Love’s Last Template


I was in Mumbai, looking out from a window on the 20th floor of a hotel, when I heard of Yash Chopra's passing.

I was in Mumbai, looking out from a window on the 20th floor of a hotel, when I heard of Yash Chopra's passing. It was one of those scenes made iconic in an iconic Yash Chopra film: the stunning sweep of a curving bay, the day sliding into dusk, the lights coming up, twinkling gems on a queen's necklace. And the first thought I had, after registering a sense of sadness at the passing of a cinematic legend, more a question really, what would happen to our collective idea of romance now?

This was the skyline in Deewar, a film that cemented the still struggling Amitabh Bachchan's image as that guy who could explode off the screen like no other. The abiding emotion everyone remembers is one of coiled anger and simmering rage, but to me Deewar was also a great love story, the mobster's love of his mother and his mehbooba. And to me it was entirely fitting that Chopra made Deewar and Kabhi Kabhie simultaneously because at the core, both dealt with love and passion and the never-ending search, so rewarding and frustrating at the same time, for the perfect companion.

More than anything else, Yash Chopra gave Hindi filmgoers a way to romance, a language to express love, when these things were not in the social and public lexicon. And gave us an idiom that would prove to be so overwhelming that it would be near impossible to break out of. You wanted to tell your beloved how you felt? Simple. Break into a song, slide down a hill slope (with her in the sheerest of chiffons, and him in leather jackets and fur-lined boots), hide your lover's face with your long, long hair and murmur sweet nothings, or just recite the kind of shayari that would raise goosebumps for the rest of your everyday, prosaic life.

... contd.

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