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Kyon Ki - A Bollywood Film
Kyon Ki translates into “It’s Fate” and the story is literally about the fate of two relationships and three lovers. The main character, Anand (played by Salman Khan), falls desperately in love with Maya (Rimi Sen), an orphan with plans to become a nun. She tells Anand she cannot marry him – yet he can’t help but pursue her. He even threatens suicide by lighting himself on fire until she relents and promises to marry him. Because Anand scared her so much during their courtship by pretending to light himself on fire, his bride-to-be scares him in a similar way two fateful times.
The first time, she pretends she does not know how to ride a horse—making Anand believe her life is in danger when the horse takes off at a gallop while she’s riding. The second time, Maya pretends she cannot drive a car and is about to kill Anand and herself with her reckless driving. Her pretending results in her death, when, the night before their wedding, she asks Anand how some people can swim like fish because she does not know how to swim. Not believing her naiveté in this case, and unwilling to be made a fool for a third time, Anand throws her into the hotel pool. He tells her he will pick her up after he pays the bill. Minutes later he returns to find her dead at the pool’s bottom.
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This causes Anand to go crazy. He is admitted into a mental institution where Dr. Tanvi (Kareena Kapoor), the daughter of the hospital owner, falls in love with him while helping him recover. Tanvi’s father, Dr. Khurana (Om Puri), learns of her relationship with Anand when Tanvi refuses to marry the man her father has chosen for her. Dr. Khurana tells his daughter that he “can be a very cruel father.”
The extent of his cruelty is not known until the end of the movie when Anand’s friend, Dr. Sunil (Jackie Shroff), finds Anand in a coma with a slit under his ear. Dr. Sunil realizes Anand was given a lobotomy. Unable to save his old friend, Dr. Sunil suffocates Anand with a pillow. Tanvi is so distraught by her lover’s death that she goes crazy. The movie ends with Tanvi admitted into her own hospital as patient number thirty-six—the same number worn by Anand.
Understanding Bollywood in Hollywood Terms
To put Kyon Ki into “American” terms, imagine Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz signed on to do a movie together directed by James Cameron. Salman Khan is described as “the best selling torso in town” and one of the “world’s top ten good looking guys” by Bollywood4U, a fan website.
Interestingly, Khan, one of the most famous Bollywood actors, is a Muslim. His affairs with beautiful women are fodder for Indian tabloids and he comes from Bollywood stock. Like many American heartthrob actors, Khan has not lived a completely law-abiding life. He has been charged with poaching endangered wild animals, vehicular homicide, and is facing charges of drunk driving and driving without a license.
His famous co-star, Kareena Kapoor, lives like American Hollywood royalty. She also comes from a famous family of actors, directors, and producers; is known to be “difficult” on set (especially with her female co-stars); and, is currently dating a famous actor. Kapoor initially wished to study law at Harvard, but “destiny took a hand” and she is now a Bollywood superstar. Because she has only been in nine films (instead of the sixty plus for Khan and thirty plus for Kapoor) Bengali Rimi Sen is still climbing the Bollywood ladder. She keeps a low profile and is known for her famous beaus. The director, Priyadarshan, is a well-known, self-described “greedy film-maker” shrouded in controversy. Accused of plagiarism by Kirala Film Chamber president Siyad Kokker two years ago, Priyadarshan faces more controversy with Kyon Ki due to his depiction of goings-on in Indian psychiatric hospitals, as well as his portrayal of schizophrenia.
Nothing can prepare you for a Bollywood film except actually seeing one. As a fan of musicals, I began watching the movie with preset expectations. I was shocked at the musical scenes of Kyon Ki. They appeared unrealistic and “corny” in my opinion. More than this reaction, I also felt the characters, in general, weren’t as developed as they could have been. The shallowness of the characters made it difficult to understand their motivations. I didn’t feel the “great love stories” in the movie were authentic—mainly because it was hard to identify with the characters.
I did enjoy the music and dancing, which makes Bollywood films stand firmly apart from Hollywood films.
But putting these reactions aside, I was shocked by the portrayal of mental institutions, doctors, and patients in Kyon Ki.
I found myself wondering how these movies influence young girls and women in Southeast Asia. The portrayal of love and relationships in Kyon Ki is unrealistic and underdeveloped. Are these the kinds of relationships girls and women are looking for and expecting?
Unfortunately you don't only see this fairy tale version of love in Bollywood - it runs rampant in Hollywood as well.