Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hindi Cinema - 90's

Lets talk cinema !! Not the Scorceses, not the Spielbergs, lets not even venture till Almodvar or go back in time till David Lean. Let Coppola rest in peace, and lets not even tingle Woody Allen's wit.

Lets concentrate on our movies, lets look at the most under-rated golden era of Indian cinema, the late 80's amd the 90's (i have a reason for this dissection) !!

I am a self confessed movie buff. I happen to pick up any conversation on cinema and my friends are often amused when i can identify the 2nd henchman of the villain or the latecoming cop, mouth his real name and his filmography. Its something that i grew up with, i had an entire generation of movie buffs, my aunts and uncles to look upto. Besides my Kakaji also had a video parlour so i ended up watching my favourite movies as a toddler, multiple times.

The cinema i was exposed to in my formative years was in the late 80s and 90s. Pure bollywood at its best. Something that a large part of the indian audience is despising now, in the quest of "different" movies. But back then, when they hadnt had that over dosage of heroines running around trees, fancy villains' hideouts, heroes avenging "doodh ka karz", "dost ke maut ka badla" or just kicking bad-asses for the pure fun of it, everybody loved it !!! The song sequences shot at cheap foreign locales just for the heck of it, the comedy track which bounced in completely out of sync with the movie's plot, the 1000 odd extra dancers swivelling behind the leading men and ladies, the two reels of car chases, the bootilicious "item" girls, the hero's side-kick who almost always got killed...whoaaaaaaa...the list is unending !!!

I will never be able to categorise the best of late 80's and 90s, create a top ten or twenty. What i would rather do is churn my brain cells and list out movies that have remained etched in memory, forever.....

Tezaab, the name came almost immediately comes into my mind, when i think of 90's cinema, heck it was in the late 80's but who cares. Tezaab, till date is the most complete movie i have ever seen in our tinsel-town. Its a script writer's wet dream !! "Kya nahin hai iss story mein Sir, Action, Drama, Romance, Comedy, Tragedy, Superhit Songs !!" This was as good as they came. Anil Kapoor at his cocky best, excellent support cast, Chunkey Pandey's best role in his lifetime. Superhit songs, the ek-do-teen is folklore now !! Johnny lever and gang in superb form. Annu Kapoor, as my favourite character from the movie, "Guldasta" !!
Speaking of Anil Kapoor, the actor is the last of the living legions of hindi cinema who saw it all then. The 90's where the Khan's came into the reckoning, but it sure did have the reigning kings then. Sunny Deol, was a rage, be it the "Taareekh pe Taareekh.." of Damini or the angry Commander with a necklace of grenades marching towards the Pakistani army in "Border", apna Sunny Paaji  was in top form. I am yet to see a pair of more expressive eyes, from a leading man, in scenes apart from romance. Ghatak, Ghayal, Ziddi, Salaakhen, Vinashak.....he did get typecasted, but never forgotten !!

When he was far away from Gandhigiri, and a litlle from the TADA case, Sanjay Dutt defined the word "Stud" in India in the 90s. Watch Sadak, Daud, Aatish, Yalgaar and you shall understand what i am talking about. People credit Shahrukh to bring about the revolution of the "Anti-Hero" syndrome in Baazigar, while Dutt's Ballu Balram in "Khalnayak", released in the same year was equally competent !! The movie i feel was one of Ghai's best till date (heck he makes duds nowadays !!). Sanjay Dutt in the fancy white coat with a stick in hand, crooning devilishly to "Nayak nahin...Khalnayak hun main...." Superb !!! I'm not even going towards the "Choli ke peeche" rage !! Dutt Jnr. went ahead post his debacles and made "Vaastav" India's answer to "Scarface" !!

90's also saw the advent of the Macho Men in the industry !! Ajay Devgan, launched in "Phool aur Kaante",
 was the true action hero, before maturing into a great actor, see "Zakhm" to know what i am talking about. Sunil Shetty never really did mature, but his initial days of glory shall be worth remembering, Mohra, Anth, Rakshak, Vinashak etc....the jail fight sequence in Mohra between him and a muscleman, the wrath of Shetty in Anth are as raw as stuff can get.

Before Akshay Kumar was killing audiences with his stupid, brainless "Welcomes" and "Singh is Kings", he used to be India's best action star (heck he still is). He round house kicked his way into bollywood, from Saugandh till the Khiladi brigade. The daring stuntsman, Akshay was most remembered for " Main Khiladi Tu Anari" with Saif, "Mohra" with Sunil Shetty, All the Khiladi movies he did alone, Saineek, etc. Remember the billiards table fight scene in Khiladiyon ke Khiladi ? Pure magic !!!! Akshay was also really good in his cameo in Dil Toh Pagal Hai, and a stupendously balanced performance in Sangharsh.

