[For an on-off rant-ish column]
In today's ultra-sophisticated Bollywood, where every second film gets its title from a 30-year-old song (or, in the case of Koi Mil Gaya, from a five-year-old song), here’s the latest trend: the obsession with "spoilers". A few weeks ago a friend sent me an email forward that supposedly revealed the plot of Karan Johar's latest opus Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (or KANK, which coincidentally is also the sound made by the proverbial dropped pin when Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan find themselves in an elevator together in real life). The email went something like this:
Boy 1 loves Girl 1, Boy 2 loves Girl 2.
Parents make the decision.
Boy 1 marries Girl 2, Boy 2 marries Girl 1.
Both couples unhappy.
Parents come to know, decision revised.
Boy 1 marries Girl 1, Boy 2 marries Girl 2.
Pass it on, let everyone know the plot of this forthcoming hit movie!
Even as I sat dumbfounded by this insight, the reply-alls commenced. Replying en masse to a joint email regardless of whether you know any of the other people on the list is among the most annoying of tech-chimp proclivities anyway, but the content of these mails made it worse. "Noooo!" squealed one replier, "You've ruined the film for me! Now there's no point in seeing it!" At the other end of the spectrum sat learned smugness: "Relax, guyzz," wrote another correspondent, "it's a publicity stunt. This isn't the real plot of the movie."
These reactions were mirrored in the office talk I subsequently overheard, though not one person said what I'd been wanting to scream out to the universe right from my first glimpse of the email: "Who the hell cares what the bloody plot of this film is?!"
This doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to watching KANK. I'll probably see it this weekend, even enjoy it at various levels by channeling the primal instincts honed over years of watching Bolly-trash in childhood. Decent music, attractive and likable young stars, sleek cinematography, good Hindu traditional values dressed up in sexy outfits, all the faux-stylishness and posturing one associates with modern-day Hindi cinema …what's not to like, especially if you allow your brain cells to flicker dimly like the disco lights in the "Where's the Party Tonight?" song. But even if I enjoy the film immensely, I doubt that its plot twists will keep me on the edge of my seat.
All this disclosure-drama was understandable to an extent when it happened with Kaante (a Reservoir Dogs remake, where one of the uber-cool hitmen had ratted on his brethren) or with Gupt (a part-murder mystery, with the leading lady revealed as a psychopath). But Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna? Really? This is a Karan Johar movie, people! Meaningful suspense in his work usually hinges on the question: will the cancer-stricken mother's death scene be five minutes long or fifteen? So wake up and smell the denouement.
I have a nasty memory of watching M Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense in a movie-hall when a chap sitting one row ahead turned to his friend in the intermission and said conversationally, "Ayy, you know what? Bruce Willis is dead himself but he doesn't know it." Years later, this is my chance for revenge by proxy. At some point during the KANK screening I'll chuckle loudly and go, "You know what? Shah Rukh and Rani will get together in the end", prompting others in the hall to gasp and groan and hurl nachos at me.