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Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

THE WORLD -- and not just one half of it -- does not care for the man who does not know when to move, when to be still, when to retreat. Now if someone were to tell that to that great actor Amitabh Bachchan and some of his directors. To Yash Chopras, Karan Johars and the darshans.

In ``Mohabbatein'' last year he wore a brooding expression all along. In ``Ek Rishtaa'' this year, he did much the same. And now he is condemned to repeating the sullen act in ``Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham", a film otherwise as bright as some of the sets it has been shot on. Also a film, which often gives you a treat by half. Much like its name, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.

And then we learn, men -- not those members of the bubblegum brigade -- do not like a woman who reveals more than she conceals. Now, Kareena Kapoor's Pooja, or Poo, as she is so cutely called here, is about as audacious as a heroine can get in a run-of-the-mill role. As Hrithik Roshan's love interest, who has travelled from innocence in Chandni Chowk to days of ardour in Birmingham, she is hot. As Poo, she attracts attention at the first glance. And then just as quickly the fleeting fascination passes. Then, we learn, cinegoers, particularly the Hindi cine-goers, are susceptible to bouts of nostalgia, parampara, patriotism and the like. After all, ``Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge''-- on the face of it, just another love story -- became a major hit because the hero and the heroine did not elope. The man wanted to marry her with her parents' consent, with their blessings. Then in these surcharged times, everyone loves a dash of patriotism in films.``Lagaan''and ``Gadar'', in their own different ways, capitalised on this feeling earlier this year. Now is the turn of Karan Johar to probably laugh all the way to the bank with K3G. He has apparently learnt his lessons well. He puts all the possible sentiments of tradition and patriotism together in a nice package here which occasionally gets heavy, tends to drag towards the end, but in general provides enjoyable fare.

``Kabhi Khushi...'' is the story of Raichand (Bachchan), a hugely successful businessman who dotes on his two sons -- Shah Rukh and Hrithik. But never can get to move his lips to say as much. One of the sons is an adopted one who falls for the delicious charms of a Chandni Chowk ki kudi -- Kajol. Unthinkable in a world where those in the by-lanes can be patronised, not put on a podium of equality. Having to choose between a father-who-is-not and his ladylove, the man predictably chooses the latter. And predictably with a lump in his throat. After all, he is supposed to uphold the family values, marry according to his parents' choice. The rest of the film deals with the other son's effort to bring him back. We all know that he will come back. It is a Bollywood film after all. But the way the director goes about the proceedings keeps the viewer occupied. And interested.

Johar chooses his scenes well. Thus there is the mandatory Karwa Chaunth with enough scope for women to use glycerine liberally -- particularly Jaya Bhaduri to prove that she is still a fine actress. There is the ubiquitous hall of fame shot of mom and dad in the new house in a new life. Parents are only separated by kilometres but the distance only makes the heart grow fonder. Tradition taken care of, Johar plays to the patriotic sentiment by getting the little one of the errant son to sing ``Jana Gana Mana'' at his school function in far away old blighty.

``Kabhi Khushi"... comes with some superb situational dialogue and Kajol -- in only her second appearance this year, the first one being in a double role in ``Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi''-- steals the thunder from under very high noses indeed. Her Punjabi lass from Chandni Chowk is a marked improvement over Juhi Chawla's fine performance in a similar role in ``one two ka four'' earlier this year. With her precise timing and subtle lingering expression, she is a delight all the way. As is Shah Rukh, who does not ham much here. nor does he go overboard. probably, experience is finally sobering him down. No such problems with Hrithik who lives his part as the dutiful son trying to bring back his bhaiya in the temple of his home. As the cine equivalent of Ram-Laxman, they are as good as you will get in Bollywood.

Watch ``Kabhi Khushi...'' not because of the hype which preceded its release but because in these meagre times not many have come up with better fare. The film at least partially redeems the hope surrounding it. Again, just like its name. Some joy, some disappointment.

ZIYA US SALAM

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