Uff! How vividly I remember that summer day – during the start of our summer vacations in class eleventh – when I went to watch this iconic film called QSQT. First day, first show. At the Paras cinema hall in South Delhi. All alone. Because of Juhi Chawla! Yes, only because of her, as I had become a fan of hers ever since she became Miss India! My friends had no such extra love for her and they refused to accompany me! I remember that the hall was as good as empty, with a handful of couples sitting far and wide! And what a film I enjoyed in the emptiness of that hall! For the next seven days, I kept going back to see the same movie with a different set of friends each time (with the last set of friends coming back repeatedly) as the crowds kept swelling. By the time we were watching the movie on the 8th day after buying tickets in ‘black’, QSQT was on its way to become one of the biggest blockbusters ever of Bollywood, and Aamir Khan one of the country’s biggest ever heartthrobs – at least for the next seven years till a certain DDLJ brought in a new Khan! And yes, my friends too had finally realised why I loved Juhi so much! QSQT was a pure love story in its true sense – as pure as the emotions of love could get – conveyed through a clean and beautiful film with great direction, music and acting.
Those indeed were amazing days. They used to more often make films which one could see time and again!
And while getting nostalgic one recent evening reading about QSQT’s 25 year celebrations, I wondered whether a QSQT will work again in today’s times. Coincidentally, after hearing praise aplenty from the student community, I went to see Aashiqui 2 the same evening and got my answer.
Aashiqui 2 is a Mahesh Bhatt film. He necessarily is someone who finds his place in the top 25 all-time influencers from the world of Bollywood. A top intellectual without doubt – even if his films are often nowadays branded on the borderline of soft porn. He started off with some of the greatest art-house films and realised that to survive in Bollywood, one needs commercial success. And since he couldn’t make unrealistic films, he and his extremely bold and talented family members decided to make films largely on some of the most real passions of humanity, and those that sell the most – sex and crime (what every media house of India today thrives on while often hypocritically criticising his films). With a tremendous and rare sense of music – always keeping ahead of its times – he is today the man behind one of the most commercially successful production houses. And someone who can sit back and claim that he never made popcorn movies that looked unreal! So I went to see Aashiqui 2 expecting a lot of passion and realism.
The film didn’t betray my expectations, though a tacky first fifteen minutes and below average acting by the hero (due to lack of dialogue-delivering ability, something that ails most of our new breed of heroes) did rob me of the initial excitement. Yet, thanks to the incredibly fresh and sweet impact of Shraddha Kapoor, I stuck on to this story of a girl hopelessly in love with a drunkard and loser. And it kept growing on me. When finally the loser commits suicide just before the end of the film, I realized why the movie has become such a rage amongst the youth! At first, it hits hard. I could hear myself saying, “What?! The hero of a film called Aashiqui can actually be such a loser so as to commit suicide just because he can’t leave alcohol?” And I realised, yes, these are different times. Mahesh Bhatt has hit the right note yet again. These aren’t really those times when parents in cities oppose love marriages. At least, they are less likely to kill anyone on this issue. However, these are times when fame is what the aimless youth aspires for, though for that, having a content of character isn’t the most important thing. The hero of the film symbolises it all. Had fame. Has hardly any substance. And most importantly, he drinks aimlessly.
To me, that marks 25 years of QSQT. Yes, Aamir is still around and doing one wonderful film after the other. Yet, times have changed. Gone are the days of QSQT sensibilities. These are times when we commit suicide, live on Facebook, with an alcohol bottle beside us. And yet, we are believed to be showing true love! It’s not a suicide due to rejection, mind you! It’s a suicide for love! An extreme sense of instant self-gratification and a deeply distorted definition of selfishness is at the core of our existence. Yes, QSQT had a superior script and Aditya Roy Kapoor’s acting prowess is not anywhere close to that of Aamir Khan’s; nor are these times when a film gets eight days to catch up – so Aashiqui 2 isn’t going to become as big a blockbuster as QSQT was. But somehow, it looks like a perfect film to mark QSQT’s 25th anniversary and reflect on the changing times!
Talking about anniversaries, the bigger anniversary of course has been the hundred years of Bollywood. And many things in our society and Bollywood have changed with time. One thing has however remained a constant for the generation that is alive. And that is the fact that there is nobody who has made a bigger impact from Bollywood than the God of Bollywood, and the man voted by a BBC survey as the greatest actor of the last millennium, the one and only Amitabh Bachchan! And Anurag Kashyap (whose dark films I am not a particular fan of, though I must admit that I did love the endless firing sequence during the finale in Gangs of Wasseypur 2 – a true dark urge that many of us often get), has, as per me and specifically for all Bollywood lovers like me, made his best piece of work till date in the movie Bombay Talkies, which is a movie made up of four short films, with one of them being Murabba, directed by Anurag.
Bollywood, to many of us, is almost one man – Amitabh Bachchan! And Anurag Kashyap, through Murabba, has made a tribute to Amitabh Bachchan that perhaps only he, with his deep rooted Indianness, could have made. Like the beautiful short stories of Premchand, in a few minutes, Anurag makes us go through varied emotions, makes us laugh and cry, and above everything else, tells us a story about the inner desire of every Big B fan and his impact on our lives! So what if all the other three films of Bombay Talkies are mediocre (and at the end of the completely superficial first film, you wonder where the hell is the Bollywood connection). With each passing film, the standard improves and the superficiality reduces. And the grand finale featuring Anurag Kashyap’s work is worth celebrating the hundredth anniversary of Bollywood with! For time may change the way we feel for our loved ones; and the way we express love. But one thing has remained a constant for our generation. That’s our love for Amitabh Bachchan, exemplified by the fanatic Amitabh Bachchan fan inside most of us and the way we express our love for him – through sheer irrational obsession! You can see first hand glimpses of this on Amitabh Bachchan’s Facebook page through the pictures capturing the madness that occurs outside his house every Sunday, where masses throng just to see a glimpse of him! Long live Bollywood!
- 16 May 2013 |