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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Game Changer Of The Century!

My letter to Amitabh Bachchan on being declared 'Game Changer of the Century' on cover of this year's Annual issue of the Society magazine:

Dear Amitji,

Heartiest congratulations on being declared the 'Game Changer of the Century' by the magazine Society on the cover of its Annual issue. It is your modesty speaking when you decline to accept this honor as not being worthy of it. The whole world knows you and you alone deserve the honor and Society has done right to declare it. If you still have any hesitation to accept it, let me convince you looking at few of your finest films that prove the point that you are indeed the 'Game Changer' of Hindi Cinema for sure.With every role, right from Saat Hindustani to Aarakshan you have offered a different interpretation of your most iconic persona.  Aided by great screenwriters Salim Khan, Javed Akhtar, and directors who knew how to draw the best out of you, your  iconic persona was a perfect fusion of all the elements of a hit formula in creating a lasting legacy for Indian cinema. Though the Angry Young Man that you embodied became an increasing staple in masala films, you truly echoed many of the frustrations during the  period of the 70s. So here are some of the many Angry Young Men or the Vigilante Vijay’s you have portrayed:

Vijay Verma in Deewaar – A list would simply be incomplete without mentioning one of your key roles! When you lounged in the dockyard chair in that iconic pose with a cigarette dangling from your mouth and glaring at the henchmen, an indelible moment of cinema history was created. Just from that scene, you created a hero who would willingly get into fights and launched a fashion craze of flares and tight shirts revealing a macho hairy chest! This Vigilante Vijay’s fury over the injustice against his parents by society sends him on a vengeful ascension to the top of  Mumbai’s smuggling ring.  With this film, you perfected one of many of your memorable death scenes, cradled in your mother’s arms and revealing your innocence, which is in direct contrast from your material wealth.

Inspector Vijay Khanna in Zanjeer – “Yeh police station, aap ke ghar nahi!” (this is a police station, not your home!) growls the most famous Vijay to a prisoner. If Deewar fashioned a tragic and stylish persona that shaped all other heroes to come then Zanjeer launched you as an aggressive alternative to voice the collective anger. When his parents are killed, Vijay focuses his obsessive energy onto all the criminals who land up in his jail. This was a hero defied the law to satiate his own rage. Tired of society and its rules, this Angry Young Man was all about the individual which is why it must have been heartening to audiences to see such a rebel on screen. Zanjeer was definitely a star-making role for you as you were so unconventional to other actors at the time.

Vijay Kumar in Shakti – One of your most overlooked interpretations of the persona is your most matured performances. This toned down revisionist masala film places you against another titan Dilip Kumar, and it is incredible to watch two of the most talented actors of Indian cinema face off. Kumar and you match each other and compete too, and it is a revelation to watch the two very different acting styles. They play father and son, but the film delves into their psychological grievances with each other. The neglect and scorn Vijay feels from his father fuels his new lifestyle as a criminal and to look for a father figure in his gangster boss. It is as if the 70’s Angry Vijay that you played had mellowed a tad and become far more sullen and bitter for the 80s. It is remarkable to watch you transition your iconic persona by ushering you into a new grey area and a new decade.

Vijay Kumar in Trishul – Hell hath no fury like a Vijay scorned, is likely the motto of your pairing with scriptwriters Salim and Javed and director Yash Chopra. Trishul is no different but loosely based on Karna in the Mahabharat’s struggle for power against his family and it falls aptly in the Angry Young Man mould. On her deathbed, Vijay’s mother reveals he is the illegitimate son of RK Gupta (Sanjeev Kumar) who ditched her before he was born. Vijay vows to become his father’s competitor and destroy his construction business out of sheer revenge. This was a startling switch from a hero who turns to crime for his parents or devoted to them, as this Vijay does not care for his father. You play this amoral Vijay with maniacal glee complete glaring at everyone around and angry tirades directed at your father ending each with a terse ‘Yes Mr RK Gupta’ before storming off.

Vijay Dinanath Chauhan in Agneepath – Mix in a bit of Scarface, a lot of gravely voiced Brando posturing, and a whole lot of Vijay fury and we get your most seething performances. When your father is framed and killed by corrupt town members and a bad man called Kancha Cheena, Vijay becomes a much feared and ruthless don to the chagrin of his mother and sister. This one of your later roles  let everyone know you were still in the top of your form. With your eyes lined with kohl and bloodshot, and repeating your famous line ‘pura naam Vijay Dinanath Chauhan’ you struck in an image of terror.  You do get the sense that you were putting everything on the line for this film and a little experimentation with your iconic persona certainly helped you land the National Award for this film. .

