Super filmi week: Indradhanush was our Stranger Things!

Sridevi, Karan Johar, Tabu… my week was all about time travel and pleasant encounters with the super young avatars of Bollywood’s famous folk.

Monday
Only a couple of days ago, I shared a random list of Hindi film songs that make me cry when a discerning aficionado brought up Zindagi Ke Safar Mein Guzar Jaate Hain.

Few compositions articulate regret like this one immersed in Anand Bakshi’s ink and Rahul Dev Burman’s melody — it’s like three-fourths of Aap Ki Kasam is a run-up to the song.

The lyrics continue to play on my mind as I recall them in the context of the film, a first-time directorial effort by J Om Prakash (also Hrithik Roshan’s maternal grandfather) starring Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz.

Aap Ki Kasam concerns itself with the duo’s extensive courtship, subsequent marriage and trouble in paradise after Khanna suspects Mumtaz of an extra-marital affair with his best friend.

In the bitter confrontation scene to follow, a disgusted Mumtaz refuses to offer any clarification. She’s surprised by his callous behavior and rejects the idea of a relationship based on distrust. Eventually, she moves on while a remorseful Khanna spends a lifetime atoning for his actions.

Though far from perfect, the 1974 melodrama has its moments of merit. Beyond the vibrant soundtrack, glamour of its superhit star jodi and the moronic logic it subscribes to every now and then, it also examines the fragility of marriage as well as the repercussions of dark impulses.

A happy ending secured at the cost of self-respect is hardly triumphant. Impressive how Aap Ki Kasam doesn’t pander to audience expectations allowing Mumtaz to retain her pride and see Khanna for the cad he really is.

Mumtaz and Rajesh Khanna in Aap Ki Kasam

Tuesday
What’s that? OMG, a friendship request on Facebook from the writer of a cult show? Not just any but my favourite from childhood.

Flashback: In the 1980s, sleeping late on Sunday mornings amounted to sacrilege, wherein every kid’s ritual involved waking up early and stay glued in front of the television set all day.

One of my happiest memories from those days is watching the children’s sci-fi fantasy, Indradhanush on Doordarshan. For years I sulked about its hastily wrapped up final episode.

All its 12 episodes are now available on YouTube, it’s certainly aged in terms of SFX but the action and writing is solid. It’s amusing to witness filmmaker Karan Johar’s goofball as one of the uniform-clad boys, director Ashutosh Gowariker, ever fascinated by the past, as a lawyer in 1942 and Urmila Matondkar depicting futuristic fashion in a Rohini Hattangadi’s Chaalbaaz-reminiscent hairdo.

The serial’s plot revolves around a bunch of smart kids, their endeavours to build a computer, an alien prince inhabiting it, a time-traveling device and their adventures around the past and future.

School-going science nerds staying up late in a private hideout, mysterious disappearance of one of their friends, worried parents, squabbling siblings, protective older brother, curious school teacher, the 1980s — thematically it may be closer to Back to the Future but, in soul, Indradhanush is our Stranger Things, the Netflix original series that’s taken the world by storm.

A still from Indradhanush

Wednesday
It takes a lot to distract me from Khayyam’s exquisite score in Bazaar. Except I haven’t watched the film in ages and the visuals are too colourful to ignore.

Amidst a crowd of striking ladies engaged in the wedding sangeet ditty, Chale Aao Saiyaan, I spot a shy, self-conscious preteen — of smooth tresses and lyrical eyes. Who knew then how much depth they would convey?

A still from Bazaar

The sensitive looking girl is Tabu, of course, and I don’t have to wait for a close-up to confirm that.

Tabu in Bazaar

Thursday
It’s Janmashtami!

Krishna has enjoyed quite a range of representation in our movies — from baby Sridevi’s rendering of his Gopi-teasing phase in the S V Ranga Rao mythological Yashoda Krishna or as the focus of Hema Malini’s eternal devotion in Gulzar’s divine romance, Meera.

Baby Sridevi

Friday
Discovery of the day: Long before Miley Cyrus made twerking popular, Mala Sinha vigorously demonstrates how it’s done.

Is this why she was your favourite actress, dad?

Mala Sinha

Saturday
Aryan and Suhana Khan, Navya Naveli, Sara and Ibrahim Ali Khan, Karan Deol, Jhanvi Kapoor, so on and so forth.

These kids are already part of Bollywood’s stinking tabloid culture where their photographs or random sightings become news. It’s like one section of the media has already declared them as stars. It won’t be long before another section of the media complains about the entitlement and nepotism.

Certainly, there was some interest in knowing a little about our favourite star’s family before too.

When I was growing up, I’d see a picture of Ranbir or Sonam Kapoor or Athiya Shetty in the magazines attending parties or an assigned family photo shoot but everything was well within the line of decency and privacy.

Today, the obsession is creepy.

Do these youngsters crave attention and ensure this sort of coverage? I haven’t yet reached that point of cynicism to believe that. These boys and girls are too young to be exploited for gossip. Let them willingly announce their participation in show business before the scrutiny begins?
Athiya Shetty in Hero

Sunday
I had created a Bollywood Mash Up Meme, where I mix and match one movie’s scene with another’s famous dialogue.

One look at this scene from Shahenshah, of baddies coming across the Big B’s costumed vigilante, and I knew I am going to have fun with it.

If you don’t recognise the lines, you’re probably from another planet.

Shahenshah meets Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron

This column was first published on rediff.com.

Previously on Super Filmi Week:
When Saif Ali Khan wore Rishi Kapoor’s sweater
Getting nostalgic about the 1980s, Winona Ryder & Kishore Kumar
Rediscovering Gulzar’s Ghalib & finding Free Love
Applauding NTR’s Superman on screen!
Tripping on A R Rahman
A millipede and Kimi Katkar’s monsoon romance
Udta Punjab, worst casting decisions, and naheeee…!
Of warring Khan bhakts and meeting Mogambo!
Ranbir’s forgotten romance in Bachna Ae Haseeno
Funnier than Aishwarya’s lips
Clashing superheroes and crying Khans
OCDing on Neetu Singh’s LPs!
Garam Dharam, Mantrik Origins, Rockstar Cruise

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