Part 1 of this post can be found here
Another thing Voh Lamhe explores is the period when Bhatt and Babi had been ardent Osho followers. Though this part has only been touched upon. But Bhatt’s interviews to publications over the years, confirmed a belief that I had held for long. Following a cult is another form of escapism. When you don’t know who you are or what you want, that is the perfect time when a Narcissistic Godman can enter your life. I for one believe that God is not so insecure that he has to declare to the world he is almighty, whereas most Godmen do declare that time and again don’t they? In all religious texts if you read closely, it is said that your God and peace reside in you, but in our dysfunctional relationships with ourselves and the world, we tend to seek God in others and become fresh meat for cult Gods.
A similar escapist way of dealing with the chaos in life is shown very briefly in one of Bhatt’s most brilliant movies – Zakhm. Pooja Bhatt’s character is shown to shut the door to her room and excommunicate herself from her sons whenever she is in great mental distress. It is later revealed in the movie that at such times she would fervently say her prayers to get over her distress. Another passive and escapist way of dealing with the issue of the illegitimate relationship. The less spiritually inclined might go for the numbing addiction provides. No wonder Marx equated religion with addictions.
Movies tend to make us believe that love just happens, that no one can control it. Actually it’s the animal instinct of attraction that is uncontrollable. Love is a set of choices you make everyday. Love they say is an action, and no amount of praying/drinking is going to change anything unless you make the decision to act. And being in an illicit relationship is a choice, one that I have seen some people walk away from, once they realise how crazy it is to be in those shoes. Granted you don’t always know what are the consequences of your actions, but once you know, you can always make the effort to change, rather than chanting “I cant”. Cannot I believe is an unnecessary word in English, there is no cannot, there is only wont, because each of us makes our own choices.
Arth, the first in the Bhatt-Babi trilogy was a story more suited to the moralistic landscape of the time. The characters were black and white, good Shabana and Raj, weak/bad Kulbhushan and Smita Patil. Even Aashiqui which was semi biographical, had the evil hostel warden and good orphan. It was in the later movies that Bhatt experimented with the world and its craziness as it was, without offering justifications for why his characters did whatever they did. They were weak/twisted/evil and though he did give the psychological background of the troubled childhood, he stopped justifying why they were who they were. And Zakhm is perhaps the best example of this. Ajay Devgan’s character doesn’t judge his parents or blame them for his problems, its an acceptance that only age and maturity can give you.
Jism and Murder on the other hand explore the fragility of purely hormonal love as opposed to love based on genuine understanding. Bhatt’s characters in these movies show the darker side of the passion in illicit relationships – the basic uncertainty of them. Mujhko dil se yahi shikayat hai, jo usko mil nahin sakta kyun uski chahat hai goes the song in Jism. Nothing is more draining for the human soul than getting attached to something that rests on a shaky ground. Again separation and starting life afresh requires a lot of courage too, something depicted very well in Arth, but many extra marital affairs are escapism, and if that is what it is, both the parties tend to stay stuck with their partners while playing victims constantly crying if only things were different. Of course since it’s a movie, there is murder, mayhem and lots of drama. Paap on the other hand depicts the flip side of morality and impulse control. A day to day example of this could be how children from extremely conservative families tend to turn out to be the most experimental when it comes to relationships and addictions, the moment they start living in a different city because of work or studies. This movie also explores parental influence in our life choices and also expresses that needless denial of impulses to gain salvation in an after/future life is just pointless.
According to my own understanding most of us make only two mistakes that create all the madness in life. One is refusing to take responsibility for our own actions and the other is denial of reality. Bhatt’s semi autobiographical movies frequently have such characters and Bhatt also reiterates the fundamental truth that no one is good or bad, it’s the choices people make that make them good or bad. Though a lot of the reality gets watered down because of the over dramatisation, characteristic of Bollywood movies, Bhatt still manages to get in some honesty and anyone who has gone through the pangs of growing up to a reasonable level of maturity can see the patterns of thinking that guide his confused/weak/crazy characters.
Many of his central characters have a victim mentality and keep rolling in the muck of self created disasters, something Bhatt depicts taking a leaf out of his own mistakes. On the screen its all a rosy picture, but for Bhatt and the people he touched, living it might not have been easy. And though he probably took a long time to himself own up to the responsibility of his life, in the process, he learnt how to serve up the psychological struggles within his mind with a generous sprinkling of song and dance.
Any successful author would tell you that the best stories ever told are the ones that you lived and Bhatt used this formula film after film. It takes great courage to put up your life under scrutiny for the whole world to see. It may not be the whole truth, but the movies do talk of a life of making mistakes and learning, of being human and fallible.