My Problem with Indian Cinema of the ‘90s

As a ’90s child, obviously my first love is Shahrukh Khan and my second love is Hrithik Roshan. But there’s something deeply wrong with the flicks from the ‘90s.

I am a massive fan of Bollywood flicks from the late ’90s and early 2000s but when I go back to these movies I feel like they have killed so many things for us (mainly romance). Especially Karan Johar movies. I have specific issues with some very specific movies he has made but in this post I am going to fixate on the problems in the movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

Great movie, right? My favourite character was Ms. Braganza. She didn’t give a shit what the nymphos around her thought about her outfit, she wore whatever she wanted.

My least favourite character? Rahul Khanna.

If you are not familiar with the story of this film, let me lift this rock you have been living under. Rahul and Anjali meet at University and become the best of friends. Rahul is a bit of a player and Anjali is a tom boy, which means naturally she is still in her ‘ew, boys are a sux’ stage of life. She plays basketball and kicks Rahul’s ass at it. One day, the principal’s daughter, Tina, shows up, all the way from Oxford University, London (I don’t even know where the research team of this movie studied Geography, but Oxford University is not in London. It’s in Oxford. Ya dumbass) to complete her final year of education in St. Xavier’s College (because every good school, college or university in India has to be named after a Catholic Missionary). Oxford, St. Xavier, how does it even matter? It’s not like Tina was going to be looking for a job or anything after this anyway. Rahul fishes for Tina’s attention because she’s gorgeous (i.e., she is feminine, the complete opposite of Anjali) and Anjali is hella jealous because while she believed ‘ew, boys are a sux’ she also realises ‘omg Rahul is a kyaut’. She decides she will tell Rahul she loves him because YOLO. She runs across a field, it starts to rain, she says ‘I…’ and then Rahul finishes the sentence for her. ‘I love you’, he says. Anjali is shocked. Say what? You feel the same way for me? Am I in a Karan Johar movie right now? Oh, wait, yes I am.

‘I love you so much’, he continues. ‘Shall I go and tell her this?’

‘Her??’

Bitch, who are you talking about?

‘Tina, you fool. I love Tina.’

Anjali cannot believe she just got pwned by a boy. She runs back home across the field in the rain and leaves the audience with this iconic dialogue- ‘mera pehla pyaar adhoora reh gaya rifat bi’. The last time I used this dialogue was to my best friends- ‘mera 25th pyaar adhoora reh gaya guys’.

With Anjali’s blessing Rahul tells Tina he loves her, they get together and then Anjali leaves university beforeclearing her exams because she’s a-hurting. Again, it’s not like she was going to be looking for jobs after this, so how does it matter if she doesn’t have anything to show for the years she spent at university? She is at the train station when Rahul decides he wants to be a dick about it and not say goodbye because she’s leaving him by himself. The train sets off and that’s when it hits him- shit, she’s going for real. Who’s going to help me cheat in exams now? Who is going to kick my ass at b-ball? He tries to stop her but her mind is made up- fuck education, I’m going to let this heart ache take over my life and leave Tina and Rahul with nothing but love. And my red chunni.

Fast forward 8 years and we find out what Tina has given to the world after her world class Oxford University education- an annoying daughter who wants to be a VJ. The daughter is named Anjali after Anjali from ‘Rahul and Anjali’. Tina dies in childbirth and Rahul is now a single dad. Tina has left a series of letters for her daughter detailing how she became the third wheel in what could have been Rahul and Anjali’s love story to give the world this new and more annoying Anjali. It is now Anjali Jr.’s job to bring Rahul and Anjali Sr. together. This makes me chuckle. I am 27 years old and struggling in the dating world, but an 8 year old is going to fix this couple’s love life. How pure.

Anjali Jr. finds out that Anjali Sr. will be running a summer camp in Simla. If I were to follow a woman I have never met into Simla it would be called stalking but when Anjali Jr. does it, it’s because Rahul and Anjali are meant to be. Anyway, Anjali Jr. and her grandmother follow Anjali Sr. into the summer camp in Simla and leave Rahul with a message on his answering machine to say that Anjali Jr. has the sniffles. Apparently having a grandmother and a whole team at the summer camp wasn’t enough to take care of Anjali Jr.’s sniffles. He leaves everything as is and rushes into Simla using every mode of transport available- a train where he meets a bunch of hippies singing Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, a car that breaks down, and a rescue truck that is incidentally driving the hippies into the city too. Rahul runs the remaining distance and screams ‘Anjali!’ And who should look up? Anjali Jr. and Anjali Sr. together. Bam! Karan Johar movie, now we’re talking!

Rahul is relieved to see that his daughter is alive and well. A second into this chance encounter with Anjali Sr. and you can just see his face going ‘Damn, son!’ Anjali Sr. is now all feminine and sanskari, dressed in a sari, hair down, makeup on. Let the flirtation begin. A few days later, the kids challenge Rahul and Anjali Sr. to a basketball game. It’s not like Rahul has a job or anything, he can stay at a kids’ camp for a few days, flirt a little, play some basketball. ‘Yes, I will play basketball with Anjali Sr. and kick her ass at it because I’ve been practising for the past 8 years. And Anjali Sr. is in a sari, so yes, I will be using that to my advantage, too’- Rahul’s words, not mine. They play and nobody thinks of providing Anjali with training gear or shoes or anything of that kind. Instead, she plays basketball in a sari. In an unnecessary foul, she loses to Rahul and then they sing a song (because bollywood), during which a gust of wind blows Anjali’s sari away exposing her cleavage and bare tummy to Rahul, who now sees Anjali for what she is- a woman with breasts. How could he have missed that? He begins to fall for her. In no rush to get back home and with an unlimited supply of annual leave at the office, Rahul now seems to be staying at the summer camp indefinitely.

