There should be a list of the Top 10 Bloody Awful Super Hits. How about Tu cheez badi hai mast mast from Mohra? Or more recently, Crazy kiya re, which is doubly loathsome because it is picturised on my Least Favourite Actress of All Time. In the dim and distant past, there was Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy and a series of ’80s atrocities by Bappi Lahiri and his clones (youngsters, think Anu Malik with fewer instruments). Nominations, anybody?
But this post was triggered by happier things. Bongo Pondit’s take on memorable Hindi film “dialogues”, which somehow appeared on my sitemeter this morning. Do Hindi films still have separate credits for “Dialogues”? The taali seeti line seems to be a thing of the past, it’s been replaced by camera angles and the heroine’s navel. Sad. I appreciate Shilpa Shetty’s .. errr… acting as much as the next man, but I’d trade in the entire crop (down to Sherlyn Chopra and Geeta Basra) for one line like “Dawar Sahab, main ab bhi phNeke huey paise nahin uthata hoon” Taaliyaan!
OK, before we start, let’s leave out Sholay. That was the film that started “dialogue karaoke”, with the entire audience murmuring the lines as they were spoken on-screen. Take a look at the others from the ’70s. Before the Amitabh era, there was Anand and Rajesh Khanna’s Zindagi aur maut toh upar waale ke haath mein hain jahanpanah. The repeat in the last scene (remember Maut, tum ek kavita ho ?), the sudden Babumoshaaaai as Dr. Bhaskar Banerjee sobs over Anand’s corpse, still sends chills down my spine. Another isspessul Kaka line was Pushpaa, Pushpaaa, I hate tears in Amar Prem, but that is remembered (and caricatured) more for his delivery than the line itself. How about “Understand? You better understand!” from Seeta aur Geeta? This line – recycled by Sridevi in Laadla (?) - was Salim-Javed writing for Ramesh Sippy before Deewaar happened and they became THE Salim-Javed.
After that, of course, the deluge. That great line from Deewaar quoted above. I prefer that to the jatra sequences of Jaao us aadmi se likhwake laao or Mere paas Maa hai. Zanjeer gave us Jab tak baithne ko kaha nahin jaaye, sharafat se khade raho. Special appeal because my SP once did something very similar with an MLA in the face of a 2000-strong mob. Amar Akbar Anthony had a couple of great exchanges between Vinod Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan, my favourite being Haan saab, bahut phemus hain … bade bade akhbaaron mein chhoti chhoti tasweerein chhapte hain. And that drunk scene in front of the mirror (lifted from Charlie Chaplin), Eeydiut lagta hai tu, pakka eeydiut … SRK has now made the Don lines his own, but pliss to remember that they originally gathered chauwannis in 1978. (The multiplex crowd have never seen sweepers fighting to be the first to clean up after a show. People really used to throw coins at the screen.).
The ’70s were also a great period for comedies. Golmaal, Chupke Chupke (Dharmendra wasn’t even nominated for an award for that superb performance!), Rang Birangi, Angoor –they all had their lines, but mostly in context. Utpal Dutt made the most of that late scene in Golmaal – Main tumhe Benaras ke pede khilaoonga, Kalkatte ka rasgulla khilaoonga, Dilli ke laddoo khilaoonga … nahin toh police ke dande kaise khaoge betaaa? He also had one of the best last lines in Indian cinema, when – as the sublimely named Inspector Dhurandhar Bhataodekar in Rang Birangi – he leaped from his chair roaring BR Chopra ko pakad ke laao! Some years later Chashme Buddoor took forward the self-referential humour. When Farooque Shaikh started a motorcycle (a Yezdi. How many of these kids have SEEN one?) that Rakesh Bedi and Ravi Vaswani couldn’t, they shrugged it off with Tu toh is film ka hero hai.
Slipping into the ’80s, there was the I can waak Ingliss I can taak Ingliss sequence in Namak Halaal, but that was really about The Amitabh Show rather than the script. And of course Rishtey se tera baap lagta hoon in the Second Coming crafted by Tinnu Anand, or the Vijay Deenanath Chauhan line from Agneepath (OK, that was 1990, so what?) Dammit, weren’t there any paisa wasool lines by any other actors during that period? Big B has wiped out an entire generation of leading men even in memory!
No no wait – there was ONE ’80s film that was a cult in itself. Who can forget the Mahabharat cheer
The late ’80s also had Mogambo khush hua, something we oldies still trot out after a good meeting, but on the whole those years were a little arid in terms of GREAT lines. (What the ’80s had in trumps, really, was Names for Villains. Shakaal. Dang. Mogambo. Kanchha Cheena. I mean, what were they smoking?!)
I have some off-beat favourites from the ’90s onwards. Daud (1997) was a Ram Gopal Varma flop that I liked, especially for an exchange between Sanjay Dutt and Urmila Matondkar in the second half of the film (when they – and the audience - still don’t know each other’s names) –
SD – Toh teraa naam kya hai?
UM (after some Attitude) – Daya Shankar
SD (stunned look)
UM – Kyon? Kya kharaabi hai is naam mein?!
SD (hurriedly) – Nahin, koi nahin. Acchha naam hai.
UM – Toh teraa naam kya hai?
SD (deadpan, turning away) – Uma Parvati!
And Neeraj Vohra with Yeh mere shikaari the, jo bahaauuutt bade pitaji the. Silly to the point of perfection. Where have you gone Sanjay Chhel, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you (especially after horrors like Welcome). Chhel gave Sanjay Dutt another good throw-away in Khoobsurat, again opposite Urmila - Par tu toh maal hai naa Shivani?
There were some heavyweight moments in the ’90s, like Ye dhaai kilo kaa haath jab kisi pe uthtaa hai and Judge order order chillata rahega aur tu pit-taa rahega in Damini. The real line in that film, however, was Taareeqh pe taareeqh, which has echoes of “And the oranges must rot, must be forced to rot” from The Grapes of Wrath (the book – I don’t think it’s in the film).
Then there was Jhankaar Beats, with Shayan Munshi threatening Rahul Bose – Tumhe maloom nahin mera papa kaun hai? And getting his come-uppance with Nahin. Kyon, tumhe nahin maloom tumhara papa kaun hai? There were moments of divine inanity in some David Dhawan films, my favourite being Govinda’s obviously ad-libbed Hum toh bas underwyaar underwyaar khel rahe the in Jodi No. 1.
All in all, it’s the gags that stay in the mind these days. Cheat Update - Yes, I loved Rangeela, Aamir was superb, but the good lines were gags rather than the de taali high drama types. I vaguely remember Andaz Apna Apna and my surprise that Hindi cinema could come up with such throw-away gags, but I also had the impression that the lines were better than the Khans' timing could do justice to. Maybe I was wrong, I shall try and rent it over this long weekend. I like SRK’s line Kaun kambaqht bardaasht karne ko peeta hai, but this, like Don, is a direct lift from the earlier version. Where are the movie lines that resonate in the memory, that stay alive long after the movie has sunk? Is it because the scripts don’t value the big dramatic moments, or is it because actors try to Be Cool rather than heroic?
I’d love to get some feedback on this. Before I’m reduced to googling for “Great Lines By Harman Baweja” or “Mohit Ahlawat – the Director’s Cut”. And hey – how many women in Hindi cinema have had great lines? Forget Meena Kumari, leave out Basanti – what are we left with? Sharmila Tagore in Mausam with Yeh bilayati sharaab saala bahut haraami hai? C’mon, I’m an old MC. Show me the great lines from women.