There are only very few actors who can play the ordinary man with extraordinary talent and skills. Shahrukh Khan is one such actor. While he is more known for his larger than life films (such as 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge', 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai', 'Devdas' etc) it is in roles such as Sunil, Raju (of 'Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman') or Rahul (of 'Yes Boss') that I prefer him most. 'Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa' is one of his greatest achievements and among his most underrated films. He beautifully brings Sunil to life and had I not been aware that I was watching a movie, I wouldn't have known that Khan was acting.
For me, Sunil is one of the most unique and memorable characters in Hindi cinema yet he is so easily recognizable. He's not the son of a millionaire, not an A-grade student, not popular with women. He's vibrant. He's talented. He's carefree. He lies. He IS just a regular guy. One that you must have known sometime somewhere. I see a lot of myself in Sunil. His despair for Anna's love, his passion for music, his indifference towards his academic failure, have all been displayed with gusto by Mr. Khan.
Kundan Shah's direction is outstanding. He keeps everything including execution, story, props and setting, simple and that's what makes 'Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa' so easy to relate to. His portrayal of Sunil's relationships with the people in his life that includes his family, his band members, the girl he loves, a priest and his boss is very real and down to earth. Thankfully, nothing is sugarcoated. Shah stays focused and does it all with a very subtle approach. Even the brother sister relationship which was given very little screen time, flourishes beautifully on screen and, in my opinion, it is one of the best depiction of a sibling relationship.
The background score flows very well with the film and the songs are great. My favourites include the ballad 'Sachchi Yeh Kahani Hai' and the soulful 'Ae Kaash Ke Hum', both of which have been beautifully visualized. Actually all the songs are nicely picturized including the funny 'Kyun Na Hum' and 'Anna Mere Pyar', the sad 'Woh To Hai Albela' and the romantic 'Deewana Dil Deewana'.
Though 'Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa' is Shahrukh Khan's film, most of the supporting cast is very effective. Naseeruddin Shah as the priest/Sunil's confidant is totally awesome. Tiku Talsania and Goga Kapoor are hilarious. Of Sunil's friend Kurush Deboo stands out. However, Suchitra Krishnamurty and Deepak Tijori are merely okay.
In a nutshell, 'Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa' is one of my all-time favourite films. It's one of the rarest of its kind, truly a gem of a movie.