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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Yesterday, Once more

One minute there was appreciative laughter in the room -  Karan Johar , in his inimitable style, had just uttered a witticism, which had us, if not exactly rolling in the aisles,  certainly grinning from ear to ear. A popular awards function was being telecast and we were sitting in a relaxed mode, ready to be entertained. There was laughter and movement and plenty of inconsequential talk and banter.

The next minute there was  complete silence. And stillness. SRK was just coming to the end of a sentence, " and so ,to celebrate 100 years of Indian Cinema  , today we will honor those who have made it so special...". The cameras  had by now zoomed in relentlessly  on those who had to be honored - on Dilip Saab and Saira Banu; on   Waheeda Rehman ;  Rajesh Khanna; Zeenat Aman; Vyjayantimala; Vinod Khanna, Shabana Azmi;  Manoj Kumar; Asha Parekh; Jaya Bachchan and   Hema Malini.  Their  faces were all sombre , ( barring maybe Shabana , Hema Malini and a giggly Jaya Bachchan )    the  impassiveness on the faces of the thespians - actors  famous for giving Indian Cinema a rich repertoire of emotions , saying more than any words could have.. And they all looked so sombre !  I think this was when  I started praying silently-  ,'please God, don't let them be called on stage ; please don't let the world see them struggling to walk and  grappling with words ."  But this is exactly what happened.  We looked on unbelievingly as , one by one, the actors were called on stage - with their most famous songs playing in the background. And so  a matronly Zeenat Aman, sorry Zeenie baby, who had been an iconic figure for the disenfranchised youth of her generation , walked on stage with '  Dum Maro Dum and Laila O laila...' playing ;  Waheeda Rehman  came onstage with  'Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai, aaj phir marne ka irada hai...'  ; Manoj Kumar came, supported on both sides , to the tune of ' Mere Desh Ki Dharti Sona ugle...  '  The parade continued till the stage was crowded - till no one was left to be called , and even Dilip Kumar - lost in a world of his own- had been brought up- so that the world could see him , and all of them, and remember them - not as we would have liked to remember them : young and dynamic but old and helpless.  And so now when Dum Maro Dum  plays anywhere  images of  a slim  and sexy Zeenat Aman will come but they will be pushed firmly into the never never land by newer , recent ,images.

And then the tears came - not because we had decided to honor Indian Cinemas rare stars at a stage in their  life when , for most of them, it had stopped mattering, but because of the remarkable spunk and courage they showed.  And so when Manoj  'Bharat' Kumar was asked to speak  he  said  ," hai preet jahan ki reet sadaBharat ka rahne waala hoon ....' showing why his movies had run to packed houses in an India gripped by post Independence fervour ; Rajesh Khanna, playing to the galleries still , bespoke one of life's greatest truths when he said ,' koi bhi cheez duniya main rahti nahi,  aaj main hoon jahan kal koi aur tha .. aaj main hoon jahan kal koi aur tha. Ye bhi ek daur hai woh bhi ek  daur tha...'

I had forgotten that I was not alone. I think we all had.  It was left to the daughter to bring levity back into the room.  Looking accusingly at her father she said  with loving tenderness to me ," I didn't know you had a serious crush on Rajesh Khanna. Trust dad to spoil your love life". And  then the husband came to me and said, '' Pushpa, I hate tears".

It was just another award show that ended.  The original showmen and women will always remain.


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