Growing up as a teenager in India, I did not care much for black and white films of my par- ents’-generation. The stars looked old and their fashion sense did not match the sensibili-ties of my time. And their romance looked
empty. Never mind the fact that most of
the films I watched as a young teenager
were on television. And Doordarshan was
black and white until the early 1980s.
My mother would talk about Raj Kapoor’s classics and even my grandmother
was a fan of Barsaat. But I would have
nothing to do with those films.
How wrong I was. As I have grown older
(and wiser) I have forgiven my sins and
dismissed my attitude as a sign of my ignorance and the arrogance of youth.
One morning in the mid-1970s, I
skipped a college class at Delhi University.
Instead of going all the way to the university campus I took a bus to the Delite
Cinema near Turkman Gate in Old Delhi.
The previous day a friend had gone for the
morning show of Raj Kapoor’s Shri 420
and he insisted that I see the film too. He
assured me I would be pleasantly surprised.
I was familiar with the songs of Shri420.
One could not miss the presence of Hindi
film songs even in the 1970s when the
country only had one television station,
controlled by the government. And even
radio, Vividh Bharati, was all we would listen to was government run. Digital technology was long ways in the future and we
never could imagine a day would come
when we could practically watch any film
song in color on You Tube.
So, I sat by myself in the dark theater,
and I discovered cinema quite different
than what I had allowed myself to appreciate. The film had its charm, but the songs
mostly blew me away.
And the most thrilling song of all was
Pyar Hua Ikrar Hua Hai. The artificiality
of the night scene built inside a studio, a
monsoon rain moment, enhanced with
Raj Kapoor and Nargis — why had I not
paid attention to this hot, sexy couple with
such an amazing chemistry?
How wonderful it was to see them
acknowledge their love — sometimes shy,
sometimes loud and boisterous. They were
dressed simple: He as the tramp, and she
in her sari, overcome with passion and love
that she could not openly express.
He wondered that if they were in love
and even somehow had expressed it, then
why were their hearts still afraid of that
feeling and emotion. She was more cautious. Her heart she said, was aware of the
difficult path ahead, and that no one knew
where the future was headed.
I heard Manna Day and Lata Mang-
eshkar sing and Shankar Jaikishan’s lyrical
melody and orchestral score gave me so
much joy. There was a thrill of discovering
this hidden love that I had so far not wit-
nessed during wasted years of revolting
against older black and white films. I was
I have seen a lot of
romance in cinema,
but if I had one wish,
I would want to live
in Raj Kapoor’s and
filled black and
white world, says
loud and loud and