Dubai Diaries: 'Dil Chahta Hai' and other 'buddy' films remain evergreen
We go down memory lane as the much-loved film celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
Bollywood buddy comedy Dil Chahta Hai recently celebrated 20 years of its release and stars Aamir Khan and Preity Zinta as well as first-time director Farhan Akhtar (who also wrote the story) shared fond recollections of working on the film; social media was abuzz with fans paying tribute to the 2001 film. Many consider it a landmark creative work that was spot-on in its depiction of contemporary young adult lives, loves and friendships.
What I love about DCH is its near-perfect mix of comedy and drama that fortunately hasn’t aged with time — the film still feels fresh and relevant, with perfectly cast roles — one still can’t imagine anyone else playing cheeky extrovert Akash (Aamir), naive, and often inadvertently hilarious Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) or reticent, artistic Sid (a brilliant Akshaye Khanna). While the “20th anniversary” news left me feeling a bit long in the tooth (wasn’t it just yesterday that I had watched DCH for the first time?), it also got me thinking about some other buddy-themed films that have stood the test of time and become, in a way, classics.
Interestingly, actor Aamir Khan, who made his Bollywood debut as a lead actor in the tragic 1988 romance Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, has featured in quite a few movies that combine a coming-of-age theme with the magic and pitfalls of friendship. 1992’s Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander saw Sanjay Lal (a young Aamir) and his ragtag group of ‘Model’ school buddies hoodwink, hustle and prank their way through life till an annual sporting event becomes the centre of Lal’s existence, setting him on a path of realisation and focus, yet never once does this transition seem contrived or forced; the film showcases with effortless ease the trajectory of Khan’s character and provides the audience with many laughs, some sighs and much food for thought along the way.
Another ‘friendship’ gem from the ‘90s was Andaz Apna Apna, that drew on a great script by Rajkumar Santoshi and Dilip Shukla as well as the comic flair of its two leads (Aamir and Salman Khan, in their first and so far, only on-screen pairing) to create a slacker comedy with now-iconic dialogues that make us crack up till date. While not strictly a ‘buddy’ film, Aamir and Salman’s characters (Amar and Prem) who compete for the affections of a heiress, ultimately end up bonding with each other and tackle an evil relative (a double role played rather unforgettably by Paresh Rawal).
No buddy film compilation would be quite complete without the inclusion of 3 Idiots, a both critically acclaimed and commercially successful coming of age comedy-drama based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel Five Point Someone. Starring Aamir Khan and his Rang De Basanti co-stars R. Madhavan and Sharman Joshi, the film showcases parallel storylines of college life and a memorable bond between the three leads, as well the scene as ten years later; it leaves you not only nostalgic for an idyllic college student existence but also musing on the outmoded conventions and often inflexible standards that dictate academic life.
Coming back to 20 years of Dil Chahta Hai, I think the film deserves a re-watch on Netflix, don’t you?