(Salman's first movie - Biwi Ho To Aisi - was an epochal study on the use of female authority in Indian households, also remembered for Bindu's clarion call 'Secretary, follow me'.)
Just now, I realised one SM Ahale is credited for the 'story' of Maine Pyar Kiya which is surely the oldest formula in Bollywood cupboard. The screenplay and dialogue - two reasons why I loved the movie as a 14-year old - were by the true creative force behind the movie, director Sooraj Barjatya. (Though Farah Khan is of the belief that some credit for that belongs to one Omprakash Makhija!) For the teenagers that we were at the time MPK released, the then-smart-now-cheesy lines were the main draw of the movie.
You could laugh at those now but I have attended a show of MPK where a bunch of boys distributed cake in the rear stalls when Bhagyashree's birthday was being celebrated on-screen. At that time, MPK was not merely a hit movie like Ek Tha Tiger or Dabangg. It was a social phenomenon, a cult, a way of life.
It started with Laxmikant Berde ('first time in Hindi movie') whose absolutely juvenile lines rocked our life!
Show me a guy who hasn't retorted with a 'same to you' when called 'stupid' and I will show you a guy who topped IIT, cooped up in his cage with algebra books.
He sang "Bhutta mil gaya" (and then "mukka mil gaya" soon afterwards), giving a fresh lease of life to the hit from Sangam.
His romance with milkmaid Gulabo (Huma Khan, in her only non-B movie) was a strange mix of pseudo-nyakaness and silly banter.
His cigarette-stealing. His anchoring of the legendary antakshari. His tomfoolery. His goofy good nature.
And of course, his description of life before iPod. "Aapka chalne wala aadmi - Walkman."
And then, there was Bhagyashree.
When Pervin Dastur taunted Salman with "Bade old fashioned ho, Prem", the camera showed Bhagyashree cleaning glass broken by the shrew. She was homely enough to clean messes and yet she was smart enough to duck Salman's boxing gloves (hanging from the door, remember?).
She was girl enough to get embarrassed when she caught Salman peeing. But she was boy enough to have a repartee ready. ("Madam, aajkal darwaza pe knock karne ka zamana nahin raha." / "Sir, aajkal darwaza lock karne ka zamana bhi nahin raha.")
She managed to beat Salman at table-tennis but seemed adequately embarrassed by that.
She was a PETA member but was alarmingly adept at Satyanarayan pooja.
She wanted to go on an evening excursion with her boyfriend but cancelled when her future mom-in-law called her for mehendis.
She wore short (I mean, really short and shiny for good measure) dresses. But only for her fiancee.
She kissed passionately but only with glass doors in between.
She was the girl jo matar chhilegi, badon ka izzat karegi, hum umr se apnapan, chhoton se pyaar... sab karegi.
In short, she wasn't just the girl you wanted to bring home to mother. The mother would have carried the home to her if you found someone like her.
Despite my going on and on about all of them, I cannot think of MPK as anything other than a Salman movie. Salman was not just Prem. He was PREM - bold, italics, underline, font size 48.
His stylised "abhi mood nahin hai" to his attempts at the dartboard, Salman was the most-imitated actor in the year MPK released. His "ulta shave karke raja coat pehenna" was much discussed as was his handling of Bollywood's most popular movie merchandise - the FRIEND cap.
Even the wall full of his own B&W photographs found many admirers.
Of course, those admirers became devotees after The Party Scene.
The Party Scene had Mohnish Behl counterpointing what our man was saying about friendship between a boy and girl.
Okay. Pause. You know the lines. I know the lines. But I still have to say it. For inner peace. "Kya ek jawaan ladka aur jawaan ladki kabhi dost ban sakte hain? Yeh toh ek naatak hai, naatak. Kapkapaati raaton mein dhadakti hui dilon ki bhadakti hui aag bujhane ka."
There, Salman did not say those words but I had to. He was the reason why those words were said, okay?
And. And. And his fights.
He was as short as (if not shorter than) Aamir but his built body ensured that he was a power-packed dynamite in the action scenes.
He did a very good boxing bout with Mohnish Behl at the Legendary Party. Despite his hair getting all spiky after the brawl, he exuded menace as he walked off with his then-subdued swagger.
The climax fight - with the truckers in the rain - had him getting all wet and bloody and I was quite scandalised to find that even girls fantasised about filmstars. On a bus ride back from school, I heard two excited college girls discussing Salman's hairy chest and how the vest clung to his chest during that fight. This was the first time I heard a filmi hero being discussed in terms different from taking home to mother.
And before I finish, I have to talk about the pre-climax showdown that was tweeted by noted film critic (and fellow 90s fan) Sukanya Verma today. The scene in which Salman wowed Alok Nath, the nation and its sister-in-law with a mix of sincerity, courage and broad chest. (And triggered this post, to some extent.)
My first reaction was to thank her profusely for the memory but then, "Dosti ka ek ussool hai, madam - No sorry, no thank you."
How can I forget that line? How can I forget Salman for saying that line?
Happy birthday, Prem.