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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 29 January 2004
With all the hype and fuss surrounding Kal Ho Naa Ho, I was seriously beginning to doubt whether this movie would live up to all the hysteria it had generated. It’s Dharma Productions’ 3rd offering post Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (both of which were box office smashes in India and abroad) and again stars Shah Rukh Khan in a role which requires him to cry, ham, wear his heart on his sleeve and play the eternal good Samaritan – all of which he has now mastered to perfection. How could it possibly be different from other movies to come out of the Chopra / Johar camp?
However, all my pessimism was laid to rest, when I walked out of what I would classify as one of the best commercial pot-boilers of the year. Tears, laughter, gags, music, melodrama it’s all here for the audiences to lap up and keep coming back for more.
Naina Catherine Kapur (Zinta) lives in New York with her mother (Jaya Bachchan), grandmother (Sushma Seth) and two younger siblings one of whom is adopted. All that she and her financially and domestically unhappy family need in their neighbourhood, is an anti-depressant Aman (Shah Rukh) — to charm them off their troubles. That he does, sweeping ice maiden Naina off her feet too. But things are never that simple when you’re in Bollywood. Unknown to her, ‘Mr do- gooder’ is terminally ill and is actually in New York for medical treatment. Making matters worse we also have Rohit (Saif) besotted with Naina - with Aman, trying to play matchmaker between them. The plot moves from here on to a predictable yet teary (and very soppy) climax that will no doubt have you sobbing for more.
Essentially, there is nothing here we haven’t seen before. It’s just the way it’s handled by Karan’s young assistant Advani that makes it refreshing and very watchable. It’s all been shot innovatively, and NYC has never looked prettier. Thankfully, this time round we’re also spared the trademark, sports cars, designer labels and mansions that we’re used to seeing in movies of this genre. The film has a classy look and a very ‘today’ feel to it that will make most of us (abroad anyway) identify with the goings on and emotions (which work even if they are slightly melodramatic and over the top). You can relate to the characters, especially the 3 lead players, without whose chemistry, the film would’ve fallen flat on it’s face.
Shah Rukh Khan, is good though frankly there’s hardly anything here he hasn’t done before. Having said that he is restrained and doesn’t really go overboard, sparing the audience his excessive hamming and trademark mannerisms. I’m guessing he’ll be quite a favourite at the awards next year. Preity Zinta chips in a terrific performance looking gorgeous besides. Not once does she go overboard providing Naina with ample doses of attitude, warmth and vulnerability which makes her transition in the movie very believable. Saif is a revelation. His character is more or less an extension of Sameer in Dil Chahta Hai but in some scenes he’s so good, he almost manages to steal the thunder from both Shah Rukh & Preity. His comic timing is spot on. Jaya Bachchan is effective in a role that doesn’t require her to do much.
The main strength in Kal Ho Naa Ho lies in it’s spontaneous narrative and ability to flow – something which is rare in a Bolly flick. The humour isn’t loud or excessive like other films, but witty and intelligent. The songs go along with the mood and flow of the film rather than just being space fillers. And the cameos (by Rani Mukherjee, Kajol, Uday Chopra) though brief, are entertaining.
Inevitably off course, the film doesn’t work on all levels. It tries to too hard to ape Dil Chahta Hai which was a superior film in comparison. The jokes aimed at the Gujarati community, along with the ongoing gay gags don’t always evoke mirth and sometimes fall flat, but these scenes are few and far between.
On the whole though, Kal Ho Naa Ho is by far, one of the most entertaining films to come out of the Bollywood stable this year. It isn’t quite the ‘love story of a lifetime’ (as the tagline proclaims) we were hoping for, but it’s definitely worth a watch especially for the chemistry between the lead stars.
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on 12 February 2004
This is an outstanding movie, with the quality we come to expect from Dharma productions. Nikhil advani, Yash and Karan Johar have really made this film spectacular. Its a big-budget movie with a star cast. The story is very inventive; and not the stereotypical bollywood love story. The film explores the themes of humour, sorrow, life death, love, family/community spirit and is extremely philosophical in parts. Definitely makes you think. Shah-Rukh Khan is excellent as Aman, Preity zinta is really good as Naina. The location of New York City reminds me of my university days there; lots of spots I'm familiar with. The songs are really good. My favourite is 'Its the time to disco', which has a real retro feel to it.
In fact, I took two of my American friends to watch this movie in the cinema and they had tears in their eyes at the end. This film is an example of the strides bollywood has made in film-making. This is an excellent DVD and the special features, including the making of the movie are really good. Well, its a must buy in my book and certainly one of the memorable movies of our generation. Enjoy, if you can keep the tears out!!!!!!!!!
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on 22 October 2015
Without a doubt my favourite Bollywood film and in my top three for favourite films of all time! Beautifully written. I've watched it many times before and I regret not buying it sooner. It's good enough to put a lump in your throat each time you watch it!
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on 20 July 2004
You usually would expect it to to be a love triangle, which it is but with a twist...a must see film. if you liked dil wale dulhaniya lejayenge, bhaghban, Devdas, kuch kuch hota hai and Hum apke hai kaun then you will Love this film. This film is guaranteed to make you laugh, make you cry, to make you smile and get up and dance. Wicked SONGS, excellent story line A DEFINATE MUST SEE FILM. If you DONT SEE OR BUY You'll be kicking your self. A MUST BUY FILM.!
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on 23 June 2009
I'm no expert in film studies nor can I claim to know much about Hindi films but, I know what I like. What makes Kal Ho Naa Ho worth watching is Shahrukh Khan's dancing during Mahe Ve. The movements have an effortless athleticism and finish which speak of mastery. Couple that with charisma to rival Tom Cruise, well in this film rated certificate 12, SRK has that Mr D'Arcy wet shirt thing going on....

