Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Jeetendra and Sridevi

Jeetendra and Sridevi rocked throughout the 1980s as they were the definitive duo of Hindi (Bollywood!) cinema. Despite the flak they received from the critics, the box-office and aam janta ('mango people'!) loved the duo as the tills clearly show. They made cinema fun, frothy and... filmy!

Damn the predictable plots, the loud fashion, the PT-exercise background dancers, the melodrama, the dialogue-baazi, the posturing and grandstanding... It obviously worked as producers shelled out big bucks to make these films that provided great returns.

On the other side of the arch there was parallel cinema, the gravely serious films that starred Shabana Azmi, Smita Patel, Naseerudin Shah, Om Puri and the rest of that haloed ilk. Movies that were revered by a handful of cinema-holics and critics who used 10-dollar (ruppee!) words and discussed oeuvres and catharsis of character. Meanwhile, Jeetendra made himself a veritable palace in Mumbai (and if you know Mumbai real-estate market, that's saying something) and Sridevi was the undisputed Queen of Bollywood.

Fact of the matter is, when needed, both acted well in their genres. Sridevi in particular could act her feet off and molded herself according to the kind of film or director she worked with. As Kamal Haasan said, she was like blotting paper, she absorbed whatever she could and ruled national and regional cinema with sari-clad ease.

While many film blogs online are dismissive of the popcorn culture of '80s cinema, we choose to celebrate it. It was madcap fun - not all movies need to be life-changing affirmations on the human condition. Sometimes, we just want to see a fashionable diva twist around a few pots and pans in verdant gardens in comforting films where the bad guy met his fate, love triumphed all and the good guy got the pretty girl.

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