I remember the first time I saw “Dil Chahta Hai”—I was probably 17 years old. As a Pakistani, I wasn’t really into Bollywood movies at the time. It was probably because “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” had put me off the concept of love; where the girl gets the guy, but she’s the second choice. Or because only “leading men” like Salman Khan grace the screen. Or worse, because there is some conflict between two characters; ones from India and the other Pakistan, and they just can’t seem to make it work.
Whatever the reason may be, the grand appeal and hype behind “Dil Chahta Hai” was a concept I didn’t understand at the time.
But fast-forward to my 20th year—right after I had moved to the UK for college and had really gotten into Bollywood movies, especially the oldies from the 1980s and onwards, I realised they were the closest link to my culture and the Urdu language back home.
So I made the decision to re-watch “Dil Chahta Hai” and boy, did I get all the feels. (At this point, I would like to give a shout-out to Farhan Akhtar for creating such a simple film about friendship but one which Bollywood desperately needed.)
The dialogues, the spontaneous day trip to Goa, the strong friendship between the main characters and the concept of relationships and love were everything I admired about the movie. But the thing which stuck out the most was the character of Siddharth Sinha, “Sid,” acted out beautifully by Akshaye Khanna.
Sid, a young man in his early-to-mid 20s mostly dressed in blue or white kurtas and jeans, was a character written just for Khanna. Khanna is the only actor who’s able to pull off the introverted, profound and witty character that is Sid.
Sid is different from his impetuous friends. His screen time, though limited, is full of depth and ardour. His passion for art, which he uses as a medium to express thoughts he couldn’t otherwise say, portrays his philosophical side and contrasts sharply with the rest of the film and its humorous take on life and love.
His story, it almost seems, is individual from the entire film. It’s one that viewers will remember the most (probably) when they recall it later on.
Sid’s take on love is different from his friends Akash’s and Sameer’s; he is the kind of guy who is okay with unrequited love. In the film, his object of affection, Tara, played by the lovely Dimple Kapadia, is a divorcee, an alcoholic and the “older woman.” Sid’s affection for Tara is evident through simple acts like showing her his pieces of art, keenly listening to her interpretations of his work, or feeling ever so grateful to sketch her.
Sid falls in love wholly and purely. He doesn’t look for physical intimacy and reciprocation from Tara. He doesn’t seek his mother’s approval. He just wants to be in love and be open and vulnerable to all the feelings and emotions coming his way.
Even at the end, when Tara falls ill and spends her last moments with Sid by her side, Sid’s acceptance of pain and heartbreak is incredible. It doesn’t matter to him if Tara passes without ever returning his feelings, because for him, just being on the journey of loving her was sufficient.
And that is what’s refreshing: not seeing a guy chase after a girl, make inappropriate passes at her despite her saying no multiple times, and being every so whiny. We just see a man in love and respecting his lover’s feelings.
Sid is a refreshing character who stuck out to me because after years of seeing immature, somewhat clingy men chasing after women or playing mind games with them, he, as cheesy as it may sound, is a man and not a boy. He has the combined emotional depth and more of both Akash and Sameer. It’s endearing how his displays of emotion are so controlled, yet ever so free. Although a joyful character and just a genuine guy who enjoys having a laugh with his friends, Sid stands out through his mature take on love.
After rewatching “Dil Chahta Hai,” I only leave with memories of Sid stealing my heart. Perhaps it was the brilliant writing of his character or the execution by Khanna, but I feel that this is a call for more characters like Sid; introverted and brooding, but kind and intelligent at the same time. Is that too much to ask, Bollywood?
The opinions expressed by the guest writer/blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brown Girl Magazine, Inc., or any employee thereof. Brown Girl Magazine is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the guest writer/bloggers. This work is the opinion of the blogger. It is not the intention of Brown Girl Magazine to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please follow the guidelines we’ve set forth here.
March 20, 2023March 21, 2023 4min readBy Nida Hasan
If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking.
I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.
— Smriti Mundhra
As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.
In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.
For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.
At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.
In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.