99 out of 100 people you meet will advise you against watching this movie, as they did to me. I still went for that one time and perhaps, you ought to, as well.
Like me, you may have been intrigued with the characters of the movie and the director coming on forums like NDTV's We, the people and discussing things other than what you would expect people who have been parts of a Karan Johar production to discuss. I mean, how many times have you seen a Shobha De discussing a Karan Johar movie other than to rubbish it and the ideal family values that it portrays? How many times have you seen a Shahrukh Khan straying from the "I am dream walking into my romantic roles" statements of his to something like "I did not know and did not believe in the character that I was playing"?
Even if you haven't seen all Karan movies, take it from me since I have that you will not find anything like Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna if you take your mind in the past. In fact, the movie is as much away from tradition as it could have been. Amidst protests that accuse the movie of showing things in an irresponsible light that may encourage people to take the easy way out of problems and some others that claim that the movie does not show what is real in the Indian context and is too far fetched to be of any interest to the audience, I will like to put forth that the very fact that the movie has been able to raise such aspects and critique means that there is something more to it than being claimed by some.
At no point do I want to say that I liked the movie. I did not and the movie had a lot of glitches and unnecessary package for me to enjoy it totally but that it did provoke some thought process inside me, I can not deny. Unlike its predecessors who have raised the bad marriage question many times in the past, KANK tries to find solutions in the coves that have been unexplored by Bollywood so far. As Karan Johar says in the chat show, his friends and contemporaries (which would mean people like me and others of my age group) are facing more marriage woes than ever before and more importantly, they have no compunctions in looking at the easy way out, get out of a bad marriage.
At the cost of giving away some part of the movie's story (which is not too much of a suspense, anyway), let me point the crux of the matter here. There are two couples not hitting it off with each other and one part each of these couples gets disjointed from the traditional view of marriage and tries and finds love outside marriage. The transition from saying "Family is family" with some conviction to mocking at the same words is what Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna is all about. It does take more than three and a half hours to say that and despite this being the worst aspect of the movie, I believe that the job has been done and the message conveyed in as explicit a manner as there could have been.
Right from the Sexy Sam character of Amitabh Bachchan to the anti-tradition, pseudo-modern undertones of the story, the movie is set in the context of the urban young and there, too, the concentration is more on those who have already broken away from the mould, if not in reality then at least in the head. Somewhere along the line, the intended audience of this movie is prepared to let go of the threads that bind them to the Indian way of treating relationships. A stark contrast to earlier movies of Karan Johar that have always shown the weakest of Van der Waal's forces enough to not only sustain, but even mend the most embittered of relationships, KANK shows that there comes a time when even the Indian says "enough is enough".
The best part about such giving up of relationships in the movie is that it is not driven by something very concrete like the man beating the wife or the wife being a promiscuous cheat, but the more subtle feelings of being left out, being forced to make a "samjhauta" are at the back of the redical steps...small things that we all know, make all the difference in real life, as well.
Cut to what everyone has been talking about...yes, the movie is horribly long, Amitabh Bachchan is wasted in a story that did not need him, but for giving it the conviction and stage that only he can provide, there are too many tears and wasteful, repetitive moments, Rani Mukherjee's acting is limited to the use of glycerine and Shahrukh Khan's to being the foul mouthed jerk whose sense of humour is not only foul but without even the last tinge of creativity. The screenplay is non-existent and the dialogues could have been so much more sharper. Karan Johar fails when it comes to details, but I will still say that he gets the bigger picture right.
In terms of the actors, not commenting on Amitabh's blink and I am gone role, rest of the cast has been mediocre, to say the least. The fault would once again lie on the screenplay and the director who seem to fail miserably in infusing any breath of fresh air at any stage in the movie. Agreed that the content and the context did not allow for too many deviations from the stark settings, but the only deviations that are there are too crass and awkward for the actors to do any justice to the same. The careerist bitch played by Preity is so easily converted into the lovelorn wife that it becomes difficult to digest the contrast between one situation showing her leave a job for her husband and the other where she ends the relationship with her husband in a jiffy. Some consistency would not only have done wonders for the movie, but also allowed the actors to give a sane performance. I won't, as I said, comment on what Amitabh Bachchan was doing in this movie so that also leaves Kiron Kher out of the ambit. Honestly speaking, the two were wasted beyond redemption.
Music of the movie works and is quite in line with the story and events as they unfold. All said and done, I feel that though the movie has fallen to the neglect of details, the idea behind it has been pretty brave and unique and as such, it does deserve that one time in the theatres (watching it at home might not be able to sustain your interest for enough time to let the movie impress you in any way). I, for one, will not advise anyone against watching this movie!