A few weeks ago, holed up in a small-town hotel one evening, staring dully at the television, my finger stopped jabbing remote when I caught a glimpse of Mashaal.
I had seen the movie before, but yet, I hung on. Waiting for the famous death scene. The one where Waheeda Rehman, who plays Dilip Kumar’s wife with a quiet, assured dignity, dies out on the street. Her husband tries to hail passing cars and cabs, bangs on locked doors and screams ‘ae bhai!’ Nobody stops. Nobody calls a doctor. Nobody listens. She calls out to him, and dies.
I had known I would cry. And I did.
But this time, there was another scene which grabbed my attention. It was the shop-breaking/looting sequence before the death scene. Raja (Anil Kapoor playing a rough mawaali type) and his friends had just been smashing, and stealing from, a store. A very disappointed Vinod (Dilip Kumar, the upright journalist-activist), goes to his room to upbraid him. Raja, however, is not in the least bit remorseful.
He begins to talk of a memory. When he was five years old, he remembered being out with his father, walking through the market. His father had reached out to touch the fabric that was hung up there for sale. The shopkeeper had yelled. The paradox was his father was a weaver. Perhaps, the very man who had woven that bit of cloth, was now forbidden to touch it.
Raja swears that he would not live like his father did. If he was not permitted to touch something in a shop, he would break it.
For a long time, it stayed with me. That sequence. Incredibly, the movie was made by Yash Chopra.
Funny, how they just don’t say that sort of thing in the movies, any longer. No?