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The title song by Lata can be mistaken for any of the assembly-line songs you've heard since Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge became big grossers. It has the same beat, the same tempo, the same notes and the same overall texture
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Dream cast and a stale single

Karan Johar's new film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham boasts a hotly saleable cast, and music by three composers. The title song, released as a single, is hopelessly uninspired

Karan's coup: a never-before star castThe setting was the opulent West End Hotel in Bangalore. On October 5, Karan Johar and Sony Music gave the media a preview of their new album Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham. It was their first ever preview for the film, and they plan to take this presentation to two other cities.

The filmmaker kept reporters waiting for an hour, and apologised as soon as he walked in. The previous day's hijack drama at Delhi, the organisers said, had made the security checks tighter, and flight schedules were in a mess.

Karan Johar looks like someone in college. He is not yet 30. He talks with the easy confidence of a convent-educated businessman. He didn't grope for words even once at the Bangalore press meet, and had his answers ready to all questions, even to those that were downright silly. (Example: "In real life Jaya controls Amitabh. How was it on the sets?")

Karan is the smashingly successful scriptwriter and producer of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, which starred Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Salman Khan. His second film, which he has abbreviated to K3G, boasts a bigger star cast -- he has roped in Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, and new heartthrobs Hritik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor, in addition to old favourites Shah Rukh and Kajol. The last two continue with their KKHH names of Rahul and Anjali, which Karan explained as "just something" that he was sentimental about.

What was shown was a 10-minute promo of the film, with clips from the songs, and interviews with the lead actors. The album is due for release only on 16 October -- although why they should keep the songs in cold storage that long beats me -- and the film will hit the screens on December 14. The tape handed out to the media has just one song -- the full title song on one side, and three other versions of it, including an instrumental one, on the other. This single has also been released in the market, and is priced at Rs 30.

Karan said in his first film he had missed working with Lata Mangeshkar, whom he predictably described as a legend, and was glad he had made up for it by getting her to sing the title song for his second film. To the equally predictable question of one reporter which his favourite song was, he said it was this one.

That Lata song can be mistaken for any of the assembly-line songs you've heard since Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge became big grossers. It has the same beat, the same tempo, the same notes and the same overall texture.

Karan apparently called upon Jatin Lalit to make this maudlin number, and then when he wanted another style of song, he went to another composer, Sandesh Shandilya, whose most memorable number yet is Piya Basanti re (sung by Chitra and Sultan Khan).

Three composers pitch in to make the K3G score, the third being Aadesh Shrivastava, whose contribution is Shava shava, a disco-bhangra number to which Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh and Rani Mukherjee dance. "Amit uncle", as Karan calls the superstar turned Kaun Banega Carodpati host, not only introduced Aadesh to Karan but also sat through 16 days of recording and eight days of mixing. Karan spoke with admiration and awe of Amitabh Bachchan, saying he felt lucky that he had been able to share the same "creative and cinematic space" as him.

"That's the practice in Hollywood," he said, in defence of his choice of three music composers for one film.

It was a big day for Sony Music as well, and its India chief Vijay Singh recalled how the company had entered the Indian music market four years ago with Vande Mataram, and then proceeded to become the third biggest label in the country in such a short span. Their Lagaan has become a huge seller (one report said they had bought the rights for a mindboggling Rs 20 crore), and they have recently released Asoka. Sony Music is moving away from non-film albums to film albums.

Karan has got together Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya for the first time after Silsila, which was shot 18 years ago. "On the sets you couldn't make out they were husband and wife," he said, praising their professionalism. He once got a firing from Jaya because he called up Amitabh and told him to "tell aunty to come 15 minutes late". Jaya ticked him off saying they were "separate", and he had to tell her, not her husband.

Karan had a defence for his style of film making -- he said he loved the "bigness of Raj Kapoor, the depth of Guru Dutt, and the family values of the Barjatyas". His love of the gloss and colour of Hindi cinema. K3G, in his own words, "is all about loving your parents".

Like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, K3G seems anxious to avert the break-up of an affluent business family, where (in a reversal of most real-life cases!) people fall apart for love rather than money.

The story, as outlined at the preview: Amitabh is the strict patriarch who takes pride in the "rich values and heritage" of his family, who, for all his generous values, is unwilling to let his son choose his bride. So here comes the conflict, and son Rahul (Shah Rukh) must abandon his family for his love Anjali (Kajol). Rohan (Hrithik), Rahul's younger brother, comes along and sets the family in order again.

K3G is a lavish film which has reportedly cost Dharma Productions Rs 25 crore. The production house is also publishing a book, in association with India Book House, called The Making of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Written by Niranjan Iyengar, it has photographs by Ayesha Monani, besides messages from the actors. Release: first week of December.

S R Ramakrishna
(Additional notes by S Suchitra Lata)

Published on 6 October 2001

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