Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dil Chahta Hai : What the Heart Desires

Sometimes it is good to go and see a movie after the dust has settled, after the reviews have been written, the awards given out and the box office, the critics and the movie going public have all given their verdict. Then one can view a movie for what it is really is – shorn of the promos and the marketing blitz and the commercial hype surrounding it. Then you can watch it stripped to the bare bones and compare it with life and assess – does the story match up, or does it not?

So it was interesting to watch Dil Chahta Hai in 2008, seven years after the now iconic film was released and ask : is it real or surreal ? Does friendship last, blossom and flourish and sustain as it did in the case of Akash, Sameer and Siddharth or is it all a myth to be savored for a couple of hours in a dark theater and then forgotten amidst the “strategic alliances” of the real world?

I have some friendships that go back close to a quarter of a century which is quite a bit of time. Those relationships could have vaporized at any point over this time, considering that none of us live in small towns where you would always bump into each other. No , we have all changed jobs, changed cities, gone through different life stages like marriage, children and all that – quite like the shifts and tornados in the lives of Akash, Sameer and Siddharth – and yes, deliberately I am identifying with the nameless characters of the film than with the rather celebrity names who acted out the roles.

But longevity of a friendship means nothing if the sap has dried out and that is where I feel a tinge of envy, when I think of the three friends of Dil Chahta Hai. There is this scene which I will long remember – the three are in Goa in their care free college days and then some years later, near the end of the film, they are there again – now with their wives – no, Akash and Sameer with their wives; Sid, the artist has just lost his muse and his love to liver cirrhosis. Between the two trips so much has happened and yet nothing seems to have happened; the bonding is stronger than steel and no storm is strong enough to blow those bonds away.

There are friendships which time does not wither. Some people you meet after years, decades even , having kept in touch in the interim through letters or phone calls or may be today through Facebook or Orkut. Some times, not even that. Then destiny enables you to connect physically and it is as it always was. The hair may be greyer and the girth wider but the warmth and the love and the trust has only taken deeper roots like a wizened banyan tree- a bit uncouth may be but utterly trust worthy like a Rock of Gibraltar when the storms hit.

Then there are friendships where the form remains but the substance if not completely gone , is but a pale shadow of its former shelf. Stiff formality and decorum takes the place where the draught of laughter and freedom blew hither and thither like the unbound wind. Appearances are scrupulously kept up, because that is all that is often left. Conflicts never happen in these kinds of relationships because the foundations are too shallow for the appearances and decorum to hold if some thing were to give and so we take every precaution to ensure that appearances hold up. I envy the friendship of Akash, Sameer and Siddharth because it was not about keeping up appearances ; it was about real bonding; bonding of the kind that can withstand storms. Withstand change. Withstand conflict. Withstand every thing that life can throw at you. I wish that I had more of those kind of friends and I wish too that I were more of that kind ofa friend. That is what the heart truly desires – in every heartbeat; everywhere.

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