There are some movies that manage to teach you something new, every time you revisit them. Perhaps because, these movies simply weave a story, full of emotions, but devoid of judgments.
Like the 1994 romantic comedy Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, which starred Shah Rukh Khan, Suchitra Krishnamurthy, and Deepak Tijori in the lead roles.
The film introduced us to a flawed but realistic hero, long before Ayushmann Khurrana popularized the notion. It debunked the notion of ‘friendzone’ even before we were aware of the term.
And, it served as a beautiful reminder of how, no matter how strong your feelings might be, love just can’t be forced.
Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa is the story of a young man Sunil (Shah Rukh Khan), a ‘loser’, who is pure at heart but unsuccessful at life. He is in love with his friend Anna (Suchitra Krishnamurthy), but she has never reciprocated his feelings. She is, instead, in love with another of their friend, Chris (Deepak Tijori).
On papers, it may read like just another love story. But in reality, it was anything but that. Yes, like most Hindi films, here too the protagonist Sunil manipulates situations to create a rift between Anna and Chris.
Over time, his intentions are revealed but he manages to earn the forgiveness of his lady love. In fact, he even gets the approval of her parents, thus simultaneously ticking off the last box for a typical Hindi film and a ‘sanskaari’ love story.
But Anna and Sunil still don’t end up together. And this is where the movie becomes different, and consequently more relevant, than the numerous romantic dramas churned out by Bollywood.
Because it is here that it manages to bring alive the most important aspect of romance – it has to be natural. You can’t force desire. You can’t coerce someone into loving you. You can’t manipulate what someone truly feels. If you do any of this, all that you’re receiving is a facsimile. The real thing will remain out of your reach.
It is this sobering realization that convinces Sunil to help Anna win her true love – the one she felt for Chris. Because yes, his love for her was real. But, it was never reciprocated. No matter how much he may have ‘changed’ himself, she would have never viewed him as more than a friend.
That’s the thing about love right? That’s why, sometimes we just fall for a person, even when we know better. That’s why, we still wish the best for our love, even if our feelings remain unrequited. That’s why, sometimes, love makes us do stupid things, like Sunil and every other romantic hero ever.
Though, unlike most ‘Bollywood romantic heroes’, he did not guilt Anna, turn into a stalker, or blame her for his heartbreak. Because it really wasn’t her fault. It was just fate.
What we forget sometimes is that just because our heart beats faster at the sight of a person, does not mean they feel the same way. And sometimes, we simply have to accept that. Because a love forced is no love at all.
Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa boasted of brilliant performances, an eclectic and wonderful soundtrack, and some truly hilarious moments. But perhaps its greatest win remains in how well the film has aged, and to date, continues to serve as a reminder of what it means to be in love.