Even when you overlook its garish fashion sense, sentimentalism and generic songs, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai seems to have aged badly. The film, which marked Karan Johar’s debut as a director feels so dated today, despite once being a favourite among 90s kids, especially girls. Now that most of us are in our thirties, with our own experiences with the Rahuls of this world, most women wouldn’t like to admit that this was once their favourite film.

Why, you ask? Because, at its core, it had a “tomboy” girl who has her heart-broken by a narcissist college dude. It told the Anjalis of this world that the only way they could get their Rahul, was to go under a massive personal, mental and physical transformation, and hope that the man’s wife dies during childbirth. That the deceased woman brainwashed her eight-year-old to manipulate two grown-ups into discovering their love for each other. The film actually motivates girls to be more ladylike and to discover the woman hidden in them by trading casual gym outfits with monochrome chiffon sarees. By growing out their short hair and ditching the sporty attitude for a demure one.

No wonder it is difficult to sit through this film without feeling embarrassed about one’s choices in the 90s.

I was thirteen when Kuch Kuch Hota Hai came out. Those were the times when songs with “Yo” behind every line in a chorus (Ye ladka hai deewana, if you are jogging your memory) used to seem cool. When it was considered hep to know silly acronyms of film titles by heart. HAHK, DDLJ, DTPH, KNPH, K3G…we used to dig it! The neon coloured friendship bands had just broken on the scene and had us queuing outside our nearby Gallery. I remember being so starry-eyed when I bought the cassette of K2H2. I used to play the very songs which today induce a reflexive cringe in my facial muscles, on loop.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • Karan Johar’s directorial debut Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Mukerji came out 20 years ago.
  • Even when you overlook its garish fashion sense, sentimentalism and generic songs, the film seems to have aged badly.
  • As women, we have stopped over internalising the blame of heartbreak from misogynist men.
  • Most women would also run away at the first sight of a college heartthrob who friendzoned them because they weren’t good enough for him.

It was a time of different sensibilities, when K2H2 released. Both the industry and our society were yet to catch up with the updated definition of femininity.

So it didn’t disturb us to see Rahul ignore the boyish Anjali for the “proper woman”  Tina. It didn’t bother us that growing your hair longer and trading western outfits for a saree was sold to us as a womanly transformation. Also we never questioned why Anjali literally changed her persona to become an ideal bride, locking her wild and free self in some corner in her head.

Somehow this doesn’t sit well in 2018, if one ever spares time to re-watch K2H2. As women we have stopped over internalising the blame of heartbreak from misogynist men, and instead expect them to upgrade their sensibilities. Also today, most women would run away at the first sight of a college heartthrob who friendzoned them because they weren’t good enough for him. Besides, it has taken a long time for us to break free from this idea that a girl is only desirable if she has long hair. That skirt chasers like Rahul eventually settle down for brides who are feminine and sanskari.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai may seem outdated today, but it does remind us of simpler times. When romance in films was sweet, colourful and fluffy like a cotton candy. When a hero could mouth a line like “Hum ek baar jeete hai, ek baar marte hai, shaadi bhi ek baar hoti hai … aur pyar ek baar hi hota hai,” and we would nod our heads in agreement. Despite all its flaws, it still warms our hearts because it unlocks those memories of teenage for an entire generation. When one believed that every love story, even that of a tom boy girl could have a happy ending. Whether we approve of that ending as a happy one today, is however a different matter.

Picture Credit : Filmfare

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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