I can’t be certain, but my guess is that my dad was on the Dev Anand and Jubilee Kumar end of the fan spectrum that had Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar on it somewhere. The tales he narrated to us of his adulthood would usually be linked to a milestone, like a movie or to say more specifically, a Dev Anand or Rajendra Kumar super hit. That was his way of page marking his youth.

That was also how “Jab Pyaar Kisi se hota hai” came up for the first time. Nay, the second time. The first time was at the boarding school up in the hills. Now, that is a story on its own. Blame it on fecundity, but my memories of old black and white Hindi movies are jumbled up with a green carpet laid out lush, as the Class III extension at Oak Grove Junior School. That green carpet paid homage to a sturdy JK TV with shutters on. It stood guard as a mute spectator on most days of the week, only to come alive on a Sunday, when all hopes for the weekend were lost on us. Once in a while it was disturbed out of turn for a Chitrahaar or so, but it spent most of the time staring at the blackboard ahead of it like the rest of us, that is, until that green mat got laid out. That was when us children, lulled by barley pudding served for Sunday dinner, slid down, legs crossed before, awaiting the screen to light up – first by a monotone and then a grid that looked like some circuit. This grid would disappear to unveil the re-assuring tone of Doordarshan coming alive, one petal at a time around what appeared to be an egg yolk. This was also when we saw teachers let their hair down, literally. “We, my husband and I, saw this movie in Prabhat na, but Asha Parekh, but Asha Parekh cannot act, I tell you.” Mrs Goyal said. “She was a bachchi then Mrs Goyal, just 19”, Mrs. Bhaskar chimed in, very much out of character, but not out of character enough to drop that honorific “Mrs”.

A surge of excitement took over us, barley pudding be damned, when the credits rolled. Dev Anand, Asha Parekh, Rajendra Nath ‘and’ Pran. This was a Nasir Hussain caper. There was something about the Hindi movies from the 60s – hill stations and the timelessness of a hero riding a horse carriage singing “Sau saal pehle….”. It reminds me of my father, his reminiscences, and the time that has passed, the people who once lived and sang and who are not around any more. Sat on that green carpet, and between stolen glances towards clueless girls across the aisle, I remember Dev Anand walking away with Asha Parekh into the mist as the screen crackled “The End”. Back in my bed that night and before sleep took over, my 8 year old head was still working out – did they have kids? Later on as I watched more movies, I remember asking myself ‘what happens to the thousands of couples who vanquish villains and walk into mist filled locales? What happens to the villains? Do they reform and become good individuals or do they get back to their villainous ways? Is there some redemption at the end for them?’

Of course, I know now that “Jab Pyaar Kisi se hota hai” is probably biding its time in an aluminium storage box in Filmistan, Goregaon. The remains of the dashing hero are probably microscopic dirt mixed up with a number of high brow Englishmen at the Putney Vale Crematorium in London. I happened to be amongst the 10 or so people who attended a memoriam in Dev saab’s name at Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Hammersmith, on the day he was cremated. As singers in a strange accent serenaded Dev saab’s memory to “Tere ghar ke saamne, ek ghar banaaunga….”, his wife and some old men sat around looking blank, turning to each other, speaking amongst themselves in hushed whispers. Walking out into the street that day and as my breath merged into the old air outside, I realised the final climax of “Jab Pyaar Kisi se hota hai”. It had taken 30 years to get here.

– Manoj Panikkar (1991)


This piece was shared by Manoj Panikkar on  April 4, 2021 over email.

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