I don't watch too many new Hindi films -- except the occasional Akshay Kumar-starrer or the ones that have Irrfan Khan -- but I have a fair idea of what's going on. I am not sure if I like or dislike what's going on -- though storylines and scenes are far more credible and the production more Hollywood-style -- but I certainly know what I miss in them. I miss the fun, flavour and the mindlessness.
Watching Hindi films has now become some sort of an intellectual exercise; you take them far too seriously and in the process miss out on the enjoyment. The idea is to leave your brains behind when you enter a theatre, and not to put it to use once you lean back on the comfortable seat. I crave for the good, old dal-chaawal-roti-sabzi, the staple diet I've grown up on, and not exotic salads or basil-laced pasta. Here are five things I miss the most -- you don't really find them in Hindi movies anymore:
1. The fight scene: Today, the hero has the muscles, but there is very little he is required to do with them. Back then, they had no muscles, yet they took on 20 men single-handedly. Dhishum! Bhishum! I am not sure if these sounds were made from the mouth -- most likely they were -- but in Jawaani Diwaani someone certainly did use his mouth to make the Ae dhishum, Ae dhishum sound every time the not-so-macho Randhir Kapoor exchanged blows with the bad guys. Fight scenes were so much fun. You anticipated them and sat on the edge of the seat. Quite often it was with a fight scene that the hero made his entry into the film -- the camera focussed on a pair of feet that would walk slowly and steadily into the scene, while trumpets and violins built up the tension in the air and set the tone for confrontration. What was a movie without Amitabh Bachchan, and what was an Amitabh Bachchan movie without its share of fight scenes? Two fight scenes that I cherish and still relish are the ones that took place between Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna in Khoon Paseena and Amar Akbar Anthony. Amitabh Bachchan, apart from being a versatile actor, was Bollywood's most popular action hero, even though he did not even have the muscles. The action hero died once he aged. Today there is no slot for the action hero, which can certified by the fact that the two heroes who could have filled the slot, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn (who is the son of a popular stunt master), are better known for comedy. Fight scene, RIP.
2. The bike/car song: When I was young, I used to be a huge fan of Jackie Shroff. The moustache I sport owes his existence to the hero-worship. I am no longer crazy about him as I used to be those days (collecting his pictures from magazines, going to the theatre alone to watch his films, considering writing to him), but it is too late to do away with the moustache because it has become part of my identity. In any case, I now live in the south, where the moustache can never go out of fashion. So there was this bike song filmed on Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Seshadri, Jhoomti bahaaron ka samaa, pyaar ki umange hain jawaan from a called Dahleez. Doordarshan often showed the song on Sunday mornings, and I would switch on the TV only to wait for that song. All songs sung on the bike or car have a sense of movement -- they pack in melody as well as high energy; and you can never, ever, go wrong with them in case you are looking for quality music to lift your mood or to store in your iPod. My most favourite car song is a little-known one, Kaho kahaan chalen, from the film Bulandi, and favourite bike song -- oh there are so many, including Rote huey, aate hain sab (please watch this video carefully for words of wisdom from Kader Khan) from Muqaddar Ka Sikandar. And who can ever forget the ultimate bike song of Hindi cinema! -- can you hear Pancham playing the mouth organ?
3. The courtroom scene: "Order!Order!"
"Main jo kuch kahoonga sach kahoonga, aur sach ke siwa kuchh nahi kahoonga."
"To us din raat ko gyarah baje, aap kahaan thhey?"
"(Laughter) Order! Order!"
"Yeh jhooth hai judge saahab!"
"Saare sabooton aur gawaahon ke bayanaat ko madde nazar rakhte huey, adalat is nateeje par pahunchi hai, ki mulzim Dinanath..."
Fuck man! Don't you miss these lines? Place your palm on the Gita and tell me that you don't.
4. The comedy scene: The action hero is dead, and along with him, the comedian too, simply because the action hero has replaced him. Don't cite Rajpal Yadav please, I will puke if I see one more of his so-called comedy scenes. God, can you please breathe life back into Mehmood, Om Prakash and Keshto Mukherjee? These are people who did not have to mouth funny lines to make you laugh, their facial expressions were enough to lighten up your mood (Mehmood and Om Prakash were two rare comedians who could also effortlessly make you cry: I have a colleague who can't hold his tears each time he watches Mehmood's Kunwara Baap). Mehmood and Om Prakash, according to me, were the biggest comedians Indian cinema ever produced. There is, of course, Asrani, who you still see in Priyadarshan's films, but he is far too talented to qualify solely as a comedian. And if you want to see the power of Asrani's acting, watch Khoon Paseena. God is so unkind: he first snatched away the comedians, and then snatched away the slot for the comedian. At least give Kader Khan and Shakti Kapoor back to us, will you? If I still believe in you dear God, it is only because of Paresh Rawal.
5. The Climax: There were villains and there were villains. There were the sophisticated and the larger-than-life ones like Ajit and Amrish Puri ("Inspector saahab, main is sheher ka ek shareef aur izzatdaar insaan hoon"), and the dreaded ones like Amjad Khan ("Haraamzaade!"). But nothing to beat the two slimeballs, Jeevan and Prem Chopra -- the ultimate bastards you always wanted to kill with your bare hands. Hindi cinema will never see them again. The villain is a dying breed as well: the hero is grabbing his role too. Oh, how much I miss the bastards. Today if I watch Amar Akbar Anthony again and again, it is mainly because of Robert, that is Jeevan. Then there is Pran: but Pran mostly played the good guy throughout the 1970's and 1980's, the decades I was growing up, so I have no hatred towards him. Needless to say, it were these villains who inspired the climax of films during those days. And the climax invariably unveiled itself in a fortified godown or a hideout. You knew the movie was ending, you also knew the manner in which it was going to end, yet you sat on the edge of the seat, enduring the fight scene (with a bit of comedy thrown in when the heroine or the comedian hit back at the bad guys), waiting for either of the following lines:
"Hands up! Koi apni jagah se nahin hilega."
"Gireftaar kar lo in sab ko."
"Sab apni apni bandooken phaenk do."
"Khabardaar jo kisine hilne ki koshish ki to."
Inspector saahab, main kahaan hil rahaa hoon. Bollywood hil gaya hai.