What happens when a college student gets pregnant? What happens when she decides to give birth to her baby, thereby defying the norms of society? What happens when the lover shuns his responsibility of marrying the would-be mother? Can the girl face the ruthless society alone? Tips Films’ KYA KEHNA, directed by Kundan Shah, provides the answers to these questions!
Priya (Preity Zinta) is a spirited girl, just out of school and in her first year of college. As the only daughter, she is the apple of her father’s (Anupam Kher) eye. Her mother (Farida Jalal) and three brothers also dote on her. So does Ajay (Chandrachur Singh), her childhood friend. But Priya is unaware of his feelings and considers him to be a mere friend.
In college, Priya meets Rahul (Saif Ali Khan) and is swept off her feet by his charming personality. Rahul is a known casanova and is always flirting with some girl or the other. He notices Priya and is immediately attracted to her. Her family warns her of his wild reputation, but Priya refuses to listen. And then a tragedy strikes, which changes her entire life — Priya gets pregnant.
From being everybody’s darling, Priya finds herself alone and defenceless, facing the barbs of a hypocritical society. There is just one man who can save her — Rahul — but he too turns his back on her. Much against everyone’s wishes, Priya decides to fight for her belief and gives birth to a baby girl.
Director Kundan Shah has opted for a bold subject this time — an unwed mother who defies the norms of society. The film has been treated with sensitivity it deserves and there are several scenes that linger in your memory for a long time, notable among them being: [i] Priya slapping her Vice-Principal at a farewell function in her school, [ii] Priya’s parents learning of her pregnancy at the wedding function, and the looks they exchange, [iii] Rahul refusing to marry Priya, first in Priya’s house and later, at his house when Priya’s father begs him to marry her on learning of her pregnancy and [iv] The ending of the film wherein Priya rejects Rahul and opts for Ajay. These are a handful of scenes that prove Kundan Shah’s command over the script and medium.
Hindi films rarely try to showcase the other side of a woman — bold and determined to achieve what she desires. KYA KEHNA is one of those films where the characterisation of the central character, Priya, is shown powerful, not meek and helpless. Whether it is slapping of her Vice-Principal or her wish to deliver a baby, thereby defying the norms of the society, or rejecting the baby’s father and opting for the other man in the end, the story is a welcome change from those oft-repeated themes which degrade a woman no end.
If the first half of the film is promising enough, the script falters in the second half. In the post-interval portions, several scenes have been stretched unnecessarily and could’ve been done without. For instance, the Deven Varma-Daisy Irani track seems incomplete. Ditto for Rahul’s characterisation, as to why he behaves the way he behaves. The meeting at the town hall, convened at the instance of Rahul’s mother (Navneet Nishan), also seems far-fetched. The college skit is very dramatic as well, although the speech by Priya thereafter is justified.
The film needs to be trimmed in the second half for a better impact. The ‘Oh Soniye’ song should be deleted in the pre-climax, since it comes as a hindrance in moving the story ahead. Otherwise, Rajesh Roshan’s music is soft on our eardrums. ‘Aye Dil Laya Hai Bahar’ and ‘Jaaneman Jaane Jaan, Tumsa Koi Kahan’ are the pick of the lot; easy to hum and well picturised too. Honey Irani’s script deviates from the routine, but the blanks in the script could’ve been avoided. Dialogues are well penned. Cinematography is inspiring.
In a role that has negative shades, Saif Ali Khan makes his presence felt, although the film gives the heroine more scope than the heroes. Chandrachur Singh does not get much scope to perform and even length-wise, the role is not substantial enough. He does not impress much. Preity Zinta, the central character, tries hard to deliver a punch-packed performance, but a role as strong as this required a seasoned performer, someone like Kajol. Preity does not have the calibre as an actress to rise to the occasion and her dialogue delivery too is not as fiery, something this character demanded.
Both Anupam Kher and Farida Jalal prove yet again that they are mature performers. Navneet Nishan is excellent, although her characterisation disappears after the meeting called by her. Her exit seems incomplete and should’ve been more impactful.
To sum up, KYA KEHNA is an honest attempt at tackling a bold theme, but one factor that goes against it is its face value. Had the film boasted of bigger and more talented names, its fate could’ve been different. Yet, the sole factor that can help this good effort is word of mouth publicity. For, it has been proved time and again that small films turn big with this strong factor.