Today the millionth person asked me if I had seen RDB. My answer in the negative drew a gasp and was followed by the rather pertinent question 'WHY?' So I decided to let it all out now, can't tell this every single time I'm asked such questions. It's gonna be a long and sentimental one.
My conscious memory takes me back to 1990, when I was 6 years old. Our holidays used to be spent at Nanaji's place in Darbhanga, a sleepy small village town in North Bihar. Infact the holidays were so long that staying at home seemed like a holiday. We had a VCR back there and it used to be pretty busy, and I along with my cousins and brother were the ones responsible for keeping it busy. I think we averaged some 3 movies a day and the periods were well distributed. Nanaji and Nani chose Shammi Kapoor, Devanand, Meena Kumari Madhubala films (I distinctly remember Main Chup Rahoongi, for the rather strange name.) Mamaji, Mom and Mausi chose Big B, Vinod Khanna,Firoze Khan (for some strange reason this guy was my mom's favourite I'm told) and Jaya Bhaduri et al movies. We were left with the intriguing choice of choosing new movies. Anyone who has been through the late 80's early 90's can vividly recall the types of movies that used to come those days, a time when Govinda, Chunky Pandey, Neelam, Kimi Katkar etc. reigned supreme. So we made them watch Street Dancer, Love '86, Zahreelay, Nakabandi and what not. I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy them-- what else can a brainless 6 year old enjoy? Dishum-Dishum, Naach-gaana and all that crap.
It wouldn't be wrong to say that I was addicted. Nothing else can explain watching Ajooba, Toofan (because it had Big B) and then following it with a movie in which Neelam sings 'Patjhar Sawan Basant Bahar' (boy that was some addictive song!) Or thinking that Kishen-Kanhiayya was a masterpiece and shouting when Aamir Khan hit the winning six in Awwal Number, a feat I could not watch him perform in Lagaan--my loss totally. I admired Sanjay Dutt in and as Thaanedar and still remember the great contraption beginning in Appu Raja where Kamal Hasan made me laugh. This phase continued till 1994 where I think we had exhausted the VHS shop's stock. We were recommened movies based on the number of good songs, murder scenes etc. I distinctly remember a movie called Aa Gale Lag Jaa, which was hyped as the return of Urmila-Jugal duo after playing kids in Masoom and had 11 murders which were committed by a ice-knife. Sorry no spoilers.
I saw the entry of Shahrukh Khan, after watching him in Circus. I saw Juhi Chawla enter cinema as the ex-miss India. I remember the exchange between the two in Darr when Juhi says to Sunny about SRK 'Ye to college me bhi jhempu tha'. The use of the word 'jhempu' still makes me laugh everytime. I remember Shilpa 'long legs' Shetty dancing with SRK in Baazigar with a hip-zip on her shorts in the song 'Kitaabe bahut si padhi hongi tumne'-- felt rather strange at that time. I remember too many things to be listed here.
But before I go on to tell how it all snapped, I must thank that period for introducing me to the world of good Hindi cinema. Ardh Satya I remember vividly and the scene where Om Puri switches the table light on and off and pours out his inner conflict is one of the best ones I have ever seen. Infact I quote this movie when someone tells me about RDB and the dialogues where Om Puri says 'Mujhe chunna tha napunsakta aur porush me' and next scene he goes to the police station and says, 'Maine usko maar diya' portray this same sentiment in such an effective way. Then there were Lekin and Albert Pinto ko gussa kyun aata hai which grew on me as I began to understand, and Jaane bhi do Yaroon which of course is my favourite. I loved Ek ruka hua Faisla until I saw 12 Angry Men and was infact rather disappointed that some the good movies I had seen were rip offs from Hollywood. I liked them nonetheless. Almost all Amol Palekar and Sanjeev Kumar movies too, especially Angoor. I still do.
Then came 1994, the year Hum Aapke Hain Kaun was released. There was mass hysteria everywhere. All families began making plans to watch this family movie. We were unaffected by all this and infact the only movie we had seen in movie hall together was Jurassic Park and I loved it. Never needed to watch anything else. But I presume there were social responsibilities to keep. Mom, Dad me Bro and me tagged along with some 3-4 other acquaintances and their families and together we all went to this great show. Somehow I couldn't handle it-- the overly acted melodrama, the girly-girly song and dance sequences, dog as umpire with family playing cricket, the mass crying when Renuka Sahane fell off the stairs, the happy sobs when Salman and Madhuri got back together and above all the dog emerging as the hero of the movie. Something snapped. I am reminded of that scene in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf where Liz Taylor goes snap, snap, snap, snap-- it drove me insane. To add to that, the discussions almost killed me and girls in class singing 'Munder pe bole kaga' and trying to copy the dance steps in class and picnics almost had me puke. I vowed never to watch such mass hysterical movie again.
From then on, every year a movie with a chic shortform came up and drew large crowds-- DDLJ, DTPH, KKHH, KNPH and God knows what else. I wasn't to be a part of the crowd. Circumstances forced me to watch Akele Hum Akele Tum in a hall against my wishes and that strengthened my resolve to shun movie theaters. Since then I have only watched Spiderman2; so I guess it's been pretty successful. I still have nightmares though, of girls in my class dancing the steps of 'Mera Piya ghar ayaa O ramji' at a class picnic. I wake up and thank my fortune that those days are behind me.
As an extension I almost never watched movies on television unless they were extra special like the Hitchcock week or maybe a Terminator, not to bother about the Hindi ones. I deepened my interests in sport and watched everything from NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL before classes to tennis and golf and football and rugby union in evenings and late nights. For this I must thank my parents who never came in the way of these interests I had, even when it meant staying awake to watch Sampras vs. Safin at 2.00 AM and then wake up at 7 to watch MLB. Doing well in school didn't hurt much either. The bottomline was that I was happy.
I agree it's totally my loss. I try and compensate that from time to time by going on a movie spree, which means watching 3-4 in a week, some very good ones I must say, and then go a fortnight without watching one. But then somehow I can't motivate myself to watch a 3/1.5 hr movie but can happily sit through a 5 day Test match. I think 200 bucks on a movie is not worth it but then I spend some 500 on a cricket match. Just the way my mind works.
End of a long and rather abrupt story. Mental scars do take a long time to heal. Overdose kills; it killed my interest.