Saturday, November 26, 2011

The art of simplicity

Been watching some old Hindi movies on TV lately - Chit Chor, Julie, Akhiyon Ke Jharonkon Se... What an experience in simplicity they have been! Each of these movies, so different in their setting yet similar in the handling - simple, no melodrama - just a lot of feeling poured into each subject. Interestingly, all of them were made between 1975 and 1978.
Julie was a very bold theme, extremely well-handled for those times. Excellent portrayal by Lakshmi and Nadira.
Among these 3 movies, what really stole my heart was Chit Chor and Akhiyon Ke Jharonkon Se (AKJS). Chit Chor is a totally lighthearted, charming love story. Watched AKJS last night and couldn't sleep. I cried on watching a movie after a really long time. It is a love story, between two young college going people - a great deal heavier than Chit Chor. I've always loved the title track sung by Hemlatha but having watched the movie for the first time, the song's still ringing in my ears and I've been humming it all day.
I was surprised to see that Chit Chor was made by Rajshri Productions and while watching AKJS, I guessed it must be the same company again and I was right. The same Rajshri that later made sentimental but over-the-top family dramas like Hum Aapke Hai Kaun and the forgettable Hum Saath Saath Hain. Chit Chor and AKJS are so different from the Rajshri fare of recent times - very few characters...uncomplicated story line and Ravindra Jain's lilting melodies. And both were quite progressive for those times - open-minded parents, no negative characters or "villains" and lovers who are quite open about their fondness for each other.
In AKJS, I was surprised and actually loved the way Sachin casually asks Ranjita, "Shall we go on a date?". Yet the teenage love story is portrayed with utmost maturity and decency. The girl and boy are also shown to be of the same intellectual level, which is a rarity even today's movies. When the heroine falls sick, I thought "Man, there goes", expecting the usual plot where she will go on to hide her sickness from her lover, suffer alone and do everything to make him hate her. But in this movie, every one is aware of the girl's illness. Of course, there is pain and tears but no heavy "rona-dhona", no "blood-vomiting" scenes(a typical feature of any movie where the character suffers from any major illness). Though it has a tragic element, I somehow don't want to call it a tragedy - the movie ends so beautifully.

I'm not sure if it was the story itself or the honesty and straightforwardness of storytelling that moved me to tears. There's a sense of timelessness about the whole thing.

After catching bits and pieces of recent flicks like Aaisha and Dostana, Chit Chor and AKJS felt like having hot, home-made Rasam saadam after a month long stay in Japan!!

The question on my head since last night is why are film makers complicating things these days? Has life become so complicated that people like to delve into further knots and twists? By complexities, I also mean all the jazzy special effects, jazzy music, jazzy clothes (if at all there are any!). Talking of special effects, there was this cute song situation in AKJS where time seems to stand still for the young lovers. While they are singing and dancing merrily, everything and everyone around them is frozen. And for this shot, the supporting cast actually stood there in freeze position! No hi-fi efffects of modern movies - yet the director conveyed his idea perfectly well. Life itself was simple those days and so the movies I guess. Yes, there were some heavy-duty film makers too in the 70s like Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand etc. who were all about big-budgets and big names. But there is some magic in that set of low-budget, sweet love stories of those years featuring darlings like Amol Palekar and Co. Perhaps that was India's collective state of mind those days - freedom attained, war ended, jobs happening, society opening up...what did people do? Sail into blissful romance perhaps (Just thinking aloud. Need to do some research though).

You know what, if I had the money, knowledge and talent, I wish to make a simple love story, like the ones we were talking about, just as an experiment, to see what people think of it. Will they get bored? Will they appreciate it?