How ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’ Became a Meme

The beloved 2001 Bollywood film, colloquially known as K3G, somehow has the right scene for all of life’s moments.

Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan (Dharma Productions)

Snigdha Sur


December 14, 2022


10 min

A helicopter is buzzing above a large mansion. Feet land on the gravel as a man disembarks from the helicopter. After whisking off his sunglasses, the man starts running down the long driveway to the mansion’s entrance. Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) has arrived just in time for his family’s annual, elaborate Diwali celebration — replete with a dancing Rani Mukerji, plenty of diyas, and Lata Mangeshkar-voiced musical numbers. But, during COVID, elections, family gatherings — or really, any of life’s many moments — this scene became something else: the perfect meme.

When Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham came out in 2001, expectations were riding high for director Karan Johar’s second film. Johar had created a certifiable hit with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). Now, with K3G, as the film came to be known (what else do you expect from such a long title?), Johar had brought together some of the biggest names in the business: Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol (in their fifth pairing), relative newcomers Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor, and Rani Mukerji. The premise of the film was simple: it’s all about family. Little did Johar know that he would end up creating, in addition, a meme machine and a movement.

Join today to read the full story.


Already a subscriber? Log in