I watched Love Aaj Kal with two deeply lovestruck souls today, and if that left any feeling of incompleteness in the experience, the Friendship Day SMS from one of those unknown numbers during the interval certainly made up for it. More than completing the cheese extravaganza all around though, the SMS made me think about why I – an opinionated and brutally frank friend of these two mushed out people – was watching Love Aaj Kal with them on this very day.
Chew on this. The young Sardar Veer Singh from the ’60s Delhi is sorrounded by a bunch of fawning friends, who are basically sponges without any independent personality. Yesmen all, they barely speak except to express approval or empathy for whatever their heroic buddy whips up. They always stay in the background, like a chorus incapable of disagreement or contrarian advice. At least one of them is always a buffoon, whose stupidity helps the hero feel good about himself. This is indeed a recurring trope in the “yaar/saheli”-infested world of Bollywood from the 60s through the late 90s.They are ciphers, a waste of screen space except for the relief provided by their motley clothes and make-up and their total lack of brains and/or beauty which helps project the hero/heroine in all their glory.
Now think about Love Aaj as opposed to Love Kal. Jai and Meera play out their destiny in a virtually friendless world, and only a handful of friends get screen space alongside the protagonists, but not before proving that they are real and not types. There’s one who thinks the idea of a break-up party is ridiculous, there’s another who starts flirting with the ‘liberated’ Jai the moment the break-up is officially announced, even as Meera encourages Jai to go ahead and try his luck. Love today is characterised by its aversion for sheep-like friends who are agents of someone else’s will. Today’s surefooted heroes and heroines indeed have no patience for thoughtless loyalty, neither do they need to feed on someone’s inferiority to feel good about themselves. Friendship can in fact come in the way of love (think of Dil Chahta Hai), and though that temporarily dents things, it emerges stronger on its own and not using someone else’s romantic life like a spineless creeper.
Good for me, I say.