Highlighting the silly film clichés that ruled the Hindi film industry in the 80s and 90s
Posted on 04.05.21 2:22 AM
Blank check used as a bribe to a briefcase of money as ransom payment, firangi thugs at suhaag raat, there are a lot of old Bollywood tropes that we don’t see in our movies anymore. The telegraph highlights a few others who fortunately (almost) said goodbye …
Dong to Dang
In ’80s and’ 90s Bollywood, if you were a villain with flamboyance and flair (and an exaggerated wardrobe), then a weird name was part of the package. If Anupam Kher was Doctor Dang Karma, then Mohan Agashe was Kooka Singh in Trimurti. Most of the time, the names were descriptive, saving audiences precious time determining the villain’s character traits. So Amrish Puri’s slimy ponytail Vishwatma was named Ajgar Jurrat and Deepak Shirke’s villain in Tirangaa, who aims to end the world, was creatively called Pralaynath Gendaswamy (although his Bachchubhai Bhigona in Gunda had a slight advantage).
The “ badman ” marked by the pocket of Gulshan Grover in Mr. summer Chhappan Tikli and Kiran Kumar was Lotiya Pathan in Tezaab. General Dong was in the spotlight in Tahalka, played by who other than Amrish Puri. Dong – sporting a bald patty with a braid, bluish eyebrows, and eyes that were little more than slits – towered over Dongrila’s stronghold. When he had no intention of becoming the king of the world, Dong played the sitar until his fingers bled, while singing, Shom shom shom / Shom shom shom o sha sha / Don kabhi false nahin hota.
Suffering from a distinct colonial hangover, nearly every larger-than-life villain of the ’80s had a mission: to destroy India at the behest of foreign forces. And what better way to wipe out an entire country than with Bollywood’s favorite weapon of mass destruction? No, we’re not talking about the Tanishk Bagchi remixes. Something a little less deadly – nuclear missiles.
The best known example is, of course, Mr. India where Mogambo’s “lab” (Amrish Puri), with its blinking bulbs and screaming sirens, had Doctor Fu Manchu in a white coat who was working hard on a formula (pronounced “pharmula”) to trigger Mogambo’s precious missiles and make explode the country, which in the end, however, self-destructed.
Tirangaa took the trope a notch higher (or is it lower?), with Pralaynath’s long-held dream of unleashing a series of destroyed missiles by the clever antics of the James Bond-style Suryadev Singh (Raaj Kumar, pipe to hand and pun on lip) who simply had to pull out two harmless-looking fusible conductors (the kind used for light bulbs) to get the mickey out of the missiles. Trust Raaj Kumar, at the end of it all, to say “Sirf dhuya hi reh gaya aur kuch nahin», In his inimitable style.
This or that?
The old Bolly played KBC long before Amitabh Bachchan was baritone “Swagat hain aapka Kaun Banega Crorepati mein“. It was in the climax, which involved a time bomb attached to an unfortunate wife / mother / sister / sidekick. The all-important multiple-choice question of which wire to cut to defuse the time bomb made hearts beat faster. “Peela ya neelaWas almost always the dilemma, the bomb invariably being deactivated at the last second. Phew!
In the 2002 film of December 16, a nuclear bomb could only be defused by saying the words: “Dulhan ki vidaai ka waqt badalna hain“. Meta stuff!
Mom is the word
A widowed mother in an old Bolly masala movie more often than not ended up as bargaining chips for the villain towards the end. The hero pushing the minions to pulp in the villain’s lair was the signal for a mysterious door to open, only to show the hero’s mother, clad in a white sari, tied with a rope and choked in a whirlwind of smoke, which the villain was quick to say there was some kind of poison gas. This meant that it was the hero’s turn to receive a few punches, with the mother coughing and crying equally.
The hero’s sidekick
We can still see it sometimes, but the leader’s sidekick is a thing of the past. Acting as a best friend, confidant, watchmate, and at times even taking a bullet for his best friend, the sidekick also featured prominently with the hero in most songs that involved forcing (or intimidating) l heroine to give in. In the 90s, Deepak Tijori had a complete monopoly on this role in almost every movie.
Not many people came close to Gabbar and his men, but given the socio-political climate of the time, there were a dozen dacoits in the ’70s and’ 80s in Bollywood. Some young men did wrong and are fed up with the system took the gun and walked around Chambal, like Sunny Deol in Dacait and Sanjay Dutt in Jeeva.
The dacoits are no longer the baddies we fear in Bolly. Irrfan played one in Paan Singh Tomar, but it was a movie set in the 1960s. So was the 2019 movie Sonchiriya, performed in 1975, which featured a group of dacoits facing an existential crisis.
It didn’t take a Kumbh Mela for the siblings to go their separate ways in old Bolly. This can happen at the train station, during an earthquake or storm or even under a statue, as in the case of Amar Akbar Anthony. But a family song – as in Yaadon ki baaraat – was always on hand to bring them all together after a few decades of their lives and two hours of shooting the film. No family song? No problem. After all, what were the medallions broken in half and strung around the necks of two siblings for?
Girl Gang Picnic
A Bolly staple in the 1960s was the heroine on a bicycle with her gang of girls for a picnic. Laughing, they walked into a song, with a few skipping ropes or badminton rackets to keep the picnic spirit alive. Cue for the hero, sometimes accompanied by his own group of boys, to land for a song ‘n’ dance and chhed-chhad. Few people, however, stand out as much as Shammi Kapoor blundering in a plaid blanket, singing Tumse achha kaun hain ….
The death scene (extended)
Let’s face it. Bollywood could only have saved many characters from a dramatic (and poorly played) death if the damn ambulance had been called in time! The dying man had plenty of time to unleash a speech, extract a few promises, indulge in a series of ifs, and also take the hands of the hero and heroine in his bloody clasp and almost marry them on the spot.
A weak attempt to call an ambulance / medic would be shot down, with the character ultimately losing his breath in dramatic fashion. Followed, of course, by ubiquityNahiiiiiiiin! ‘
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