When I first started watching Bollywood films, I was most impressed with films featuring Hrithik Roshan and Shah Rukh Khan (SRK). I thought that if one film featured both of these actors, it would be outstanding.
The 2001 film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (K3G) proved my theory. Featuring an all-star cast with Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan as brothers, the film pulls you in immediately and takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Like most Bollywood films, the story has a lot of twists and turns, but can be summarized as:
Yashwardhan "Yash" Raichand (Amitabh Bachchan) is a man who has always followed traditions. He believes that the parents take the best decisions for their children. Yash's adopted son Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) is poised to follow in his father's footsteps and Yash arranges the marriage of Rahul with Naina Kapoor (Rani Mukherjee). But when Rahul falls in love with an unconventional middle-class girl Anjali Sharma (Kajol), Yash disowns him. This creates a rift in the family which is keenly felt by Nandini Raichand, Yash's wife (Jaya Bachchan). Rahul marries Anjali, moves to London with her and her younger sister Pooja (Kareena Kapoor). Years later, Rahul's younger brother Rohan (Hrithik Roshan) arrives in London, determined to reunite his family.
The first part of the film primarily focuses on the relationship between Yash and Rahul - an important "love story" of the film. The title Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... is translated into English as Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sadness. At the beginning of the film, writer and director Karan Johar is attributed with the explanation, "It's all about loving your parents."
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... offers an intense story of pride and prejudice and unconditional love.
In families, you expect to find unconditional love - a love that knows no limitations, that endures all things, that forgives always. In 1 Corinthians 13 of the New Testament of the Bible, Paul describes this kind of love by saying, "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."
The bonds of love are strong and keep the family together. In Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham..., this love is felt most strongly by Rahul who was adopted and raised as the eldest son of the Raichand family. His parents love him deeply and he reciprocates this love. He adores his parents. At Yash's 50th birthday celebration, Rahul offers this toast:
I had a dream since childhood. A dream to be like Papa. To walk like him, speak like him, sit like him, to do everything the way he does. ... Can't do it. I know I can't do it. And maybe I will never be able to do it because there's no one in this world like my Papa. I know that someone up there is happy with me to have bestowed on me the right to say that I am Yashvardhan Raichand's son. Say it proudly. Thank you, Papa.
All families have certain rules that they live by. It is what makes them who they are and allows them to claim kinship with each other. Sometimes you learn the rules by example. Sometimes you have the rules spelled out for you. At one point, Yash reminisces about his father and shares the Raichand rules with Rahul:
You know Rahul, thirty years ago [my father] said certain things to me in this chamber which I will now repeat to you. He said life offers you many paths to choose from. You must always choose the one that is right, the one where you don't have to bend ... where you don't fall. Never take a step in life that will bring shame to your family or prestige. Anyone can make money, but earning respect is not everyone's cup of tea. I have not forgotten his words even today. Even you should not. Promise me that you will follow the traditions of the family. Promise me that you'll never compromise with the self-respect of our family.
Rahul responds with his understanding of what following these rules mean to Yash:
I promise Papa that I will always keep the family name flying high. I promise you that I will always keep you happy ... always Papa.
However, the Raichand pride is hurt when when Yash learns that Rahul is in love with the quirky Anjali, not Naina. Yash has a strong prejudice against anyone outside their society. He is prejudiced against Anjali because she doesn't fulfill the expectations he has for a daughter-in-law. He confronts Rahul about the implications of marrying Anjali:
Raichand! The name and the respect has been given to us by our ancestors. To honor and respect them is our foremost duty. And I will never tolerate an ordinary girl becoming a hurdle in performing that duty. You didn't even think once about the background of the girl, her status ... her breeding. You didn't give a thought to whether the girl will be able to understand our culture ... our traditions. Will the girl ever understand our rituals ... our rites? Will the girl understand our ethics and principles? Will she adhere to the values of our family? Will she ...? How did you even dare to think that she can be part of our family? That she can be a part of my family? How did you think?
Rahul wants more than anything to please his father.
Today you have proved that you are not my blood.
Thus, with one statement, Yash disowns Rahul. He chooses to let his pride and prejudice overpower what seemed to everyone to be an unconditional love. The rest of the film focuses on the fallout from that choice.
In the end, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... is an engaging story about how unconditional love can overcome pride and prejudice.
The following playlist features the official and a fan-made trailer for the film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham....