(To learn about my Sridevipalooza project methodology, read yesterday's post here.)
"Janam Meri Janam" from Mr. Bechara (1996)
Laden with garlands and jewelry, the woman of the week marches in a pink sari towards the edge of a cliff while a man in black stands on the precipice with his back to her. He turns to reveal that he is Anil Kapoor. He looks wistful; she looks confused.
He walks away from the cliff and passes her without any real exchange.
Repeat. He faces her and she mouths the words he sings. (I'd tell you what they are, but my Hindi isn't good enough.)
Her eyes widen and we see a split-second flash of her smiling with ANOTHER moustachioed man who is not Anil Kapoor.
Another flash of her canoodling with said man!
She presses her fingertips to her temple to indicate hard thought.
Flashes are fast and furious now: more embraces! more sunsets! more motorcycle rides on the beach!
Anil continues to sing with a gentle, almost wistful expression on his face as Sridevi continues to look...off into the distance. She staggers under the weight of her dawning realization! The camera spins around her as she becomes increasingly disoriented, shutting her eyes and clutching at her garlands! She stares at him, he looks fondly back at her, and as the music begins to fade he steps to the side of the frame to reveal THE OTHER MAN striding up the hill towards them!
The long tradition of tree-grasping Hindi film heroes notwithstanding, wouldn't you rather be with a guy who visits archaeological ruins and has a motorboat than with this sad sack?
Based on how she is depicted in this song, I doubt Sridevi's character would disagree. She loves Sea-Doos and caves; Anil loves moping. This does not bode well.
The first time I watched this video, the first minute or so seemed hopelessly dull. There was clearly an imbalance of emotions at play, but I didn't really care why. But just as I was about to write it off, Sridevi starts having flashbacks, and from then out I was sufficiently intrigued to go hunt down why she was suffering from flashbacks that clearly did not involve the man singing to her. I also love that this one song tells you quite a bit about the major plot of Mr. Bechara, at least from what I can gather by reading the description on the much-beloved Bollybob.* It's only missing Anupam Kher as a moronic and lawsuit-waiting-to-happen doctor and a hint at however the Sridevi/Anil/not-Anil love triangle is finally resolved. Unfortunately, this song is also a tragic waste of most of Sridevi's talents, excepting perhaps her ability to make her already huge eyes even more intense with unplaceable memories and haunting echos of past romance. It's possible I am still under the influence of having watched most of Bollystalgia's enormous list of infectiously peppy Sridevi/Jeetendra songs earlier today (and which she let me put into a playlist here, just in case you want to be similarly delighted), but "Janam Meri Janam" seems lethargic. I assume this is perfectly suitable to its place and role in the film, but I couldn't help but wish they were doing some side-by-side matching dance steps in a sundress and too-tight jeans.
* As far as I'm concerned, my whole Sridevipalooza project can already be called a success because researching the film in this post reminded me how much I love Bollybob, the first Bollywood blog I ever read and whose author I happily crown the patron saint of all of us non-Indians who love thinking and writing about Indian films.