(No, that header image isn’t a mistake, read on to find out why)
Oh my goodness, I haven’t even gotten to Kajol yet! I do in this section, and she is WONDERFUL. And, if you find yourself wondering, “was the SRKajol magic there from the beginning?”, the answer is yes, absolutely, from the very first time they shared a frame together.
So, I left off at “Horses!” Moving on, next shot is of goons with swords, riding the horses, chasing our heroes. This is a remarkably skilled group of random village enforcers! It is not that easy (I assume, I’ve never tried it myself) to ride a horse while carrying a sword in the other hand and also not stabbing yourself. Or the horse. Oh! I bet this is why Rakesh re-used these goon actors in Koyla! Because they are stuntman who can ride horses with swords! Okay, it all make sense now.
Anyway, Attack! Raakhee runs off and manages to get away, but Shahrukh and Salman are fighting to protect her escape and get caught. Well, first they get away too, but then they are lasso’d (another difficult skill that these stuntman possess. I would use them in all my action movies too!) and dragged behind horses. It looks very painful. But then Raakhee is dragged out and hit! As always, seeing a parent attacked drives the hero to superhuman feats. Why do these bad guys always do that? Just leave the parents and girlfriends alone and they will give in much easier!
Shahrukh breaks free, but Salman is still entangled and fighting the swords people. He shouts at Shahrukh, looking at him with love in his eyes, “Bhaag Arjun Bhaag!” I get distracted wondering a) if Salman is supposed to be the elder brother and thus protecting SRK, because I thought they were twins and b) if there is something wrong with me because I find this scene more affecting and romantic than the whole last half hour of Bajirao.
Of course, Shahrukh comes back. Thereby making it a mutual sacrifice. He briefly frees Salman, but then they are both caught again, surrounded by horses, and stabbed to death in the very rock quarry where they used to work (also see my Bajirao summaries for why I am for people re-using sets in the same film whenever possible). Oh, also, for the first time we here the Karan-Arjun love theme and it is like two notes off from the Last of the Mohicans love theme and it is driving me nuts! Normally this kind of plagiarism doesn’t bother me, but I have watched Last of the Mohicans so many times (like every reasonable straight woman), that I know this theme like my own name, and having it go along and then right at the end go in a different direction is driving me INSANE! I would much prefer they followed the example of Yash Chopra in Darr, who used the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack straight, with no alterations at all.
So, Raakhee is feeling super down about the whole brutal death of her sons and goes to the Kali temple. Spooky wind, bells chiming, whole nine yards. She calls out to Kali “Mother! I call to you as a fellow Mother! I demand that you return my sons to me!” More spooky wind, as she drags herself to the alter, and begins to pound her head against the stone at Kali’s feet. Clashing bells, flashes of scary Kali statue, back to Rakhee looking up with her forehead covered in blood from banging her head, and BABY CRYING!!! It’s Shahrukh! Well, baby Shahrukh. And then baby Salman! And then are carried out of the birthing room and placed next to each other on a hospital sheet, just as the title card comes up “KARAN-ARJUN”. Okay, that’s cool. It’s totally like they are labeling each baby.
So, boys grow up. Baby Shahrukh has nightmares and is soothed by his loving parents, and the (Muslim or maybe Parsi) owner of the stable where his father lives/works. Baby Salman cries and is ignored by his drunk father who says “Be quiet! First you ate your mother, now you want to eat my bottle!” Which makes NO SENSE. I think he means, “first your demands sapped the strength of your mother until she died, now they are sapping my own ability to purchase alcohol,” but he did not say it very clearly.
Little boy Salman comes running back to drunk Dad, who asks where the alcohol he sent him to purchase is, only to learn Salman bought food instead, which earns him a beating. Little boy Salman! Your life is DARK! Following the traditional rules of Indian separated brothers, I guess you are the older one then.
Little boy Shahrukh chases a thief out of the stables and throws a rock at his head to stop him, for which the stable owner blesses him and calls him “son”. Little boy Shahrukh is totally the spoiled younger brother.
Little boy Salman is beating up another little boy while a neighborhood girl watches. As he fights, he starts flashing back to his death back when he was big boy Salman, and fights more viciously, until parents are called. His father slaps him, until little girl bursts out “He was fighting for YOU!” Because the other little boy had called his Dad a drunk. Which, let’s be real, is what he is. Dad is touched and maybe reforms? Nah!
And, grown up Salman! I guess he was the slightly bigger star at the time, since he gets the first (and, I think, better) introduction. He jumps from the ceiling! With no shirt! In tight black jeans! Into a boxing ring! Where he stands with his perfectly little tight torso muscles and a perfectly graceful boxing stance. And then he beats up his opponent as well, but it’s all meaningless! Because his Dad is still drinking, and he has to smash the bottles.
