Kal Ho Naa Ho (English: Tomorrow May Never Come, Hindi pronunciation: [kl ɦoː naː ɦoː]), also abbreviated as KHNH, is a 2003 Indian romantic drama film directed by Nikkhil Advani. The film features Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, and Preity Zinta as the lead characters, with Sushma Seth, Reema Lagoo, Lilette Dubey and Delnaaz Paul in supporting roles. It narrates the story of Naina Catherine Kapur, a pessimistic and uptight MBA student. She falls in love with her neighbour Aman Mathur, a terminally-ill heart patient who tries to get Naina and her friend Rohit Patel to fall in love with each other, since he does not wish to bring her the pain of his death by reciprocating her feelings.
The film was written by Karan Johar, who co-produced it with his father Yash Johar under their Dharma Productions banner on a budget of ₹280 million (about US$6,132,282 in 2003).[a] The dialogue was written by Niranjan Iyengar, and Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy composed the score. Anil Mehta, Manish Malhotra and Sharmishta Roy were the film's cinematographer, costume designer and art director. The film has several themes, including the depiction of non-resident Indians and homosexuality. Principal photography took place in Toronto, New York City and Mumbai from January to October 2003. Its soundtrack was released on 27 September 2003 to positive reception, with the title song, "It's The Time To Disco", "Kuch To Hua Hai" and "Pretty Woman" particularly well-received.
Kal Ho Naa Ho was released on 27 November 2003 with the promotional tagline, "A Story of a Lifetime ... In a Heartbeat". The film received positive critical feedback, and was commercially successful; it earned ₹860.9 million (about US$18,854,577 in 2003),[a] and was the highest-grossing Indian film of the year. It won two National Film Awards, eight Filmfare Awards, thirteen International Indian Film Academy Awards, six Producers Guild Film Awards, three Screen Awards, and two Zee Cine Awards in 2004. The German Embassy in India paid homage to the film by releasing an eight-minute video, Lebe jetzt.
|Kal Ho Naa Ho|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Nikkhil Advani|
|Written by||Karan Johar|
Shah Rukh Khan
Saif Ali Khan
|Narrated by||Preity Zinta|
|Edited by||Sanjay Sankla|
|Distributed by||Yash Raj Films|
|Box office||₹860.9 million[a]|
Naina Catherine Kapur is a pessimistic, uptight MBA student who lives in New York City with her widowed mother Jennifer Kapur, biological brother Shiv, adopted sister Gia, and grandmother Lajjo. Jennifer runs an unsuccessful restaurant with her neighbour, Jaswinder "Jazz" Kapoor. Lajjo is indifferent to Jennifer and Gia as she believes that Gia's adoption led her son (Jennifer's husband) to suicide.
Naina has two best friends: her classmate, Rohit Patel, and Jaspreet "Sweetu" Kapoor, Jazz's sister. Her life is dull and shadowed by her father's loss, until Aman Mathur and his family move in next door. Aman's cheerfulness gradually wins over Naina's family; he slowly starts to solve their problems, which include changing the cafe to an Indian restaurant. Its success alleviates their financial burdens. Aman encourages Naina to be happy and live life to the fullest, and she falls in love with him.
Rohit also falls in love with Naina, and asks Aman's help in expressing his feelings. Naina tells Rohit that there is something she must say to him, leading Rohit to misinterpret that she reciprocates his feelings. Naina instead reveals that she is in love with Aman. Shaken, Rohit calls Aman to tell him what happened. Naina goes to Aman's house and is shocked to see a wedding photograph of Aman and his wife, Priya. Heartbroken, she leaves.
Aman's mother confronts him about what has happened. He says that he loves Naina, but has decided to hide it because he is a terminally-ill heart patient. He is not married, and that Priya is his childhood friend and a physician. Aman vows to bring Naina and Rohit together, since he believes that Rohit will be better able to provide for her. He hatches a plan to transform Naina and Rohit's bond, and their friendship blossoms into love. Naina discovers his plan, and chides Aman for trying to ruin her friendship with Rohit. Aman takes out Rohit's diary and confesses his feelings for Naina, saying that they are Rohit's. Naina forgives Aman and Rohit.
