Video of the Day: “Pretty Woman” from Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003) or “How Kal Ho Naa Ho changed my life!”

Today’s video is “Pretty Woman” with music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, by playback singer Shankar Mahadevan, picturized on King Khan from the movie Kal Ho Naa Ho.  I’ll get to that later but let me give you a little background first.

This is a pivotal Bollywood movie for me because it’s partly responsible for my current addiction to the genre. I had seen Devdas along with Nandini and other dosto at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis back in September 2003; the seed was planted. In the following years I saw Monsoon Wedding, Bend It Like Beckham, and Kandukondain Kandukondain. These Indian related movies swirled in my head a few years. Skip forward to August of 2006 and I’m looking at a Netflix page thinking, “Hey, I’d like to see that guy from Devdas in something.” I figure “that guy” is Shah Rukh Khan and put Kal Ho Naa Ho in the queue because it’s recommended. So I watch this movie and am stunned by how LONG it is! I’m disappointed that it’s set in what is supposed to be New York. Hey! This isn’t right, I wanted a real Indian movie set in India. Then I see this “Pretty Woman” scene and get that feeling you get when you’re embarrassed by someone, even worse that being embarrassed for yourself. But THEN the movie takes this turn that I never expect. Shah Rukh Khan is so dramatic that I’m sucked in. It has a love triangle, self sacrifice, and an emotionally wrenching hospital scene. So half way through, I accept it as a good movie and all I know is I want more! Then I saw Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, followed by Main Hoon Na. Then I watch Main Hoon Na again with Nandini and I sense another Bollywood junkie. It’s like SRK was a gateway drug to Bollywood. Next discovery is the pure cocaine of Amitabh, and the angry young man movies. HOOKED! I pick up a Hindi street naam of Sita-ji after watching Dance Dance, to keep it real. So the addiction begins! I stay with Bollywood, because it’s what I know, it’s safe. I believe that if I slip into Tollywood and Kollywood, and I’ve had a taste of the Telugu and Tamil scene people, it would be like taking crack, possibly meth. I have to stay away from Rajinikanth for now. And Lollywood would be like heroin, unmanageable. I need to stay as clean as I can, so it’s mostly Bollywood for now. I saw Nandini the other night, and we whispered a bit about Nollywood, careful to not let too many people hear, but knew to back off, it was just too dangerous. And we know that kal ho naa ho, but it’s still good to play it safe.


Kal Ho Naa Ho (Devanagari कल हो ना हो, Nastaliq: کل ہو نہ ہو, English: Tomorrow May or May Not Be) is a 2003 Bollywood film set in New York City. It stars Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, and Saif Ali Khan. The film was directed by first-timer Nikhil Advani; it was produced and co-written by Karan Johar, better known as the director of the hit films Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001). This movie resembles Dil Chahta Hai (2001) in blending Bollywood and Hollywoodconventions with high production values. While copyright violation has long run rampant in the Bollywood film industry, Kal Ho Naa Ho is notable for having licensed the rights to Roy Orbison‘s “Oh, Pretty Woman” for an extended musical sequence taking place in the streets in New York. Because of its familiar setting and music, accessibility to non-Indians, good production values, and respect for copyright, Kal Ho Naa Ho has been used to introduce Bollywood to markets where Indian films have been rare. Naina Catherine Kapur (Preity Zinta) is an angry young woman, for more than one reason. Her father committed suicide when she needed him the most, leaving Jennifer (Jaya Bachchan), his wife, to raise their children all khnh2.jpgalone. Lajjo (Sushma Seth), Jennifer’s mother-in-law, blames Jennifer for the suicide. Furthermore, Jennifer is unhappy because Lajjo refuses to accept Gia, a six-year-old girl whom Jennifer adopted, as her granddaughter. In addition, the restaurant Jennifer operates is faltering. The only factors that redeem Naina’s life are the toiling and tolerant Jennifer and Naina’s bumbling MBA classmate Rohit (Saif Ali Khan). Aman Mathur (Shah Rukh Khan), a happy-go-lucky man, arrives in Naina’s neighbourhood and soon changes everything with his contagious joviality and zest for life…(wikipedia)

And speaking of New York and India, our friend Brahmanandam, a.k.a. Tim, sent a great link to Indian restaurants in New York City; “A Passage to India,” by Matthew Fishbane. Click here to check it out the article published in the January 13, 2008 in the New York Times.