True the movie is long and in the beginning, reading subtitles that don't seem to keep up with the dialogue make one wonder if watching is worth the investment of time. However, by the end it would take a rather cynical viewer not to be moved.
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on 3 July 2015
Watched it so many times I've lost count...first Bollywood film I ever saw... and the first time I watched without subtitles... to me its more than just a film..its my go-to place when things get tough...
I can remember vividly the opening credits.... and looking at shah Rukh Khan and thinking I couldn't really buy into this....3 hours later... totally totally converted..kicked off my whole Bollywood obsession..and perhaps worth mentioning... helped me get back on my feet after my partner died... Bollywood doesn't flinch from reality...the really harsh side... huge part of me finding my way back to happines..
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on 10 March 2004
This film is in a class of its own. The scene is New York' the atmosphere tense in a family struggling through many difficulties. Kal Ho Na Ho tells the story of Naina (Preity Zinta) who is trying to hold her family together. Her grandmother who is Punjabi is constantly bickering with her mother, Catherine (played by Jaya Bachan) and she has two smaller silings who get caught in the crossfire. Her only solace is going to her MBA class with her friend Rohit (Saif Ali Khan). One day they pray for an 'angel' to help them; one appears in the form of Amman (Mr Sharukh Khan). Amman brings Naina out of her shell and shows her how to enjoy her life.
Saif Ali Khan is a convincing Manhatten Bachelor. Preity Zinta is wonderful in her role. However, Sharukh's performance is wooden and he does not seem to bring that same depth to his character as he has done in past roles.
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on 19 November 2008
In my opinion, this movie goes down as one of the best I have ever seen in my young life and will probably remain in my top 10 of all time in movie history.

It is charming, it is funny, it is painful, it is enlightening, it is what it is.

I see this movie and it inspires to LIVE and experiance what this world has to offer. We are very lucky to be where we are, the chances of us NOT being on this earth and being human of all life forms is FAR greater.

This movie tought me to seize the day, to genuinley LOVE everyone I meet no matter who they are (and I do), it has taught me to make the most of my life.

Shah Rukh Khan is awesome, Saif Ali Khan is awesome, Preity Zinta is awesome - everyone and everything in this movie is AWESOME.

Oh and the songs aren't bad either ;)

Go watch it, and judge for yourself.
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on 24 December 2008
This is a great little movie. The relationships between the characters are well drawn. SRK again is excellent - and doesnt giv into temptation to go over the top in a role that could have drawn that.
It was the first time I saw Saif Ali Khan and I really liked him in this. I have followed his movies since and find him a mature and solid actor. Preity Zinta is also as good as usual.
Just a nice little movie.
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on 22 June 2004
I have seen the movie at the Berlinale 2004 and I was touched of so much heart-feelings. not only in the film also in the cinema. i love Shahrukh Khan and his work. As usual he is gorgeous in his role. the music is tremendous and stays in your ear. Everyone who loves Bollywood, should have seen this movie, what is filmed completely outside of india.
tomorrow may never come ...
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