Love — the unrequited variety — is usually the raisond’être for reincarnation in Bollywood, writes Sushmita Bose.
“Mein [gasp…] agle janam mein [five-second harrowing pause]… tumhara intezaar karoonga [shudder],” said a dying Rajesh Khanna to a dying Hema Malini in Mehbooba (1976). The movie then moved from peechle janam to agle janam, the two lovers reunited and broke into a song atop a mountain. And in The Present, they lived happily ever after. The Past was undone.
Love — the unrequited variety — is usually the raisond’être for reincarnation in Bollywood. In Madhumati (1958), Milan (1967) and Hamesha (1997), the lovers (Dilip Kumar-Vyajanthimala, Sunil Dutt-Nutan and Saif Ali Khan-Kajol), who died untimely deaths, found each other again.
At times, reincarnation happens because of the Revenge Factor. So, there was Karan-Arjun, where Salman and Shahrukh are born again — as brothers, not lovers obviously — to take on the baddies, prodded on by their heavy-breathing mother-of-past-life Rakhee who was earlier mumbling menacingly: “Mere betey aayenge... Mere betey aayenge” (well, it turned out to be true).
Then, there was Karz (1980), where Rishi Kapoor is reborn to take revenge on the bewafa woman who killed him in his past life. Karz was a lift of the Hollywood classic The Reincarnation of Peter Proud — the difference being Rishi Kapoor sang ‘Om shanti om’, while Michael Sarrazin (or Peter Proud) taught at school. Now, there’s going to be the Shah Rukh-produced (and acted) Om Shanti Om, in November; the buzz is it could be ‘inspired’ by Karz.