The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, May 18, 2003
Lead Article

On the sands of time: 1993
Year of choli ke peechhe...

M. L. Dhawan

The choli ke peechhe song in Khalnayak set the trend for raunchy item numbers in Hindi films
The choli ke peechhe song in Khalnayak set the trend for raunchy item numbers in Hindi films

IN Yash Chopra’s Darr, the narcissistic and psychotic Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) made Kiran’s (Juhi Chawla) life a nightmare. As an obsessive lover compulsively craving another man’s wife, he was driven to insanity, believing that the woman he loved, loved him too. So possessed was he that he was ready to wipe out anyone who came in the way of his ‘possessing’ Kiran. He justified his peccadilloes before the imagined presence of his long-dead mother. In the finale, of course, Sunil (Sunny Deol), Kiran’s husband, saved his beleaguered wife from the clutches of the psychotic lover.

In Abbas Mastan’s Baazigar, Ajay Sharma (Shah Rukh Khan) masqueraded as a Baazigar, gambler, in order to win over Priya (Kajol) and to settle old scores with her father Madan Chopra (Dalip Tahil), who had defrauded Ajay’s father and forced his family out on the streets. Ajay seduced Priya’s sister Seema (Shilpa Shetty) and killed her by pushing her down a skyscraper. He then changed his identity and committed mayhem and murder without remorse. Ajay paid the unscrupulous Chopra back in the same coin but died in the process. In the dual roles of Rahul and Ajay, Shah Rukh Khan won both the fascination and revulsion of the audience.

In Subhash Ghai’s Khalnayak, getting rich was the only aim of Ballu Balram (Sanjay Dutt), the son of a freedom fighter. In his hunger for money, Ballu did illegal jobs for his boss Roshi Mohanta and was caught and incarcerated in the process. When Ballu escaped from prison, the cop Ram (Jackie Shroff) sent his colleague and girlfriend Ganga (Madhuri Dixit) to infiltrate his gang by masquerading as a dancing girl. The song choli ke peechhe kya hai became a rage and set a trend for dirty ditties.


In Raj Kumar Santoshi’s Damini, on the occasion of Holi, Damini (Meenakshi Sheshadhri) witnessed her devar and his three friends rape a maidservant. When the entire family, including her husband Shekhar (Rishi Kapoor), conspired to hush up this incident, the docile Damini rebelled against the family and its respectability code. When all attempts to silence her proved futile, Damini was got declared insane by the family. However, a lawyer, Govind (Sunny Deol), came to her rescue. The film celebrated the triumph of courage and conviction of an ordinary woman. Meenakshi’s performance was a milestone in histrionics.

David Dhawan’s comic caper Aankhein was the story of two good-for-nothing bumbling and blundering brats Bunnu (Govinda) and Munnu (Chunky Pandey). They loitered in the streets of Mumbai with their pet monkey, Bajrangi. The duo got embroiled in an international plot that threatened to blow the nation apart. Eventually, these pranksters emerged as true soliders who did yeoman’s service for their motherland. Like his characters, this comedy reeked of street humour, but Dhawan succeeded in making art out of sheer nonsense. Defying box-office logic, the film was one of the biggest grossers ever and marked the heady comeback of David Dhawan and Govinda.

In Mahesh Bhatt’s Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke, Rahul Malhotra (Aamir Khan) gave up studies to become the guardian of his sister’s three orphaned children while managing his family factory mortgaged to businessman Bijlani (Dalip Tahil). Bijlani’s daughter Maya (Navneet Nishan) was in love with Rahul. Rahul hired Vaidehi (Juhi Chawla) as the governess for the children. Maya tried to blackmail Rahul into marrying her but her plan went haywire when the children claimed that Vaidehi was their mother. Giving a superb performance, Aamir Khan proved that height is not always might where talent is concerned. The audience appreciated Aamir as a bonsai—diminutive but definitive.

In Mahesh Bhatt’s Sir Professor Varma (Naseeruddin Shah) took on two gangsters Jimmy (Gulshan Grover) and Velji (Parvesh Rawal) to help his students, particularly Pooja (Pooja Bhatt), Velji’s daughter. Naseeruddin brought the usually inaccessible character of a teacher alive with his detailed performance in which powerful silences were punctuated with speech packed with punch.