‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’: Cliché but lovable, the imperfect yet perfect romance of our generation
I was around six or seven, when I got introduced to the enigma of romance that Shah Rukh Khan is, with ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’. I remember dancing merrily on ‘Mere Khwabon Mein’ and having day dreams, all a combined effect of fairy tales and the impeccable chemistry of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. I might have been one of those who fervently wished for them to be a couple, only to be disappointed later on.
Then came Karan Johar’s ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, a few years later. Nevertheless, the magic was still the same. The anticipation of watching SRK and Kajol romance each other, coupled with music and cinematography that just took one’s breath away. I watched it, re-watched it, and came back home even more starry-eyed than before. My eight-year-old self was convinced to the tee that if love existed, it was this.
However, time flew and the definition of romance changed. Soon, technology took over, and the hero who used a ladder to enter the heroine’s bedroom, transitioned to WhatsApp and its emoticons, for expression. Still, in the unbidden corners of my heart, the love and romance of Karan Johar’s debut directorial beat like the first sight of love.
Social media became more and more conspicuous, and in the times of feminism, soon there were stories of how flawed the plots of yesteryear romances were. How could the romance of my dreams be spared? The plot of ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ was torn apart, Rahul was deemed a selfish man for falling in love with the perfect woman, leaving behind his tomboyish best friend, and falling in love with the latter, eight years later, when he is a widower and when she has fit into the module of a perfect woman. To top it all, even Karan Johar came out and said that he was not proud of what he had created then.
I was heartbroken. When the man who created this romance could not believe in what he had given birth to, how could I? But then, I watched Rahul and Anjali fight and make up. I cheered when Rahul the playboy confessed his love for Tina, in her room, as he bowed down to her. Eight years later on the celluloid, my heart soared again when Rahul and Anjali danced in the rain, under the shade of gazebo, to the tunes of piano. I watched two best friends realising that they have always been in love, only too naive to notice the same. How could something so perfect be flawed? As much as I wanted to be the woman of today and take a stance, I could not help being the starry-eyed girl and be in love with the movie.
Yes, Rahul fell in love with Anjali after she had metamorphosised into the typical definition of a woman. But maybe, he could have fallen for her even if she had not changed. Maybe, the love was always there on a deeper level, but it surfaced only in the mature years. Maybe, the person was destined to fall in love twice; once, with the woman who made him feel the pangs of first love, and second with the woman who was always there to laugh and cry with him as a best friend. Her absence drilled an empty hole inside his heart, never to be filled by anyone else, and that was how he realised his love for her, later in life. Destiny plays weird games, doesn’t it?
Yes, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ had its flaws, and maybe it is not as perfect in today’s world of revolutions, but it was magic, just like love, and it flowed just as perfectly. Maybe this time, I won’t agree with Karan Johar. This time, I will root for the story that he deems silly and delusional. This was the story that defined love for me, and always will.
Rahul, Anjali and Tina may not have been perfect, but they gave my generation the ultimate definition of love; “Pyaar, Dosti Hai,” and we, the hopelessly romantic, will agree to it, every single time.
Kapoor & Sons: Caught the plight of homosexuals tenderly and yet made 'coming out' look doable
Kapoor & Sons – Since 1921. The house proudly flaunted that to the world, nestled in the greens of Coonoor. No one knew the darkness that was inside, the demons that were individually dealt with. But then, isn’t every family like that?
Two years have passed by since this Shakun Batra-directorial, story of a dysfunctional family had come to our lives. However, amongst the various themes that tore apart the family and eventually brought it together, one that truly had the power to transform, was that of homosexuality.
Not many know, that the role played by Fawad Khan, that of family’s elder son, a successful author, was actually offered to many A-listers, who turned it down, eventually leading him to step into the shoes of Rahul. And it was, indeed, a very big step on his part. He was venturing out of his territory, a man who has such a huge female-fan following, and comes from a country with religion as its main running philosophy. He did the role and brought such conviction to it that we were forced to stand up and applaud, his courage, and the beauty with which his character was carved.
Since times immemorial, all our memories of gay characters on screen have been that of carelessly effeminate and unimportant roles, which are just there to add a comic element. The stereotype has been high to an extent that often the champions of the same channelise it and promote it, for it is wrapped in the shiny paper of presentation. The biggest example of this was ‘Dostana’, which was an amazing story of friendship, still used homosexuality as humour, as its backdrop. Ironically, it came from the same production house, though nearly eight years before that.
