Akshay Kumar...The khiladi... pherhaps the ony bollyoowd star to take on the Undertaker ( Galat panga liya tune undertaker , apne baap se !!! grrr!!!) , a
sumo wrestler , jump from a moving plane , a hot air balloon , and mud-wrestle with Rekha .
Circa 1990-2001Ah, those were the days . We were students…Life was nothing but heading to school , hanging out with friends and with only the occasional exam to disturb our pointless existence .
Being cool consisted of listening to Backstreet Boy , Boyzone , N’Sync. Britney Spears was every guys fantasy . People used to listen to cassettes and CDs . Having a mobile was a status symbol . Napster was still around. ( Tell us more Grandpa…)
The situation of Bollywood movies in general and romantic flicks in particular could only be described in one word: terrible
We had to be content with weepy melodramas ( Kuch Kuch Hota Hai , Raja Hindustani , etc,) , formula action flicks ( Karan Arjun , ) , cheap comedies (Dhule Raja ) with the rare genuinely good movies ( Rangeela , Shool , Bombay , Maachis , Andaaz Apna Apna ,etc ). The parallel cinema movement continued to churn out good movies that were blissfully ignored by the general movie-going public but lapped up by the critics . Our favorite heroes were the ubiquitous Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty , who had the uncanny ability to take on hordes of baddies single handedly , dispatch vigilante justice ,with a few musical numbers thrown in for good measure
It was in this bleak filmi landscape that the then-unknown Farhan Akhtar ( Whose claim to fame was being the son of Javed Akthar and Shaban Azmi ) released his genre-bending , gravity-defying , Frankenstein monster of a film : Dil Chata hai ( DCH) .
It wasn’t the most realistic movie released.
It wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing .
It wasn’t the most artistically made movie.
It didn’t have any heavy duty , out-of-work art house actors .
It wasn’t even controversial.
Even the critics didn’t like it much.
But against all odds, it worked .
It introduced bollywood to Farhan Akhthar . It revived the careers of Saif Ali Khan and Akshay Khanna . It cemented Aamir Khan’s position as the top Khan . It propelled Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy to the A-list of music directors .
People were confused . Was it a comedy? No , but it had it’s comic moments . Was it a drama ? No, but it had its serious moments . Was it a romantic movie ? No , it was a movie about relationships . Was it a coming-of age movie ? Yes , but not in the usual sense . It was an amalgamation, the likes of which weren’t seen before in bollywood …at least not executed with so much style and panache.
But why did it work at all ? Well , to fully understand , you had to be in the age group of 16-25 when the movie was released . I was a wee lad of 17…and it blew my and my buddies away .
It was more than a movie , it was a phenomenon . Aamir Khans cap, his goatee and hairdo . It became “the look”, surpassed only by Salman Khans look in “Tere Naam”. Goa became he dream destination for Gen Y . ( I did try out the soul patch for a while , but got rid of it when someone asked me about why I was going for the King Fahad look )
It was the only mainstream film that (remotely) portrayed the lifestyle of the urban youth at that time . Granted , that only the ultra-rich could have the fantasy lifestyle of the protagonists : Vacationing in foreign countries , expensive cars , 60” projection TVs , etc . But what clicked was the freshness and spontaneity of the script and acting . Not much melodrama here .
Aamir, Saif and Akshay weren’t portraying the perfect heroes on-screen … they were acting like a bunch of college pass-outs having the time of their lives … go to any college in India and you’re sure to find the same kind of cliques .Hanging out with your buddies , discos , movies , dates ... all there. Up to that time college life in movies meant choreographed dances in the campus and canteen , the presence of a nasty rival ( with his own gang) and the occasional turf war .
Love wasn’t simply the mushy feeling and cute messages of greeting cards . Three love stories, none of them conventional , but all perfectly believable . A divorcee and a college student. A fun-loving rich-kid and an engaged woman . Two people who had no intentions of marrying in the first place . No drawn-out speeches of endless love and sacrifice . No janam janam ke saathi . Modern relationships seen in a ( almost ) realistic way .
The humourous parts of the movie were the best . Most of it was subtle , not over-the-top and forced ( No Johnny Lever !!) . I dont think anyone can keep a straight face through the "Tum bhi Rohit ??!!" Sequence.
In short , it was a movie that me and my buddies could identify with . we didn’t see actors on screen , we saw ourselves( at least we tried to ) . Everyone wanted friends like that who can laugh with them,have fun,cry,HAD their support at all times.Those friends which COULD run to Your house even in the middle of the night
The music was fresh , creative and different . You had a disco number , an unusual love song or two and a buddy number . The images of the three vacationing in Goa with the title track playing in the background has almost become i
Inspite of its short comings ( a slightly corny end-of-movie wedding sequence , the usual melodrama ) , this movie has made its place in the history of Indian cinema . It will be remembered as trend-setting , youth-focused and stylish film that became a cult favorite and a modern classic( please bear with the hyperbole ) . And it still remains one of my favorite movies .