Subir Kumar in Abhimaan – Rarely do critics cite some of your pre-Vijay films as key in your oeuvre. However, the sparks felt in this film and others like Namak Haram or Anand are previews to the fuller actor you became after these iconic roles. This film by Hrishikesh Mukherjee looks at the marriage of two singers played by you and Jayaji as your star is on the wane and she overtakes you on the charts. With jealousy and   the hurt pride of a once popular star, your sensitive portrayal as Subir  makes a dislikeable character into such a humane tragic person character that the audience feels for him as he alienates all those around him. The early signs of a darker side and buried resentment, which you portray so well in this film can all be seen in your key roles.

Buddhadev Gupta in Cheeni Kum – You could call this your transition to Grumpy Old Man roles, but it deserves a place in this list for your commitment to reinventing your persona. You are the original Angry Young Man but you did have time for romance and humor and R Balki’s script allows you to mesh together all your favorite traits. Balki gives us grizzled chef Buddhadev who wastes no opportunity insulting his staff but lets his guard down around his elderly mother and young neighbour. These sweet moments reveal the softie inside all of the Angry Young men you may have played, they do all have a yearning for love but keep up the macho defence, which is why Tabu can see through your façade.

Subhash ‘Sarkar’ Nagre in Sarkar – Another brilliant revisionist take by Ram Gopal Verma who knew how to capitalize on the persona and the public’s appetite to see you in a negative role.  Certainly, it is the most stylish presentation of yours with menacing camera angles and utilizing the baritone voice for sinister speeches and it completely works in synergy. Playing the Vito Corleone in this film, this Godfather only loosens up around his family but as his wayward son Kay Kay Menon finds out even they are not spared from his wrath.

Debraj Sahai in Black -- It takes a brave man to make a Bollywood movie without color and songs, but that's exactly what Sanjay Leela Bhansali has done with Black. In his boldest movie to date, Bhansali directs you, the living Bollywood legend  as Debraj Sahai, an alcoholic teacher who transforms the life of an Anglo-Indian deaf-blind girl played by Rani Mukerji. After rescuing her from an asylum, Debraj spends years developing the wild child Michelle into an intelligent and gregarious young woman. Determined to see his student graduate from university, he acts as her eyes and ears, guiding her through the tough world around her. But when Alzheimers sets in, both Debraj and his student's life are plunged into darkness once again. Now taking on the role of teacher, Michelle fights to remind her mentor of the meaning of everything he once taught her. Boasting of carefully crafted script, beautiful cinematography, a haunting score and moving performances by Amitabh Bachchan, Rani Mukerji and Ayesha Kapoor as the young Michelle, Black takes you on an uplifting journey of the human spirit.

Raj Malhotra in Baghban -- "The man who helped you take your first steps, will you help him to take his last steps?" The question you ask towards climax of the film keeps ringing in your mind much after you have watched the most compelling movie in recent times. The love between a much married couple (rarely seen on Indian screen) with a lot of warmth and sensitivity could only be portrayed by an iconic persona of your stature. The climax in which you give it back to your children, brings a lump into your throat each time you speak with those wrinkled eyes. And, of course, those awesome dance sequences, you are in your element and seems to have thoroughly enjoyed yourself.

Auro in Paa -- Years after every bit of you being broadcast in biographies and beyond, it makes more sense to not be Amitabh Bachchan and still deliver bigtime. Director R. Balki does exactly that. He takes everything from brand Bachchan from his persona - baritone, height, mannerism - and presents you in absolutely another aura as Auro. The prosthetic makeup is absolutely authentic removing every trace of yours from Auro and inserting you in an absolutely new identity. The climax is sure to bring a lump in your throat and even the stonehearted end up with moist eyes. Without doubt, you deserved all the awards and accloads for your portrayal of Auro. With a new voice, face and body language here is one character of yours which will undoubtedly stand out in your filmography for being delightfully different and charmingly childish. At times you should not be yourself to show the world what you really are. You do just the that and show the world you are the Paa of performing arts.

These are only some of the many roles you have done that covey your iconic persona in different interpretations. The fact that you experiment and constantly reinvent yourself with each role drawing on  public’s love of your image and your own strengths within that image is a testament to your longevity and the fact that you are, indeed, the Game Changer of the Century.



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