Diary of Hobbitt

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vintage Movies- Norms of The Day

My excitement knew no bounds when ,at the annual general body meeting of our society it was decided to install set top boxes in all the flats .Visions of viewing multiple channels in multiple languages floated in my mind .With my better half viewing all those gory action movies for a couple of hours after he returned from office (mostly late ! ) and my daughter virtually ignoring the idiot box during the week except on weekends , to watch some DVD , the idiot box was virtually mine almost for the entire day during the week!

Zee Classic being a favourite channel, watching movies of sixties & seventies was like reliving life as a carefree teenager. Indeed movies those days portrayed even emotions in a very subtle manner. The Indian audience were for years subjected to generous doses of discreet symbolism, and sometimes blatant uniform code portrayal. just by looking at the characters one could make out who was who and just by the setting one could decipher the situation on hand.

Two flowers shown brushing each other would imply the hero and heroine indulging in physical romance ! A character wearing horizontal striped T-shirt, or sporting a big mole or a scar on the cheek or a guy having a bald pate(,eg.Shetty ) would either be the villian or his sidekick ! A wealthy , young and pretty lady wearing "decent western outfits"(probably a pair of bellbottoms or some other attire) and screeching "eeeediot.."at the drop a hat or a pretty but poor young woman draped in a saree playing the dutiful daughter would definitely be the heroine eg.Asha Parekh, Saira Banu, Sharmila Tagore !. As for the vamp ,she could be identified easily by her loud figure hugging dress and heavy makeup ,indulging in flirtations with the hero(who would be scowling !) or the villian (whichever the case may be ! )eg. Bindu, Jayshree T, Helen. The guy always hanging around the hero would invariably be the hero 's sidekick , also alternating as the comedian eg. Mehmood, Mohan Choti, Mukri! The hero(if poor) would definitely be the simple boy- next- door,.wearing either kurta-pyjama or simple trousers and shirt eg. Dharmendra,(Naya Daur)Manoj Kumar(Roti Kapda aur Makaan), Shashi Kapoor (Pyaar kiye Ja ).On the other hand if he happened to be a bade baap ka beta, he would be dressed in trousers and shirt of the same colour -( eg. Rajesh Khanna in Haathi mere Saathi, Amitabh Bachan in Namak Haram, Randhir Kapoor in Kal Aaj aur Kal, )or some other flashy clothes ,driving a big car.

Some more of the standard norms- the heroine would always switch to wearing a saree in a serious or sad situation- the girl who had been shouting "eediot '" or "dadddy ' all the while would transform into a saree draped young lady & break into a sad song in chaste and flowery Hindi which would have made Ghalib's sher aur shaiyari sound like nursery rhymes !

The mother of the hero (who would spout dialogues such as " Ham gareeb hain to kya, dil se to ham amir hain " ) would always make besan ke ladoos which the hero would relish (even if it is hard !) saying ma ke haath se bane ladoo kuch alag hai kyon ki isme ma ka pyaar hai !.In this context apna Garam Dharam must be credited for being the hero who must have delivered these immortal dialogues maximum number of times.! The hero's mother (very often) would slap the hero for some rudeness or some other reason saying "Naalayak, kya mujhe is din dekhne ke liye tumhe paal pos kar bada kiya ? ". Nirupa Roy should have been given a special award for having excelled in the role of a slapping mother to maximum number of heroes !

The sixties and seventies' movies also had a dress code for the heroine's rich father - he would be dressed in a silk dressing gown , have grey hair and would always be seen either smoking or holding a cigar or a pipe- eg. Nasir Hussain , Ashok Kumar , Madan Puri.

Even meals had a code - in a wealthy house the hero or the heroine (as the case may be ) would always be shown spreading butter on toast , while the indulgent mother would be shown cutting an apple , inspite of the table having a bowl full of grapes, bananas ,pomegranates and other fruits ! On the other hand the meal in house of a poor hero or a poor heroine (again , as the case may be ) would be roti and pyaz !

Unlike today where even fight scenes are shot in outdoor locations , those days most of these scenes would either be set in godowns (where all sorts of things such as drums, tyres, giant glass beakers would be within easy reach to be used by the guys involved in the free for all fights !) or in the market (where vegetable carts ,sticks and plasticware would be readily availabe !). Of course there were exceptions to this rule where the fight would take place at the edge of a cliff at the end of which the villian would fall to his death , thus paving way for the hero and heroine to be united and live happily ever after !

All said and done, in spite of all the above mentioned factors , movies of those days continue to hold their magic even as Bollywood today dishes out movies which are more refined in terms of technology, more sophisticated in terms of locations, starring actors with perfectly sculpted bodies (thanks to sophisticated body enhancing technology).


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