Aamir Khan, continued to win hearts, from Qayamat se Qayamat tak till Ghulam, Sarfarosh. My favourite memories are from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, the exhilarating climax - "C'mon Sanju change the gear...........TOP GEAR !!", the loveliest of songs...."Jawan ho yaaron yeh tumko hua kya?......" . One movie that i continue to love is "Akele hum Akele Tum" the desi version of Kramer Vs Kramer. I am too emotionally connected with this movie, dunno for wat reason. The dad-son camarederie was fab, i loved the songs, each one of them, even the recording room wala - "Chehra gulaabi, nazrein sharabi...zulfon ki tauba..tauba yeh samaa.."
 Salman Khan was the hottest thing that happened to bollywood in the 90s. We did have to wait, until "Veergati" though.Then came the rippled muscles, the chiseled looks and the string stare. They said he was 6th on the world's best looking men list....The dream followed...Judwaa, Pyaar Kiya toh darna Kya (the bare chested O O jaane jana creating furore), Jab Pyar kisi se hota hai (Salman never looked better).....they just kept coming. Acting ? Most noticeworthy were from Bhansali's brand.."Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam", a restrained "Khamoshi" apart from a superb Cameo in KKHH, or Salman teaming up wid Aamir for the best comedy of the decade "Andaz Apna Apna" !!!

The 90s however did see the advent of King Khan - Shahrukh. He came, he saw and he conquered. From the best of romantics in our generation to playing the dangerously obssessed lover, Shahrukh did it all. Screen Magic followed from DDLJ and went on till KKHH and Shahrukh was sitting strong. Often criticised and compared to Amir for lack of variety, Shahrukh did stick to a genre - Romance, but made it his Genre for times to come!! The most under-rated movie from Shahrukh was "Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa". The sore good boy loser was never more adored..

I understand the post is getting Hero specific, but those days Hero-worship was in fashion !! Anyways, Nana Patekar comes into immediate reckoning, for brilliant performances in most under rated movies, Yugpurush, Yeshwant, Prahaar, Krantiveer or the most rivetting "Parinda". Jackie Shroff was good in its n bits...there were occasional memorable ones from him as well, including "Parinda", though his best i believe was "Gardish", a heartfelt story of a good man gone wrong. Bobby Deol was quite the rockstar with "Soldier" and "Gupt" (Gupt being the best thriller i have seen in hindi cinema, apart from "100 days"), but faded away soon.

Hey wait i havent mentioned any leading ladies. Madhuri rocked in the 90s, maybe the only actress to carry movies on her shoulders, loved her in Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Mrityudand etc.

Mani ratnam made his entry with such rare gems like Roja, Bombay, Dil Se. The Bhatt camp continued strong, they introduced such good music to our cinema.....Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aaayi....Aashiqui are almost legends now. RGV created milestones with Rangeela and Satya.

So far so memories live forever....i still have a feeling i have left out some brilliant ones...will add up when i remember.  

Friday, January 1, 2010

Dead Idiots

"Likh Likh ke padaa hatheli par alpha beta gamma ka chaala, 
 Concentrated H2SO4 ne pura...pura bachpan jalaa dala...."

Is there an idiot in all of us ? Well, in most of us? Have you ever had a stupid urge to do something out of the ordinary...something that is not quite you...something weird ...something wild... And ended up realising that your naughty innocence wasn't quite appreciated !!!

I realised it quite early that the term "REBEL" looks great in ancient stories of independence or funky psychedellic bands !! Nobody cared a shit about how to take the term seriously. In the formative years, you needed gigantic balls to question the system, and lets say even if u had them, the metric system punctured them sore !!

What metric system? Ohh, cmon we've all been through that..... social prejudices, comparisons with batchmates, comparison with 1st-2nd-9th cousins, comparison with eminent figures in the family, pencil thin-narrow outlook (a blessing for all small town hoods), the rat race had it all !! And we SURVIVED !! We are unscathed...have managed to make something out of the lemons life threw at us. But that idiot, that innocent idiot within each of us took a large share of the beating.

Let me tell you my version of 3 idiots. The resemblance might be coincidental, and i wont care for the questions put in !!

They were 3 of them...the idiots...we'll call them Goat, Moose and Chomp. The friendship became thick...largely coz of the fact that they discovered each other early. They shared the same agonies of pressure and performance. They were average really...if you consider the rat race i'd just talked about, but each had a jest for life far more than the sky could accomodate.

Goat was the jolliest of them all, the adventure freak. He had the wackiest sense of humour, he could liven up the atmosphere in seconds and there wasnt a soul on whom goat's pranks wouldnt have worked. Goat was an athelete of great talent. He represented school in 4 variety of sports. His report card strived really hard to better itself almost every time, most intended to please his academician dad, feared and respected by all.

Moose was the moody poet. He was interested in literature at an early age, and his taste in forms of art was commendable for a boy of his age. He loved the duo not because he saw any likeliness in them but because they were so different from him. Their company changed Moose from an outcast to someone more acceptable. The teachers always looked up to Moose, and it was a staff room discussion that this boy is meant to excel in life.

