By Bhaskar Chawla
It has been 20 years since Karan Johar’s wildly popular debut Kuch Kuch Hota Hai immortalised that true love is all about lusting after your best friend… after eight years of friendzoning her. This Filmfare Award-winning classic taught us innumerable lessons: It reminded us that eight-year-old daughters were the original Tinder for their widowed dads. And that the easiest way to get someone to fall in love with you was by growing out your hair. Easy-peasy.
Except it’s not 1998 anymore. No matter how much we once revered Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’s dating lessons, it’s hard to deny that the film hasn’t aged very well. And the less we talk about Rahul Khanna’s image, the better. It’s no wonder then that Khanna happened to get in touch with me to refute all accusations of being a frat boy by sharing his side of the story.
What followed was a surreal conversation.
So you want to tell us about Kuch Kuch Hota Hai from your point of view? Let’s start from the beginning. Where and how did you meet Anjali?
Ah, man. It’s a long story. So I got late when Tina was in the hospital because I forgot to put my pants on and had to go back home again. When I finally reached, Anjali was already born. So I went in…
Actually, I meant Anjali Sharma, your second wife.
Oh why didn’t you say that? I made her change her name after we got married because there was too much confusion in the house. She’s now Patanjali. It was cool for a while but then Baba Ramdev went ahead and stole my idea by launching a whole brand! On one hand, my mother, the religious nut, started buying only Patanjali products and on the other, Patanjali refused to change her name again. Chicks, right?! You ask them to change their name twice and suddenly you’re the bad guy.
How I kept saying “Kuch kuch hota hai, tum nahi samjhogi”? That was all a cry for help, but no one understood it.
Anyway, I met her on the first day of college. I thought she was a dude because she was in men’s clothes playing basketball and was pretty annoying. I actually realised that she was a girl when I asked her if she wanted to join me to take a whiz in the bushes and she looked at me like I was crazy. But then I saw her playing alone and decided to give her company because I felt bad for her and not because *suddenly gets angry* I “sucked at basketball and would’ve gotten my ass kicked if I played with guys” like the whole college thought. Losers, right?
How did you two become best friends?
Well, she was just like a dude, you know? None of that girly shit like talking about clothes or make-up all the time. She liked to rewatch Rocky multiple times instead of When Harry Met Sally. Guys are just so easy to get along with.
Um, don’t you think you’re still being misogynistic?
Miso- what? I prefer teriyaki.
Uh, let’s move on. The two of you drifted apart. She left because she was in love with you and you didn’t feel the same way until you did. Did you guys talk about it after your wedding?
Yeah, we did. I burst out laughing when she told me that’s why she moved away. I was like “Whaaaaaat?” How the fuck was I supposed to know what she was feeling, right? We were best friends who knew each other so well, spent so much time together… and yet she expected me to know how she felt. I felt so hurt and wronged at the time. It’s like she didn’t care about me or my feelings at all.
Did you ever talk about why this love was one-sided in college?
See, Patanjali told me that when I said that “Pyaar dosti hai” and implied I couldn’t fall in love with someone who wasn’t my best friend, it “apparently” misled her. That’s crazy, right? Is it my fault that she trusted a man and didn’t realise that I was just trying to get with Tina? I mean, I’d say pretty much anything to get laid. So she was all like “But I thought you meant it” and I was like “Well, that ain’t my problem, babydawl.” For some reason, she asked me to sleep in the guest room for a week after this conversation. I think it was her time of the month. Chicks, right?
What changed when you met her in Shimla eight years later?
See, I later realised that I have this mental disorder that stops me from viewing conventionally unattractive women as human beings. People keep trivialising this illness even though they’re always going on about depression and anxiety and I’m like, “How would YOU feel if you missed out on so much sex just because you couldn’t get past someone’s appearance?” It caused me so much pain. All those friendship bands and “COOL” necklaces I kept buying? How I kept saying “Kuch kuch hota hai, tum nahi samjhogi”? That was all a cry for help, but no one understood it. All I got were taunts. Sometimes when I’m alone, I still hear cries of “Rahul is a cheater, he is a cheater.” Memories, right?
But then years passed and I met Patanjali in Shimla. She was smokin’ hot. When her pallu was blown away by the wind, I had a profound thought: “I’d totally hit that.” I suppose, the best part was that she became sexy AND sanskari. Tina was cool and all, but let’s face it, she was way too modern when I met her. I mean, she only started wearing salwar-kameez and sarees after we got married. Anyway, I’m really glad that Patanjali found sanskar and I found her.
Um, Rahul, that doesn’t help your sexist image a whole lot…
But I clearly said that “Ek mard ka sar teen auraton ke saamne jhukta hai.” How could I be sexist if I’m bowing to chicks, dude?
Forget it. On a lighter note, do you still play basketball with… Patanjali?
Don’t be silly. Girls can’t play basketball.
Bhaskar Chawla is a writer and a lifelong student of screenwriting. He writes about cricket, cinema, television, and life in general.