(every other photo in this post is SRKajol, I feel like I have to throw Salman a bone here)
Cut to, another bottle, filled with colored water, shattering as it is hit by a stone, from a slingshot, from horseback, from grown up real SRK!!! And the crowd goes wild! Well, the crowd in my living room. So, me. Although actually, that crowd had gone pretty wild for real actual Salman too. Mid to late 90s Salman looked gooooo-oooood. Hair still just a little floppy, chest a lean triangle instead of a block, almond eyes still dreamy instead of squinty, I could love a man like that. (In contrast, the mid to late 90s were not good for SRK. Pudgy face, pudgy back, double chin, and swooshy hair. But don’t worry, I still love him!)
So, Shahrukh is riding a horse, and shooting a slingshot at bottles around the riding ring, while also doing trick shots like behind his back and while laying (lying?) down in the saddle. Why would you ever learn this skill? Or include it in a movie? Also, take that people who say Shahrukh won’t ride a horse because he can’t ride/is scared! I don’t know why he doesn’t ride a horse in films any more, but clearly he could at one point!
But none of this matters, because do you know who is watching all this? Do you? It’s KAJOL!!! Being AWESOME! Just by existing. She isn’t actually doing much at the moment, this is back when she was still a teenager, and one of her first movies, so she looks more like “the director told me to stand here, so I am standing here”. And then there is Johnny Lever! Because it’s a film from between 1992 and 2001, of course it’s Johnny Lever! And he is here to give us “humerous” exposition, saying stuff like “she came here for horse riding lessons, but she is getting lessons in love instead!” So, yeah, Kajol is wild rich girl and Shahrukh is rough and tough stable boy who she desires. Also, the super creepy cameraman gives us this shot:
(17! She’s 17!)
Okay, this is so important that I am actually going to cheat and go back to the DVD to check. Shahrukh knocks down bottles, intercut with Kajol going “Wow” and “Amazing!” and “Isn’t he fantastic!” Finally, Shahrukh comes to a stop and makes sort of a desperate dive off the horse (okay, he can technically ride, but he isn’t the best at it). Kajol leaves the fence and starts slowly walking towards him, there is still a good ten feet between them and you see them full figure. She says “Wow, such great shooting and riding! How did you learn it?” He says “If you put your heart in it, you can learn it to!” Johnny Lever Greek choruses “His heart is sure in it!” Shahrukh adds “This is what I am seeing, every day you come half an hour early.” Kajol replies, “Since I started coming here, even home doesn’t have my heart.” This whole time, they have been slowly advancing on each other, speaking in sort of “isn’t this clever!” tones. It feels like this is supposed to be two sophisticated people slowly circling each other. But it’s Shahrukh and Kajol! Not a fancy flirty rich girl and the experienced stable hand who is wooing here! So instead, it feels like they are moving slowly, and holding out as long as possible, because as soon as they come together, all of the facades will wash away, and they will just be themselves.
So, Shahrukh is learning forward now, with that sort of half smile while he talks, and Kajol is walking forward in her teenage clompy way trying not to burst into the Kajol grin. Oh, and the horse is there too. Kajol finishes her statement about not wanting to be home any more just as they are about to come together, then turns, and walks away, before turning back, while she says “Just like a kite is pulled by a string, I am pulled back to here!” Again, it’s SRKajol! This is no good as a description. The kite metaphor is actually what this scene is going for, that she is a high-flyer and he is pulling her in. But it just doesn’t work for them, they come together like a bolt of lightning and never come apart, there is no teasing and playing like the string of a kite. Actually, I think this is the only movie they are in where we don’t see that bolt of lightning moment. We don’t see their first meeting, we are left to assume that they have been dancing and flirting for weeks already. Think about, in contrast, K3G. Where they meet, what, 3 times? And already he knows, he has to marry her. And she has to marry him. And they don’t even have to talk about it.
(I love this scene)
Anyway, the funky flirting is still going on. Shahrukh suggests, “Maybe ‘that’ has afflicted you”. Kajol questions “that?” Shahrukh responds, “Yes, ‘that’?” Shahrukh says “And in only two meetings [okay, so I guess it hasn’t been weeks, but still not as fast as in every single other film after this] it has also affected Mogambo!” Kajol: “Mogambo?” Shahrukh, “Haan! My horse!” Kajol laughs, and walks away again to pet the horse’s nose, and then admits “There is someone else too.” Shahrukh gives that dorky “Kajol loves me!” smile, the same one he had in Dilwale when he waved good-bye after the date, and asks “Soch?” “Yes!” “Swear it?” Shahrukh steps forward and they are finally in the same frame, faces right next to each other. Only they still have their weird fake faces on! Shahrukh is doing that fake serious face he does, like when he apologizes before spraying her with water in DDLJ, not his real serious face, like when he says “I love you” on the bridge. And Kajol has her “don’t laugh don’t laugh don’t laugh” frozen face. And they are both still talking super slow, which is not natural to either of them! That is one of my favorite things about them, both onscreen and in interviews, they are always rattling away at each other so fast that it’s like only the two of them can keep up sometimes.
