Since I can remember, my favourite song of all time has been Tere dar par sanam from Phir Teri Kahaani Yaad Aayi. This was Mahesh Bhatt’s second cinematic exploration of his relationship with Parveen Babi. While the first movie Arth focussed on the dynamic of the other woman, Phir Teri was about Parveen’s mental illness and the push-pull of their relationship. As a teenager, Tere dar par seemed to me like the ultimate declaration of love. Its only recently have I realised what a self defeating song it actually is. Many songs of the 90’s had a pining away quality to them, but Tere dar par was probably one of the best/worst examples. Tu na aaya toh ham chale aaye it goes, perpetuating the myth that one doesn’t have any self respect when one is in love. The trouble was that for a lot of people like me who grew up then, this song did not mean a lack of self respect, but a sacrifice of pride, because after all there is no place for pride in love is there?
But if you look at the song in the actual context, you realise it is apt, Pooja Bhatt who plays Parveen’s character, in the movie, is mentally ill and for her Rahul Roy is her only confidante, she is shown as needing him. And Rahul Roy’s character keeps running around in circles with the relationship, knowing fully well that he cant ‘save’ her and yet trying to save her. It’s the classic dysfunctional relationship dynamic. The person who ‘saves’ the lost soul feels good about himself being noble and the person who needs ‘saving’ controls by being helpless and angry alternately. The psychological dynamic is called Karpman’s drama triangle and a lesser known phenomena called codependence.
As I was listening to this song last evening, I was suddenly struck by the number of Bhatt movies that have supposedly star struck lovers. Another movie the songs of which I liked a lot at that time was Gunaah. It had Bipasha Basu as a cop with a troubled past falling in love with, you guessed it, a criminal with a troubled past. Both have a lot of unresolved issues that they hope their love can resolve, an idea which is at best a delusion because like they say even God helps only those who help themselves. The song goes Hamne tumko dil ye de diya ye bhi na socha kaun ho tum. Typical hormonal reaction, jumping into a relationship – the hallmark of the beginning of any dysfunctional romantic relationship. And true enough, Bipasha who is sent to arrest him, is mesmerised by him because of a sudden hormonal reaction. Dino hardly speaks a word in the movie and yet you are led to believe that both of them have fallen in true, undying love.
In fact a lot of our ideas of love as teenagers are fed by these Mills Boonesque ideas (plead guilty of reading many of them) of how love is all you need to ‘save’ the other person. But what happens when the person you are trying to save, doesn’t want to be saved. A lot of people are more comfortable in identifying with the victim mentality, because when you are a victim, nothing you do is your fault, you are not responsible, its circumstances/destiny/God that made you like this. (Remember Bruce Almighty?) Its an easy way out, you don’t have to responsible or go through the actual pain of growing up and taking responsibility. But in real life, if your hurts decide your life, you push away the very people who are closest to you, a self fulfilling prophecy, where you end up exactly at the place you wanted to avoid.
Perhaps a more honest take on Bhatt’s relationship with Babi, was Voh Lamhe, though it still was highly romanticised. It has Bhatt almost admitting to the fact that he in some ways did ‘use’ Babi’s emotional turbulence to further his career (the financial aspect of this was dealt with in Arth) and in turn got entangled in a tangled, haunting relationship. Kangana is trying to run away from the cloud of darkness that her illness is casting on her thinking and anyone who offers her a little attention is instantly her soulmate, so Shiney Ahuja’s character just has to appear to be nice. Shiney on the other hand is trying to run away from his failure and Kangana provides him the reflected glory. Most emotionally disturbed relationships are an escapism, one or more of the person’s is actually running away from other realities in life and trying to find ‘solace’ in the ‘sanctuary’ of a relationship. Perfect recipe for disaster. The songs in this movie however did not have the intensity of relationship dynamics that Phir Teri had.
Continued in part 2 here