One evening the group decide they will play a game of dumb charades. It’s all going well until it starts to rain- much like that time Anjali ran across the field to tell Rahul she loves him. But things are different now. Rahul has seen her cleavage and feels differently about her. He mimes dancing to her and she whispers ‘no music’. He then mimes playing a piano and Anjali is overwhelmed by how romantic Rahul is. They start to dance together and things turn real raunchy real fast. It’s when Anjali is about to caress Rahul’s face that she notices her hand- and the engagement ring on it. Damn, son! So she does what she knows best- she runs across the field, away from Rahul. But Rahul catches up with her and reaches out to her from behind her. She feels the touch of his arm and can no longer stop herself. ‘I love you’- she says the thing she had wanted to say to Rahul all those years ago.

‘I love you, too’, answers a male voice that does not belong to Rahul. Shit, son! It’s her fiance, Aman!

So Anjali Sr. was engaged this whole time but didn’t think to mention this to Rahul? How is this even possible? Whenever anyone in my group of friends is seeing someone, or even just friends with benefits with someone, they can barely keep the guy out of the conversation for a few minutes. When Rahul asked Anjali ‘what’s new?’ (I’m assuming he asked her that, it had been several years since they saw each other), she did not think to tell him this very important news.

In an unexpected turn of events, Anjali decides she wants to get married ASAP. ‘Screw Rahul, I’ve had my heart broken by him before, I don’t need that negativity in my life anymore’- again, her words, not mine. She goes back home and the pandit who had previously said that Anjali needs to wait for at least a year before she gets married because Mars is in retrograde, reluctantly agrees to perform the ceremony earlier than planned. It looks like all is set for the wedding until Rahul shows up to the venue, uninvited. Who cares about the catering bill, right? Sure, come to the wedding, and yes, bring your daughter, your mother, and your dead wife’s father too.

Much like a creep Rahul heads to Anjali’s room and mimes that he loves her. Words have failed him yet again. She bursts into tears because Rahul is basically a fuckboy who shows up to ruin her big moments with her current squeeze. She goes downstairs and Aman figures out she is still into her ex-interest. He doesn’t need that negativity in his life so he thinks, screw this. Rahul can have her (this may be me paraphrasing the script a little). Rahul and Anjali then get married and the catering expense of his daughter, mother and dead wife’s father gets waived off as relatives of the bride and groom and they all live happily ever after.

Why have I just typed out the script of an entire movie? Do I even have a point? Yes, I do, actually, thank you for asking. Can you see what’s wrong with everything in this movie? Great entertainment, sure, I will give it that, but it has killed romance for me. It’s like, why even fall for someone? They’ll find someone who is prettier than you and unless this prettier person dies they won’t take a second look at you (I’m assuming that most of us are more like Anjali and less like Tina. No? Just me? Great, I look forward to falling for people). Why even fall for someone and ask them to marry you? Even if they say yes, chances are they are still into their ex and you can’t breathe a sigh of relief until after the wedding because dicks like Rahul will turn up at the wedding and marry your squeeze. Okay, this one is less likely to happen.

My biggest problem with this movie is how it treats Aman. Aman has been in love with Anjali for the longest time and she has never indicated she is in love with him too but she accepts his marriage proposal. When confronted about it by her mother she says she isn’t in love but she can’t love anyone again anyway, so maybe this can best be described as a compromise. This is no way for Aman to live. Anjali can’t love again, that’s Anjali’s problem, not Aman’s. Don’t string Aman along for your compromise. Aman is a clever man, he’ll get it if you just tell him you are still into someone else. If the wedding had gone through, Anjali would have treated Aman like I treat every shaadi.com guy ever- with indifference. And then the guy is left to wonder, have I done something? Is she mad at me? Maybe I’m just going to leave and never call her again. Except, in Aman’s case, he can’t not call her again because he is her husband.

Also, Anjali, why can’t you love again? I won’t say Rahul was a dick for not noticing you back in university- you guys were friends, he wasn’t thinking of you that way, and maybe Tina was a nice person and they really hit it off. But you were apart from each other for so long. Not moving on is just not possible. In the space of eight years, you had Aman falling madly in love with you. Obviously Aman in the movie is played by Salman Khan and back in the day he looked hella gorgeous, but even if Aman wasn’t that good looking and was that into you, surely it would stir something in you. Even if it doesn’t stir something in you, you’re young, you have your whole life ahead of you, are you seriously going to waste your raging youth (i.e., chadti jawani) on the memory of Rahul? University Rahul had way too much gel in his hair and wore a necklace that said ‘COOL’. Even thinking about it is giving me a derection, without even going into his amazing sense of style from back then. Maybe make a real effort to get to know other people who treat you better than Rahul did in the pre-cleavage times. Also, while you are at it, maybe get some safety pins for your sari. That is the first and only time I have seen a sari flying because of the wind.

Musings of a 20-something old in this big scary world. I use humour as a coping mechanism and it shows.