My views are insanely low right now, and I don’t super care. The blog is keeping me sane and if it is doing the same for my half dozen or so folks who are still reading and commenting, that’s totally worth it. But! Since it is just us half dozen in an empty room chatting, that means we can talk about the stuff we care about and not worry about the 100 or so other people who are usually here with us. TIME FOR DDLJ!!!!! (full index here)
Last section, something or other happened, I don’t remember. Anyway, Anupam is now here in the very very crowded wedding household.
One thing this film does well which is kind of lost in the whole SRKajol romance chemistry awesomeness is the feel of a wedding household. It’s immitating Hum Aapke Hain Koun, but slightly different. HAHK did detailed wedding flavor in multiple places over multiple events. DDLJ is showing one very long steady wedding period.
It’s a very small way that DDLJ is, again, NRI. With a regular non-NRI wedding, everything is spread out with gaps for normal life in between. There’s the engagement party, and then later the wedding, and the wedding parties, and so on and so forth. It’s not just that the central family/couple are doing other things in between, it’s that the guests and all are as well. This movie is giving the feel of what it is like when someone like returns after decades away from home. All life for everyone stops for those few weeks. Himani Shivpuri, Amrish’s little sister, presumably would normally be leading a slow stable existence, shopping, cooking, maybe helping the fields. And instead she is running around doing wedding things. Just as Satish Shah and his wife, the neighbors, have stopped everything for these weeks, and all the children running around, and everyone else, are just here all the time. Everything is slightly different, slightly special feeling. And all that specialness is concentrated into a few long weeks, instead of spread out for several months and events,
Anyway, Himani! Amrish’s little sister who is a bit old not to be married, but also rebellious and independent. Tiny note of patriarchy, Himani grew up without a man to control her, Amrish had moved away and his father was dead. So she gets to be unmarried simply because she never found anyone to her taste. Kajol doesn’t have that option, she has a father always present in her life who wants her married off as fast and young as possible.
Himani moves like an older spinster woman. Not the fast graceful dancing giggling of the younger woman, or the proper modest shuffle of the wives, she strides along and moves big and talks big and is fearless. I want to be Himani!
See? This other woman is flying by, head covered, and Himani has her arms out, chewing carrots.
Not chewing carrots prettily either, look at that big chunk in her cheek! I don’t know if Adi told her to do that, or if it’s just how she decided to play the character, but I love it either way. We see Farida and Kajol eat plenty of times in this movie, but we never see them chew, you know? The food just magically disappears. Not Himani!
And, CRASH! No delicate meeting either, not some pretty “let me pick up your dropped flower” kind of thing. Just, BANG!
Admire the directing! Camera seamlessly moves down two feet to catch them on the ground as they both stoop to pick up the flowers. And the way their heads line up all nicely composed with the pillars in the background. It’s pretty basic camera work, but it’s still better than you see in many other movies that were planned less carefully.
And now we get the romance! As their eyes meet, and the music starts. It’s funny, but warmhearted funny. Right? This doesn’t feel like “ha-ha, old people are in love”. And it’s definitely hot “ha-ha, gross non-sexy people being sexy”. It’s funny because love is funny, here are two silly loud confident independent people, suddenly thrown back into uncertainty and shyness by surprising love.
Look at how Himani is playing this! She’s an over the top comic actress, but her reactions here are soft and delicate.
Same with Anupam, he’s playing the shyly looking away like a little boy, all that gutsy successful man feeling drops away.
We don’t get anything more than this on Anupam and Himani’s romance, but I don’t think we need it.
See, the thing with Kajol and Shahrukh is that they were two young people figuring out who they were in the world, and growing into different versions of themselves who could be in love.
But Anupam and Himani already are those versions of themselves. They don’t have to change, or get to know the other better to see the “real” person in side, this is it, they are always real inside and out.
So Anupam pricks himself on the flower and they both react to it, he is shy but helpful, she smiles and meets his eyes, just picking up a tray of flowers together is enough to tell them that he is a kind man who will stop and help a woman, and she is a confident woman who will meet the eye of a man.
There’s also the costuming of course. Himani with her bright colors and youthful Salwar and big jewelry and little teasing curls, it says she has the confidence of an older woman and the spirit of a younger one.
Anupam, with his beret and bright scarf and classes, he is a “foreigner”, and not ashamed of it. And he has the personality to wear bright colors, but the maturity to wear glasses too.
And then they are interrupted, just like Kajol and Shahrukh are interrupted. Anupam and Himani may be older, but this is still a wedding romance, little stolen moments in the middle of a hectic household.
And just like with Kajol and Shahrukh, the man has to stop the woman because she is the one being watched and called for. Although Himani is much easier to stop and much less afraid of being caught than Kajol (privilege of age).
Also wisdom of age, Anupam gets right to the point. None of Shahrukh’s dumb lines and flirting, just straight up “Hey, this is who I am”.
And also straight up “who are you?”
Himani has no lying or shyness needed. None of that “oh no, a strange man approaching me, I shall be rude and stand offish” nonsense that a younger woman would have. Not even lying about being the bride’s aunt rather than a younger relative.
Anupam may not start out with a line, but he’s still a bit of a player! He’s got a nice compliment ready to go as needed. The first time I saw this movie, as a dumb 19 year old, I thought this line was ridiculous. But right now I am probably the same age Himani is supposed to be. And it’s not silly for her to be Simran’s sister! She’s old to be unmarried in her particular culture, but not THAT old.
Clever subtle thing, Himani’s carrot comes back as a plot point since this is still Karwa Chauth and it tells Anupam she isn’t fasting.
Again, funny-not-funny. It could have been a delicate sweet she was nibbling, but it’s funny to make it be a carrot. And at the same time, not funny that Anupam is excited about the carrot. Of course he is, Himani is a catch, her eating on Karwa Chauth is great news no matter what the food is.
Himani is no less! She brings out the same flirting game Anupam had. See how easy it is? When you are adult and confident and not terrified of the other sex? This is what Kajol and SRK could have been like from the start, if they weren’t so young and dumb.
And we leave Anupam holding the carrot and the rose, and that’s story closed on the Himani-Anupam romance.
Well, story closed in the film! Not in my head. There’s a backstory I can assume from this, and a post-script.
In the backstory, the way Anupam approaches Himani straightforward and fearless, tells us something about the behavior he modeled for Shahrukh. Shahrukh is a young man and a bit of a coward, so he can’t quite capture that fearlessness. He talks to girls and doesn’t expect them to be afraid of him, that he learned from his father. But he still has to put on the protective act, use a line, not just ask for their name and tell them his.
Along those same lines, Himani clearly is a fearless young woman. Earlier she was asked why she wasn’t married and she said she didn’t like the village men, wanted a man from overseas. From the way she is so straight forward and direct with Anupam, I can picture years of her being unsatisfied with the men around her, gaining confidence as she rejected the ones who weren’t up to her standards, and now being fearless in showing her interest to the one that is worthy.
In the epilogue, I can’t imagine these two fearless straight forward people, who have been alone for so long (Himani unmarried, Anupam widowed) NOT pursuing each other after the film ends. Anupam call call or write her (he’s rich after all, he can afford overseas phone rates). Himani can force herself into a family trip to visit Kajol. They will be happily married soon.
That’s why they aren’t the leads of this film. There is no movie with Himani and Anupam, no conflict, no fear, nothing that would be a big story to overcome. They meet, they are into each other, and they have the personal strength and resources to be together. End of story.