Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jab We Met... And DDLJ

Is there any rule that states reviews of movies need to be written as soon as the movie is out? Thing is, I've just seen Jab We Met, five or six months after it got released (courtesy Moser Baer – still cannot believe DVDs cost Rs. 49/- !). Adored the movie like all met so far.

And compared it to DDLJ – again as any Bollywood moviegoer ought to have already done.

At the risk of talking about what everyone has seen and heard, here goes my forty nine paisa worth … and like a good myth and story, hope you don’t mind if the movie is rehashed once again.

I am going to first begin with comparing moms and dads. Then I’ll go along to compare trains. (Can’t help it, trains are the leit motif of my current life… indeed, have always been so… trains have taken me to known destinations, have taken folks away to destinations unknown…)

We shall also talk of acronyms. When Jab We Met is already so succinct and wonderfully Indinglish, why make a much- longer- in- phonetic-terms JWM (Jay-Double U-Em) out of it, right? Unlike Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, a local language mouthful, that just needed to be ruthlessly downsized to DDLJ, and so what if the vistas were London and Switzerland. (Already the so called younger gen Adi Chopra and Karan Johar with their KANK, KKHH, K3G sound passe, the speed at which things move in today's planet!). And if there is time (which I am sure I’ll find since I am procrastinating in the writing of my forthcoming international presentation), we shall talk of Hindi movie ishtyle ‘pyaar-vyaar’ in the ‘90s versus the ‘00s. If not of earlier.

I begin with a question to Javed-saab. After all, you & Salim wrote the ever-eternal and cult-following line ‘Mere Paas Maa Hai’ in the ‘70s.

How do you place the character of Shahid Kapoor’s mom in the story? Is she present or is she absent? If she is present, why is she voiceless? If she is absent, why is she present at all? At this rate, where do you think, is the ‘mom’ likely to be headed in ten or twenty years time?

And which one was the bride’s dad exactly? In DDLJ, Amrish Puri was the hugely larger-than-life, humungously louder-than-life father-figure. Here, in Jab We Met, for someone who was not paying all that much attention to inessentials (me), there was some confusion between Kareena’s ‘dad’ and ‘chacha’ with the two characters seeming quite interchangeable. It was grandpa Dara Singh as created by Imtiaz Ali that had a firm grip, and always stood out, ancient deer antlers above him, true relics of a bygone era.

Point kya hai, you ask? Point yeh hai, ki grandpas are always putty in grandchildren’s hands, and if we now celebrate ‘family’ by blissfully rubbing out the beech-wala generation, it only means what we have all always known but never been ready to face. The face of future India is one in which we parents shall be present if we sort of fit in, within the youth’s scheme of things! And never you mind all that gyan about Indian tradition that reveres age and experience.

And so. While both movies celebrate the ‘no cause to rebel in life, everything is so hunky-dory’ post-liberalization phenomenon, chronologically the initial one that had to come along and pave the way was DDLJ. This movie indicated that prior to boy and girl coming together, huge labour pains in the form of garmagaram family dialogues, even painful and gory violence was necessary. Whereas by the time we reach the more recent Jab We Met, we see that we can conveniently brush off all family objections by a simple ‘Oh, they’ll come around, give them time’. Conservative attitudes of the girl (remember Kajol?) are passe, and as long as she is 'true' to her love, the family is with her. We can even 'happily run away' from reality. It is the modern pyaar version… If the guy and gal truly script their love together, other family members merely provide the much needed props and the backdrop. Along with Bollywood things like the fun Pritam soundtrack, halt-in-the-tracks lines such as 'Manzil se behtar lagne lage hain yeh raaste' and endearingly choreographed dances. Where the bottomline is Jo kuchh insaan real mein chahta hai na, actual mein, woh usey mil jata hai.

And then the whole train thingy. Today, we stand proud in our own Indian skins, and Laloo-land railways is good enough for us, thank you very much. London and Switzerland give way to Ratlam, Kota and Bhatinda. And although we laboriously lock and chain our belongings in real-life trains, sleeping fitfully and waking up with a start to check if all is in place every few minutes, in reel-life it is absolutely possible that we have all our stuff carefully delivered at the next station by a station-master we rude-talk to.

Am I beginning to sound whiney now? It is true I pretty much thought DDLJ was over-hyped, once upon a time. But believe you me, I loved, absolutely was smitten by Jab We Met, and have now seen it four times in three days (the new Rs. 49/- pricing feels even more paisa-vasool - value for money, the more you see it) and with the round-the-clock presence of a movie at home that has an eleven year old in it... it may actually be more than 4 times.

Imagine. If we extrapolate this to my fellow Indians, who are all much quicker off the mark than I have been, I cannot even begin to imagine the number of times we have all met up with Jab We Met so far.

A final curious question – do they still run that DDLJ daily single matinee at Maratha Mandir, as proudly as ever? God! What an anachronistic contrast! :-)

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