Growing up in Lucknow at an age of around 5 years, the influence of the hindi movies was some thing even I as a kid was unable to avoid. Those were the days when Rajesh Khanna was ruling the screen. The safari suit was such an essential in the wardrobe starting from the Sethji to his driver all were donning one. The barbers were ruing the time as long hair were the need of the hour and no one was visiting them.
As I grew up nothing changed much. Our generation identified another god who was nicknamed Angry Young man. That an average looking actor can generate so much passion and excitement was some thing Amitabh Bachchan showed to the world. His way of talking, tying a knot of his shirt, his tight fitting pants all became a revolution. A labourer can be seen saying to his boss “Main aaj bhi pheike hue paise nahin uthaata” Such was the following of AB that every second kid born during those days was named Vijay and favourite job option was that of Police Inspector. People identified AB as a common man and started behaving like one. His dance steps, although never exceptional, were rage and every wedding would play his songs. The first few buttons of shirt were actually treated as an accessory as no one really seemed to use them, thanks to Amitabh in Deewar.
AB ruled the silver screen for a massive time. His accident during the shooting of Coolie was a national tragedy, the country stopped. There were huge number of prayers, yagyas and what not. The country declared unofficial mourning. It was nothing short of a miracle that he survived. The movie, which originally was supposed to let him die, changed its end and he was kept alive. The public pressure can change the way a movie is made in India.
It was not only the superstars that defined the way movies were perceived in our country. Every movie would have its own fan following. People would get the advance booking done by standing hours in the queue just to see the first show. The show maybe the same but the reasons for the audience were different. Whereas the front row would be there to witness Mumtaz, the upper class would be there to appreciate Rajesh Khanna and his designer kurtas. Same hall, same screen and different applications. The mood in which the crowd exits the hall can actually define the fate of the movie. That Indians are expressive cannot be proved better than relating them with Hindi movies.
As time progressed the magic of Bachchan started to fade. The void was effectively filled by the first chocolate hero of India, Rishi Kapoor. He showed Indians what love is and how a gora chitta guy can be equally handsome. His choices of pullovers ensured that Monte Carlo, the pullover brand, can get repeated business. Rishi’s were the happy-go-lucky movies with some amazing music my R D Burman. The guy actually set the trend for the SRK’s, Hritik’s and his own son Ranbir of later years. Suddenly having mustache was treated as crime, a fact that was changed after the arrival of Jackie Shroff in Hero.
From a slim and lean Dev Sb to muscle factory Sunil Shetty, hindi movies showered love to them all. Dev Anand showed the world in how many angles a body can be bent while doing a simple thing like walking. His shaking the head while speaking was a trend that was followed by many heroes, successfully and unsuccessfully . Probably Dev Anand was the first star that Hindi cinema saw. His movies were all super hits and from Madhubala to Richa Sharma he was one lucky guy to play hero to them all and also launching few new ones such as Tina Munim etc in between.
What started as support role for leading actor, the character of heroine in movies also saw sea change. Meena Kumari’s role in Saheb Biwi aur Ghulam, where she is shown drinking, changed the way actresses were perceived in Indian movies. Gorgeous Madhubala who started with small role in Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, went on to perform in grand Mughal-e-Azam. Nutan and Waheeda Rahman were treated as thinking actresses and gave some powerful performances in Bandini, Guide etc. But it was Mother India, with Nargis in the lead role, that set the trend of
heroine centric roles. The trend continues with current movies such as Kahaani and Fashion. The eastman colour movies ensured that more glamor was needed when it comes to Indian actress and hence dream girl was born. Extremely beautiful Hema Malini got a movie and was tagged Dreamgirl forever since then. And then arrived the turning point in Indian movies. Success was no longer rated with looks and talent but also who would have a deeper cleavage. The Zeenat Amans and Parveen Bobbys re-wrote the rules for actresses. Both of them used their bodies to their advantage, in fact Satyam Shivam Sunderam, coming from R K Films, was purely based with sex as one of the USP. Zeenat Aman left nothing for the imagination by exposing to a level not seen in Indian movies. The audience were not complaining and movie got its money back.
Coming from small town and starting with a negative role, Shahrukh Khan showed that he has enough courage to take on the established stars of Hindi Cinema. His negative roles in Darr and Baazigar got him instant success despite his “stammer in a dialogue delivery” and it was Dilwale Dulhaniya le jayege that changed his fortune forever, a shaking of the head dialogue delivery to blame probably. A romantic movie set in the conservative family script went on to become one of the biggest hits of Hindi cinema. Two another Khans : Aamir and Salman were also making huge success at box office. While Aamir took the tag of thinking actor and was catering to class, Salman Bhai was the messiah of the masses. His hairstyle in Tere Naam was the hair style of the nation. People, irrespective of their looks, size and shape went ahead and got that hair style. So much for blind following a star.
And then came a guy who redefined the art of acting and went way beyond romance, good looks and action and came out with movies which touched the souls and entertained us in a fresh way. This guy is none other than Ranbir Kapoor who made a mark with movies such as Wake up SiD , Rocket Singh etc and in a very subtle way showed the youngsters the right way to pursue life and career. But this was not it. The real blast was made when “Janardhan Jakhar” turns into the big, bad Rockstar Jordan in the Imtiaz Ali movie Rockstar which changed our perception about music, passion and even that thing called ‘love’. That eating smosa with chatni is not an acceptable act for a guy who has a broken heart what so aptly reflected by Ranbir.
The movie was crafted like one long song of passionate romance, pain, tragedy, music, and no where in recent times has music been integrated so well with all the songs sung by Mohit Chauhan. Despite sad end, the movie was a roaring success. Next was Barfi where he plays a deaf and dumb boy and falls in love with an autistic girl played beautifully by Priyanka Chopra and took away many hearts as well as national awards.
The lead names changed, the implementation changed from Mughal-E-Azam to Sholay to DDLJ and now Rockstar but ceased to change the way Indians idolised the Hindi cinema. We were crazy and continue to be crazy for movies. Despite seeing a drop in business during the VCR and VCD days, the cinema halls continue to strive in our country. The old auditoriums are now replaced with state-of-the-art multiplexes inside fancy malls and watching movie is now “shopotainment” rather than just entertainment. The Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika and Katrina continue to entertain us. The good movies are still made and we Indians continue to get solace, comfort, motivation ,connections and what not from those.
Can we now have the next 100 years please??