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The highs and lows - a recollection


THE YEAR 2000 in many ways can be compared to the 1980s. Yash Chopra has brought back cheer with his record-breaking ``Mohabbatein'' in India and overseas. In the 1980s Raj Kapoor revived himself with ``Ram Teri Ganga Maili''. If today Tabu is re-inventing her image with Mahesh Manjrekar's ``Astitva'', Smita Patil and Supriya Pathak never lost faith and continued to support small cinema with films like ``Bazaar''.

No matter what the cynic said middle-of- the-road cinema never faded out. If ``Ardh Satya'' and ``Pratighaat'' existed then ``Kairee'' and ``Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar'' fight for survival now. If star sons were making their debut then, the millennium kids are stealing a march now. Recalling the milestones:

``Bazaar'' based on the social practice of older men buying young brides in Hyderabad, makes space for middle-of-the-road cinema director, Sagar Sarhadi. Producer Shashi Kapoor gives break to one more director, Aparna Sen, in ``36 Chowringhee Lane''. Jennifer Kendall, in spite of a brilliant performance, doesn't win the National Award because she isn't an Indian citizen. After years Hindi cinema gets a singing star, Salma Agha, in B. R. Chopra's ``Nikaah''. Raj Kapoor's lavishly mounted ``Prem Rog'' addresses the issue of widow re-marriage. ``Satte Pe Satta'', Raj Sippy's Indianised version of ``Seven Brides For Seven Brothers'' is one more feather in the cap of Amitabh Bachchan. Ramesh Sippy's ``Shakti'' brings Titans of two generations, Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan together for the first time.

The suave Jackie Shroff is launched opposite another debutante, Meenakshi Seshadri, in Subhash Ghai's ``Hero''. The year is 1983. Dharmendra's son Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh debut in Rahul Rawail's love story, ``Betaab''. Shekhar Kapur makes his directorial debut in ``Masoom'', based on Erich Segal's book, ``Man, Woman And Child''. Urmila Matondkar and Jugal Hansraj make their debut as child artistes. Sridevi makes a second attempt at Hindi cinema in K. Bapaiah's ``Mawaali''. Later supported by a performance-oriented ``Sadma'', Balu Mahendra's remake of the Tamil film ``Moondaram Pirai'' opposite Kamal Haasan, she becomes superstar. Govind Nihalani depicts the angst of an honest cop battling a corrupt system, the role of the cop played to perfection by Om Puri in ``Ardh Satya''.

Mahesh Bhatt makes his most effective film on extra-marital relationship starring Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil displaying their histrionics in his semi- autobiographical ``Arth''. Mohan Kumar highlights the dignity of senior citizens in ``Avtaar''. Sir Richard Attenborough after screen-testing every Indian hero, signs Ben Kingsley to play Mahatma in his bilingual, ``Gandhi''.

Manmohan Desai's ``Coolie'' wherein Amitabh Bachchan met with a near-fatal accident is released. A `freeze frame', recording of that gruesome moment of the action shot, when the superstar was injured, is added on public demand.

``Aaj Ka MLA'' by Dasari Narayan Rao starring Rajesh Khanna and T. Rama Rao's ``Inquilaab'' with Amitabh Bachchan have a common plot of the protagonist taking the law into his hands. The release becomes a topic of controversy in 1984. ``Chhota Chetan'', the first 3D film in India is released, which viewers watch with special spectacles. Ketan Mehta makes a foray as a director with the then unknown Aamir Khan in ``Holi'' focussing on the tragedy of ragging, in a boarding school. Other prominent films of this genre in the year are Kundan Shah's ``Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron'', Mrinal Sen's ``Khandhar'', Saeed Mirza's ``Mohan Joshi Haazir Ho'', Mahesh Bhatt's ``Saaransh'' and Sai Paranjype's ``Sparsh''. Madhuri Dixit is launched by the Rajshris in ``Abodh'' and dismissed for being too natural. Writers Salim- Javed split and Javed Akhtar's solo screenplay ``Mashaal'' is a second entry for Anil Kapoor after the debacle of ``Rachna''.