And then there was Chomp. Completely non-existent if you ask the teachers, but there was hardly a soul in class that didn't like Chomp. Chomp strummed the six strings like he was born to do it. Otherwise, he was the definition of average, studies,sports, luck all alike. If there was any flash in the pan, it was Chomp who would be more surprised than the rest.

The board exam results was when it all began. The hard work, the comparisons, the expectations, the turmoil. The boys had seen off the pressure with enough valour, but now the result threatened to stare them in the eye...........

10 years passed off...... Dont ask how......they wont remember !!!!

He opened his latch and stepped into his flat. The laptop was carefully removed and kept on the table, so were the access card and VOIP number generator. He looked at his watch, a present he still wore everyday though the emotions with it had withered off long back, along with the woman who couldn't dream anymore with him. It was 11.40pm. Just 7 hours more before the Project Manager sits on his head again for scrutinising on the deadline extension. His eyes fell on the copy of "Ulysses" in the bookshelf. He'd bought it about 3 weeks back from Crosswords, but hadn't managed to go beyond page-2. There was a photo frame resting next to the pile of new-unread books. 3 unruly boys with the most virgin expressions of what fun meant to them, atop a hillock !! Moose smiled. The pain of the software coolie was giving way to fatigue and drowsiness as he lay on the bed.

"Moose had scored perfect in school, maybe a little too perfect for his dreams. He was coerced into the best boarding college for Science students in the state. Moose broke to the pressure but somehow managed a near perfect escape from the hostel (eventually the cops getting him home after a harrowing 12 days search) and 1 failed attempt at suicide during exams, which forced him to drop a year. He managed to complete a state university education in Computers and after repeated walk-ins made it to a big MNC. Its been 3 years for him now amidst the complex codes, the madness for on-site assignments and the stale coffee vending machines staring at him late in the night"

        All is Well                            All is Well                      All is Well                       All is Well         

The Blackberry curve was an efficient machine. It reminded him of all the important meetings he needed to speed thru the day and the protocol mails he had to reply to. What it had failed to remember was Jan 16th was his Mom's b'day. Now on a late night flight to Singapore, it struck him. The Rolex signaled 11.40pm. The air-hostess had already asked him curtly twice to switch off the cellphone. It was no use anyways. His parents were early sleepers.What he needed to concentrate more was the client presentation he had to give the next morning. What did the soul say? Well he had killed that thing a long time ago. Chomps sighed, a sigh which had a feeling, more of vindication than guilt.

"She was my best friend Goatee, i mean apart from the two of you (boys never state their best friends without embarrassment, though today was different). I have never imagined my world without her. And i ended up playing matchmaker for her with that swine Roshan. You know where he proposed her? At my place !! What was i doing, apart from getting snacks for both of them? Well i was   ensuring she got the best and was happy? Roshan is smart,rich and a man of the future. What have i got really, besides gifting her cute key-chains and strumming the guitar at her request?" Chomps' tears had vanished into Goat's black tee as he hugged him tight. 
Chomps modest background surprisingly made it easy for him to choose a target. He wanted money and shed all inhibitions for it. He went through a management program and took to sales immediately. The six strings gave way to six figure salaries. He changed jobs in a hurry for growth, and his days were passed with constant anxiety of meeting his numbers. The positions changed, the insecurity remained. At least this involvement didn't allow him to look back a single day and repent on the cold hearted beast/professional he had turned into.

    All is Well                            All is Well                      All is Well                       All is Well         

The eyes appeared hollow as he checked himself in the mirror. Surely medical interns were allowed to have deep hollow eyes when the AIMS test was approaching. The doctor he was assisting to today hadn't been kind and had referrred almost 29 patients to him for common sickness. The thick entrance preparations book lay on the table. Deep inside Goat knew it that he will not be able to clear the test. Only a handful did and he certainly wasn't one of them. His friends had started getting settled, married, established, and here he was, nothing but a QUACK still striving hard for the practitioners degree. The table clock showed the time as 11.40pm. He opened the book and went back to that page in his life.

"Service to mankind is service to God. It's a noble profession we have chosen for you to pursue and you would do better to prove our faith in you." Dad's voice echoed. Nobody had cared about what he wanted, for the greater good of mankind. Goat had been missing the mark more than he could remember. Life never decided to show a bit of mercy, and he understood this is how its going to be ever since the donation laden medical school seniors ragged him into near death situations. The jolly, jovial guy had turned into a stone. He hardly spoke to any of his friends and off late had started avoiding calls from home leave aside cancelling home trips since the last 2 years, with the fear of facing his father. Not this life, he'd tell himself. Meanwhile the fake drug prescriptions helped ease the pain....

    All is Well                            All is Well                      All is Well                       All is Well         

The song that inspired it all....

Give me some sunshine, give me some rain,
Give me another chance, i wanna grow up once again !!!!