It’s been 22 years of the cult classic Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and since then it has been at the receiving end of a copious amount of love and hate. Over the years, I’ve watched Kuch Kuch Hota Hai multiple times, each time with a different experience.
Meanwhile, I have been reading a plethora of reviews on how Karan Johar’s once most-loved movie is the flag-bearer of misogyny, and it wasn’t until recently when I watched it again for the millionth time that I realized how chauvinistic and creepy the movie could be, but yet while I cringed time and again, I also saw flashes of the memory of a 12-year old me who’d just met love.
So as it completes 22 years today, I write about the Kuch Kuch Hota Hai that swept us off our feet with SRK’s unparalleled charm, Kajol’s madness, and alas Karan Johar’s signature drama. At no point do I refute the claim that KKHH was a problematic film, but I also believe cinema is meant to give us memories, and the film undoubtedly gave us some of the most beautiful.
In today’s day and time, the classic might seem extremely regressive in the eyes of gender equality, but despite that, it was one of those films that defined love for me because when Rahul would say ‘Pyaar Dosti Hai’, believe it or not in my heart there is a little girl who clenches her chest at the thought that someday, some man will fall in love with her and will be the best friend she’s ever had.
The film has many flaws, but it is still the reason why we believe that the universe will give us a second chance, that the ones we’ve wronged, and pushed away will come back, and most importantly that ‘Pyaar Sirf Ek Baar Nahi Hota’ because we get a second chance at love too. Even amidst the nonchalance of its stereotype, most of us can’t deny that ‘Kuch Kuch Hota hai’ when we watched the film completely devoid of any apprehensions.
I’ve always believed that cinema has the potential to be more than just entertainment and that we deserve cinema that is responsible, however, nowadays we’ve stopped looking at the cinema through the lens of art that can change with time and place. "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" no matter how problematic did appeal to our senses, because it was time-sensitive — the year it released wasn’t the year that the world was enlightened with social stigmas, and thus the film worked.
We’ve lost the art of entertainment in the process of scrutinizing every little detail of a movie, condemning a movie 22 years after it’s release — 22 years since it’s been declared a cult classic is ruining the memories we once held of the film. Surely bringing to light the darkness is important, but painting it black isn’t necessary after all.
By Takshi Mehta