One particularly humid Sunday after not long ago, I got a call from my excited mother. “They are showing Kalyug…catch it on channel XXX,” she told me. Now I am a huge fan of Shyam Benegal and an even bigger fan of the film. A taut script, the utterly gorgeous Rekha and the oh-so-handsome Shashi Kapoor greying at the temples made for perfect viewing. After the film, I called my mother back.
“Wasn’t Shashi Kapoor looking absolutely delectable in that scene when he faces off with Anant Nag in front of the entire family?” Mum asked, echoing my feelings entirely. Just then, her phone rang…it was my grandmother. Mum put her on the speaker and I could hear Dida repeat what we were saying to each other minutes ago: “Do you remember the scene where Shashi Kapoor bends himself into a foetal pose after discovering his lineage? Wasn’t he brilliant?”
There’s a reason I am invoking this story. Three generations of women drooling over the same actor is no longer unusual today. Pretty much everyone drools over John Abraham and roots for SRK’s Rahul avatars. But my Dida was in her 80s back then and my Mum in her 60s. So here were three women with two decades separating each of them bonding over the same film and actor. Generation gap? What generation gap?
You could, of course, dismiss the whole thing with the usual Bollywood-breaks-all-barriers explanation. But actually there’s a bit more to it than just that. My niece and I, with roughly two decades between us, both like the same sort of films. After Sonam Kapoor’s Emma act in Aisha, we both gave the desi Sex And The City effort a thumbs up. But for entirely different reasons. For my niece it’s a perfect chick flick; for me it’s a brilliant comedy of manners on Delhi’s class snobbery – the Lajpat nagar versus GK II and GK II versus Jorbagh oneup(wo)manship.
Like everything else, gen gaps are also changing with time. This generation – we shall call it Gen Y for lack of any other catchy phrase – don’t have the same angst that we laboured under. But that doesn’t stop them from bonding with the 80s crowd on music, movies and more. In my earlier blog I listed my 20 favourite 80s numbers. Surprise surprise! Several of my 20-something friends (aforementioned niece included) said the numbers were among their all time favourites! Including the likes of Beat It and Final Countdown. Okay so MJ has been, ironically enough, resurrected by his death but Europe? Are we missing something here?
My best buddy says Gen Y is so clued into what’s happening around them that it often offers the 80s crowd some common grounds to share feedback. For instance, a particularly incisive article on how over-burdened French students are finding it difficult to articulate their erudition drew comments on Facebook from her son’s 20-something friend. She’s studying in France and agreed with the premise of the story, adding that despite CBSE’s brain-dead straightjacket, her school still taught her to speak her mind. And that has earned her accolades from her current teachers.
As for films, today’s superstars – unlike Shashi Kapoor’s generation – have turned ‘wide angle appeal’ into a strategy of sorts. When I interviewed Shah Rukh Khan for ET Now last year, I asked him this question. ‘My 60-year-old Mum, 40-year-old hubby and 25-year-old niece are fans’, I told him, ‘and I am sure my three-year-old baby will grow up to be a fan. How do make sure your appeal pans so many generations?’
‘I am working you Sen,’ joked SRK, “I noticed you left yourself out.’
If you’re a superstar in 2010, you can’t let any demographic get away. Kapoor’s generation had it easy, it seems. All they needed to do was grey gracefully at the temples J.