Rohit proposes to Naina, and she accepts. Lajjo and Jennifer argue about Gia, who calls on Aman for help. Despite Jennifer's objections, he tells Lajjo that her husband had an affair and fathered Gia. When Gia's biological mother refused to accept her, Jennifer adopted her. Unable to deal with the guilt, Jennifer's husband committed suicide. Lajjo realises her mistake, and reconciles with Jennifer and Gia.
During Naina and Rohit's engagement, Aman has a heart attack and unknown to anyone other than his mother, he is admitted to a hospital. Naina encounters Priya, whom she recognises as Aman's wife, while she is shopping with Rohit. After introducing herself and her husband, Abhay, the latter reveals the truth about Aman. Shocked, Naina realises that Aman has sacrificed his love for her and leaves the mall in an emotional frenzy. Priya tells Aman about what happened. Aman leaves the hospital and meets a frustrated Rohit, who asks why he and not Aman should marry Naina. Aman urges Rohit to marry Naina as a sign of respecting his dying wish to see Naina happy. Aman meets Naina, and they embrace while he tries to persuade her that he does not love her. Rohit and Naina's wedding, in which Aman participates, takes place soon afterward.
Sometime after the marriage, Aman is on his deathbed and says goodbye to everyone. He is left alone with Rohit, after Naina leaves the room in tears. Aman makes Rohit promise that, although Naina is his in this lifetime, Aman will get her in the next. Twenty years later, Naina tells a grown-up Gia how Aman affected every aspect of their lives. They are joined by her daughter Rhea and Rohit, who tells Naina that he loves her as they embrace.
– Johar, on the film's title
Unhappy with the polarising response to his 2001 production, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham..., Karan Johar decided to make what he called "a cool film" with "a different energy" from his previous projects and began working on the script for Kal Ho Naa Ho. The film was initially entitled Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, but Johar later changed it to Kal Ho Naa Ho (naming it after the song "Aisa Milan Kal Ho Naa Ho" from the 1997 film Hameshaa); he used the former title for his 2006 film. Johar preferred not to direct the film to avoid previous mistakes. He later regretted the decision, and thought about taking over from Advani but refrained out of courtesy. Advani said that Johar "underestimated himself, and he thought that he won't be able to do justice to it."
Around the same time, Nikkhil Advani, who served as an assistant director for Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin (1996), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Mohabbatein (2000), and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham..., had planned to direct a spy thriller set in Kashmir featuring Shah Rukh Khan. Advani sent an initial draft to Johar and his father, Yash Johar, both of whom called it controversial and did not want Advani to choose such a risky subject for his debut film. Johar described his script for Kal Ho Naa Ho to Advani, who agreed to direct if he could make the film his way; Johar agreed. In an interview with Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com, Advani described Kal Ho Naa Ho as "the story of a family which is bogged down with a lot of problems"; one man enters their lives "and solves all their problems and makes them realise how their problems are not as big as they are perceived to be."
Clockwise from upper left: Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Saif Ali Khan played Jennifer, Aman, Naina and Rohit, respectively.
Shah Rukh Khan, Jaya Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan and Preity Zinta were cast in the lead roles in December 2002. The first name of Shah Rukh Khan's character, Aman, was a departure from his previous collaborations with Johar; his first name in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham... was Rahul. Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor were initially offered the roles of Rohit and Naina. Khan declined the offer because he did not want to play second fiddle, and Kapoor refused the role due to a salary dispute with Johar. Saif Ali Khan and Zinta subsequently agreed to the project.
Neetu Singh was approached for the role of Naina's mother, Jennifer, but she turned it down. It was then offered to Bachchan, who was initially reluctant. After Advani told her he would make the film in the style of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Gulzar, both of whom were Bachchan's favourite directors, she immediately changed her mind and accepted. Kajol and Rani Mukherji made special appearances in the song "Maahi Ve". Vogue India fashion director Anaita Shroff Adajania made a cameo appearance as Geeta Parekh, Naina and Rohit's fellow MBA candidate.
In addition to writing the story and screenplay, Johar co-produced Kal Ho Naa Ho with Yash Johar under the banner of Dharma Productions. The film was the last produced by Yash Johar before his death on 26 June 2004. The dialogue was written by Niranjan Iyengar. Anil Mehta and Sanjay Sankla were signed as cinematographer and editor, respectively, and Mehta also appeared briefly as Naina's father at the beginning of the film. Sharmishta Roy was the film's production designer. Farah Khan choreographed the song scenes, and appeared as a customer in Jennifer's café. Actor Arjun Kapoor was an assistant director of the film.
