Aashiqui (1990) – Love Makes Life Live in Equality

This is a very interesting love story in the best way. It is a love story, but also a story about how people in love grow and support one another to become the best they can be throughout the relationship as they grow up in to adulthood and how there has to be two equals in a relationship for it to work. It is both a story of love as well as personal growth. At least, that is what it looked to be until the movie turns in to a story about the fears and dreads of women in the workplace from their bosses and the contracts made to them (that certainly don’t extend to their male counterparts) as well as the immaturity of the Hero in contrast to the mature Heroine in how in the end equality is more important than anything.

Summary:

Rahul is a musician singing in a hotel club and Anu is a ward in one of the girl hostel’s in Bombay. By chance the two meet at a police station. Rahul tracks down Anu and the two begin a secret relationship until they are discovered. The two start a relationship when Anu leaves the hostel and she becomes a successful model. With a conversation from Rahul’s mother Anu decides to keep Rahul at a distance. Rahul in the meanwhile becomes a successful musician. The two fight and she is called to do a job in Paris while Rahul is depressed. It is a fight from both sides to come together.

 

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This movie is mostly about the music and the love story than anything else. The acting is stellar from all parties and no one overshadows anyone else, except the music which is so beloved.

Rahul Roy (the actor’s name is the same as character) plays a music loving young man with a romantic heart. He makes a dreamy hero, the kind that teenagers would love when this movie came out with his charm and innocence. Within this innocence that is so lovable comes a lot of immaturity which he acts well when it comes in to light.

Anu Aggarwal as Anu Verghese plays a teenage girl maturing into adulthood. Her face may be still, but her eyes convey the longing and sadness that turns in to shyness in love that becomes maturity and standing strong in what she knows is the best for Rahul. Her clothes change from those meant for a little girl in to those of a young woman who knows how to be in the world and how it works.

Reema Lagoo as Rahul’s mother has only four scenes in the movie, but she makes them count. Her presence commands authority and wisdom that her son Rahul lacks. I wish she had been in it more to fill some plot holes that would have been nice to have been seen rather than said in conversation.

 

Music fills every frame of this movie, from the opening song, to Rahul seeing two street musicians in the night, him searching for Anu through song (makes sense in context) and it beautifully encompasses the small romance with a big heart that is in this film. And they are beautiful compositions by Nadeem-Shravan with their youthful, longingly romantic and innocent sound that encapsulates the movies atmosphere very well with their Hindi-Urdu ghazal’s.

 

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This move is also a story of T-Series. Indeed this was the big hit for T-Series or Super Cassettes Industries Private Limited and their music label as well as their producing house that had started with Gulshan Kumar selling pirated cassette tapes in the early 1980s (the copyright laws were very loose back then) from their fruit juice stand in Delhi. The cassettes were affordable, always in the know on what the public wanted and Aashiqui made their label the leading one on the market. Their label is used in the movie to make Rahul successful as a musician while signing sad songs, and in a Meta sense making both him and T-series a hit. And come 2019 and they are the leading YouTube channel in the world. Knowing where they had come from, selling pirated copies from a fruit juice stand in India in the 1980s to their position now, was one of the reasons I rooted for them in the YouTube subscriber battle between PewDiePie vs T-Series that happened.

More T-Series history here: https://dontcallitbollywood.com/2018/09/12/hindi-film-101-a-history-of-t-series-the-worlds-most-popular-youtube-channel/

 

This is a love story that has been told many times, but not like this and the way the music carries through the story helps with its freshness. There are no blatant villains, there are choices between ambition and love with more worth put in to love, but still not dismissing the job you are successful at. The ending is so ambiguous about it which makes it an either or situation depending on your view of what happens after the end credits.

If not watch the movie then listen to the music. It is classic for a reason that you can just imagine young people and their parents buying in cassette’s and playing on the stereo during the day or on their walkman’s on their way to school or work. The music is so strong that is overshadows the movie. If you don’t remember the love confessions in the dialogues then it is OK, the music is the love confession and that you will remember even after watching it.

 

SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON! SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON! SPOILERS! 

 

The love story itself is also wonderfully made until everything goes against them. Grown from an encounter where their eyes meet as the lighting strikes, making their faces half in blue light while the rind darkness, lighting their interest in each other as well as their attraction. It is just pure art the way it is shown. No wonder it is a classic. Rahul talks to her and gives her his jacket which he uses to track her. He then makes a ploy to get in to the hostel and meets her again. He writes her a note to which she answers with the help of the Master Tailor. The two start meeting secretly in the hostel’s church than is run by Arnie Campbell (a marvellous Tom Alter whose Hindi is the best from a white person I have yet seen and he is a third generation Indian from America to boot!) who withholds any kind of fun like makeup and love from Anu in the hopes of marrying her. When Arnie suspects something is up he takes her to Ooty where he plans to marry her, Rahul hears what he plans to do and Anu is ready to slit her wrists when he comes and she cries in to his chest that she is tired of not being able to fight her circumstances. The two elope, but are found out. Anu convinces her wardens to let her go and she ends up in a drunk relative’s house. Rahul sings and finds her (this is where the musical element comes in to this) and the two are reunited.

