The writer, Avijit Das Patnaik, observes how the ‘one trick ponies’ of yesteryears are remembered well past their era, something our modern stars may find tough to emulate.
Housefull 2 was one movie I never wanted to waste my time with. Till my wife advised that it was a tribute to Ranjeet, the evergreen molester of 70s-80s Bollywood. It struck a chord and gave me enough incentive to dare. I wasn’t disappointed. Am no fan of the Khans (Farah and Sajid) but each of their movies attribute certain space for showering tribute to the masala Bollywood era.
Ranjeet’s first fleeting appearance in HF2 as the therapist – old, haggard and out of place – was nothing to behold, except the sign board which cleverly said “Dr. Vaasna K Poojari (The-rapist)”! However the actors dishing out the famous Ranjeet lusty “Aayeein” and the character’s half a minute bit after the movie, remained etched in memory.
As the end credits rolled, Akshay Kumar approached, with Asin, to seek his father, “Papa Ranjeet’s”, blessings. Ranjeet, unknown to Asin’s identity, lustily races towards her, opening his shirt buttons and groaning to a … “Beauty… Beauty…. Beauty… Beauty… ”. Akshay cuts it out quick and corrects the misunderstanding. Immediately, Papa Ranjeet retraces his steps, smilingly putting buttons into place, saying “Beti… Beti… Beti… Beti… ”. The confusion over, just as Asin bends down to touch his feet, Akshay advises “Udhar nahi… saamne se mat jhuko… side se pair choon lo”. Funny and precious!
It helped recall Ranjeet, the perpetual molester of his era. A space shared by the scheming Prem Chopra and the only tormentor to have enjoyed equal success as villain and comedian – Shakti Kapoor. Every female I know, who are aware of Bollywood, has hated these three.
They had reasons too. Ranjeet’s lecherous look was unmatchable – three buttons open, a sprinkling of manly hair popping out of the shirt window, chest overshadowed by a conspicuous chain; preying eyes roving for the right places, mouth slightly open, lower lip pouted out, lust written all over his face and tongue on the verge of dripping saliva.
Needless to say, Hollywood is yet to equal that. You knew when he saw a lady, his eyes would be focussing at the right places as he would stylishly light up the cigarette and shake the matchstick. You knew the inevitable. Crowds knew it.
Am a firm believer that our 70s-90s villains would have easily overshadowed most of our heroes had the script favoured them. I found Kiran Kumar, Danny and Pran more handsome than most of our poster boys. I found Paresh Rawal, Nana Patekar, Raghuvaran, Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher and Puri brothers (to the illiterate, Amrish and Om) incomparable actors. If anyone hated them, it was, because, they were menacingly good. We hated Ashutosh Rana in Dushman and Sangharsh – he was worthy of that emotion.
Unfortunately, the villain breed was never well utilized and labelled stereotype once we had too many “out-of-work” heroes, willing to pose as anti-heroes. In search for freshness, movie makers realized that they needed something more than what our masala Bollywood era’s “one trick ponies” provided! However, they couldn’t comprehend the fact that crowds loved them and waited for that uniqueness from the time the thick poster glue would be drying on walls.
Shammi Kapoor had his neck at 59.4 degrees, Dev Anand at 67.7, Rajesh Khanna at 75.62!; Dharmendra loved blood of dogs or bitches (he never cared for the gender); Ajit, Gulshan, Asrani, OmPrakash, Dilip Kumar, Hema Malini had only one unique style of dialogue delivery; Feroz Khan had Ranjeet’s macho mannerism with a positive output; and lets not get Mithun into this – as with three national best actor awards, he alone would eat up the current generation.
Yet decades down, they are remembered and their mannerisms feature in almost all laughter shows, comedy movies and tv series. Wherever you need to tickle the audience funny bone, that era and the actors are revisited – never mind with same lines, same jokes, same poses, same actions – in differing situations. There are stand up comedians, script writers and movie directors making a career out of imitating actors of that era, poking jokes on them – and we still love to see those, again and again.
Of the current generation, only the top five Khans – Irfan, Shahrukh, Amir, Saif and Salman – Sanjay Dutt, Govinda and Johnny Lever are at times mimic-ed. No one bothers about the rest; they don’t even find a mention. They may be doing various roles, may not be stereotypes but are unlikely to be remembered two decades later; some exceptional cases aside.
Not without reason. Every person who surrounds our lives, we remember them through their uniqueness. When u recall a long lost dear one, you recall an expression or gesture of his/her. When families get together, and await any relative, they anticipate the person to walk in with a particular style, accent and dialogue. That’s the way you recall friends too, that’s the way u discuss them too. In life we are all one trick ponies, no one recalls beefcakes or size zeros, you are just recalled with what you were and what is that one uniqueness which you were menacingly good at :-)!