Friday, August 22, 2008

Mad ads and fads in India in 1960s and 70s- part I

When I was a young kid a few years old in mid to late 1960s, I noticed that "twist" was a craze among the happening crowd. People would wear tight pants and swivel over the front of their left toe, as if crushing a cigarette butt with their toes, their hands hanging behind their back. This was how one twisted. Bollywood movies those days had a dance scene showing a twist, which was like an item song. One popular "twist" song sung by Manna Dey was "aao twist karen".

People, both men and women, at least in movies, wore very tight dresses. Just look at the Salwar Kurta that bollywood actresses wore those days. To this day I have not yet understood how they managed to get inside such dresses, and once inside, how did the blood circulation fare in their bodies. My admiration for actresses like Mumtaz goes sky high, when I see her dancing and singing with abandon in such tight outfits, and even seen enjoying them.

And as "Om Shanti Om" has shown, the fashion for women those days consisted of hairdo that now appears like Khosla ka ghosla. The women in their 20s looked like Behenjis. Look at Vijayanti Mala in 1950s or Hema Malini in 1970s, for instance.

Just as 1960s was giving way to 1970s, Hippy craze hit India, and the person who capitalised on it was Dev Anand, with his "Hare Rama Hare Krishna". People would keep long hairs and that was called hippy cut.

On the other end of the spectrum was Rajesh Khanna. Though his pants were tight, he would wear Kurta ( or shirt that looked like Kurta to me), and would remain untucked. It was called Baba kurta, I have no idea why this name was given to this dress. But he was the superstar, and his mannerisms and dress had millions of adherents.

When Rajesh Khanna was upstaged by Amitabh Bachchan, we suddenly saw the hair style of people changing. Everyone would instruct the barber to cut his hair in Amitabh style, even though Mukri style may have suited them better. When emergency came, Hippy style (mentioned earlier) became untenable. One of the emergency excesses was on Hippy cut hairs. policemen would round up hippy cut youths and have their hair cut short. I feel that their orders must have been to round up eve teasers, and they decided that eve teasers were those who wore hippy cut, so all people with hippy cut hairs had to pay the price.

Not just fans, even other leading actors like Shashi Kapoor etc started sporting Amitabh Bachchan's hair style. In case Amitabh Bachchan had to be shown growing up as a child, that child too would sport the same Amitabh Bachchan hairstyle- for instance, look at Muqaddar ka Sikandar, where master Mayur, playing young Amitabh has the same hairstyle. I suggest that we should make a movie with Amitabh in lead role called Muqaddar ke Sikandar ka Shahanshah, and in this the kid playing childhood role of Amitabh should sport the same hair style, and in addition, he should sport a while goatee as well, lest viewer are left in any doubt.

There were people, especially in small towns ( farmaish sending towns), who would model themselves on their favourite actors. Filmy magazines often published pictures of people who resembled their idols the most. I recall a filmy magazine publishing the picture of such people, and that included one "Gondia ka Amitabh"

Stars and super stars were not the only ones who had fan following. Small budget movies,e.g. Rajshri Production movies, or those made by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Bhattachharya, Basu Chatterji ( frankly I cannot tell one Basu from the other) had their own following. Amol Palekar, who played the roles of friendly next door neighbourhood youngster, was forever getting outsmarted by a street smart Asrani (Bhondu is the Hindi word that comes to my mind), like in the cartoon serial road runner show. These movies tended to have nice music and it was this which may have saved the day for these movies.

Bell bottoms also came into vogue those days. Look at the movies, and one can find actors and actresses looking ridiculous ( with hindsight), but I, who call this ridiculous now, too wore bellbottoms those days. And naturally I too looked just as ridiculous.

The fashion of bell bottoms which raged like wildfire vanished one fine day, and people no longer wanted to be seen wearing them. What is this fashion, where people suddenly start avoiding to wear that they wore proudly till the other day ? It can only be herd mentality, I am sure.

Fashion for narrow pants was there for a couple of years and then a milder form of bell bottom threatenred to make a comeback, and it did for some time.

And during those days, some other types of fashion were also emerging that would soon take the nation by storm.

2 comments:

Raja Swaminathan said...

Indeed, bellbottoms or "bellbotts" as they were called then were very popular. Even I wore them (Rraja is rushing to find a place to hide :-)).

squarecut.atul said...

Who knows. Whatever we are doing now may also seem ridiculous 30 years from now.
People in 2038 may laught at the thought that people used to have something like blogs in 2008.