Sunday, May 23, 2004

Past forward

EVERY young director, from 36-year-old Tigmanshu Dhulia (Charas) to 38-year-old Farah Khan (Main Hoon Na) is out to pay obeisance to the Bollywood of the 1970s. Entire scenes, names of characters, costumes and other elements of that era are now re-surfacing in different forms on the Hindi screen.

For instance, in the chase sequence of Main Hoon Na, the cycle is called Dhanno (after Hema Maliniís horse in Sholay) and Shah Rukh Khanís name is Ram Prasad and his brother, Zayed Khan is called Laxman Prasad (after Hrishikesh Mukherjiís Gol Maal).

In the same film, Sushmita Senís character is shown wearing knotted blouses and Rajasthani-styled ghagras just like Zeenat Aman in Raj Kapoorís Satyam Shivan Sundaram and in case you missed the point, she is also called Chandni.

Likewise in Charas, the motorbike becomes an important character, just as Raj Kapoor had the Rajdoot for Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia in Bobby, way back in 1973. Dhulia also salutes the immortal dosti song of Sholay with a similar number around Jimmy Shergill and Uday Chopra on the wheels.

Earlier, Sujoy Ghosh made Jhankaar Beats, which was an undisguised tribute to the musical legacy of Rahul Dev Burman and the captivating visuals of Manmohan Desaiís potboilers. Even his shot taking and picturisation of songs were influenced by the latter.

Then there is Mani Ratnamís Yuva, the basic premise of which is student politics, a clear throwback to the Jayprakash Narain days. The director taps into the core of a glossy generation struggling to define itself in these fast-changing times.

According to Ghosh, such influences from the seventies are unavoidable as most present-day filmmakers were in school during that time and cinema was the only form of entertainment they grew up with. The images left behind in their impressionable minds are bound to resurface again and again. MF