It is Durga Puja. It is that time of the year when I'm terribly busy not going to pandals. Most people claim to be like that, but that defies the logic behind the incredible crowd that meanders across the City of Joy every evening and keep on doing so till late at night. It is that time of the year when Kolkatans pretend to be happy and Bengalis living out of Kolkata pretend to be sad.
I, for once, cannot pretend to be happy this time. That is not because the gazillion-rupee abomination called Durga Puja has arrived to mar my otherwise manageable days and nights. You can avoid the pandals; what you cannot avoid is the happiness oozing out of people as they flood Facebook with the glimpses of the Goddess they manage to obtain from the monstrosity that goes by the name of the Ekdalia Evergreen crowd.
I was irritated. Which was good, because right now I am sad. Sad, because Yash Chopra is no more. Not the Yash Chopra who directed horrible Punjabi movies like Veer-Zaara or movies like Parampara - where Vinod Khanna (in 1992) seduces two women and dies mid-way - or Chandni, where, for whatever reason, Sridevi is torn between an obese Rishi Kapoor and a geriatric Vinod Khanna. Not even for Vijay, which was basically a mysterious mimicry of Trishul.
My Yash Chopra did not drip Punjabi romance with every word he said. He was not mushy. He was solid, angular, vivid, brisk. He could reach poignancy hitherto unknown in Bollywood.
Instead, think Waqt. Think about the concept. Think about the influence it had on future directors even if you exclude Manmohan Desai. Think about a director daring to screen not two, not three, but four leading men on the same screen.
Think Ittefaq. Have you ever seen a better Bollywood thriller? Could you dream of picking Rajesh Khanna in his pomp, not assigning him a single song and using him in an intense thriller and still make it click? That was my Yash Chopra. No other director would have dared that.
Think Deewaar. Think about the person who never picked up a single paisa that was handed over to him without respect. Think about the masculine aura a man seemed to emit when he told - rather nonchalantly - that yet another coolie would refuse to pay the hafta next week. Think of the Amitabh Bachchan and Parveen Babi walking together.
Think Kaala Patthar. Think of the scene, dripping with intensity as the two angry men - albeit of different stature - ripping each other apart with their eyes - all for an humble cup of tea; few words were exchanged, and yet it was the intensity of the eyes that made the scene so iconic - all cooped up inside a movie that was supposed to be based on a real-life incident.
Think Trishul. Think of the dual-generation magnum opus involving characters of varying shades of gray. Think of the son putting everything at stake to avenge his mother. Think of the assortment of emotions he had to go through to battle his own blood in the ruthless arena of business.
Think Lamhe. Think of the director who could make the most of Sridevi during her golden days. Could anyone make Sridevi act better? Even if you say "yes", would you - I repeat - would you dare to launch Anil Kapoor without a moustache? Ever?
Think Joshila. Have you ever seen a romantic thriller so picturesque?
Think Kabhi Kabhie. Do you really not get goosebumps every time you listen to the recitation?
Think Mashaal. Did you really not feel as impatient as a helpless Dilip Kumar trying desperately to find a transport to take his dying wife to the hospital?
Think Darr. Have you, at least in your bathroom, have not tried to do a K-k-k-k-kiran?
Think Dil to Paagal Hai. Forget everything. Have you seen anyone replicate Karisma's Dance of Envy?
Do not, I repeat, do not think Silsila where Jaya and Rekha had that long, immensely boring, whispering conversation amidst infinite tendrils of smoke. Do not ever think Chandni where Rishi Kapoor is made to dance.
Ignore the production company. Simply remember the director. They don't make them like that anymore.