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Sunday, March 23, 2003
Lead Article

On the sands of time-1992
Year of sensitive, well-made films
M. L. Dhawan

INDER Kumarís Beta had a raw earthly feel in which aggressive femininity formed the core of the film. Laxmi (Aruna Irani) was a shrewish and scheming woman.

Her plans to grab the family property went haywire when her step-son Raju (Anil Kapoor) married an educated girl Saraswati (Madhuri Dixit), who was far from the stereotype subservient, spineless daughter-in-law. A battle royale for one-upmanship ensued between Laxmi and Saraswati. Luckily, the conflict was resolved within the parameters of family tradition.

In the song "Dhak dhak karne lagga". Madhuri set hearts aflutter.

In Mani Ratnamís Roja a superbly constructed script, the melodious music by A.R. Rahman and breath-taking performances by Madhu and Aravind Swamy all combined to create a historic and patriotic love story. The film revolved around the kidnapping of Rishi Kumar (Aravind Swamy), a computer engineer who decoded messages for the army by Kashmiri militants. The scene depicting the tied-up hero being offended when the militants burnt the Indian Tricolour and his crashing out of a window to extinguish the flames with his body was the hallmark of patriotic fervour. Roja came virtually out of nowhere but hit the screen with a thunderclap.

Ketan Mehtaís Maya Memsaab, an adaption of Flaubertís Madame Bovary, created a hullabaloo for its iconoclastic depiction of a womanís right to personal and sexual freedom. Maya (Deepa Sahi) asserted her sexual identity within and outside the parameters of marriage. She lived a life of freedom and personal gratification but, ultimately, her licentious ways spelt her doom and death.

 


Kalpana Lajmiís Rudali was a captivating melodrama of a woman sanichari (Dimple Kapadia), who was looked upon as insensitive and incapable of crying when she was abandoned by her mother, deserted by her husband and left in the lurch by her son Budhwa when she rejected his shrewish prostitute wife. Sanichari became a Rudali a professional mourner whose primal despair was drawn from the depth of her own tragedy. Dimple won the National Award for her mesmerising performance. Folk tunes and songs of Rajasthan blended with Bhupen Hazarikaís music against the backdrop of Rajasthani landscapes to add to grandeur to the film.

Shyam Benegalís Suraj ka Satwan Ghoda was based on Shama Zaidiís script and highlighted Manek Mullaís (Rajit Kapoor) smug but immature attitudes towards women. Mulla was very talkative and had a fertile imagination. He invited boys of his age to his room every evening and narrated stories of his childhood, adolescence and adulthood. On two evenings, he narrated three stories centering around his relationship with women. These stories conveyed his notions of romance, love and separation. The film was an illustration of male immaturity with regard to women and depicted more about what love was not rather than what it should be.

Hema Maliniís Dil Aashana Hai, loosely based on Hollywoodís Lace involved the audience completely in the tale of three college friends ó Barkha (Dimple Kapadia), Raj (Amrita Singh) and Salma (Sonu Walia), who stood by one another through thick and thin.

Raj Kanwarís Deewana was a sensitive human melodrama about a couple, Rishi Kapoor and Divya Bharti, who fell in love and got married. In order to swindle the huge property belonging to Rishi Kapoor, one of his vily relatives, Amrish Puri, liquidated him. Shattered and shocked at the turn of events, Divya Bharti became a recluse. During her frequent visits to a nearby temple, she met Shah Rukh Khan, who fell in love with her, irrespective of being a widow. Rishi Kapoorís mother persuaded Divya to marry Khan. Then suddenly, Rishi Kapoor came back alive. A cliched violent climax, however, resulted in the death of Rishi Kapoor.

In Mukul Anandís Khuda Gawah, Badshah Khan (Amitabh Bachchan) fell in love with Benazir (Sridevi), princess of a rival tribe. He came to India to avenge his belovedís fatherís killing, and fell a victim to the law of the land.

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