‘Awara’! ‘Shri 420’! ‘Mera naam Joker’! And now ‘Bobby’! This is the latest of my stories that my friend Raj Kapoor, the far-famed showman, is projecting on the screen. Thrice before Raj Kapoor has turned mu stories into highly social entertaining films, without robbing them of their social significance. I hope it will happen this time, too.
It was a screenplay specially writeen-tailor-made. As it were—for two young talents: Rishi ( Chintu) Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia.
In this film they are the protagonists of a whole generation—the march-misunderstood teenagers behavior, but who have reasons of their own to be so, and the conventional-legal establishment represented by their parents, elders and teachers. These two young people, towards the end of the story, are in revolt against the pride and prejudices of their parents who, since the time of Laila-Majnu and Romeo—Juliet, have been coming in the way of ardent young lovers. But, through the story of Raja and bobby, I wanted to tell the story of this so –called Lost Generation and their desperate fight for the right to live—and to love! This time my sociological theme is imbedded in the psychological clash of the two generations, and two classes. Alienation arises out of social snobbery and hypocrisy that are still rampant in the new aristocracy of affluence.
I am publishing, with only slight editing for publication, the ‘Literary Scenario’ more or less, as I originally wrote it before any changes were made either by me or by V.P. Sathe, my friend and screenplay collaborator, or by the producer—director. Since the cinema is a director’s medium, it is his creative vision and his decision that must be supreme and final.
I venture to hope that in the original literary form it may interest some readers, not as a ‘story of the film, but as the story on which the film was based.
The intelligent readers may also get an insight into the creative process by which a competent film-maker transforms a story into a film, translate the author’s word-pictures into cinematic images, how and where and why deviations are made, for instance, to accommodate songs and dances. This is a traditional device of the popular Indian cinema, as legitimate a form as Western opera or musical film, of which Raj Kapoor has a remarkable mastery. It will also help to answer the question which many have asked me so often: ‘How is it that your stories, when directed by Raj Kapoor, become box-office hits, but when you direct them yourself, they are, almost invariably, commercial failures and flops?’
Read this book---if you are care for my writing. See this film—if you like Raj Kapoor’s cinematic creations. Then, compare the original and the end-product. You will learn a lot about the creative processes of a brilliant and successful film-maker’s art. Also, you may solve for yourself one of the minor mysteries of the Indian cinema.
His expensive, most ambitious venture, Mera Naam Joker, had flopped. Raj Kapoor was down and out, heavily in debt, with the house and studio mortagaged. Depression led him to his favorite pastime, Archie Comics, where he chanced upon a dialogue.’ Seventeen is no longer young, we have a life of our own too, and we are aware of it.’ He mulled over these Lines, got into his car and drove to the juhu office of his successful writer, Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, himself a producer—director, and narrated the line to him. By this time, Abbas’s friend and co-scripter V.P sathe has also joined them. During the derive from Deonar to Abbas Saheb’s office, Raj Kapoor’s fertile mind has etched on his mental screen a rough blueprint of possibilities, born out of the appreciation of the first part of his failed magnum opus, and the visage of his school-going son chintu, who had brilliantly enacted the young Joker.
That fateful afternoon in 1972, the seed for Bobby, the iconic teenage love story, was planted by the trio; the writer was almost sixty, the famed film-maker turning fifty, and the third swinging between the two. There has since been inspired by Bobby—its strotyline, its innocence, the raw appeal, and music. Released in the second half of 1973, Bobby came at a time when melodramatic romance—the mainstay of Hindi cinema for years—was on its way out, to be replaced soon by simmering angst.
After the late 1940s and early 1950s, the 1970s marked a veritable leap in the form and content of Hindi cinema. And in that decade, it was 1973 which was a watershed year for various reasons.
While with fifteen consecutive hits, the reigning superstar, Rajesh Khanna, with his kind of dreamy-eyed gentle romance, held sway, mainsteam Hindi cinema embraced modernity in the 1970s. Thus giving birth to the kind of variety that is now being experienced in 2012.Incredibly modern in terms of boldness, form, technique and content, and focusing on the influx of hippies into the subcontinent, Dev Anand’s Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971) has laid bare the impact of the nirvana-seeking drug culture on unemployed urban youth. Prakash mehra’s Zanjeer (1973) heralded the rise of Amitabh Bachchan who went on to symbolize the angst of the deprived urban working classes, particularly in the aftermath of yash Chopra’s Deewaar in 1975. And then there was Raj Kapoor’s take on teenage innocence with an inherent tinge of defiance, Bobby. Thus, while Amitabh Bachchan rose like a colossus to change and redefine the vary dynamics of mainstream Hindi cinema, Rishi kapoor seemed to embody the aspirations of the younger generation with his breezy romance.
For Bobby, Raj Kapoor did away with established convention and dressed up his fourteen-year-old sensational discovery Dimple Kapadia in shorts, swimwear, maxi gowns, polka dots and bell-bottoms; his hero, Rishi Kapoor, graduated to torn jeans. Trendy bush shirts and pullovers almost overnight. Bachchan’s standard clothing was a faded pair of jeans and a shirt with buttons open to reveal a hairy chest. Rajesh khanna alternated between colorful lungi-kurtas and tight trousers and a guru-shirt. All three had their highs and lows in the following years, though it was increasingly becoming clear that Rajesh Khanna was fighting a losing battle.
Strange are the ways of destiny. Neetu singh has been a contender for the role that eventually went ti Dimple In Bobby, but failed to make the grade. Instead, she went on to become Mrs Rishi Kapoor some ways later. Raj Kapoor somewhat reluctantly screen-tested Dimple Kapadia in June 1971 on the sets of Kal Aaj Aur Kal. The girl went on to marry Rajesh Khanna even before the completion of her debut film in March 1973. Bobby was premiered at metro cinema in Bombay on 23 September 1973, and with a baby bump more than visible, Dimple missed the event, and history.
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