The Tribune - Spectrum

, August 18, 2002

On the sands of time: 1988
Year of offbeat films
M.L. Dhawan

MANSOOR Khan’s Qayamat se Qayamat tak broke the mould of violence and vulgarity by importing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet into the land of thakurs, who avenge any assault on their honour with blood.

In the film, Raj (Aamir Khan) and Rashmi (Juhi Chawla) fell in love, defying the cold war between their families. They eloped to an abandoned temple in the mountains, living on love, water and ecological ‘barbecue’. Then parental opposition raised its ugly head and when Raj and Rashmi went to a nearby town to buy provisions, clan enmity pursued them. The defiant duo met, but only in death.

Mansoor Khan gave the story of star-crossed lovers a tragic end even when box-office wisdom demanded otherwise. The thundering success of the film shattered the myth that bone-crunching villains and crude ‘n’ lewd politicians were essential to set the cash registers ringing. The film, with its freshness, infused new hope in a jaded industry looking for a new box-office formula.

Tezab was N.Chandra’s first bid to dabble in filmi mirch masala. Mahesh Munnabhai (Anil Kapoor), who did not turn into an anti-social vendetta machine even after his parents were killed by bank robbers, wants to become a naval officer. However, the rape of his sister by Lotia Khan’s (Kiran Kumar) brother turns him into a criminal. Munna kills the rapist and is imprisoned. Munna is persecuted by Lotia Khan and Mohini’s (Madhuri Dixit) father (Anupam Kher), an alcoholic gambler who lives off his daughter’s earning and does not want Mohini to marry Munna. Munna then dons the mantle of messiah and sets both the distressed damsel and the beleaguered city free from the hold of Lotia Khan. The film had a taut screen play, hard-hitting dialogues and chartbusting songs. The Ek do teen, Keh do ke tum ho meri, varna, So gaya yeh jahan numbers were catchy. The film catapulted Madhuri and Anil to dizzy heights.


With Khoon Bhari Maang, Rakesh Roshan destroyed the myth that it was essential to have a hero as the protagonist and that heroines were there just to serve as interludes and mannenquins.

Rekha played the central character who was shown as being more heroic than the hero. An affluent and simple woman, she turned into a ravishing model to avenge her husband’s death. This fast-paced movie was a crowning glory for Rekha, who rose like a phoenix in this remake of Return to eden, and bedazzled the audience with her daredevilry.

In Hero Hiralal, Ketan Mehta etched out a fine portrait of Hiralal, an autorickshaw driver , played by Naseeruddin Shah. He was so crazy about popular Hindi cinema that he mimicked and adopted the behaviour of film personalities — romantic chivalry, capacity to triumph over odds and protecting women from street rogues, rascals and ruffians. But his notions about the film world crashed like a house of cards when he had real contact with a hero of the ‘reel’ world. Shah gave a brilliant interpretation to the portrayal of a common man who was deceived by the hero of the ‘reel’ world. Sanjana Kapoor showed flashes of talent inherited from Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kapoor..

Aruna Raje’s Rihaee was a social satire about the exodus of migrant workers from rural Gujarat and its adverse effects on conjugal life. Though the film explored the taboo theme of female sexuality, it drifted and derailed into a conventional morality tale.

Aditya Bhattacharya’s Raakh was a revenge story in which the hero, Aamir Khan, had been a helpless spectator of his girlfriend, Supriya Pathak’s gangrape. Since he could not settle scores with the gangsters singlehandedly, he sought the help and aid of a dedicated cop, Pankaj Kapoor. With a power-packed performance, the diminutive Aamir made it clear that in Hindi films, height was not always might.

Avtar Bhogal’s Zakhmi Aurat centred round Kiran Dutt (Dimple Kapadia), a woman police officer, who was raped. When the judicial system failed to convict the rapists despite her own testimony as a policewoman, she abandoned the legal course and joined forces with other rape victims of her city. Together, they came up with a befitting revenge plan: to ensnare the rapists and castrate them. Dimple immersed herself into the persona of a rape victim, proving her mettle as an actress of intensity and passion.

Mrinal Sen’s Ek Din Achanak told the story of a retired professor of history, Sanska Roy (Shriram Lagoo), who suddenly disappeared. His wife, children and friends started to worry when he did not turn up even after months. Everyone fears an accident. The needle of suspicion pointed towards Aparna (Aparna Sen) as a card with her name scrawled all over is discovered on his desk. The irony was that the absence of the father ‘frees’ his children to succeed in their plans, as if a heavy weight had been taken off them. The impact of the film was that its ‘hero’ existed in absentia.

Above: Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla in a scene from Qayamat se Qayamat Tak

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