Bobby… Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak… Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge – 1

(this first installment deals with Bobby, the next one will take up DDLJ, the final one QSQT)

Between the masala epic conceits of Raj Kapoor’s Bobby and the bourgeois fantasies of Aditya Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge intervenes Mansoor Khan’s Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. The latter, a youth love story that in a way splits the difference between those other two films. The distance traveled between Bobby and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge is immense. The former marks Raj Kapoor’s turn toward masala cinema and this was often an uneasy mix for the director. This mode in the director’s vision was wedded with an increasingly darker view of the ‘structures of kinship’ as well as a more direct representation of and simultaneous recoiling from sexuality. The juxtaposition of these elements often produces in the late Raj Kapoor a grotesque mix. One could risk a psychoanalytic explanation and venture that as Raj Kapoor ages a concern with sexuality becomes paramount. This first emerges in Mera Naam Joker(even if there were always hints of greater candor on the subject in earlier RK films.

For an older director it is remarkable that in a youth romance like Bobby it is precisely the sexuality of the lead pair that is rendered normal even as it appears under the sign of greater liberation. But in every other instance that sex and sexuality come to the fore in the narrative there is an element of darkness and ‘near-sin’ to the proceedings. With Rishi Kapoor’s parents it is almost as if their standing in the upper echelons of the social sphere has been achieved by a turning away from marital intimacies as well as [and this is always the cardinal crime in the late Raj Kapoor], in the woman’s case, the refusal to breast-feed [the ‘breast’ being one of Raj Kapoor’s lifelong obsessions.. his Satyam Shivam Sundaram and Ram Teri Ganga Maili being extended ‘commentaries’ on this fetish.. the breast does ‘double’ duty… it operates on this side of virginal purity as the idealized symbol of feminine erotic beauty, it then re-appears with the woman who has ‘known’ a man but where the marriage is always questionable for one reason or another as the lactating organ and hence a symbol of an even greater purity.. in social terms the trope of a ‘fallen woman’ is invoked.. one might risk yet again.. the darker view of ‘society’ is the necessary staging ground for the director’s own attraction/repulsion complex with respect to the feminine erotic, itself always fetishized by the ‘breast’]. Another older pair in the film that even supersedes Rishi Kapoor’s parents in terms of social standing begets a ‘retarded’ daughter. But barring the lead pair youth culture itself seems to belong to a ‘swinging 60s’ model of darker revelry. So diseased is the human ‘sociality’ within which the love story of the film blossoms (incidentally Dimple Kapadia’s father is as the film’s fisherman denied a sexual coding though not necessarily his own private grotesquerie) that when Prem Chopra shows up toward the end one is almost relieved to discover a petty criminal with normal villainous urges!

Whatever one might think of this problematic mix with its own conservative dead ends the film’s opposition nonetheless inclines in favor of the younger pair. They are never at fault even when they engage in the most dramatic actions. It is always the older generation that is responsible for every one of the story’s central ills. This is another ‘Independence’ generation that has not turned out well at all! At any rate Raj Kapoor is light years removed from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Aditya Chopra’s bourgeois imaginings where the youth love story becomes the excuse for the ‘extended family’ to be fully realized! More on this another time.

32 Responses to “Bobby… Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak… Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge – 1”

  1. Looking forward to your comments on QSQT and DDLJ – two films which bring back fond memories!

    Like

  2. mksrooney Says:

    superb piece satyam… never thought about journey from bobby to ddlj…

    “Another older pair in the film that even supersedes Rishi Kapoor’s parents in terms of social standing begets a ‘retarded’ daughter. But barring the lead pair youth culture itself seems to belong to a ’swinging 60s’ model of darker revelry. So diseased is the human ’sociality’ within which the love story of the film blossoms (incidentally Dimple Kapadia’s father is as the film’s fisherman denied a sexual coding though not necessarily his own private grotesquerie) that when Prem Chopra shows up toward the end one is almost relieved to discover a petty criminal with normal villainous urges!”

    interesting

    Like

  3. omrocky786 Says:

    In between ther were minor Padavs ( rests) too like- LoveStory and Betaab !!
    PS- I read longtime back an article by Khuswant singh where he wrote that Raj Kapoor had once told him that he finds the Breast as the most fascinating part of the women’s body !

