Anatomy of a Scene: Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna is my favorite film- an unusual choice. Still, it has been instrumental in my understanding of love. Karan Johar’s quintessential Bollywood ensemble was far from a quintessential love story. It is messy, debatable, and most of all, it is imperfect.
Just like love!
While Karan Johar and the writers have fleshed each character beautifully, I would like to focus on the two that were the cause of the disruption. And the two scenes that are beautifully contrasting and showcase destiny at work.
The first scene is the bench scene, outside Maya’s marriage venue, where she meets Dev for the first time. They are strangers, unaware of each other’s names as well. Still, they discuss incredibly intimate thoughts and stand on a turning point in their lives.
Dev says, “Listening to strangers is good; sometimes they understand better than our own.” He senses a dilemma in her and asks her to discuss it with him. While they have never met, there is a strange chemistry between them. He tells her about being married to his best friend for 5 years and the fact that what can be better than spending your life with someone who knows you all. In his body language, we can sense there is something amiss. And Maya puts forth beautifully that “friendship can sometimes take up the place of passion, and there is space left for passion.”
We get to know the story of her marriage. The to-be husband is her childhood friend, whom she grew up with after the demise of her parents. He and his father were the only family to her, so naturally, she loves him. But it is not the love that she yearned for and feels into her bones. She is not looking for the fairy tale love but just the love in its crude form- unabashed and passionate.
The dialogues between the two give us a glimpse into the deep-seated void of love in both of them. Dev being practical says that such love is hard to find these days, and he might not love his wife, but he is happy in the small world they made together. He advises her that one can either take the opportunity to be satisfied or wait forever to find love. Maya, still uncertain, thinks about ‘what if she finds the love after marriage.’ And ironically, Dev says, “you will not find it if you don’t search for it, and definitely not on this bench.”
Khushboo Ke Jhonke
Ek Pal Thaharke
Kaise Hawaaon Mein Kho Jaate Hain
Aksar Guzar Ke
Khwaabon Ke Jaise Hi Ho Jaate Hain,
Ho Jaate Hain
Hum Kabhi Phir Mil Sakte Hain
Tum Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna
As they bid farewell, their eyes say an unspoken thing of knowing each other for more than just a few minutes. Nonetheless, after this encounter, they leave to go back to their lives. Again beautifully shot by Karan, interweaving it with a background song (a rendition of the Title track). The record speaks of feelings unsaid between them. They are aware that they met someone special, and this conversation will stay with them forever. It was a dream they will visit again and again.
It ends with Maya’s marriage and a sudden accident that Dev is caught, injuring his foot. The sequence ends with a very poignant dialogue- “While time heals, in some relationships time only deepens the wounds.”
Now fast-forwarding 4 years, we are the Railway station scene with them again. Maya and Dev have met again and have spent time with each other figuring ways to save their failing marriage. On the night of their marriage anniversary, they uncover deep-seated issues with their spouses. And they are at the railway station.
Maya refers back to the bench scene here. She confronts Dev on finding love outside of her marriage even when she was not looking for it. In Dev’s reply, Shah Rukh delivers one of his best passionate love declarations.
Since the day he has met her, he feels like knowing her for ages. Every day he finds ways to spend a little more time with her, he tells her goodbye but cannot stop thinking about her. He is irrevocably in love with her, and we know she feels the same. The scene ends with Maya leaving the station.
These two scene shows us the power of destiny and the fact that love is an uninvited guest, one cannot know when it knocks your doors.