The film's costumes were designed by Manish Malhotra. Zinta said in an interview with Subhash K. Jha that she preferred "a very 'preppy' look", similar to Ali MacGraw's in Love Story (1970), and wore glasses to indicate Naina's initially-serious nature. She wore jeans and T-shirts to convey the impression of an NRI.
Johar wanted Bachchan to wear trousers, believing that "it would be nice to see her in something unusual" and visualising her in them "would be fresh for her." Bachchan accepted without hesitation and told Johar, "If you are making it, I'll do it". Zinta designed and sewed the clothes for Gia's dolls in the film.
Johar and Advani were fascinated with New York City, and wanted to set Kal Ho Naa Ho there. Johar went to New York while he worked on the film's script and stayed at least one-and-a-half months,[b] studying the people, their culture, how they commute and the lifestyle of Americans and NRIs there. He "sat in Central Park, stared at people, wrote the film, came back to Mumbai, narrated it to everybody, selected the cast."
The city appealed to Advani, since he believed it mirrored Naina's personality. He summarised the similarity between Naina and New York City: "You can be surrounded by millions of people right in the middle of Grand Central Station. And you can be extremely lonely." He had never been to New York City before, and used the films of Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron to learn about life in the city. Like Johar, Advani analysed everything about the city:
When I went to scout for locations, I lived there for a month. I tried to imbibe everything there was in NY. I would just go and stand on the streets for an hour, observe people talking, make mental notes about how they walk, talk, how they don't look people in the eye. They are constantly on the move. I find that incredible.
Kal Ho Naa Ho was made on a budget of ₹280 million (about US$6,132,282 in 2003). Principal photography began on 20 January 2003 in Mumbai. Shah Rukh Khan became ill after four days of shooting and told Johar he would be unable to continue with the project, but Advani requested Johar to wait until the actor recovered. Khan's illness lasted for six months, and scenes with Saif Ali Khan and Zinta, including the song, "Kuch To Hua Hai", were shot in Toronto over an eight-day period in March–April 2003. Johar said in an interview with Subhash K. Jha that he tried to complete the film in Toronto believing it would be a good substitute for New York City to avoid budget problems, but felt that the idea was unoriginal and would not work out.
The 80-person production unit then moved to New York City for the next schedule in July 2003, with Shah Rukh Khan joining them. Advani and Mehta wanted to capture the city's change of seasons from winter to summer to highlight the transformation of Naina's personality, but were unable to do so due to Shah Rukh Khan's illness. As a result, they filmed the New York City scenes during the summer.
Shooting in New York began on 15 July, covering areas in and around the five boroughs and on Long Island. The street where Aman and Naina live was filmed in Brooklyn, where the unit camped for two weeks in local houses. A body double was used for Zinta's jogging scene during the film's opening credits, since she had injured herself filming the scene. The Northeast blackout of 2003 forced the unit to cancel filming for several days, and the cast and crew were without food and water at one point. The shooting schedule in New York City lasted for fifty-two days. The final scenes, which included some songs, were filmed at the Filmistan Studios in Mumbai over about fifty days beginning in August 2003. Shooting ended in October 2003, with "Maahi Ve" the last scene filmed. According to Shah Rukh Khan, Kal Ho Naa Ho was made in sync sound as there were many indoor sequences in the film. He noted that sync sound "improved" his performance "considerably" while calling it "one of the biggest blessings for an actor."
Johar had planned the film's climax differently, but Yash Johar persuaded him to have Aman die; Johar thought that, given Shah Rukh Khan's screen persona, his death would have a bigger impact on the audience. In September 2015, Shah Rukh Khan said that Johar "made a special edit" of the film for his children as a favour to him; in this version, the film ends before his character dies.
