Like the moment when Archimedes leapt out of his tub crying “Eureka!”, the instant when a 16-year-old Dimple Kapadia leapt into water wearing a red, two-piece bikini was transformational. To loud gasps of different sorts, it signalled the end of an era of innocence in Hindi movies. Fifteen-year-olds thigh-slapped out of joy, and 50-year-olds slapped the 15-year-olds for having done so.
It was, in words less euphemistic, the end of an era of cinematic hypocrisy. It was not that previous Hindi films hadn’t charged boldly into boudoirs, but the depiction of skin had always been taboo. And a two-piece itsy-bitsy was not seen on screen, certainly not on the heroine. So the credit goes to Raj Kapoor, who in his 13th directorial venture did away with just furtive glances. And a crop of courageous films — including Kapoor’s next, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, and K.S. Sethumadhavan’s Julie —took life.
Mind you, Dimple’s Bobby Braganza looked downright dowdy in the bikini. She looked more adoringly Lolita-esque in the simple chemise she wore when she first opened the door for Raja (Rishi Kapoor). But history was made by the swimming pool. Skin, at last, was in.
Those who thigh-slapped this month exactly 35 years ago might want to watch the film in their 50th year and sing along with Jhooth boley kaua katey or Hum tum ek kamre mein bandh ho. And those who turned 15 this year might want to check out the first leading roles by Ranbir Kapoor’s father and Twinkle Khanna’s mother.