So here it is, “Pretty Woman”:

Thanks to nacromanser for providing the video.

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15 thoughts on “Video of the Day: “Pretty Woman” from Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003) or “How Kal Ho Naa Ho changed my life!”

  1. Wow Beth! Thanks for the link. Another thing that caught my eye from “Pretty Woman” in KHNH was the American flag being unfurled. Glad to know this song affected you enough to start a thread at I just joined to read more.

  2. Sitaji, I was very intrigued by the description of your Bollywood addiction; I can relate a lot to it (although mine has so far come mostly from YouTube clips; the song-and- dance numbers are incredibly addictive all on their own). Among the other film industries that might be dangerously addictive, I’m wondering if you should add Mollywood. I’m saying this now because I have suddenly become a big fan of Padmini – though I know she performed a lot in Hindi and the other languages, in addition to her native Malayalam.

    Regarding the NYT article on Indian restaurants in NYC, of course I would complain that it leaves out a lot. I live about eight blocks from the main streets of New York’s biggest Little India, in Jackson Heights, and I’ve eaten in probably a dozen or so of these places, though I have curiously avoided the Jackson Diner (the only restaurant in the area covered by the NYT), both because of its higher prices and the fact that I’ve heard it isn’t what it used to be. I have my own list of favorite restaurants, a few of which are just small and unassuming places where I grab takeout. I’ve thought of adding an Indian restaurant review to my blog one day – though of course I will have to credit Bollywood Food Club for inspiration once again! :)

  3. Thanks Richard for your kind words. I hadn’t heard of the term Mollywood, but of course it makes sense and will now have another thing to look for/and or avoid :). Let me tag you with this: Idea Star Singer (ISS),

    the Malayalam singing/Idol show. I have spent lots of time watching that and got really into the contestant Vani. Of couse then wrote a post about it.

    OK, so away from the Malayalam singing, and back to dancing, I first read about Padmini (and Vyjayanthimala) here:

    and included it in a post on the blog

    I confess I’m such a nerd I even got some custom coasters made with images of Padmini and Vyjayanthimala and other dancers over at You hipped me to Jayshree T. in your post:

    And also hipped me to Megha. And I first saw your blog when looking around for information on mujras after coming across so many from such a wide spectrum on youtube, then I did a search and found your post “About Those Mujras” which was interesting and helped explain the genre to me.

    I know what you mean about the youtube clips being addictive enough, but seeing the songs within the actual context of the movie is great.

    Finally, as far as the restaurant post, I just added it at a friend’s suggestion and I know nothing of NYC. Just trying to put a little food back into Bollywood Food Club. I’m sure you’ve got more accurate information and should definately add it to your blog. Sounds like you’re in a great neighborhood for food and Bollywood and Mollywood movie rental. Be careful Richard!

  4. Hey Sita-ji! Kal Ho Naa Ho is one of my favorite films, ever</em, hands down. What’s funny is I had such a similar reaction to it…When I saw “Pretty Woman”, I had a “Maybe this whole Bollywood thing isn’t going to work out for me” moment(it was very early in my Bolly-watching days) and almost turned it off.

    I’m SO glad I didn’t! By the intermission, SRK had me hooked, just like you were! There were so many brilliant shades to this film…the unique approach to a “love triangle”, the comedic scenes with SRK/Saif, the Rani/Kajol cameos, the diary scene, Preity and Saif learning salsa, the scene where Naina tries to tell Aman how she feels and leaves in tears, as we slowly learn the real story…I could go on and on….

    I’ve shown this movie to 3 people on 3 separate occasions and they have ALL loved it! Once you know the story, the shock value goes away, but its still so much fun to watch because of the way the characters work so well together onscreen! And its pretty neat to watch it with someone who’s never seen it before because they’re usually so moved and caught off guard by the twist….

    This one’s right up there on my favorites list… It could arguably be #1.

  5. Thanks for your comment Nida. I’ll remember to use Kal Ho Naa Ho as an introductory movie (drug) since it worked so well with your friends and with us too.

  6. It’s funny, Kal Ho Naa Ho is not one of my favorites, mostly because it breaks one of my cardinal rules: Shahrukh Khan should never ever die, ever (sadly, I cannot appreciate Dil Se for the same reason).