The year 1985 is one of mega releases. Manmohan Desai comes up with ``Mard''. Diffident after ``Satyam Shivam Sundaram'', Raj Kapoor strikes with a vengeance in ``Ram Teri Ganga Maili''. Mandakini, a buxom, green-eyed lass is the metaphor for Ganga. Dimple Kapadia returns to films after a gap of 10 years with Ramesh Sippy's ``Saagar'. Shashi Kapoor makes his magnum opus ``Utsav' directed by Girish Karnad, a costume drama. Kapoor puts on weight for the role which he is never able to get rid of. The film proves a financial doom for Kapoor. Commercial and parallel cinema run side by side. Jagmohan Mundhra makes Kamla based on a true experience of a research journalist. Gautam Ghose makes ``Paar''. Amol Palekar extends his theatre and acting experience to making a film, ``Ankahee''.

After Javed Akhtar, it is his other half Salim Khan's turn to script an independent project with Mahesh Bhatt's ``Naam'' in 1986. A fluke success ``Nagina'' starring Sridevi has the box office celebrating and trade analysts doing post-mortems. ``Khamosh'' focusses Vidhu Vinod Chopra as a director to watch out for. ``Ankush'' is the beginning of N. Chandra's projection of the angry young man. ``Ilzaam'', the beginning of Govinda- Neelam musicals. A dancer loses her leg in an accident and T. Rama Rao is inspired to make a film ``Naache Mayuri'' using the real-life dancer, Sudha Chandran in the lead role.

``Kaash'' about a loser who comes to terms with it, consolidates Mahesh Bhatt's position in the industry as a director to reckon with, in 1987. The film recognises Dimple Kapadia and Jackie Shroff as performing artistes. Ketan Mehta showcases Smita Patil in her best portrayal, ``Mirch Masala'', telling of the feudal oppression on rural women. The film is sensual and explores colours like never before. ``Mr. India'' proves a turning point for director Shekhar Kapur and the lead pair Anil Kapoor and Sridevi. N. Chandra comes up with a powerful film on rape, ``Pratighaat'' that pushes you head down into facing gruesome reality.Singeetam Srinivasa Rao surprises everyone with his glimpse of a silent film in modern days, ``Pushpak''.

Feroz Khan remakes Tamil film ``Nayakan'' as ``Dayavan'' in 1988, based on the life of the don Varadaraj Mudaliar. Rakesh Roshan offers Rekha the role of a lifetime in ``Khoon Bhari Maang''. The film is a super-success and brings her awards. Mansoor Khan makes his debut with ``Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak'' starring newcomers Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla. The film is a teenage rage. Amitabh Bachchan is into politics and his opponents exploit his film career as an attacking ground. Tinnu Anand's ``Shahenshah'' is released amidst riots. ``Tezaab'' is a take-off for the Anil- Madhuri pair and Javed Akhtar's lyrics `Ek do teen' is the buzz song. Smita Patil's last film ``Waaris'' shot during her pregnancy is released with Rekha's voice.

After a lean phase, the Rajshris revive with the second generation director Sooraj Barjatya in 1989 with ``Maine Pyar Kiya'', a record-breaking romantic film, starring Salman Khan and Bhagyashree. Written, directed, produced and exhibited in-house, Sooraj becomes a role model for young directors like Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar.

After an unsuccessful ``Khamosh'', Vidhu Vinod Chopra combines intensity with violence and comes up with ``Parinda''. Subhash Ghai makes one more tribute to the family story formula, ``Ram Lakhan''.

Mira Nair pays homage to the city that never sleeps and makes a film about street children, ``Salaam Bombay''. Rajiv Rai's multi- starrer ``Tridev'' with music by Viju Shah is a superhit and has the nation singing `Oye, oye...'

BHAWANA SOMAAYA

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