Master Tailor is made Anu’s guardian, but Rahul wants her to movie in with him and his mother. Anu refuses, saying that now that she has gained her freedom she wants to have her own apartment and job. Rahul helps Anu to succeed her in classes, but by chance of her looks she is chosen in to a model competition which she wins. Rahul is happy about her success and she has more confidence than ever. Rahul’s mother comes to see Anu and tells her that Rahul is lying to himself that he is happy, since they are unequal in their relationship and she should let him go until they are at an equal footing. With her modelling work she is put in to a contract which prohibits her from marrying for two years and her boss considers Rahul an interference in to her success. Rahul makes a scene when Anu is asked to put on a swimsuit for a photoshoot, she lets him go and they break up.  When Rahul becomes a successful musician and his album is to be published her boss wants to stop his success, but Anu threatens to lit her face on fire if he does so and so he relents. Rahul becomes successful and the two  are slowly coming together as equals. When Anu’s boss tries to control Anu she rejects him and he tells Rahul that it is because of her that he is as successful that he is. Rahul is angry at this supposed “betrayal” and leaves Anu. Only until his mother tells him the truth of what she told him does he realise his mistake and chase her to the airport. There he fins Anu, who presumably left her job in Paris to wait for him and the two reunite and forgive each other. He covers their faces with their faces and they presumably kiss in the iconic pose in all the posters of the movie.

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The tagline of the movie is “Love Makes Life Live” meaning that love itself makes life worth living for it is what we live for. I do not know what happens after the credits, but seeing the emphasis of equality in a relationship as one of the main points of the movie I like to think that Anu goes back to work as a model after they are married, this time with a company who accepts her relationship with Rahul and the two continue their relationship while they both work. Unless of course having obtained her freedom in working she decides to make the choice and be a housewife. Either way its a choice she herself will make and I am glad that the movie didn’t show either option, but let it be up to us.

 

The love story is sweet and innocent yet somehow fresh the way it is presented. It is not just about a passive girl and a pursuing boy, its about one rebelling and the other sporting her decisions. He doesn’t say not to her not living with him and her mother and getting an apartment and a job on her own merits.

Anu herself is a fascinating heroine, running away from her hostel and clearly wanting to leave but is unable to because she is being controlled. Then when Rahul comes she sees the opportunity to be happy in their secret meetings and in the end leaves the place by her own words, not because he did or said anything. She is constantly fighting (but not without struggle) against powers that be that want to control her life without her say in it. She doesn’t change herself for anyone and though she grows she still has her principles. Though I am sad that we were robbed of her final confrontation with her boss in the airport.

 

Yet Anu is much more mature than Rahul is and with the advice from Rahul’s mother to marry only when they are equals she takes it in since she recognises his maturity. Had she said why she rejected him he would have been as insulted as he was before and seeing that only to have his mother talk sense in to him because he is still a boy who listens to his mother rather than his girlfriend when he is angry. It is frustrating to watch, but it does express the flaws in the relationship and as we have seen Anu’s circumstances (as well as being a girl becoming a woman in general) means she is much more mature than he is by a long shot even though she is still innocent and kept from the world at first.

The trouble is both with Rahul, though that can be out to immaturity, as well as the men controlling Anu’s life. First it was her hostel host who wanted to marry her and prohibited her from having makeup and not having a man in her life that wasn’t him. Then came the bosses of her modelling job who put in a clause that she should not marry in the two years she is with them which is an unfair clause everywhere, but it does show how corporations for industries like modelling, dancing, music, being a movie star do control your life and that your life is in the end is in the hands of others. Her boss threatens her and acts all rape-y when he wants her to go to Paris. The contract makes him the one with the power and her with none, yet she throws the flowers in his face and rejects him and Paris. He as an act of revenge tells Rahul that it is because of her that he is so successful and HE BUYS IT! It shows his immaturity in full form in not listening to Anu when she begins to talk, a thing he has been doing whenever he becomes angry. Because of this she chooses to go to Paris with her bad boss and we don’t know what happens, but she refuses the job in Paris and stays in India. The two reunite and Rahul is forgiven.

Because of the control put on Anu by the men in her life they don’t see her grow in to her own person right in front of them. There are those that support her decisions like Rahul at first and his friends, but when they are out of the picture she is still controlled in a way that is clear. Rahul doesn’t liberate her, she liberates herself from the hostel, then when she realises Rahul and she aren’t on the same level financially and maturity and finally her boss that pressured her in to taking the job in Paris. When they come together Rahul’s music career has taken off and her modelling might renew or it might not, but they are both emotionally mature to have an equal relationship on that front if not the job one.

And apparently their separation was one of years, not months, though it certainly felt like months when I watched it. Her clothing does mature, but his doesn’t, which just shows their different states of mind. All in all a good watch for the music and a god Heroine and a good message about equality in relationships.

 

 

Thank you for reading! 

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