    But whatever path takes us here is good! :-)

  7. Exactly! Right KHNH was just a tool for me, a large shiny hook pulling me in. Yes, Dil Se was quite the bummer, with the exception of “Chaiyya Chaiyya.” Had I not been trained as a child soldier, I wouldn’t have understood the movie at all. ;)

    SRK does act well while bleeding through the mouth though, like in Devdas, where he also dies.

  8. Hi. I wanted to get back to this post because, purely by accident (months after you wrote this), I happened to find the entire film in installments with subtitles on YouTube…and now I know exactly what you mean. I loved it too – which surprised me, because I also didn’t expect to at first. But I thought it was great. I can see now exactly how the addiction took hold.

  9. Hi, Sitaji. Thanks for the links – I hadn’t seen these before, and it was very interesting reading them. (Though I don’t understand why you think they are “much better” than yours.) And now, I have two more blogs to explore. Also, now I have lots of material for a blog post on the subject (maybe).

  10. Hello Richard! I thought you’d like both the Memsaab Story & the Bitten by Bollywood sites. They both have such interesting stuff. Look forward to your posts. :)

  11. Wow, very nice post and discussion. I like these “how Bollywood found me” stories. I just read Memsaab, Filmigeek and you and will move on to Bittenbybollyood’s respective story after this.

    @Memsaab, i personally don’t reject SRK dieing, but i prefer the demise very much Dil Se style over the dragging, embarrassing KHNH style. Overall, any non-lethal scripts are much more to my liking though, and in this regard Dil Se is offputting.

    KHNH was also one of my very first Bollies. Unlike the last 15 minutes of that movie, the Pretty Woman dance did not embarrass me at all. I think it’s a brillant piece of Farah Khan choreography, with some of her trademarks like
    – three different kinds of actions in three different distance zones to the camera
    – casual cartwheeling in the foreground (is that correct English? I mean the acrobats popping up and passing through)
    – short bits of video slow motion in synch with the music on regular speed (and that magic transition from video slow motion back to regular video speed)

    Other aspects i like in that dance are the multi-cultural crowd and the outdoor setting. Bollywood has way too many dances in dark disco grottoes (including in KHNH) (one of South Indian movies’ advantages is more outdoor footage, including dances).

    One thing i miss about KHNH and maybe other Farah Khan dance directions are dances that take the plot further, maybe are even interrupted for a bit of dialogue and then picked up again. If i see it right, as long as Farah Khan dances are shown, at least in KHNH, the plot is on Pause.

    KHNH remains one of my favorites, even though i see some disadvantages now (apart from the end):
    – the very one-dimensional style in which kids and mothers are portrayed; not unique to this movie of course
    – There’s a lot of fast talk here, and it is very difficult to follow the subtitles (more difficult than on other movies i feel). We do have an acceptable German synchronisation, still if you have once heard the original voices, the synchronisation just doesn’t feel right.

    Since you mentioned it, i like Mollywood a lot because of their natural settings including lots of great tropical outdoors. You’d wonder about their feisty, moustached main heroes though, Mohanlal and Mahmooty; Tamil movies have more of this breed. Which reminds me of a passage in Cheetan Bhagat’s almost bollywoodesk, cliché-happy novel “2 States”: The main actor, a Punjabi, comes to South India for the first time, sees all the feisty moustached heroes on the billboards and thinks: “No wonder that all south indian heroines like Hema Malini or Vijayanthimala marry north Indian men. Even i – or my uncle – could be a movie hero here.” (Quoted from vague memory.)

    • Henrik-ji!
      Thanks for the long and thoughtful comment here. I love reading stories of how people, particularly non Indians, got hooked on Bollywood. BittenbyBollywood’s story is a nice one.

      Yes, casual cartwheeling is the correct term for the dancing in the “Pretty Woman” number. I like your description of why you liked the song, which made me think that maybe it’s my cultural shame that made me feel embarassed of the presentation of the song? I think I simply thought it was really corny and couldn’t detach from that since it was an American tune? Also, I’d never considered the outdoor setting as one aspect of the number that makes it more pleasing, but now that you point this out, I see you’re right. I enjoyed your quoting of Bhagat, but I have to say, I think Mohanlal and Mahmooty are very manly and can definately see their mass appeal. ;) I appreciate you stopping in and hope to hear more from you again. All the best! :)

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