Kal Ho Naa Ho continued the trend set by Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) in which Indian family values are always upheld, regardless of the country of residence. Social- and cultural-analysis professor Gayatri Gopinath (author of Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures) noted how the film asserted "the essential Indianness" of its characters, and the entry of Aman Mathur gives them a sense of pride in their identity as Indians. This is seen when Aman helps overcome Jennifer Kapur's financial constraints by turning her cafe into an Indian restaurant and replacing the American flag with the Indian tricolour. Maria Ridda, in chapter nine of Postliberalization Indian Novels in English: Politics of Global Reception and Awards, compares the film with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai because both films depict the internalisation of Western ideologies into Indian culture. Ridda agrees with Gopinath on the impact of Aman's transformation of Jennifer's cafe, noting that all Jennifer's friends and family work together on the renovation and it reinforces "a 'pan-Indian' sense of belonging."
In an extensive comparative analysis of Kal Ho Naa Ho with Siddharth Anand's 2005 film, Salaam Namaste, Cleveland State University School of Communication assistant professor Anup Kumar believed the films are similar in being "represented as an archetype of 'unity in diversity'" of the characters. In Salaam Namaste, the characters are from throughout India; one is from Bangladesh. Kumar notes that the characters' last names "signify ethnicity and caste." In Kal Ho Naa Ho, Jennifer and Lajjo are Christian and Punjabi Sikh, respectively; Rohit is a Gujarati. According to Kumar, Rohit and Naina's marriage symbolises the unity of the people of Punjab and Gujarat. Both films emphasise different aspects of marriage. In Salaam Namaste, central characters Nick and Ambar's (Saif Ali Khan and Zinta, respectively) professional careers come first and they are fearful of commitment. Conversely, in Kal Ho Naa Ho the tradition of love-cum-arranged marriage is encouraged.
Aman is noted by many critics to resemble Rajesh Khanna's character, Anand Saigal, in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Anand (1971). In both films, the protagonist is diagnosed with a terminal illness but believes in living life to the fullest. Despite accepting Aman and Saigal's similar personalities, Mayank Shekhar of Mid Day felt that the film had more in common with Farhan Akhtar's directorial debut, Dil Chahta Hai (2001), "in its look and lingos". Film journalists and critics Komal Nahta, in his review of Kal Ho Naa Ho for Outlook, Ram Kamal Mukherjee from Stardust, Jitesh Pillai of The Times of India, and Paresh C. Palicha of The Hindu agreed that the film is thematically similar to Anand. Each felt that it shared common aspects with other films starring Khanna: 1970's Safar, where terminal illness is also a central motif, and Bawarchi (1972), in which the protagonist mends relationships between families and friends. Pillai also compared Shah Rukh Khan's death to Tom Hanks' in the 1993 legal drama, Philadelphia.
Some reviewers and scholars have said that Kal Ho Naa Ho has indirect homosexual themes. Manjula Sen of The Telegraph and Mimansa Shekhar of The Indian Express note homosexual innuendo, particularly in scenes where Rohit's servant Kantaben finds Rohit and Aman in what she thinks are compromising situations (leading her to believe that they are a couple). Dina Holtzman wrote in her book, Bollywood and Globalization: Indian Popular Cinema, Nation, and Diaspora, that Aman's death was similar to the death of Jai (Amitabh Bachchan's character in the 1975 film, Sholay). According to Holtzman, their deaths broke the bond between the two male leads and were necessary to establish a normative heterosexual relationship (between Rohit and Naina in Kal Ho Naa Ho, and Veeru and Basanti in Sholay).
|Kal Ho Naa Ho|
|Soundtrack album by Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy|
|Released||27 September 2003|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
|Label||Sony Music India|
Johar ended his association with the composing duo Jatin–Lalit after the duo publicly stated that they were displeased with his decision to use other music directors for Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.... The soundtrack for Kal Ho Naa Ho was composed by Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy[c] in their first collaboration with Johar, with lyrics by Javed Akhtar.
Unlike many previous Bollywood films, Johar complied with international copyright laws and obtained permission to rework Roy Orbison's 1964 song "Oh, Pretty Woman" for the film; the revised song was entitled "Pretty Woman". The music for the title song, "Kal Ho Naa Ho", was composed by Loy Mendonsa when he and Advani were at the German Bakery in Pune. Advani wanted a song thematically similar to Celine Dion's 1997 recording of "My Heart Will Go On", which he was humming at the time. When he heard it, Mendonsa came up with the tune and recorded it on his phone. After Shankar Mahadevan and Ehsaan Noorani listened to it, the trio composed the song.