But ‘Kapoor & Sons’ begged to differ here. The character here was real, someone who was hiding himself, for the society, his family. There was surreality to the theme of homosexuality here, which had the power to jar us inside out; and that, it did.
Two scenes from the movie specifically hit me. First one is when Sunita (Ratna Patak Shah) finds out that her ideal elder son, whom she adores and is proud of, is not straight. The aftereffects of the same jolt you, because the reaction is just what an Indian mother gives, in any situation that is beyond her control; uncontrollable anger at the offspring, and then uncontrollable guilt, of blaming herself and her upbringing. The scene is filmed so beautifully, that your eyes sting. The way Fawad’s facade falls and his fear is marked across his face, which is then replaced by the anger of hiding himself for all those years, and mother’s dilemma and hurt, it all comes out in a naked and real manner.
Another sequence is when Rahul (Fawad Khan) comes back home after the showdown with his mother and the death of his father totally uproots whatever sanity his family possessed. He sits with his mother, with whom his last encounter was one of his coming out, and she asks, hesitatingly, about his partner. A subtle way of expressing acceptance, the way they hold hands, without saying anything, it stays with you.
It may not be one masterpiece, but ‘Kapoor & Sons’ will forever remain a favourite for finally breaking the mainstream stereotype of a gay man, in Bollywood. And for that, no matter how many bans, I will forever be waiting for Fawad Khan to come back, and give us more performances; with dare and conviction.
An ode to Sridevi, the queen who inspired the queers long before it became mainstream
“I am a kid from the 90s but still can’t forget those days when, me-myself was not out and proud about my preferences. And inside my own sweet world would dance in front of the mirror on many songs, but majorly on ‘Hawa Hawai’ and ‘Main Teri Dushman, Dushman Tu Mera’. These songs were just not tunes for me, it made me feel exactly what I was; a QUEERby birth”.
The news of the legendary diva Sridevi being no more with us is still hard to believe, as she was part of my and every queer’s childhood memories. While in the late 90s my bunch of friends would idolise a star from the West as their gay icon, me being a full-fledged Bollywood fanatic was in love with Sridevi and she was a diva I used to worship (and will forever). Her golden costume and perfectly done makeup in ‘Hawa Hawai’ made me feel, “Yes! There is someone like me out there who loves bling and all things loud.” Her feather headgear in one of the songs from ‘Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja’, touched my drag Queen‘s soul. One of the lines from her song ‘Hawa Hawai’ which is ‘Soorat Hi Maine Aisi Paayi’ transported me into a world where I thought that there is someone narcissist just like me. Sridevi’s charm was on my mind and the feminine side in me just wanted to be a replica of her.
The gone actress has not only given a lot to the Indian cinema, but her sass and talent of naturally moulding herself into any character gave her an upper hand in whatever she used to do. When many gay men were struggling and were confused about their sexual orientation they found a connection to their on-going pain in Sridevi’s roles. Whether it was Sridevi as a meek Anju and ferocious Manju fighting for everything wrong in ‘ChaalBaaz’ (1989), Pooja’s mutiny against the everlasting societal conditions in ‘Lamhe’ (1991), Seema’s confidence-filled and fearless dance in the ‘Mr. India’ (1987) song ‘Hawa Hawaai’ or her role of a naagin (snake) coming out to the world about her dual identity in ‘Nagina’ (1986), Sri’s roles had a deep connection and were etched in every GAY man’s mind.
And how can one miss ‘Kate Nahin Kat Te’ song of Sridevi from ‘Mr. India’, where she owned the song and made every gay guy’s dream to dance on it once with his man. This particular song was wild, seductive and equal parts bold. Sridevi draped in a sky-blue coloured saree with a matching bindi and of course adding fuel to the fire was her dancing moves. Even at the end of the song, a fully wet in rainwater, Sridevi stretching herself on a pile of hay – ‘Tumne jo li angdayi hai’ – where the diva nibbles on straws with a drenched fire in her eyes, leaving Mr. Kapoor to chivalrously lie on a distant haystack.
While mostly when the film fraternity was in a zone where feminine men were used as a tool to add fun elements on the silver screen, Sridevi was a ray of hope for the LGBTQ community. She was like a powerful symbol for the QUEERS. Her role resonated each and every gays struggle, and also echoed their dysphoria into her characters. And with her, all the queer children surpassed the narrow-minded stereotypes which they were labelled with. Lastly, she might be gone, but the colourful rainbow universe she opened for all the fellow LGBTQ people remains there intact..
Hail the QUEEN! RIP Sridevi.