Kitne aadmi they? — roared Amjad Khan in Sholay and was immortalised for all times to come. Those were the days when dialogues were written to be rendered eternal. Who can forget Amitabh Bachchan grunting, Rishtey main to hum tumhare baap lagte hain, aur naam hai Shehanshah and Shashi Kapoor squeezing all his life’s emotions in one everlasting line — Mere paas Maa hai?
Bollywood in yesteryears produced more than one timeless string of words that eventually became a part of the nation’s vocabulary. In contrast, modern day films have all but created a few pale comparisons like Bole to… of Sanjay Dutt or Sorry… Eggjactly from Salaam Namaste. Is the charm of a signature dialogue lost on Bollywood filmmakers today?
Times a changin’: Ramesh Sippy, whose Sholay led the film brigade in delivering dialogues that struck the right chord with the masses, feels it is all due to the changing times and perceptions.
“It depends on the film and the character. Youngsters today don’t use lines used 20-30 years ago. Their vocabulary is different, short and crisp. Filmmakers have to change too. I’m sure lines are going to get even simpler in times to come,” says Sippy.
Agrees trade analyst Komal Nahta, “Film dialogues don’t register with the audience any more because today, a film’s running period is very short compared to earlier times when they celebrated silver/golden jubilees.” Javed Akhtar, who has penned numerous immortal lines in yesteryears, in association with Salim as well as solo, says, “The society’s lingo has changed and so have the dialogues. And now, commercial cinema is primarily catering to the metros where the language is Hinglish. That reflects in dialogues too.”
Talent hunt: Changing tastes of the audience is a factor, but has the quality of dialogues also declined since then? Says director Kunal Kohli, “That’s true because now we don’t have exceptionally good dialogue writers.”
Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra feels good dialogues emanate from good subjects. His film, Rang De Basanti boasts of some smart lines. Says Mehra, “The subject of the film has to make way for good dialogues. If I put Mogambo khush hua in Rang De Basanti, it would look farcical. It has to suit the character and the film has to work in totality.”
But those were the days...