The soundtrack was released on 27 September 2003 under the Sony Music India label. The audio launch ceremony was held two days later at the Taj Lands End in Mumbai. The album had positive reviews and the title song, "It's The Time To Disco", "Kuch To Hua Hai" and "Pretty Woman" became popular. A Bollywood Hungama critic called it "a fabulous amalgamation of Indian melodies and contemporary sound." Another reviewer on the same website felt that, apart from "Kal Ho Naa Ho" and "Kuch To Hua Hai", the rest of the songs were in the "'average' to 'very average' category". Vipin Nair of Film Companion ranked the soundtrack 66th on his list of "100 Bollywood Albums". Nair noted that although the album "had a fairly diverse set of songs", he chose the title song as his favourite and called it "among the most moving songs produced since the start of the century". It was the third-highest-selling album of the year in India, with sales of over 2.3 million copies.
|1.||"Kal Ho Naa Ho"||Sonu Nigam||5:21|
|2.||"Maahi Ve"||Madhushree, Sadhana Sargam, Shankar Mahadevan, Sonu Nigam, Udit Narayan||6:06|
|3.||"It's The Time To Disco"||KK, Loy Mendonsa, Shaan, Vasundhara Das||5:33|
|4.||"Kuch To Hua Hai"||Alka Yagnik, Shaan||5:19|
|5.||"Kal Ho Naa Ho" (Pathos)||Alka Yagnik, Richa Sharma, Sonu Nigam||5:35|
|6.||"Pretty Woman"||Ravi Khote, Shankar Mahadevan||5:53|
Kal Ho Naa Ho was released on 27 November 2003 and was promoted with the tagline, "A Story of a Lifetime ... In a Heartbeat". Its international distribution rights were acquired by Yash Raj Films. The film won the Prix Du Public award when it was screened at the 2004 Valenciennes Film Festival. It was also shown at the Marrakech International Film Festival in 2005.
Costumes worn by Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Zinta were auctioned in December 2003 by Fame Adlabs in Mumbai. The film's script was added to the Margaret Herrick Library, the main repository of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, later that month. It was referenced in 2015 by the German Embassy in India, which produced an eight-minute video entitled Lebe Jetzt ("Kal Ho Naa Ho" in German) focussing on the title track. The video featured German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner, his wife Elisse and former Indian Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid in the roles played by Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Zinta, respectively.
The film received positive reviews from critics, with its direction, story, screenplay, cinematography and performances receiving the most attention. Film critic and author Anupama Chopra praised Advani's direction, noting in her India Today review that he "emerges as a distinctive voice". Although she appreciated its technical aspects, she criticised the film's first half and its sub-plots. Mayank Shekhar called Kal Ho Naa Ho "a carefully constructed compendium of moments" which helped the audience "to feel lighter and to lighten up", concluding that "it works and is worth your entertainment bucks." Komal Nahta praised the film's direction, screenplay and lead performances—particularly Shah Rukh Khan, calling his character Aman "one of the best roles of his career." Ram Kamal Mukherjee described Zinta's performance as "astounding", saying that she "skillfully handled the hues of the complex character" and "walked through the character with elan." Mukherjee called Advani's and Johar's treatment of the story "unique", admiring the film's technical aspects and its treatment of homosexuality "with a dash of humor, and thankfully by not degrading its social connection."
Jitesh Pillai described Johar's screenplay as "endearing", writing that it "pinwheels with abandon from the bachelor with a heart of gold to the obdurate female lead." Pillai also praised the performances of Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan, particularly their on-screen relationship and comic timing. He called Shah Rukh Khan "wonderful", calling him as "the soul" of the film and writing that Ali Khan's "joie de vivre makes it one of the most delectable performances seen in recent times." Rama Sharma of The Tribune thought that Shah Rukh Khan "infuses enough spark and affection", but was "overcharged" at times. He praised Mehta's cinematography for capturing nuances and "heightening the emotion."
In The Hindu, Paresh C. Palicha praised Iyengar's "witty and crispy" dialogue but criticised the characters' Indian accents. Another Hindu critic, Ziya Us Salam, agreed with Nahta that the film belonged to Shah Rukh Khan. Although Shah Rukh Khan "does the same thing over and over again", he performs his role "with such panache that all you can do is sit back and wait for that master artiste to unfold his magic again." A third review in The Hindu by Chitra Mahesh called Kal Ho Naa Ho "a smartly-made film" and praised Saif Ali Khan's performance, saying that "he has proved yet again what a wonderfully natural actor he is." However, she wrote that Shah Rukh Khan "tries too hard to impress".