    Like

  4. I like the fact that you’ve linked Bobby, QSQT and DDLJ. A very thought-provoking piece you’ve written there.

    Could you please elaborate on your comment about the portrayal of breasts: “…it then re-appears with the woman who has ‘known’ a man but where the marriage is always questionable for one reason or another as the lactating organ and hence a symbol of an even greater purity.. in social terms the trope of a ‘fallen woman’ is invoked.. one might risk yet again.. the darker view of ‘society’ is the necessary staging ground for the director’s own attraction/repulsion complex with respect to the feminine erotic, itself always fetishized by the ‘breast’]”

    Could you give some examples for what you’ve written above? It’s just so that I can understand in more clarity the point you are trying to make.

    Looking forward to your next posts.

    Like

    • Ram Teri Ganga Maili is the perfect example here. Mandakini’s breasts are highlighted throughout the film. First under the waterfall, then she has a child and as she struggles through life going from one place to another she is shown breast-feeding in the train. She is the ‘Ganga’ of the film always ‘pure’ irrespective of where she is and what happens to her. Raj Kapoor after perversely fixating the audience on her breasts ((in a scene that still would not be cleared by a censor board all these years later) suddenly presents this image of motherhood. Presumably the audience should be shamed if they are staring even at this point! In the earlier stage she is an erotic object. In the second stage everyone’s lusting after her or trying to take advantage of her or considering her a ‘fallen woman’ but she is nonetheless ‘pure’ and the breast-feeding scene is meant to attest to this.

      But also in Bobby the ultimate taunt to Rishi Kapoor’s mother is the idea that she has not breast-fed her child. One of Rishi Kapoor’s friends also tells him rather sneeringly at one point that ‘high society’ women are concerned about their figures and so forth.

      Of course SSS is the film that stages all of this in the most psychoanalytically interesting fashion. This is another tale of ‘breasts’. But Zeenat Aman also has the horrible scar on her face. You get too close to the object of desire and it suddenly appears extremely ugly. A psychoanalytic insight if ever there was one.

      Like

  5. I must confess that Bobby is a film that my brain tells me i ought to like– it hits all the masala buttons I love to have pushed — but somehow this film never did it for me. I think the grotesque mode in the late Raj Kapoor might be at the root of this.

    Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak was one of the last of the love stories where the film’s conceit seemed to be that the fate of the universe rested on the outcome of the love story (Bobby of course had this too, as did Julie, as did Betaab, although I don’t remember liking it much when I saw it two decades ago). Love Story to me interrupts this succession, inasmuch as the romance there was akin to the sort of play-acting we started to see as par for the course in the more recent love stories.

    Main Ne Pyar Kiya presents an interesting variant on this: here the girl’s hand must be “earned”, a kind of proto-capitalist ethic that nevertheless hearkens to some mythic tropes too (think of Jacob toiling for Rachel’s father in order to win Rachel’s hand), including an ANTI-capitalist one too (i.e. only if physical labor is considered debasing would salman’s efforts acquire the romantic air of humiliation for the sake of the beloved).

    Like

  6. After eviscerating the film, you confess it is your favorite youth love story!
    I should confess that young as I was ( not even a teenager) when the movie came out, I wasnt bowled over by Dimple then. Happened much later. But, I did like the movie. Because inspite of all the problems highlighted by yourself and Satyam above, there was something sweet and innocent aqbout the lead pair. And the music rocked. Main shayar to nahin is something I still like listening to.

