - ‘Marriage is a mutual
trap; if it’s not moving, move on!’ This is a radical departure
for the Indian cinema.
marriage does not work, divorces are acceptable for NRIs -
and indeed most educated Indians for that matter. In India,
one out of every hundred marriages ends in divorce. The NRI
divorce rate could be higher - or lower.
there parental approval for switching your life partners?
Many draw the line here.
about the spouses who have discovered a new soul mate when
their marriages come to a dead end? Open infidelity is the
big talking point but is not an issue with the Indian trendsetters
any more. Moreover, KANK pushes the envelope of sensuality
in bedroom and motel scenes a la Hollywood sizzlers.
NRIs are more conservative in their moral values than the
back home. Public opinion polls in the media regularly show
their radical thinking on teenage sex, pre-marital sex, live-in
relationships, infidelity and single parenting, among other
In a TV
chat show on this film, some participants claimed: “Everybody
Of course, the KANK situations are happening in India as well,
with the educated urban elite. It’s just that Karan Johar
a couple’s conversation in a London cafe on these lines and
staged his story in New York showing new frontiers for NRI
marriage mores. If Indian and NRI sensibilities are hurt,
they are paying for it.
By Kul Bhushan (IANS) (A media consultant to a UN Agency,
Kul Bhushan previously worked abroad as a newspaper editor
and has travelled to over 55 countries).