And I didn’t even realize it until the other day.
There is a scene from the title track of Baazigar when Kajol, dressed in a deep blue cocktail dress with a very 90s rhinestone collar around her neck, turns to face the camera on a yacht and blows Shahrukh Khan a kiss (at approx. 3.15 in the video above – right after Shahrukh dances in short shorts!). Her hair is swept up and off her face, her eyes are light brown and her eyebrows are frightening. I had no idea who she was when first I saw that clip in a trailer but I thought she was the most attractive woman I’d ever seen.
Strictly speaking, that wasn’t true of course. She couldn’t hold a candle to the famous beauties in her own family, much less the ones who dominated Hindi cinema for decades before she made her debut – but she had It. That ineffable quality that characterizes a bonafide movie star. You either got it or you don’t, and Kajol had it in spades.
But as Pitu’s An Ode to Kads reminded me, that’s a potent weapon she wields. It’s always a joy to watch her in action, of course, but Kajol-worship has made me pay good money to watch more turkeys in a theater than any other movie star.
Things never got so bad that I actually ventured into the local cinema for Gundaraj or Hulchul (I was a fan, not an idiot) but I must raise my hand and admit that I went to see Ishq. In my meagre defense, my best friend whom I shall dub Popsicle for the purposes of this post was a huge Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla fan from the time she first saw Qayamat se Qayamat Tak as a wee kiddie, so it was always going to go on the list when we cast around for things to do on the weekend. Add Kajol and we simply had to see it. What can I say? We were teenagers and our brains weren’t fully developed.
I would give myself props for refusing to take her word for it that Pyar to Hona hi Tha was a good movie (the statement that forever sealed her reputation in school as the chick who likes The Cheese) and stubbornly staying at home only to be tortured with it many years later when it came on cable, but I admit I was just as eager to watch Dil Kya Kare as she was. And even after the horror of that experience, we were not only looking forward to but we actually convinced other people from her college to go see Raju Chacha with us.
They were such nice girls, all they did was give us a long look during the intermission even as we sank low in our seats and tried to pretend we were invisible.
Possibly they knew our Kajol-obsession was its own punishment. Because Popsicle and I are the crazed idiots who went to see the following epics:
Hamesha – Before Sanjay Gupta discovered the mighty power of South Korean movies when combined with Sanjay Dutt’s vaguely threatening po-face, he made an old school Bollywood reincarnation movie (seriously!) with Aditya Pancholi as a creepy rich dude who’s madly in love with college girl Kajol who walks in the rain in a killer red dress and is in love with lovable, perma-surprised Saif Ali Khan who’s got a bromance going on with… you guessed it, Aditya Pancholi.
Stuff happens, two dummies get thrown off a cliff, cue forward a couple of decades and Kajol is a very sad gypsy dancer (possibly because she can’t dance for toffee and is looking starvation in the eye) who gets sold off to a creepy rich dude in a wig (same old Aditya Pancholi in a wig). You’ll never guess in a million years who shows up as the featured entertainment at their engagement party so I’ll tell you – it’s Saif! With a guitar! And a violin! All the better to play his signature tune! From the past life!
Kajol gets the dreaded (by all evil doers!) instant flashback disease when she hears him sing “I’ll be back for my lover even if I die because one life isn’t enough for love” and she immediately hunts Saif down to tell him how much she loves him except Saif now thinks she’s completely nutso even though he totally suffers from Sympathetic Tears Syndrome which every Bollywood fan knows only comes to pass when two hearts beat as one. But Reincarnated Saif is a bit of a weasel so he decides to hop on a train and get the hell out before Aditya starts planning Rappelling Down Cliffs Without Benefit of Ropes – Part 2, but Kajol also decides, without being asked, to run away with him and…MYSTERY! Who knows what will happen?!
Sapnay – Like a kicked puppy who doesn’t understand why his tail wagging is being met with abuse, back we went for Rajiv Menon’s directorial debut Minsaara Kanavu. We saw it in the original Tamil too, because we wanted the authentic experience (okay, so that was the only version they were playing in our town but we bought the soundtrack in Tamil).
How was it? Well, it’s a movie in which Kajol’s big dream is to become a nun, Arvind Swamy has a moustache that gets all sweaty just thinking about her, and Prabhu Deva has a tummy ache every time he’s asked to express some kind of emotion. It all turns out just as well as you’d expect.
In other words, Rajiv Menon owes me money.
Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya – As bad as these were, the highlight of them all was this movie. It starred Salman Khan in the initial stages of his now bratty persona, he had just begun ripping his shirt off every chance he got so everyone was still talking about it, and Popsicle couldn’t stop humming that Kamaal Khan number.
The movie itself wasn’t all that bad, I suppose, but over the years I’ve noticed that this is the flick that surprises me the most when they play clips from it – I simply don’t remember any of it. Where did that song come from? Was she in the movie? When did they have that conversation? I have no clue. My strongest memory is of Kajol in a series of unfortunate salwar suits, looking like an unhappy sausage that’s gone a bit off.
What I do remember clearly is the uncle-ji who tried to feel up Popsicle’s leg. She thought a rat was trying to crawl into her lap before she discovered it was a rodent of the two-legged variety. We were waiting for the movie to turn good (any moment now! we’ll be right here, watching) so she didn’t feel like stomping on his bald pate the way she usually would have – choosing instead to exchange seats with our best friend, six feet plus inches of aggressive teen male. I can still visualize uncle-ji quietly withdrawing his hand after encountering a very different kind of leg than the one he was expecting and slinking away into the darkness of the theater.
Now, if you went to see Bekhudi or Bambai ka Babu or Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi in the theatres, then you’ve got us beat in the fandom stakes. Also, I laugh at you. For being bigger dorks than we were. Ha ha!