Why We Should Analyse Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham From Feminist Lens?

K3G aka Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham by KJo is one of the highest grossing Indian film ever, it is time we rewatch it with feminist glasses on!

K3G aka Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham by KJo is one of the highest grossing Indian film ever, it is time we rewatch it with feminist glasses on!

Indian cinema is widely celebrated for its prowess over depicting Indian culture, tradition, and values on-screen, typically that’s loaded with dance, songs, and melodrama. It has been a decade that the films are directed and scripted that way to which the flocks of dimwits rush to theatres for fun and entertainment.

The Indian cinema can be said to be predominantly suffering with an ailment of androcentrism and male chauvinism, which is characterized by the cinematic representation of misogyny, sexism and socially acceptable gender roles by the filmmakers.

The feminist critique of cinema sets forth that the submissive representation of women, and celebration of masculinity on-screen can be observed with a fact that “Any film that is directed, scripted, produced, and becomes the highest grossing film on box office tends to be patriarchal’.’

Why talk about Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham now?

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

K3G aka Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham by Karan Johar is one of the film that was highest grossing Indian film ever, widely watched in theatres and still continues to be the popular mainstream movie from the era of 2000s.

It is praised for its portrayal of ideal family, love between parents and children, the sanskars, “Sometimes happiness, Sometimes sadness” in the family relationships.

However, this film is to be gauged that it celebrates patriarchy. Jaya Bachchan as Nandini Raichand is a submissive wife to his husband. This can be seen when she comes with a puja ki thali and bows down before her husband Yashvardhan Raichand while she sings “Teri puja karun mai to hardum ye hai tere karam, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi gham.”

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This portrayal of Indian women’s servitude as a mark of respect to their authoritative husbands as the ‘head of the family’, patriarch and Pati Parmeshwar sets the ideal standard on-screen and off-screen for women to be a good and obedient wife in an Indian family.

But these code of conduct are made necessary only for women in their social roles as ‘wives’ and ’mothers’.

Nandini, the ideal mother and wife in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

k3g Nandini, Jaya Bachchan

Nandini is seen educating his eldest son Rahul about the choices of his ‘father’, which are very important for the children to know and follow. She tells her eldest son, “Oh, your father likes party culture a lot, and he feels happy dancing with young and beautiful women.”

The “Shava-Shava’’song in the movie, is where Amitabh Bachchan as Mr. Raichand has all the freedom to dance with young women”, but his wife is not allowed to dance with other men as it would be inappropriate and against the customs and traditions which necessarily has to be followed by women but not men.

It is Nandini his wife who has to obey Raichand’s each and every word and when she even tries to question or analyse Raichand’s word of mouth she is made quite with the phrase “Keh diya na bas keh diya.”

K3G reinforces sexism and gender roles

K3G

In the entire film, K3G reinforces sexism and gender roles as Nandini remains fearful and obeys every command of his angry and powerful husband. Mr. Raichand who is narcissistic, domineering and doesn’t allow her wife to fully express or take decisions in the family as he considers himself as the head of the family who only has the right to make all the decisions.

All the major decisions are made and executed by the head of the family. He doesn’t allow his eldest son Rahul, who has come from London after completing his MBA, to marry Anjali (Kajol) a girl who is from Chandini Chowk because of her low socio-economic background.

Instead, he wants him to marry Naina, (Rani Mukherjee) who hails from a rich and an affluent family and considers her the right girl for the family. He thinks that a girl from Chandini Chowk cannot be a member of their influential family, and it is against their family’s honour.

The way patriarchy functions in public and private sphere on different social indicators which are sex, caste, class, race, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, social-economic status, community are intersectional in a way that all women experience patriarchy differently according to these social indicators.

Patriarchy, patriarchy, patriarchy everywhere

Patriarchy sets norms of socially acceptable behaviour for all women. Patriarchal social structure takes away a woman’s individuality and constructs ‘male entitlement’of an upper hand-over women’s choices, way of living life, and bound her sexuality.

It privileges men over women in every socio-economic, political standing that in the first place it leads to women’s subjugation, exclusion, and identity crisis which is later normalized as part of her ‘feminity’ and innate to her.

In the movie, the way Yashvardhan Raichand treats his wife Nandini is a way of asserting his dominant role of being an all-powerful husband. He also misbehaves with Anjali, and never accepts her as his daughter-in-law because of her low socio-economic status.

Yashvardhan Raichand also refuses to attend the marriage of his domestic help’s daughter Ruksar as he believes rich people do not need to attend lower-middle class occasions.

The dichotomy of public-private patriarchy is not uniform for female sex, rather it differs. The intersectional political vantage argues that women from privileged class experience patriarchy much differently than women from underprivileged strata of society.

Nandini belongs to a well-read and an affluent family, still she is not treated well on the other hand, women like Anjali who come from a lower socio-economic status are also discriminated and marginalized.

The unrealistic and dehumanising representation of women needs to stop

r Kabhi Khushi  Kabhie Gham

The popular Indian cinema has institutionalized patriarchy and sustained gender roles. The sexist delineation of women on-screen needs to be challenged in a sense that the narrative cinema does not become the harbour of patriarchy.

The commodification of women and docile representation of women in their fictional characters in the film legitimizes power of men over women and perpetuates toxic masculinity onscreen.

Therefore, ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’ directed by Karan Johar needs to be critically analysed through feminist lens.


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Image source for Why We Should Analyse Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham From Feminist Lens: CanvaPro

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