Director: Raj Kanwar
Actors: Luv Sinha, Rishi Kapoor
Bollywood, for fair part, is the voice of Punjab. In this film, Punjab itself has a voice. The film starts off with, “Main Punjab hoon” (I’m Punjab). Like samay (time) in BR Chopra’s television show Mahabharat, Punjab is an oldish male, with a grainy voice. He speaks glowingly of his own past, legends he’s birthed, and the bloody holi (khoon ki holi) of Partition he witnessed, when dead-bodies ferried on trains from Pakistan.
A couple (Rekha, Rishi Kapoor) survived this 1947 pogrom, migrating from Lahore to Amritsar. They found an orphaned infant in their new home Punjab home. They raised this child as a bit of an overprotected bozo. He comes charging to the audience thereafter, galloping on a horse. You stare at the rider. The irony isn’t lost. He travels straight to Kashmir, falls for a girl’s face, follows her around, sings dull songs of love around duller lakes, wants to marry her, and realises she’s Muslim. He’s grown up in a Hindu home. Segregation between two communities is reconciled to, and I guess, real as well.
This appeared a Hindu-Muslim Gadar sort of romance, that’d blown up box offices with its Pak hate campaign around the Kargil War (2001). It’s not. The couple finds for the boy his actual parents in Pakistan. They’re Muslims after all. So is the boy then. Match is made.
Two sets of parents compete for the kid thereafter. Pakistani couple (Javed Sheikh, Hema Malini) wishes to ship him across the border. Indian ones look on helplessly. The boy, an adult, old enough to marry, could decide for himself. But that’s not an option. The conflict’s a wonderment.
The film is set in 1968. It would’ve seemed dated even then. You’ll love the part where the heroine’s friends snigger over her stalker (the hero), “Ladka shararati toh hai; flirt nahin. Zamana lust ka hai, love ka nahin! (The boy’s naughty, not a flirt. The world’s about lust, not love).” Yeah! Never mind the film, really. Sad yawns make it to cinemas every other week. It’s the leading man I feel sorry for. His dad’s the old movie-star Shatrughan Sinha. Videocon group’s pumped in the dough.
Long side-burns; receding hairline, parted from the centre; prominent lisp; slight bug-teeth; floppy ears; a disproportionate figure… As you watch this super-star bob his head to contemporary beats in checked trousers, you sense he’s been somehow forced into this. If not, the delusion is a bit worrying. Stop it. No laughing matter, this.