Thursday, August 30, 2007

Time After Time

It occurred to La Madre the other day that it’s ten years to the day that I left home for college. Odd how that works out.

Back then, it also happened to be the day Princess Di died. As I was packing and excited and bouncing up and down in the house, it came on the news that she’d been in a car crash, but that was all at that point. Then, literally, as I got in line to board at the gate, it came on the news that she died, and my sisters handed me their goodbye present (the Mission: Impossible soundtrack). For some odd reason, the combination of a major news event and leaving home and a cool soundtrack made me lose it once I got on the plane. Luckily my seatmate was a quiet middle-aged guy who wisely said nothing and let me sniffle and blow my nose throughout the flight. The guy was also fairly hefty, so I practically had a private little booth in the airplane row to slump down and hide and blubber. In a similar instance a decade later, all was well with the leaving until I had lunch with two good friends and then had to take off to pack and catch the plane.

But this time, there was no wise, silent, and large seatmate to provide a buffer zone. I had to walk through a neighborhood, wait at a crowded bus stop, board the crowded bus, switch to a different bus downtown, and then take another crowded bus home, all while blubbering and snuffling and generally looking awkward. Don’t do so well with the leaving people thing, even ten years later.

And speaking of both college and sobfests…

The Scot bought a set of director Karan Johar’s films back from India, so before I left the best coast we watched two, both of which star Shah Rukh Khan.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai was a fairly cheery, lighthearted film. Rahul and Anjali are best friends in college until Tina the hot new student arrives. Rahul chases after Tina; Anjali is heartbroken and leaves. Years later, Tina dies after begging Rahul to name their daughter after Anjali. Little Anjali, told by her dead mother through letters to do so, then schemes to bring her father and big Anjali together again.

The first half of the story is told as a flashback, and so the sequences at the college are all in a slightly overdone, mod, 1990s style. (My God, we really did dress like that, didn’t we?) It’s a musical, and the song-and-dance numbers are amazing. The tunes are extremely catchy.

The great thing is that Shah Rukh Khan does such a good job of playing both the cocky college kid and his more mature older self. The only problem I had with the storyline is the transition from grieving, lonely widower to guy re-finding the girl he never knew he loved; years later, when Rahul suddenly re-encounters Anjali, he just suddenly realizes he loves her. That seemed too quick a turnaround. He should have had more time to realize all that.

But other than that minor detail, it’s a really cute story, with some creative tricks to get the two main characters in the same place. Some of the characters, like the school principal and one of the teachers, as well as Little Anjali’s summer camp director, are deliberately campy and eccentric.

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham has the same two actors, coincidentallly playing characters with the same names. Like the first Karan Johar film we watched, the first half of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham is told as a flashback.

However, this story is not even vaguely lighthearted. Shah Rukh Khan plays Rahul, the adopted son of a very wealthy family, who falls for Anjali, a merchant’s daughter. (It’s a Hindi movie, so there’s not even a kissing scene. But nonetheless, there are several scenes that are still really mind-blowingly sexy!) His parents disown him for marrying her. Years later, his younger brother Rohan (not adopted) goes off to
London to find him and bring him home.

But the last fifteen minutes of the film are nonstop tearjerking -- one of those movies where slowly, everybody watching starts to wipe their eyes and sniffle, and then gives up because their faces seem permanently wet. There’s a death in the family, there’s a lot of “Forgive me” speeches, a lot of talking about the meaning of family.

Again, it’s also a musical, with addictive songs and spectacular choreography that puts American cinema to shame.

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