WARNING: Self-indulgent, pointlessly nostalgic post coming up.
Too many of my posts start with this caveat. I think I will stop saying this because I figured from a recent exercise that an overwhelming majority of my readers are 30-something nostalgia-buffs in general and Calcutta-sympathisers in specific! My dad tries to take up the average age a bit but my cousin in the US balances it out.
Okay, so I was watching Humjoli on television yesterday. Humjoli is a film on the torrid relationship that blossomed between two top Hollywood stars, while they were shooting for an action thriller. The full name of the film is Hum Jolie Tum Brad but it is usually not referred to.
Sigh - how many of you believed that? Apart from my sister, that is...
Well, Humjoli stars Jeetendra, Leena Chandravarkar and Pran. I have talked about it before as well.
The scene I started watching yesterday was the famous badminton song after which the heroine bids goodbye and leaves. Hint in the song: "Jaane do / Jaana hain..." Jeetu spouts a stream of sweet nothings. Now a bunch of goons armed with badminton racquets, approach Jeetu and taunt him. Sure enough, he fights them, twists their ankles, pokes them with his racquet and finally throws them off a bridge, which conveniently appears right next to the baddy (pun!) court.
Contemplate this: The hero romances the heroine, plays badminton with her (including an under-the-leg shot), dances in the rain, fights goons, mouths stupendous dialogues - all in the space of about 7 minutes. In the course of the full movie, he eats gaajar ka halwa, doesn't put on a kilo, defies the heroine's father, matches Mehmood's comic routine, sheds copious tears and probably gets into IIT as well. Maybe, not the last one...
AND he was not even one of the more heroic heroes!
In Aradhana, Rajesh Khanna sings loud enough to be heard by the heroine on a train, sings magnificently, impresses his boss enough to take his lover on a fighter plane (Mile High Club?), impresses his father-in-law, keeps his cool while seeing Sharmila in an orange towel, impregnates her in Attempt One, dies, gets reborn as his own son, gets shot down in Pakistan and escapes immediately afterwards!
In Shahenshah, Amitabh accepts bribe as a police officer, pummels a Olympic wrestler-sized goon, wears a 16-kilo iron arm-guard, sings songs with Meenakshi Sheshadri in hot pants, goes up in a hot-air balloon, sings brotherly songs with Supriya Pathak, drives a car in a hail of machine gun bullets and hangs the arch-villain in a court-room.
Look at Shammi Kapoor in Junglee and you know the hero is a paragon of virtue, masculinity, sartorial elegance and clean underwear.
Till about the early 90s, you had these multi-purpose heroes. Salman Khan in Maine Pyaar Kiya. Aamir Khan in Baazi. Sunny Deol in Ghayal. Amitabh Bachchan in Hum. Song-dance, melodrama, yellow drama, fighting, kiting - all in one huge paisa vasool adventure.
I think SRK spoilt the party by playing the villain. There was a thin line between anti-hero and villain. He crossed it. After that, we only had flawed heroes.
Look at SRK in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. He is a cantankerous footballer, who gets hit by a car and the car doesn't get a dent. And then, he limps into an adulterous affair. Contrast this with Amitabh in Silsila - another adulterous man, who first gained sympathy by marrying to save his brother's fiancee's honour. When he restarted the affair with his old flame, he made it look almost like a catharsis.
Look at Aamir Khan in Rang De Basanti. Somebody as handsome as he is can shoot the Defence Minister by spitting bullets at him. Instead, he got beaten up by a nameless constable in front of India Gate. The last time Amitabh got beaten up was by Vinod Khanna in Amar Akbar Anthony. Kishore Kumar got beaten up by Ashok Kumar. And at the worst, Dilip Kumar was whipped by Pran - at least a Grade A Villain.
The amount of effort SRK puts in a lighting a bulb for Swades is what Mithun needs to fight off the Martians and win the National Disco Championship - on the same evening.
Sometimes, it gets worse. The heroic guys are the villains! Hrithik in Dhoom 2. Aamir Khan in Fanaa.
Where are those guys who will not miss a penalty against Pakistan?
When will gold smuggling be perfectly justifiable - as long as the hero refuses drug trafficking?
How can I get a guy to sing a song with his lady love and then beat up eve-teasers in the same breath?
And in these times of economic boom, will I ever hear those words - "Maa, main pass ho gaya" - just before the mom goes in front of the dad's portrait and breaks into a soliloquy?
Damn, I so miss Uttam Kumar.
In only one movie, he acted in Othello, dribbled barefoot past seven English footballers, romanced Suchitra Sen, passed Medical with flying colours, converted to Christianity and found a pothole-free road in Bengal to drive his bike on AND sing a song.
I know all her contemporaries are cringing at this senile rambling, but Nilendu - you agree with me, don't you?