My good friend – AKB – has asked for a recap of the number of times “Main tumhare bachche ka maa banne wali hoon” has been said on screen. This is probably the most clichéd use of a cliché – it has been demonstrated as a cliché more number of times than it has been actually said on screen!
The true blue cliché is actually “Sab kuchh theek ho jayega” as there was a time till the end-90s before which I had not seen a single movie without this line being spoken!
Anyways, trying to recap solely depending on my porous memory would mean I would forget more than I would remember. So I thought I will turn his request on its head and do a bit of crystal gazing to figure out which are the dialogues / scenes that are going to become a cliché in a few years from now.
Exposing a gay relationship
Konkona Sensharma has already become to this what Nirupa Roy was to motherhood! She has already done in twice (Page 3, Life in a Metro) and looking good for more. With more and more films being made on a realistic gay relationship, it is only natural that the most dominant theme – closet homosexuality – will have to be depicted pretty regularly.
What will make it tiresome is the way it will be shown. In both the films mentioned above, the scene unfolds in exactly the same manner in which the hetero partner (cuckold?) arrives at the apartment of the closet-gay for a celebration (Konkona was even holding exactly the same things – a bottle of wine and flowers) and sees her lover in bed with (an)other man.
How long before a man walks on to a lesbian couple? I can bet the expression would not be the aghast look which Konkona had!
Signs of suicide
More and more dysfunctional relationships on screen can mean only one thing – more and more suicide attempts. And as in the socials of 1960s, a close-up of the mangal-sutra was required to signify a married woman, we will keep having close-ups of sutured wrists to show the harried woman.
The cliché will probably not be the fact that people try to end their lives to get away from it all but the fact that these characters are always women. I guess men just choose a more leisurely way of ending their lives (ref: Devdas) and a slashed wrist is much more amenable to cinematic drama than an x-ray of a shriveled liver!
Kangana Ranaut has tried both options (Woh Lamhe, Gangster) and she looks perennially poised on the edge of a parapet about to jump off!
It is said that Rajesh Khanna took almost 15 years to get out of college. He started as a college student in one of his first hits – Do Raaste (late 60s) – and stayed right on till Souten (early 80s).
The 16-year old heroine falling in love with the 19-year old hero continued till Rishi Kapoor just could NOT fit into the benches of those colleges that were hired for the film shoot! That cliché’s last rites were performed when the only crib against Rang De Basanti was the 40-year old Aamir Khan hovering around the gates of Delhi University. We never raised an eyebrow when Mithun jumped around HS College in the mid-90s!
Now of course, the age combos have just multiplied with old-man-old-woman (Baghban, Pyaar Mein Twist), older-woman-young-man (Leela), young-woman-old-man (Cheeni Kum) all elbowing out the teenybopper romance!
The cliché around this is the forced ridiculing of the elderly member(s) of the couple, which brings about a (temporary) realization about the age difference. “Aapka toh abhi bhagwaan ka naam lena chahiye…” is usually the unsolicited advice and it produces an equally stereotypical angry reaction, followed by doubts on the future of the relationship and remorse!
Of course, sometimes the line is as funny as “Uncle ko Durex chahiye” but the situation is a cliché and threatening to become bigger!
Now, there is a new genre in town called a ‘muliplex movie’ – which is to say that it survives not on script, direction or acting but on savvy marketing. The business model is quite sound as it is probably easier to get a hundred viewers in Infiniti Mall at Rs 200 each than five hundred at Sultanpur at Rs 40 each! Especially, if you have paid more money to Akki Narula than Abhishek Bachchan.
So you have movies with lots of English – which is so far removed from the 1960s, when even the Japanese and the French spoke Hindi (Love in Tokyo and An Evening in Paris respectively). But even with your focus on the multiplex, you can still see Etawah from the corner of your eye and try to rake in a little bit of moolah from there as well. So, you lazily translate the smattering of English in your film in the script itself and there is this irritating cliché of mixed languages!
So Preity Zinta says, “I am engaged. Meri mangni ho chuki hain.” Somebody asks, “What’s the time? Time kya hain?” and it is only a matter of time before someone says, “I am pregnant. Main tumhare bachche ka maa banne wali hoon.”
Finally, Hindi cinema has managed to have people survive pre-marital or extra-marital sex. Till as late as the 1990s, the lead players of Hindi cinema either died or got widowed or got tuberculosis or took to prostitution or had to smell an anaconda’s fart even if their shadows touched during a song on a rainy night! And of course, they got pregnant.
Not any more! Mallika Sherawat (in Murder) neither died nor got pregnant for having an extra-marital affair – but she had to repeatedly kiss Emraan Hashmi, which is probably a fate worse than death!
Jokes apart, the cliché is the stereotypical way in which a married woman and man approach a liaison.
The married woman is guilty and has pangs of conscience. She pulls away from the man and even exits the room. And then she comes back for a reason (excuse?) and is pulled into the whole ‘mess’. She usually cries after the first time. The married man – on the other hand – is an unmitigated bastard who has no qualms and is shown to have flirtatious conversations with his partner (who is obviously unattached).
I think it will take some doing for the Sati Savitri cliché to be forgotten!
How many years before AKB’s son asks my son for a recap of a Bollywood cliché of their times – “Kya main iss bachche ka baap hoon?”