Popular comedian Aditi Mittal (aka @awryaditi on Twitter) has written a brilliant column on a brilliant film. Of the many joys she recounted, one incident stuck with me:
Suddenly, my brother liked a girl and no one was yelling at him about it. Instead, I was being made to put on a salwar kameez and meet her. She was very pretty, and I could tell my brother cared for her and she for him. But that did not quell my suspicions. As we walked out after lunch that day, I suddenly heard my mother say “Adu, your dupatta is dragging on the floor.” And, as I turned around, my to-be-bhabhi blurted, “Gogoji, apka ghaghra.”
This story reminded me of something as well.
Many years ago, I joined the Calcutta branch of a FMCG multinational to ‘take over’ a state as the Sales Manager. The guy I was supposed to take over from was a Tam Brahm, vegetarian and seemed unnecessarily combative in the fleeting occasions that I met him. I did not have a good feeling about him but started the process nevertheless. It was progressing without incident till we were about to leave the sales depot one evening. He suddenly said, “Arre, aaj kuch maal nahin becha? Khandaani ASM hoon. Aaya hoon, kuch to bechke jaoonga!”
The point of these two stories lies in the reaction to the film when it first released and my frustrations thereof.
When Andaz Apna Apna opened, there was considerable buzz in Calcutta because two chocolate box heroes were coming together for the first time. Or maybe there wasn’t and it was just my sister – an Aamir Khan fan – who ‘whipped up the buzz’. Anyway, a friend and I reached Priya one matinee show to watch what seemed like a romantic comedy. My friend read the works of Leon Trotsky in his spare time but was not averse to the occasional Bollywood flick. We were both unprepared for what unfolded next.
During the film, I laughed so hard that I was gasping for breath for most part of the movie and when Gogo did the Dhikki tikki dance towards the end, I felt I would pass out because I was not able to breathe. My friend remained stoic throughout.
When we were exiting the hall and I was planning to come back for a second show soon, my friend asked – “Did you really find the movie that funny or were you being sarcastic?” I was dumbfounded and suddenly realised that the movie had alienated me perfectly. Andaz Apna Apna had no takers in Culturally Conscious Calcutta.
Over the next few years, I remained cautiously positive about my views about AAA because I did not find a single person who even mildly enjoyed the movie, leave alone laugh uproariously. In fact, I came to believe that this was one of those freak cases where I would remain alone in my choice.
So when I met Ganesh – the aforementioned khandaani ASM – it was like discovering a twin after growing up. We were the only ones in the office who were Andaz Apna Apna fans and our colleagues shook their heads indulgently when we lapsed into our giggling discussions about Mohun Bagan, Rabbit and maiyat ka chanda. I found it very strange that our colleagues and friends – who shared many common likes and interests – were oblivious to the charms of Amar Prem.
Before this beast called the internet came about, we never realised that on a planet of seven billion people, no one can be alone. And that’s when we realised there is a Cult of Gogo. We were all watching the reruns on Zee TV and laughing together – except we did not know it then.
As Google spread its tentacles, obscure blogs got discovered. As Bollywood chat forums became active, we found these soulmates. As Facebook allowed us to form the craziest groups, we sent friend requests to these spiritual siblings.
And that’s when Andaz Apna Apna found its following.
This is somewhat different from most films that are called ‘cult classics’.
Andaz Apna Apna had a decent opening and the appeal wasn’t niche. After all, it had two of India’s hottest stars in the lead. Karisma Kapoor and Raveena Tandon weren’t pushovers either.
Cult classics are usually films which don’t get noticed when they release but build up a fan following over the years. Andaz Apna Apna got noticed and then people just looked away. Unlike other cult classics (like, say, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro), Andaz Apna Apna had and still has a large number of detractors. Many people still don’t ‘get’ the humour and that is where this classic is a little more cult than the others.
And that brings the Andaz Apna Apna friend into play.
An AAA friend is the guy who was the first person you know who turned out to be a fan of the movie. He became a soulmate on this quality alone and you never regretted the friendship. He was the one who completed the lines you started to say. She is the one you SMS “AAA on Zee Cinema” even now. He is the guy who – after getting drunk – says “Bus ke backseat mein woh Shashi Tharoor hi tha, b******....”
It is my belief that everybody – and not only fans of the movie – has an Andaz Apna Apna friend.
If I broaden the definition a little bit, she is the one who shows you it is okay to be quirky, it is okay to like things nobody else likes, it is better to be happy than successful.
And that friend eventually helps you transform from a kachcha khiladi to a pakka khiladi.