Anyway, Shahrukh says “I can see it in the eyes, but I want to hear it too…with a kiss?” “With a catapult!” says Kajol, finally able to smile! And Shahrukh is finally able to react in his usual over-the-top way, with an all shaken “what?!?!” face he gets when she pulls a fast one on him. Johnny Lever is incensed, “How did this catapult enter a love scene!” My feeling is, a love scene with a catapult, where they can be themselves instead of some super dramatic stock figure, is going to be so much better.
And it is! They both crack up, and Kajol starts fiddling with the catapult with a dorky “I’m proud of myself!” grin, you know, the one she has in the “Ashfaque Miya!” scene from K3G. Shahrukh says, “Well, you may have my catapult if not my heart.” Kajol says “I don’t know how to shoot it!” And Shahrukh says “You can shoot arrows, but not catapults? I’ll show you!” And they are both smiling so hard, it looks like their faces will break, and saying the lines real fast, like they have to get them out before they burst out giggling. Actually, Kajol does giggle a bit. It feels like that moment at a family reunion or a work function or whatever when you are finally able to have a moment alone with that one person you just click with, and for just a second you can drop the pretense and politeness and just be completely yourself.
(how are they so good together! How do I not have that in my life!)
So, of course, Shahrukh uses the “catapult’ lessons to get his arms around her (Sholay reference!). Only instead of sexy, it just feels friendly. Partly because Kajol is smiling fit to burst and laughing a little the whole time. Like she thinks his whole “ooo, I am a smooth lover boy!” act is just the funniest thing she has ever seen in her life. Which it probably is.
He swings her around to aim, and suddenly sees Big Scary Man in shirtsleeves and a tie coming towards them. He asks “Who is that?” Kajol is squeezing her face back and forth, trying to decide how someone aiming a catapult should look, and probably because she is distracted, manages to rattle of her lines fairly naturally “It’s my bodyguard! Papa makes him go everywhere with me, I hate him!” Shahrukh has his naughty planning mischief face on. He is also trying to nuzzle her hair and get them back to the romantic mood (I think this is both the character and the actor, because Kajol, the actress and the character, is now so focused on the business with the catapult that she has forgotten this is supposed to be the romantic scene). Oh, and she has to remember lines also! And figure out how not to accidentally flash the crew when she bends over because they stuck her in a ridiculous top! It’s a lot for a 17 year old! She explains that the bodyguard goes after any boy who comes around her and beats him up. Shahrukh does his one eyebrow thing because he is making a scheme. And then he grabs her and kisses her! Not really, don’t freak out, just does that cheat where he turns the back of his head to the camera.
Bodyguard grabs him; Kajol looks shy. Which she barely makes believable. Shahrukh hits bodyguard! Kajol cheers loudly and smiles, much more believable. Shahrukh throws bodyguard onto neck of horse! I wince because that looked like it really hit the horse! Kajol jumps up and down and cheers! Shahrukh spins horse around with bodyguard still on it! Kajol jumps up and down some more! I want to build a time-machine and go back there and slap the cameraman who had her jump up and down so much, in that top, when she was only 17! And then, finally, enough jumping, Shahrukh throws the guy from the horse, directly into a car trunk! Okay, that was kind of a clever trick shot, like the hypodermic needle in Pulp Fiction, you see the guy fly through the air, and then you see him in the trunk, and your mind fills in that he landed there. Anyway, Shahrukh closes the trunk, Kajol says “Wow! Supurb!” and kisses him on the cheek, neither of which feel very naturally Kajol. Then she runs away, smiling, to open her car door. That feels Kajol, love ’em and leave ’em!
And then Shahrukh really nails a line, “Hey, Mem’saab, looks like in addition to riding and shooting, I’ll have to teach you something else.” And he rattles it off very naturally, with barely a half-smile, while he leans towards her slightly, not enough to really be consciously noticeable, but just enough to imply that he is constantly being pulled towards her. She has to look back, of course, and ask “What?” But not in a shy or flirty way, just in a “Oh yeah, what?” tough Kajol way. Shahrukh gives his cute I’m just an innocent puppy staring at you look and says “That one kisses on the lips, not cheeks. Here [touches his own lip gently with his finger].” Kajol replies, “I will learn that as well!” again, not flirty, just confident, and blows him an awkward kiss. Awkward just because you can see she is having a hard time keeping her lips pursed because she feels like smiling so bad. Shahrukh blows a kiss back, he gives a good one, a sort of over the top lip purse, so it is more of a joke than sexy (which is probably the only way to play that business without it looking stupid, and also definitely the best way to play it off Kajol with her in this silly mood). And then Kajol’s car pulls away, as the riding school owner (remember the guy who was Parsi or Muslim?) comes running up with a gun. There is just one more Kajol moment, she isn’t even in it, but as the back of the car pulls out of the frame, you see Shahrukh sort of going after it a couple of steps, with his hand up to wave and the goofiest grin on his face.
Okay, I’m all heated (but in a different way than when I write about Bajirao), I have to take a little break to cool down! Be back with the next summary late today/early tomorrow. Oh, and a Baazigar bullet point breakdown! I re-watched that last night.