On any given day, more happens in my life than the entire plot of Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (2001), which, unfortunately, is 3 hours 31 minutes long. The movie opens at Manor (read manure) House Mussoorie School fields as Hrithik Roshan (Rohan Raichand, referred as HR hereon), the self-proclaimed prodigal son of the Raichand family, aims to hit a 6 with one ball remaining to lead his school to victory against the 9 times champion Woodstalk International. Don’t ask me why the Raichand’s money couldn’t buy HR a seat in the winning school (it is important to remember that this is a school and not college because everyone is wearing typical Karan Johar school uniforms). It takes HR longer than “Lagaan” to hit that 6 because the action is interrupted by SRK’s voice-over saying, “If you want to be someone in life; if you want to achieve something; if you want to win..always listen to your heart. And if your heart doesn’t answer you, close your eyes and think of your parents……all your problems will vanish, victory will be yours”. A polite reminder that this is not India-Pakistan World Cup semifinals, but only an inter-school match. And spoiler alert that HR will become no one and achieve nothing by the end of this movie. I share this piece of information in advance because knowing this will make you forgive the overdramatization of this scene (makes me wish I had kept some sports day tapes from school).
Next, we see HR in his dorm room, typing a long email to his father (Amitabh Bachhan, AB) with approximately 11 keyboard strokes, letting us know that AB is a hotshot who appears on CNN. That’s all we will ever know about the Raichand family business, which means that the Raichands could have been middle-class AF without affecting the narrative. But I guess someone needed to fly those helicopters.
Next, HR leaves Buckingham Palace, errr school, and goes to Haridwar to meet his two grandmothers who are chilling at a palatial ashram wearing some Manish Malhotra shit for some reason. Om Jai Jagdish is the only Hindu prayer song as far as Karan Johar is concerned, so manage your expectations here. One grandmother looks distracted AF because she is looking at a picture of SRK (Rahul) and young HR.
Note to aspiring Instagram influencers: this is the only picture that was ever taken of the two brothers, which everyone, and every wall in the Raichand house, has a framed copy of. Raichands amassed all that wealth by not investing in cameras or photographers.
The distracted grandma can’t stop crying and blurts out that SRK was adopted. Which HR finds very hurtful prompting a glycerine drain that can put Mumbai floods to shame. And here we get to the plot summary, which basically should have been 2 sentences, but takes 1 hour 40 minutes to finish and introduces a series of random and insignificant characters and incidents. HR learns that his father was an asshole who wanted his brother to marry Rani because of monies (frankly, anyone who has seen “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” already knows that Rahul and Anjali are going to get married). Unsurprisingly, brother fell in love with Kajol (Anjali) and married her instead. But personally, I feel that Jaya Bachhan might have had a role to play in separating Rani and Abhishek, err SRK (See image 1).
A little about Rahul and Anjali’s love story: there is no love story. One day, on their 3rd meeting, SRK forcibly plants a kiss on Kajol’s cheek. Kajol runs home like a mad person––but the rain makes it look okay––thinking it was love. Anyway, SRK absolutely decides to marry Rani after AB threatens him with his tears. So SRK goes to Chandni Chowk to “break up” with Kajol (but there was absolutely no need for this because there was no relationship to begin with) but finds all of Chandni Chowk in mourning because Kajol’s father’s (Alok Nath lol) dead body is literally being taken away. So, naturally, SRK does what any normal Indian man would do under the circumstances: put his “aashirvaadi” hands on Kajol’s head and marry her on the spot, because god forbid Kajol and her sister have to live one day without a toxic man in their lives (see image 2). You will be very insensitive to demand a Bollywood wedding song and dance at this point because literally someone, the bride’s father, has just died.
SRK knew that the father wouldn’t accept Kajol. But shit hit the roof when the asshole father said that SRK had proved he was not his son by marrying Kajol, because the Raichand gene is incapable of loving, apparently. So SRK drags Kajol out of the house (I tell myself that she didn’t want to leave because she wasn’t done breaking all the vases in the house and not because she wanted asshole “babuji”’s aashirvaad as she was screaming at the top of her voice). You may wonder at this point why the adoption angle was necessary for this plot, or why HR couldn’t have been the adopted son to make the movie less problematic, but I won’t, because I have been told not to find logic in 90s Bollywood films (technically I am considering this a 90s Bollywood film).
The rest of the story is how HR goes to London under the pretext of getting an MBA (yes, direct MBA from King’s College after graduating high school) to bring his brother and sister-in-law home. He chalks out an elaborate plan with Kareena (Pooja), whom luckily, you don’t have to see until 1 hour 50 minutes into the movie. The movie doesn’t explain why SRK had to cut ties with his brother in the first place. But it might have something to do with SRK’s dislike for fat kids because literally, every conversation he has with the brother is him fat-shaming the little brother. But, tbh, I would have cut ties with my brother too if I knew he was growing up to be HR (#teamkangana). So you may want to puke a little when bully SRK lectures his brother that “Kabhi kisi ka dil nehi dukhate. Aur khas kar ke kisi ladki ka. Aur wo bhi itni khoobsurat ladki ka” (You should never hurt anyone. Especially if its a girl. That too a pretty girl). Oh okay, that explains why it was okay for SRK to fat-shame his brother.
It is also unclear why HR couldn’t just tell SRK that he is the forgotten brother who has come to take them back home, or why he had to stage the elaborate fancy dress plot (see image 3). It is also unclear why Vande Mataram is playing the whole time HR is running around London looking for his brother, or why so many white girls are running around wearing the Indian tricolors (see image 4), but it’s a brilliant idea. Someone tell didi to start playing “God Save the Queen” at Kolkata traffic stops. Btw, the first time we see Kajol, she is running with a massive Indian flag (image 5). The next time you are unsure what to wear to your date, you might want to consider the Indian flag.
Anyway, over the next longest two hours we learn that the Raichand family has zero friends, they are racists, and nationalists (Kajol calls India Bharat), but all that’s okay because they sing “Sare jahan se achha, Hindustan hamara” in front of a huge hanging portrait of the asshole Father-in-Law and mother-in-law. Everything works out in the end because Jaya Bachhan threatens to take away the “Pati Parameswar” status from AB. Also, Kajol convinces SRK that “they are our elders. They are a little angry with us. but we will apologize” because worshipping elders even if they are assholes is our national motto. So AB accepts Kajol, and classism, casteism, and sexism live happily ever after.