Thursday, 29 December 2011

Bollywood Revisited

Remember the good ol' times? The times post the black-and-white era and the reels that graduated from Eastman Colour? The times beyond sepia prints, 70s winged-eyeliners, conical bras and bird-nest hairdo's?

I'm talking about the times that have made an impression on every 80's child in India. It's called surviving a time warp that's now referred to as B.C. (or Before Cable). An age when Bollywood wasn't just fancy coinage for a film industry - But a way of life.

A time when movies made their way to dinnertime discussions on a daily basis. The epic era of bad hindi films (while some might argue that the said era hasn't ended yet), with movies so bizarre, that their connection to reality is purely unintended!

Films that shamelessly followed a set formula. Where lanky heroes with long side-burns were the norm. When being beefed-up and owning a 6-pack meant you had a promising career as a villain or a visible part of his posse. (Someone please throw Uday Chopra into that decade, NOW!) In fact, despite eating right and hitting the gym everyday, you'd have been tossed around like a toothpick in the hands of Mr. Scrawny BigStar himself.

I'm talking about a decade when Mithun's pelvic thrust was the epitome of all things macho, and an Anil Kapoor roamed topless, revealing his welcro-like back without having to bother about sex appeal (what's that?).

When heroes danced in 2-inch heels, wore their hair to the nape, put on horrendously mercurial Aviator shades, and strut around in costumes that would give Lady Gaga some competition. 

When 'stylists' were still called 'tailors', when a 'wardrobe' mean't double doors that open up to a clown's closet, and when 'heroine's outfit' implied a quick-fix from the previous movie's curtains.

Biker gloves, blue pantyhose, red socks and yellow pump shoes.
That's the way, aha aha, I like it, aha aha.

Bibs are not meant to be worn there, Ms. Kapoor!
Note 1: Curtains can be replaced by anything colourful or unusual. Even birthday streamers will do, so long as she looks like she's emerging out of Draupadi's forgotten costume, or a 7-tiered wedding cake.

When all-natural and voluptuous was considered beautiful. When women like Amrita Singh played lead roles (up until the point where she started resembling the hero's younger brother.)

When hotness quotients were defined by Rekha in her avatar as a cool vengeful fauxhawk-wearing  momma with a face-lift... and a tummy-tuck (erm, but the darn crocodile only bit your cheek, lady!). 

When skinny little Sonu Walias could fall off the stage (or the villain's life, or the face of the earth) if Ms. Ample Hips obliged.

When villains were put on a different kind of pedestal.

Firstly, the bad guy = bad GUY. (If you were a woman and a bad one at that, you were either Bindu, Aruna Irani, Shashikala or a slut. No grey shades there.)

Coming back to our typical villains, they came in different sizes of obviousness, cause subtlety is for wimps!
They either had a physical handicap (movies with Prem Chopra, Shakti Kapoor, Gulshan Grover, Danny Denzongpa and their ilk), were subject to some unexplained abnormality on the face (hairy moles, scar across eyelids) or were just downright ugly (Cause if you're ugly, you're going to be pissed with mankind, right?).

On the rare occasion  that life had chosen to be less mean to them, they'd sit on a skull throne all dressed up in alien clothing and a bad haircut (e.g. Mogambo, Shakaal, Dong) expecting the audience to cringe in horror!

Mogambo, khush hua!
Note 2: The villain's plans could involve hijacking a 2nd-hand cycle in a busy market area, but even such a seemingly irrelevant plan would've been strategized sitting in a helicopter that can land anywhere unannounced [air regulations not applicable].

Note 3: Our man, Scrawny BigStar, might have never set eyes on a dumbell in his life. However, when thrown into the fighting arena, he can take down 5 WWE wrestlers at one go. He's not called 'Jay' 'Veer' or 'Winner' for nothing! (Hint. Hint.)

Note 4: The hero might be a chauffeur or a vada-pav stall owner, but he (almost always) has the supreme wisdom to outwit the villain who has been planning to release weapons of mass destruction around the world since he was born!

I'm talking about that time frame in Bollywood when actors of today, like Emran Hashmi and Mallika Sherawat, would've been jobless for years! When everything around was symbolically suggestive.

Lip-locking and making-out was inferred when flowers (out of no where) would rub against each other. If flowers were out of stock, they'd replace the frame with oranges falling off the actress' body.

[Disclaimer: The video below is more than suggestive symbolism. 
Yikesss @ Jeetendra! You just killed 'sweet-limes' for me, forever!]

Flower on flower mean't happy times, but bee on flower mean't rape. Other symbols for 'rape' in that era include over-boiled milk (talk about corny imagery!), a goat staring at a butcher (again in the middle of no where), or an old creaking ceiling fan (erm, I'm still trying to figure that one out!) that continues to whirr till the end of what seems like eternity.

A time when animals seemed to have meatier roles in the film (pun unintended). Movies that brought 'ichaadaari nagins' into our collective consciousness such that you'd anxiously wait for every girl with light eyes to transform into a snake.

In fact snake movies broke lose a new genre of creativity to include plots that were as original as having Aruna Irani breast-feed a snake for reasons so bizarre, I'd rather you go and watch it for yourself!

If that's not all, we have Amitabh Bachchan calling a dolphin his mother; a pet pigeon who helps Anil Kapoor in robbery; and a pomeranian who behaves like the 11th incarnation of lord Krishna by saving Madhuri Dixit from marrying Mohnish Behl in Bollywood's longest marriage movie (Ok, so the last one was in the 1990's but they don't change overnight now, do they?)

With all their antics in place, these bad movies have made their mark in the most unexpected recesses of our minds. While some of us might pretend we hate that stuff, there's no denying how we automatically parrot dialogues and songs from movies long forgotten.

I just hope and pray that this disgusting Jeetendra-Meenakshi song was NOT a part of my earliest childhood memories!

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