Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Explaining old filmstars to new generation

Sholay may be a blockbuster for people of my generation, but those who were born two decades after Sholay was released are just as unimpressed with this movie as I used to be with Devdas and Mother India, movies that were released before I was born.

I tried to introduce my daughter to Sholay, and she was not impressed. I realised that she did not know any of the characters and as such she could not identify with them. Telling her the names of these actors also did not help matters. Then I got a brain wave.

"Look, that person in the movie is Amitabh Bachchan- father of Abhishek Bachchan."-I informed her.

"But he is Mr Crorepati."- She corrected me.

"Yes, he is the anchor of Kaun banega crorepati but he was a famous film hero before that."- I informed her.

"And look, that is Jaya. She is the mother of Abhishek Bachchan."- I continued.

" Crorepati's friend in the movie is called Dharmendra. He is the father of Sunny Deol,Bobby Deol and Esha Deol. And look, the tangewali is Hema Malini, mummy of Esha Deol".

Adding 2+2=4 ( she is good in maths),my daughter said-"Why dont you just tell me that she is the mother of Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol and Esha Deol."

"Err, she is not,... I mean..Look that is Helen. She is the mother of Salman Khan."

My daughter took a closer look, trying to find any resemblance between Helen and Salman Khan.

"And look, that is Sachin.You know him, he comes in TV serials."

"Yes, I know him", she was pleased to see someone whom she could identify from her TV watching.

"See, look at that bearded fellow Sambha,his name is McMohan and he is the uncle of Raveena Tandon. And that fellow Kaalia, he is the brother of the lady who plays the role of Principal in the serial Zabaan Sambhal ke".

By now she was getting interested by the realisation that these oldtimers were relatives of present day actors whom she knew. She brought me a piece of paper, and asked me to write which of the oldtimer actor was related to which present day actor, so that she could memorise it and later impress her friends with her knowledge of these retro actors.

I started to make entries, but soon I found myself making flow charts, where every film personality was somehow related to everyone else.

I started with Kapoors. See, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh are the papa and Mummy of Ranbir Kapoor. Randhir Kapoor and Babita are the Papa and Mummy of Karishma and Kareena. Their grandfather was Raj Kapoor, and great grandfather was Prithvi Raj Kapoor.

Realising that such explanations would be boring to her,I decided to show her some movie clips and explain to her who those people were. I showed her a clip of Tanuja, and explained that she is the mom of Kajol and saas of Ajay Devgan. Nutan, well, she is the mother of Mohneesh Bahl and mausi of Kajol. Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor are brothers of Raj Kapoor and uncles of Rishi Kapoor and Randheer Kapoor.Feroz Khan is the father of Fardeen Khan and father in law of Hrithik Roshan.Premnath, and Rajendra Nath, they are brothers, and they were the brothers in law of Raj Kapoor. Sharmila Tagore is the mom of Saif Ali Khan and Soha. And look this is Jeetendra, papa of Ekta Kapoor, who makes all those saas bahu serials that you watch like an old lady.

" But you too watch cricket on TV,papa."

" Yes, I do, but in cricket you never know the result so there is suspense. But these serials are all similar, where everyone is conspiring against everyone else."

" that is why I watch reality shows." she pointed out.

" Err.. well.. where were we, yes,we were talking about old actors."

"Papa, it means that every film actor is related to everyone else in Hindi movies."- she observed.
Even I was coming to the same conclusion. I realised that Rajendranath was related to Ashwarya Rai, and Mumtaz to Roshan through marriages that took place many decades ago, or many decades later.

When I showed her the clips of Kishore Kumar's songs of "Chalti ka naam gadi", she was hooked. She herself enquired about Kishore Kumar and she quickly grasped the fact that Ashok Kumar and Anup Kumar were his brothers, and that Amit Kumar was his son. In fact, she on her own initiative watched the entire movie, enjoying it to her heart's content. Later I showed her Kishore Kumar's songs from Asha ("eena meena deeka"), Half ticket ("chel cheel chilla ke"), and Padosan ("Ek chatur naar"). She was mightily impressed with Kishore Kumar, and I was pleased that here was one great film celebrity from the past whom even the younger generation finds worthy of admiration.

"Papa, where is Kishore Kumar now ?"
"He died 20 years ago"
"Oh", she was genuinely sorry-"How old was he?"
"He was 58."
"He should have taken better care of his health." She opined, and I wholeheartedly agreed.

"Who were the top hero and heroine those days"- She enquired.

Thinking that now I could sell her on my favourite stars from 1970s, I played a rain song filmed on Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz.

" See, this is Rajesh Khanna, father of Twinkle and father in law of Akshay Kumar. And this is Mumtaz, mother in law of Fardeen Khan."

My daughter watched the video, accompanied by the song sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata. Then she commented- "Papa, India was a poor country those day, was it not? "

" Yes, it was, but how did you know ?"

"See, Fardeen's saas is getting drenched in rain, but she does not change her clothes even once in the song. These days, people change their clothes so many times in a song even when it is not raining. Twinkle's papa is also dancing in the same clothes throughout the song."

"Well, err.. you see..Look.. here is Joy Mukherjee, uncle of Rani Mukherjee..." I exclaimed.


Bharath Hemachandran said...


I suppose I would come in the unimpressed with Sholay lobby as Shourey would put it.

Nice post Atul. And cute responses from your kid. How old is she? ~10ish would be my guess based on her responses. It's such a pity that they get hooked onto these maudlin tv serials these days! Definitely not what I would call television.. let alone quality television!

Still I know my parents themselves are addicted to the tamil serials. :(

squarecut.atul said...

Thanks for your comments, Bharath. She is exactly 10. Fortunately she is addicted to cartoons as well so there is still hope I think.;) And she likes "detective" serial viz CID the most.

Corinne Rodrigues said...

Hi Atul - thanks for the greetings! Enjoyed this post on the nepotism of Bollywood. Your poor little one - I'm as confused as her :)


PS: What makes you think you're older than me? Wanna take a guess? :P

squarecut.atul said...

I had a look at your profile and my profile, and I deduced that I was older. Elementary, my dear Corinne !

Toonfactory said...

hahahaha...I still remember when Farhan's Don released I went for a special preview of the day I had to watch Don (1978)just to get out of that upset mood and had a debate with my assistant who thought SRK did a marvelous job in the film..I gave her my Don DVD so that she can understand the difference between SRK's Hamming & Amitabh's Acting, Kalyanji-Anandji's Music and S-E-L's cacophony...

squarecut.atul said...

More than the remakes of movies like Don, I get upset at the remixes of old songs viiz "kanta laga", "meri beri ke ber" etc.

Vidooshak said...

i am as crazy about 70s ka bollywood as any 1950's born fella. yet, i myself did not 'appreciate' Sholay until recently. it took me a lot of viewing of International cinema and chancing upon Sergio Leone's DVD and finally, the ultimate tribute to 1970 cinema (aka Johnny Gaddar) to truly appreciate what a classic Sippy sa'ab had made. What impressed me even more is that the same audience that can elevate Ekta Kapoor to legendary status, had the sense to glorify Sholay as well.

I am sure your daughter will have a different view of Indian cinema 15 years from now. And she will chronicle the BigB to SmallB wonder years even better than we did....

Loved the exchange between you and her, explaining the Crorepati's humble beginnings. haha!!

SATTA KING said...