    Like

    • I’ve always loved the film. I am with you on dimple here. Sometimes I put on my critical hat and this mess is the result! But Bobby as I mentioned is on the cusp. I don’t like SSS at all nor do I care for RTGM. I have a weakness for Prem Rog though.

      Like

  7. Raj Kapoor’s fascination with breasts is legendary. The only person who comes close in this respect is our fellow poster, Ravi.

    Like

    • LOL, that cracked me up! Hope Ravibhai is reading this 🙂

      Like

    • In fact his fetish with nudity has been commented on at great length on Shammi Kapoor’s website (which I dont even know if exists anymore). I’ll try to find a link to the writing on Raj Kapoor and post it here. He has done some Freudian analysis for the obsession….more to come…

      Like

      • so Shammi Kapoor wrote about his brother’s fetishes?

        Like

        • Aarkayne Says:

          well he did not describe it as such, instead providing a reasoning for his ‘obsession’….and I dont believe it was Shammi Kapoor who actually provided the text but someone from the RK family that did…some sort of a justification. it was an amazingly fascinating read, coming from a family member on a public site. needless to say the site is gone. the url used to be “www.junglee.org.in”.

          Like

        • Aarkayne Says:

          here’s something I have found that is close to the some of the text that was found on Shammi Kapoor’s site…..dont know how long this will survive – http://rkfanclub-blog.blogspot.com/2009/02/raj-kapoor-childhood.html

          Like

    • I guffawed when I read this. Hope Ravi emerges from his secret location to comment on this!

      Like

    • the legendary Filmfare journalist Devi once said that once when she was with Raj Kapoor and he was really sozzled he wanted to see her breasts and he kept blurting out a word in Hindi which was gross (I do remember it).

      Like

      • did you mean Devyani Chaubal Satyam? She was with Star & Style and the same lady that once celebrated Bachchan’s cinematic demise post LAAWARIS(alluded to by Bachchan in one of his recent posts).

        Like

        • legend has it she was very much in love with Rajesh Khanna, hence the eternal Bachchan bias.

          Like

        • was it her.. perhaps I am mistaken.. did she do a column called ‘Frankly Speaking’? And yeah she was in love with Rajesh Khanna and once admitted he was the only star she’d slept with.

          Like

    • omrocky786 Says:

      Kehte hain Jahan Na Ravi Pahuchen
      Keehte hain waha par Kavi Pahuchen
      Dimple ke firm and juicy Cans par
      Sirf apna Ravi pahunche , bhai Ravi Pahuchen!!!

      LOL !!!

      Like

  8. mksrooney Says:

    ravi ravi

    ravi

    lagta hai ravi se hamara sampark nahi ho raha hai.. 🙂

    Like

  9. mksrooney Says:

    http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/movies/review/13624/index.html

    tere sang review.. another youth love story but with a twist thats why posted here

    Like

  10. Thanks Rajen bhai for remembering me and my obsession for b……

    Everything about a woman (both mental and physical) is something to be admired about.

    Thanks Q bhai for alerting me.

    Like

    • “Everything about a woman (both mental and physical) is something to be admired about.”

      Now we know how to get you here Ravi!

      Like

    • I am incidentally waiting for a woman to make a similar comment about men and balance the discussion! Regrettably it would take Catherine Breillat rather than any Bollywood filmmaker to back up such a discussion!

      Like

    • omrocky786 Says:

      Kya Ravi, aapkee tareef mein itna achcha Sher likh aur aapne dekha tak nahin !!

      Like

  11. omrocky786 Says:

    BTW after watching Dev D ,now I am really loving its songs
    Nayan Tarse and Payaliya -By God are so so goood !!! By God!!

    Like

  12. bollybusiness Says:

    Satyam .. check this perody on bobby … This is little less intresting than ur article here .. still worth a look ..

    http://bollybusiness.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/bobby-parody/

    Like

    • The font’s again rather small here but this seems to be a Mad magazine kind of deal on Bobby. Man. where do you get all this wonderful memorabilia?!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: