Shabana Azmi “Aghast” After Watching Kuch Kuch Hota Hai? KJo Recalls Candid Reaction

Karan Johar, the renowned filmmaker known for his larger-than-life cinematic universes, recently revealed an intriguing anecdote highlighting the surprising reception of his cult classic, “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” (1998). In a candid conversation, Johar recounted how veteran actress Shabana Azmi, after seeing the movie, was left “aghast” at its portrayal of love and relationships.

A Tale Of Two Worlds

“Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” remains a beloved film for countless fans, who cherish its vibrant nostalgia, catchy tunes, and the iconic “Rahul, Anjali, Tina” love triangle. Johar’s signature blend of drama, comedy, and musical extravaganza resonates deeply with a generation raised on melodramatic Bollywood storytelling.

However, Azmi, known for her powerful performances in critically acclaimed films and commitment to social justice, appeared at odds with the film’s romantic depiction of relationships.

Beyond The Fairytale

Without revealing the precise details that horrified Azmi, Johar hinted that her critique might have stemmed from the film’s treatment of female characters. It includes Anjali’s transformation from a tomboyish hockey player to a conventional “feminine” woman to win Rahul’s affection. Possibly, Azmi observed this shift as reinforcing outdated gender stereotypes and perpetuating the notion that a woman’s worth lies in her adherence to societal expectations of beauty and submissiveness.

Azmi’s Reaction

Karan Johar talked about his first film, “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” (KKHH), during the 2019 Melbourne Indian Film Festival, highlighting how politically incorrect it is. Thinking back on this, KJo revealed that legendary actress Shabana Azmi conveyed her strong response during a discussion with him. She expressed her dismay after seeing the movie.

“The most politically incorrect movie is KKHH. I remember Shabana Azmi calling me after seeing the movie in the UK. She was horrified. What have you demonstrated? She asked. Is a female whose hair was once short now long and looks attractive? What comments do you have regarding this? I apologize. What? She asked. Just because you know, all you have to say is that? I agree since I know your accuracy.”

A Conversation Starter

Azmi’s reaction, although personal, reminds us that even celebrated films can have blind spots when representing complex realities. While “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” continues to entertain audiences, Azmi’s perspective invites a much-needed dialogue about problematic tropes employed in mainstream Bollywood. It consists of the exaltation of pathological love and passion, the idealization of unattainable beauty standards, and the absence of complex representations of women outside of traditional forms.