Blast from the Past

After the hero has recovered from the bashing,heroine freed,bomb detonated and villain killed,the police arrives at the scene of crime.

Written by Dipti Nagpaul D'souza | Published:February 10, 2012 3:14 am

Predictable plots,stereotyped characters and repetitive dialogues. Bollywood films until the new millennium were a mass of clichés put together. As Bollywood grew up,realising the importance of telling different stories,these clichés have thankfully received a decent burial. Here,we recall a few favourites

Party Over

After the hero has recovered from the bashing,heroine freed,bomb detonated and villain killed,the police arrives at the scene of crime. This cliché perhaps started with the action hero trend in the ’70s and lasted until the last decade. “Never mind if the hero was a wanted criminal or a cop,the police was almost always clueless,” says director Mohit Suri. Today,the formality has been done away with.

Mother India

They loved their sons dearly but put morality first. So when the son brought home hard cash,all he got was a tight slap and a rebuke. With little faith in their children and unwavering loyalty towards their spouses,mothers in Bollywood films did little more than shed tears. In fact,Nirupa Roy’s acts of helplessness in films such as Deewar,Suhaag,Amar Akbar Anthony,Mard,Muqaddar Ka Sikandar and Do Bigha Zameen immortalised her as the very cliché.

Joker of the Pack

With socially-inept characters such as drunks and the morbidly obese,the comic tracks were a jarring detour from the plot and particularly insufferable — right from the black-and-white era,through the 1980s and 1990s. Think of Paresh Rawal’s question-mark act in Anil Kapoor,Sridevi-starrer Judaai,or Kader Khan’s blind-after-6 pm act in Bol Radha Bol. Now,the comedian has been eliminated from the canvas. Today,even if he does appear,he’s central to the plot.

Gang of Girls

If your heroine was in college in the ’80s or ’90s,she absolutely had to have a giggly gaggle of girls around her at all times. A bunch of non-acting badly-dressed junior artistes whose job was to react — to almost everything. Whether the heroine took on a challenge from the hero or the hero serenaded her with a song,the girls would be there to look flustered,act coy,shake a leg and of course,explode into giggles. When Hindi cinema grew up,these girls did too,and today the heroine’s gang is mostly restricted to one or two girlfriends with clear characterisation.

Anybody up there?

The temple caught in swaying,tilted shots,wind blowing,bells ringing,was one of Hindi cinema’s favourite movie-ending ’80s cliché. The hero would stumble up the stairs,usually mortally wounded — or his mother or girlfriend would,if the hero was either in coma or had lost too much blood. Close-up shots of the their teary face would be interspersed with that of the idol as he or she carried out a monologue with the powers that be. “It gave these films the drama since faith in the Almighty was above all else. The Lord Shiva temple in all the films is imprinted in my mind till today,” says director Abhishek Sharma.

Sister Concern

In The Dirty Picture,Naseeruddin Shah’s dialogue ‘Film mein hero ko maa do,behen do,behen ko izzat do aur phir usko loot lo’ perhaps sums up this cliché in the best way. The poor sister would often fall victim to the villain’s need to teach the rebel hero a lesson. Unfailingly,ashamed to face the world since she was no more a virgin,the girl would kill herself. Thankfully,Bollywood killed the cliché too.

White Gold

Jaya Bachchan’s haunting image in white and the romance that could be,are among the most memorable aspects of Sholay even today. The woman,having lost her husband young,was banished from all pleasures. But today’s cinema is better off without it. Rani Mukerji in Hum Tum and Jaya Bachchan in Kal Ho Naa Ho were among the earlier films where the mandate was no more followed.

Divided We Fall

When Robert refuses to pay Kishanlal in Amar Akbar Anthony,all hell breaks loose and Kishanlal’s family gets separated. Even though they are at all times within a kilometre of each other,it takes them 25 years to reunite. Heroes and heroines in Bollywood films of yesteryears spent considerable time trying to find their kin separated following a tragedy. Cases in point: Waqt,Yaadon Ki Baaraat,Seeta aur Geeta,Chaalbaaz and Karan Arjun. The families of today’s Bollywood are battling contemporary issues such as divorced parents or estranged siblings. Actor Rajeev Khandelwal’s favourite,however,is a sub-plot of this cliche where the hero would unknowingly save his sibling or parent’s life by donating blood. “And the blood group,of course,always matched,” laughs Khandelwal.

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