Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tomorrow May Never Come

Kal Ho Naa Ho; comedy / drama / romance, India, 2003; D: Nikkhil Advani, S: Preity Zinta, Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Jaya Bachchan, Sushma Seth

New York. Naina Kapur (23) is an student of an Indian expatriate family. She lives with her widowed mother, Jennifer, and two younger siblings, Shiv and Gia. Their Indian restaurant is running badly, and this, together with her father's recent suicide, exacerbates Naina's depression. Her friend Rohit is in love with her, but she regards him nothing more than a friend. One day, a young man, Aman, moves to the house next door and quickly gains sympathy of the Kapur family. He lovable attitude, jokes and his help to reform the restaurant into a successful joint cause Naine to fall in love with him. However, Aman is hiding that he is suffering from a terminal disease, and thus decides to help Rohit conquer Naina's heart is six days. Upon finding out about his disease, the Kapur family says farewell to Aman in the hospital.

This Indian version of the "Cyrano de Bergerac" story, just with a terminally ill man trying to help a shy friend gain the heart of a woman he loves instead of the French protagonist with a huge nose, was met with appropriate warm welcome by the audiences and critics alike, and signalled the feature length debut film by director Nikkhil Advani. Set in New York, with the often Bollywood topic of the family of Indian immigrants living abroad for an exotic touch, "Tomorrow May Never Come" suffers from too many unnecessary supporting characters instead of focusing only on the love triangle as well as an too melodramatic finale, yet it has a lot of virtues evident in fresh, modern and highly comical set-up of the storyline, a one where the protagonists don't just sing their problems away, but actually try to tackle them in real life, which is refreshing for Bollywood, whereas Shah Rukh Khan delivered one of his finest performances as lovable and comical Aman, who remains optimistic despite knowing that his days are numbered, and even manages to comfort Naina and bring her out of her depression.

There are several solid jokes here — in one scene, Naina and her friend 'Sweetu' are sitting on a ship, when Aman shows up and introduces himself to 'Sweetu': "Hi! I'm the new neighbor of grumpy!", pointing at Naina. Upon finding out that 'Sweetu' fancies a hip-hop guy, Frankie, Aman stages a scene where he shouts that 'Sweetu' dumped him because she loves Frankie ("Frankie, this girlfriend of mine wants to leave me for you. She says you are cool, sexy, she says your hairstyle is wow!"), which causes Frankie to approach 'Sweetu' and invite her to a party. In another sequence, the 'golddigger' Camilla knows that Rohit is rich, and thus she inserts a ring in the glass during their dinner in a restaurant and feigns to every guest that she "accepts" Rohit's marriage proposal, despite his utter confusion. Luckily, Aman helps him out of the trap and tells Rohit to say to Camilla that he renounced all his fortune. When Rohit returns back to the table, he tells her just that — and in the next jump cut, we see Aman sitting in Camilla's place, jokingly saying to Rohit: "I accept!" Not every joke works, yet many of them are sweet and sympathetic, as well as modern: for instance, in the period when Aman tries to help Rohit gain the heart of Naina in six days, there is a neat touch of a waiter looking directly into the camera and saying: "Day One"; then the next day some student girls looking into the camera and saying "Day Two", etc. Likewise, when he gets serious, Aman can be very mature (the scene where he says to Naina: "You cannot wish your father's tears, but you can stop him from crying by smiling. Is that a wrinkle showing up?"). A couple of musical moments typical for Bollywood are superfluous, yet even they have their moments (such as the funky Hindi version of "Pretty Woman" sung on the street), all ending in a very good, unassuming little film.


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