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Film / Kal Ho Naa Ho

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A 2003 Bollywood film written and produced (but not directed) by Karan Johar. It is generally considered a good "introductory film" for those new to the genre.

It centers around business student Naina Kapur and her family and friends, all of whom are unhappy... until the outgoing Aman arrives in their neighborhood and takes it upon himself to better their lives. Wacky hijinks, romance, and a healthy dose of angst ensue.

This film provides examples of these tropes:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Neither Rohit nor Aman seem to remember Camilla's name. Although, in Aman's cases, a few instances were Malicious Misnaming.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Naina ends up finding a perfect husband and starting a family, but loses the man she truly loves.
  • Blithe Spirit: Aman.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Naina's complaint that the mailman continuously mixes up the last names Kapur and Kapoor.
    • All of Aman's conversations with Priya.
    • Aman's habit of crossing his fingers when he lies.
  • Cool Loser: Sweetu.
    • Rohit too. Despite being a good catch, the women who express interest in him either have ulterior motives, or only do so after prompting.
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  • Crowd Song: "Pretty Woman," "It's the Time to Disco," and "Maahi Ve" all qualify.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All the three leads have their moments.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Naina.
  • Disappeared Dad: the late Mr. Kapur.
  • Dramatic Irony
  • Drunken Song: Rohit and Naina bellow the chorus of "It's the Time to Disco" as Aman drags them home from a bar.
  • Dysfunctional Family: the Kapurs.
  • Easily Forgiven: Deconstructed. Jennifer's husband and Naina's father ended up having an extramarital affair which resulted in the birth of Gia. Jennifer forgave her husband for his adultery, writing it off as a mistake. Mr. Kapur, however saw his unfaithfulness towards Jennifer as an unforgivable mistake and her forgiveness reflected how good a person she was, adding fuel to the fire and he was Driven to Suicide.
  • Everything Fades: The title translates to "tomorrow may not be."
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  • Evil Matriarch: Lajjo for much of the film.
  • Family Business: The Kapurs have Cafe New Delhi; the Patels have Dial-A-Dhokla.
  • Final Speech: To quote one movie reviewer, "Madame Bovary has nothing on Aman."
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Subverted. Aman removes Naina's glasses for what he intends to be a Beautiful All Along moment, but it backfires because Naina really is Blind Without 'Em.
    • Naina does eventually get contact lenses, however.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Rohit doesn't believe that Camilla is a Gold Digger, Aman suggests Rohit test her by telling her that he doesn't want his father's money and that he is going to struggle to earn his own and if she will stand by him. Rohit angrily tells Aman he will never say anything like that. Cut to Rohit saying this to her verbatim.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Aman spends his final moments laughing and joking with Rohit.
  • Gold Digger: Camilla.
  • Handsome Lech: Averted with Rohit. His introduction sequence first shows him unsuccessfully trying to flirt with three different women, but it then shows him to be a gentleman, and rather sensitive at that.
  • He's Not My Boyfriend: Inverted. Naina pretends to date Rohit so Aman will leave her alone; however, Aman quickly figures out that they're really just good friends.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Gia.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Averted. The film establishes that Aman has a heart condition, his heart attack happens during strenuous physical activity, and it's implied that he hasn't been diligent about taking his medication. Upsetting, yes, but hardly shocking.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Aman takes this to an extreme with everybody.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Rohit gleefully tells Naina that he spent all weekend in bed with "Laila." Cut to Rohit's bedroom, where we see Rohit... and Laila the golden retriever licking his face.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lajjo becomes this at the end of the film.
  • Just Friends: Rohit and Naina, until the Relationship Upgrade.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Inverted with Aman. The movie looks fairly depressing, then Enter Aman, who single handedly turns it into an upbeat Rom Com. That being said, Aman does have a dark secret and after The Reveal it gets dramatic again...
  • Love Triangle: Aman and Rohit both end up falling for Naina.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Genders inverted; Aman is this to Naina.
  • The Matchmaker: Aman seems to have made it his life's mission to push Naina and Rohit together.
  • Matchmaker Crush: On the other hand, it quickly becomes clear that while he's busy pushing Naina and Rohit together, Aman has some serious feelings for Naina.
  • Meet Cute: Aman and Naina do this twice. The first time is a Crash-Into Hello, subverted because Naina doesn't see him. The second time, she opens her window to yell at Aman to keep quiet. The two have a silent mini-conversation with their eyes until Naina stomps away, at which point Aman begins the first Crowd Song.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Aman and Rohit, by Kantaben and later Rohit's father. Subverted in that both Aman and Rohit are aware of the misconception.
  • Mood Whiplash: The first half of the film is a light-hearted romantic comedy - then everything goes South as it's suddenly revealed that Aman is dying of an incurable heart condition and can't find a donor.
  • Multigenerational Household: the Kapurs.
  • Narrator: Naina. The entire film is a Flashback as she tells the story to her younger sister.
  • Nice Guy: Rohit.
  • Non-Nazi Swastika: Naina and Jennifer paint a Manji (a Buddhist symbol that the Nazis reversed ro use as part of their emblem) in the window of their restaurant - in New York - as part of its revamping. No one comments on this, and the new concept is a huge success despite how IRL even people who know the difference would be quite uncomfortable with the choice in decor.
  • One True Threesome: Emphasized by the fact that Aman and Rohit, despite being in love with the same person, do not antagonize each other over Naina at all, and are so close that when others assume that they're gay lovers, they play it up for all it's worth. Additionally, Aman does not hold a grudge against Rohit for marrying Naina, especially since he actually set the whole thing up himself, and would rather see them happy. Rohit for his part is fully aware that if not for the fact that Aman is terminally ill and doesn't have much longer to live, that Naina would have chosen Aman without a second thought, and honestly would have both accepted and preferred that outcome had it been possible.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Rohit, Aman and Naina.
  • Sad Bollywood Wedding: The bride cries all the way to the altar because she's in love with the dying best man. They get to have a last duet about how much they love each other but have to let go.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Naina and Rohit.
  • Theme Tune: the titular song.
  • The Unfavorite: Gia, whose grandmother refuses to accept her because apparently, she is adopted. It is later revealed that she actually was Jenny's husband's illegitimate child born out of wedlock. Jenny had forgiven her husband, but he couldn't and was Driven to Suicide.
  • White Shirt of Death: Aman has an entire white outfit of death during the title song.


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