There are movies that shape or define a generation. They have a large scale impact on an entire demographic and help create trends, slangs, dictate fashion, attitudes and the overall outlook of a generation. There are some that have made a mark during the formative years (late 1980s to late 1990s) of the generation that I belong to. Note that this post is not about the quality of these movies and is not about reviewing them, or categorizing them as good or bad. It’s purely from a perspective about the impact they had during that era. One such movie was released in March 1988 : Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak
This was the quintessential love story that defined every teenage boy and girl who were in love and should not have been for a multitude of reasons – different cast, different socio-economic status, family feuds, reiligion, etc. Outwardly, it told a story of an innocent, careless and impractical love amongst two naive youths blinded by their love and passion. Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla played the lead roles of Raj and Rashmi. They were mostly unknown before the release of this movie and exuded freshness, innocence and the audacity required for their characters. These are characters who know from the outset that their love is doomed and yet continue on a path which they know will eventually lead to destruction. They keep convincing each other that it will be otherwise – a song much later in the movie “Akele hain toh kya gham hain, chaahe toh humaare bass mein kya nahi” defines their blind conviction that they can lead a life of their own without the need of any other worldly possesions but their love for each other.
It was the late 1980s and the 15-20 year olds were slowly coming out of the clutches of the Socialist Indian State of the late 70s and early 80s. There was a growing restlessness of spreading their wings and curiosity of finding out what else is out there. India’s youth was stirring. The middle-class youth wanted to define themselves as more than just doctors and engineers but did not know how to, as there weren’t many avenues for them to explore as they exist today. They looked at their father’s generation and wanted to desperately break out of the mould of working for governments or banks. When Aamir Khan sang (in Udit Narayan’s voice) “Papa Kehte Hain“, it instantly became the clarion call for this confused generation. Many a Papas at that time deplored the bravado of the song secretly and openly and hoped that their sons do not venture onto the path like Raj.
The story is about Raj and Rashmi who belong to two families who have a bloody history which leads them to being at a feud that last generations. Of course, Raj and Rashmi fall in love and both the families go at each other’s throats over it. After some scenes of good on-screen chemistry between Aamir and Juhi, a few melodious songs (composed by Anand-Milind who never could deliver another score as refreshing as this one) and much melodrama the movie ends in the tragic death of the lead characters. This is where lies the irony, despite the brutal death of Raj and Rashmi which is not a typical end to a movie and is certainly not what an Indian moviegoer expects, this movie became a phenomenon. Conventional wisdom would say that such a tragic ending will serve as a moral lesson to the youth to not venture on such foolish missions as to conquer the love of your life against all odds (the “love” could be a girl or a not so conventional career-path or a life in a distant country or a business venture -anything that was supposed to be beyond their reach).
But the effect was exactly the opposite: This very generation became one of the first to break the norm and ventured to distant lands in hordes, started new businesses which were unthinkable in the India of the 70s, created massive wealth (and employment), helped shape some of the public policies and became the foundation of the “India Shining” generation. It was as if the entire generation was united to ensure that the Rajs and Rashmis in them do not meet a tragic end and in some fashion wanted to avenge their on-screen failure. (All this, of course could be a stretch of my imagination and might not carry much credibility. For some concrete proof, you will have to wait until my research paper titled ” The Effect of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak on the Indian Youth of 1980s and how it shaped the India of the 21st Century” gets published).
Besides this, the superficial impact of the movie was observed in –
– Girls tried to address themselves in plural, like Juhi does – “Tum Dilli Mein Hum Se Milo Ge Naa! Agar Na Milna Ho To Milne Ka Vaada Hi Kar Do, Kam Se Kam Hamein Tumhaara Intezar To Rahega
– Girls yearned for the puppy faced Aamir Khan and searched for him in their boy-friends or prospective suitors
– Lover boys wanted a loyal confidante friend/cousin like Shyam (played by Raj Zutshi, a good actor in his own regard but got branded as the Hero’s friend) and the girl wished for a friend like Kavita (played by Shehnaz – who was sparkling and continued to sparkle in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar with her liberal use of the word “dear”, a few years down the line)
The movie’s impact on Hindi cinema was evident in –
– It opened the possibilities of casting largely unknown actors.
– Love stories came back in vogue after many years of an onslaught of multi-starrer social and violent dramas. Maine Pyar Kiya which was released in 1989, further cemented that young love means box office magic. This led to a flood of many mediocre movies starring newcomers and were lost in the pile, none could repeat the magic of this one.
– The trend of acronymizing (is this a word?) movies took firm hold from QSQT.
Even today, I sometimes pop the DVD of QSQT and spend my time with Raj and Rashmi to try and relive those years. I see them take the foolish step of running away from their feuding families only to die to the background of a sad version of “papa kehte hain“. Each time, I wish that a miracle would happen and they somehow cheat death and succeed in getting whatever they desire. But then again I remind myself that their cruel and abrupt end is what made them the icons of my generation. A generation which sang along with them hoping for a dreamy, foolish world of young and frothy love:
ab ye naheen sapanaa, ye sab hain apanaa
ye jahaan pyaar kaa, chhotaan saa ye aashiyaan bahaar kaa
bas yek jaraa, saath ho teraa..
akele hai, to kyaa gam hai
chaahe to humaare bas mein kyaa nahee

Loosely translated:
all this is not a dream, all this is ours
this little home full of happiness..if our world of love..
all I need is your companionship..
you are me we are alone..but there are no qualms of being alone..
there is nothing that we cannot achieve ( if you are with me…)