Meray Khayalon Pe Chhaai Hai Ek Bholi Si Soorat
Waheed Murad was Pakistan’s first ‘chocolaty’ hero and Shah Rukh has been ruling the hearts throughout subcontinent for three decades now. In this article, Shandana Waheed draws parallels between two of the most celebrated heroes of Bollywood and Lollywood.
Romance is not a formula that can be perfected in a laboratory by testing again and again rather it is like a living creature that matures with time and evolves into its being in the lieu of timelessness simultaneously. Yes, that’s what love is; full of paradoxes, exceptions and surprises and it won’t be wrong if we say that love is the Bermuda triangle of emotions where all laws are challenged, most logics fail, rationality fights conditionality and yet it desires to be unconditional.
Therefore, whether or not we confine the celebration of such a limitless concept we call ‘Love’ to a particular day is an endless debate. I neither endorse nor oppose the idea of celebration of Valentine’s day but keeping up with its spirit, this Valentine’s day I am sharing my genealogy of how romance shaped itself in my head and I am sure it would be relatable for many people of my age.
Just like most of the ‘English medium’ post-colonial millennial kids, I also grew up reading Shakespeare, Charlotte Bronte, Garcia Márquez, Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy developing a customized list of my own favorite romantics that helped me to develop my understanding of love and romance in theory at least. However, it is also important here to mention those who influenced my perception and expression of romance and idea of love in practicality being a hardcore South Asian and a heterosexual individual who identifies with the female side of the matrix, the two chocolaty heroes; king of Bollywood Shahrukh Khan and the heartthrob of Lollywood Waheed Murad.
I got introduced to Shahrukh Khan in 1995, with the biggest hit of his life time that even he didn’t know would become the longest running film of Hindi cinema Dil Wale Dulhaniya le Jayenge. I was too young to properly memorize the world map and the continents on it when ‘Euro trip’ appeared on my wish list because SRK a.k.a Raj did that in DDLJ (completely ignoring Simran). Of course that was the child admiring a star but with every passing year as I watched that movie again and again I believed in what he pursued in the film; the ultimate power of love that can make anything happen, everything will be alright in the end and the lovers will live happily ever after.
A 1998 release, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai introduced us to the complexity of emotions and fluid boundaries of relationships in which SRK a.k.a Rahul kept dangling between Pyaar and Dosti. SRK’s propagation of romance evolved and seemed mature when in the same year he played Amar in his movie Dil Se in which the character navigates his feelings through the trenches of unrequited love.
In 2000, SRK romanced the spirit of a dead woman to make a point for the un-conditionality of love actually playing a love guru. Two years later, SRK appeared in an adaptation of a Bengali romance novel Devdas with a tragic ending epitomizing the sense of loss, affliction of memories, a tormented lover, and the ordeal of being a beloved.
In his commencement address to University of Edinburgh, Shahrukh Khan reiterated the life lessons his movies have propagated and that’s what makes him a real hero for his fans which he beautifully summarized in his TED talk where he introduced himself as “I sell dreams and I peddle love to millions of people back home who believe that I am the best lover in the world”.
Parallel to him is Waheed Murad for the people who belong to the generation older than ours.
Waheed Murad’s sensual dialogue delivery, flirtatious gestures and his soul-catching eyes were truly irresistible. Crisped collar, V-neck sweater and the side puff of his thick black hair was his signature style which every young man had followed at that time and his charisma has continued to survive even in the later generations. Long before SRK’s rain dance with Kajol, I had started admiring Waheed Murad romancing Shabnam in the song “Aye Abre Karam— Aaaj Itna baras k wo Ja na sakey” from the movie Naseeb Apna Apna (1970). Of course, PTV being the only channel played a great role in keeping the memory of black and white cinema alive.
Every Saturday night PTV used to air a black and white movie and my parents hardly ever missed that chance to reconnect with their youth years as YouTube and Netflix were not a thing back then. Hence, it is more fascinating how Waheed Murad’s charm has survived through all those years in spite of his untimely death. The timeless song “Ko Ko Korina” which recently received so much criticism for its coke studio adaptation was originally composed for the super hit movie of its time Armaan (1966) in which the magical chemistry of Waheed Murad and Zeba coaxed the sacrificial nature of love. Fawad Khan, the 21st century sensation of Pakistan, played the role played by Waheed Murad in Armaan in the movie’s 2013 remake.
The SRK version of ‘Ko Ko Korina’ is the song ‘Bhooli si surat’ from the movie ‘Dil to pagal hai’ (1997). Actually both of these songs are a description of an unseen beloved… a narrative of desires and expectations. Dil mera Dharkan Teri (1968) was another Waheed Murad’s blockbuster film which I would like to categorize as a musical, if contextualized in its own time, in which he made his audience believe in the competence of love. My father loves to tell me that he watched Insaaniyat (1967) fourteen times in cinema and it was a big box office hit. Waheed Murad’s role was the apogee of love that encapsulates agony, despair and throes of sacrifice a lover has to endure in order to prove himself as a lover as well as to stay just to his own being.
Therefore, I see Waheed Murad as the legitimate heir in the royal bloodline of heroes who have vital roles in giving life to the ideas of romance for the South Asian audiences starting from Raj Kapoor to Dilip Kumar, Waheed Murad to Shahrukh Khan and now Fawad Khan to Ranbir Kapoor.
However, the doctrine of love can never be monotheistic in its practices. It will continue to evolve and exist in many diverse forms, colors and shapes and the dream lovers will continue to preach the bibles of romance to the non-believers.
The author is a doctoral candidate at Stanford University and a cultural and political analyst.