Saturday, 1 March 2014

Please Baba, aar five minutes khelbo...

Unlike my friend, the Mutinous Scribe, I care deeply about Imtiaz Ali's filmography.

I have, since the day I stumbled on to Socha Na Tha on t.v*.
In one scene, the hero and heroine are in Goa and facing the prospect of sharing a room together. (They aren't in love yet). The heroine tells the hero, "Ghabrao nahi, main tumhare izzat pe haath nahi dalungi."
That nonchalance, the non-drama was refreshing then to a child of the nineties for whom the Hindi film heroine was always a bit of a tight-ass paragon of virtue.
Geet in Jab We Met was even better etched, with lovely shades of so many people I knew. Self-obsessed, talkative, feisty, and armed with a healthy sense of adventure. And then came Veera**, who on the outside, was in the same mould as Geet. When she hides herself in the truck during the police search, and Aadu, the genial goon asks her why, I didn't need her to answer. It was just what an Imtiaz Ali heroine did.

Except it wasn't. While Geet's flight came from the protected, indulgent child-hood she had had, Veera's was a result of her cloistered one. And it wasn't a sense of adventure, as I came to learn a bit later in the film, it was a need to escape, a need to enjoy her new-found freedom. I wouldn't say that this need or feeling resonated with me, because it didn't, at least not at the time I was watching the film. There was so much else to take in-the characters, the acting (thanks to the casting-everyone, down to the creepy molester goon, was perfect), the visuals of the great Indian countryside (which I admittedly wouldn't care for, in a lesser film), the music (it is all I listen to, anymore), the world that Ali transports us to (so much so that the police shooting, in spite of its inevitability, felt like an intrusion in an otherwise idyllic life),  the "neat" story-telling (Mahabir dying before he was put on the stretcher). But the reason that all of this came together, the reason that I understood and accepted Veera's longing for the journey to continue (even if it was with her kidnapper), was possibly because I have wanted the same at different points in time.
Did I have a traumatic childhood? Far from it.

But who as a child has not wanted to play for "five more minutes", because home was boring place in your sister's board years? Which child hasn't dreaded the last week of the summer holidays when all the pending homework would have to be squeezed in? Which harassed masters student has not wanted to run away before a game theory/ econometrics exam? In fact, I only realised why I loved Highway the way I did, four days after I had seen the film, as I listened to "Patakha Guddi"on my way to office, in the white cab that dutifully carries me there and back every working day.

*And not since the day I realised I went to the same college as him.
**Yeah, I just pretended that Love Aaj Kal and Rockstar didn't happen.