Rohini Iyer of Rediff.com praised Kal Ho Naa Ho's "fresh" storytelling and "spicy humour", saying that Zinta "captures the spirit" of her character. She concluded her review by saying that the film "will carry you with its exuberance." According to Archana Vohra of NDTV, Advani "seems to have come up with an innovative way to present a done-to-death plot" and added: "Irrespective of the frills, fancy clothes and well-dressed stars, the film does strike a chord". Vohra, finding Bachchan "extremely well cast" as Jennifer and Saif Ali Khan's screen presence "electrifying", criticised Shah Rukh Khan for "playing the same kind of roles" that he did in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham ..., but he "isn't too bad. Just needs to go easy on the histrionics."
Kal Ho Naa Ho received a rating of 71 percent on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on seven reviews, with an average rating of 7.2 out of 10. Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, has given the film a score of 54 based on four reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
In a positive review, Dave Kehr of The New York Times described Kal Ho Na Ho as "a vigorous Bollywood blend of romantic comedy and family melodrama" and "a rich meal that may best be reserved for stomachs accustomed to such bountiful fare." Writing for Variety, Derek Elley called the film a "slam-dunk" effort from Johar, with "a lightness of touch that sets it apart from the previous hits." Elley praised Saif Ali Khan and Zinta, noting that they "more than hold" their own "against a huge cast". Manish Gajjar of the BBC found the script "fresh and appealing", and Advani proves "he has the natural ability to handle both the lighter and serious moments in the film." Gajjar termed Kal Ho Naa Ho a "well-crafted product".
David Parkinson of Radio Times wrote that the film "retains a distinctive Bollywood flavour", despite being inspired by "Hollywood romantic comedies". Parkinson criticised its length: "The pace slackens as plot demands take precedence over set pieces". Jami Bernard of the New York Daily News wrote, "Bollywood musicals, those big, loud, colorful extravaganzas from India, are an acquired taste and much of Kal Ho Naa Ho doesn't translate easily"; however, "All three leads grow on you."
The film was successful at the box office, particularly overseas due to its New York City setting. Kal Ho Naa Ho was released on 400 screens across India and grossed ₹21.7 million (US$475,251 in 2003) on its opening day, the year's fourth-highest first-day earnings. It earned ₹67.1 million ($1,469,557 in 2003) by the end of its opening weekend, breaking Koi... Mil Gaya's record for the year's best opening weekend in India. At the end of its first week, the film earned ₹124.5 million ($2,726,675 in 2003). Kal Ho Naa Ho earned ₹581.8 million ($12,742,006 in 2003) in India and was the second-highest-grossing Indian film of 2003,[a] behind Koi... Mil Gaya.[a]
Abroad, Kal Ho Naa Ho was released in 37 theatres in the United Kingdom. The film debuted in sixth place and grossed ₹29.41 million (about $644,000 in 2003) over its first weekend, only exceeded by Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham.... In the United States, where it premiered on 52 screens, it earned ₹34.62 million ($758,212 in 2003) by the end of its four-day first weekend. By the end of its first week, the film grossed ₹84.64 million ($1,853,701 in 2003), the year's highest overseas first-week gross for an Indian film. A month after its release, Kal Ho Naa Ho earned about ₹180 million ($3,942,181 in 2003) in the UK and US, grossing in the UK top ten. It earned ₹279.1 million ($6,112,571 in 2003) overseas, the year's highest-grossing Indian film.[a] Earning a total of ₹860.9 million ($18,854,577 in 2003), it was also 2003's most profitable Indian film.[a]
At the 51st National Film Awards, Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy received the award for Best Music Direction and Sonu Nigam received the Best Male Playback Singer award. Kal Ho Naa Ho received eleven nominations at the 49th Filmfare Awards, and won eight—the most for any film that year, including Best Actress (Zinta), Best Supporting Actor (Saif Ali Khan) and Best Supporting Actress (Bachchan). The film won thirteen of its sixteen nominations at the 5th IIFA Awards, including Best Film, Best Actress (Zinta), Best Supporting Actor (Saif Ali Khan) and Best Supporting Actress (Bachchan).