I was there, 20 years ago when Rajkumar Santoshi’s Andaz Apna Apna limped into theatres with no pre-release publicity in the same week as an Anil Kapoor film called Andaz which was houseful by the time we got to the ticket window. They offered us tickets to Andaz Apna Apna instead. My mother and I, like the people in line behind us, bought tickets for the next show of Andaz. No one wanted to watch a movie that had obviously hijacked the name of the current popular release, even if it starred chocolate boys du jour Salman Khan and Aamir Khan.
That film that we walked away from is now considered a cult classic. Writing about Andaz Apna Apna, I have realised, is like writing about mother’s love. Everyone has their own version of how it affects them, what lines they remember the most. A title that literally implies “to each his own”, this film has found its own place in Indian pop culture. And I was there.
Just like anyone who grew up in the 1980s could recount the Mahabharat scene from Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, anyone who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s will be able to quote Andaz Apna Apna. Both were comedy films that didn’t fare well at release but garnered a following through television repeats and VHS/CD/DVD rentals. Any illegally-run movie rental shop from New York to Nerul in Mumbai will tell you how Andaz Apna Apna is a film, that once borrowed, does not come back without multiple viewings and much later than the due date.
One summer afternoon, while I lay on my stomach on the living room floor, like a dog cooling its belly, I watched the comedy for the first time on cable TV. I laughed so hard, I remember feeling my abs the next day. This was amazing, because at age nine, I didn’t even know what abs were. The movie was hilarious, but the internet did not exist to meme, quote, tweet, blog, and column the hell out of it.
The film is about Amar and Prem, two good-for-nothings who leave home after duping their respective fathers, to woo an heiress and her friend, Raveena and Karishma, (played by two of the most underrated comic actresses in Bollywood), Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor. Andaz Apna Apna was a comedy film that did not make the women the punchline and allowed them both to match the men punch for punch. There was also a kidnapping subplot (that involves a bag of diamonds, obviously) and a double role played so deftly by Paresh Rawal — that turned his existing villian image on its head and established him as one of the finest talents on screen that was also showcased in another “cult” classic, Hera Pheri, in 2000.
Andaz Apna Apna was the first film in mainstream Bollywood continued…