Kal Ho Naa Ho [There May or May Not Be a Tomorrow] (2003)

(Netflix Streaming, April 2016) I’ve said it before, but let’s have it again for emphasis: Three hours is forever for a romantic comedy, but that’s the way Indian cinema rolls, so it’s best to go along with it. As much as I liked Kal Ho Naa Ho in its best moments, the film halts half an hour before it actually ends, and the tonal whiplash of the movie, while integral and intentional actually takes away from the film’s comedy in its final poignant moments. Obviously, I liked Kal Ho Naa Ho far more as a romantic comedy than as the weepy tear-jerker it becomes later on. The film begins well with what feels like a modern directorial approach, as it dynamically introduces us to our heroine Naina (Preity Zinta, far more likable with glasses than without) living in New York, eschewing love while trying to tolerate a dysfunctional familial situation. Soon enough, two men are also introduced: stable friend Rohit (Saif Ali Khan, overshadowed by his co-stars) and fizzy stranger Aman (the ever-spectacular Shah Ruck Khan), who seems to be living in a different reality. Throw in the dance numbers, comic moments, emerging love triangle and multiple subplots and you’ve got the making of a typical Indian Masala movie, albeit one refreshingly set in New York and shameless about showcasing the city’s landmarks as the backdrop to its scenes. Kal Ho Naa Ho is at its most likable when it plays through the romantic comedy side of its checklist, fuelled by good pacing, decent comedy, incredibly likable actors, great New York scenery and terrific dance numbers. That energy flags in the film’s last half-hour, as incredibly preposterous plot strings are tied, leading to an intensely predictable conclusion that seemingly takes forever to unfold (and occasionally trips over itself in extraneous subplots). Still, even despite the less-amusing material and the lengths, Kal Ho Naa Ho is great good fun and it’s accessible in a way that many Indian movies aren’t.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *