Yaari Hai Imaan Mera, Yaar Meri Zindagi: Friendship as depicted in Hindi Cinema

Here’s wishing a very Happy Friendship Day to all of you.

Friendship is an integral part of our emotions and friends occupy an important part of our lives. In some cases friends often are given the same status as that of family members when it comes to certain crunch situations. For someone who has been brought up over a staple diet of Bollywood movies, friendship as depicted in these films has always fascinated me. This post is a simple attempt to illustrate how friendship is shown in Hindi films and mention a few movies in particular for they way they have gone about illustrating the same. And of course in my own small way I wish to thank a lot many people for, their friendship has certainly been quite valuable to me.

In the earlier days (at least in the 50’s and 60’s) life was considered to be a lot simpler than it is now. There were lesser complications that existed in those days. But even then friendship could take different dimensions as shown in 2 well known movies, both of which incidentally released in the same year- 1964. The films in question being Dosti and Sangam. Dosti was an ideal example for the fact that not all films need big stars to succeed. In fact the movie starred a couple of relatively new actors in the main lead- Sudhir Kumar and Sushil Kumar as a blind boy and a cripple respectively. It was a movie which was basically based on the friendship between these two boys who roam the streets of Bombay (as it was known then) singing songs and earning their livelihood. One of the biggest strengths of the movie apart from the very natural performances of the 2 male leads was the melodious music given by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, one of their earliest successful films.

While every song was a gem (Rahi manwa dukh ki chinta, chahoonga main tujhe shaam savere and many more) the song in particular which probably epitomizes friendship is“Koi jab raah na paaye, mere sang aaye, ke pag pag deep jalaye, meri dosti ,mera pyar”.

Such is the intensity of the song that it leaves you completely at peace. Friendship as shown in Dosti is truly divine. Moving on to Raj Kapoor’s Sangam, well the movie was about 3 childhood friends played by Raj Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar & Vyjayantimala. It won’t require any special insight to know that the story turns out to a romantic triangle. It was a movie which placed a lot of emphasis on male bonding and tried to distinguish between the thin line between friendship and love. It also showed how love could result in anguish for someone. This was again a musical with Shankar-Jaikishan in brilliant form with scores like Yeh mera prem part padh kar,Mere man ki Ganga, Main kya karun Ram mujhe budda mil gaya and many more but the anguish & pain in friendship and love is aptly described in this song-
“Dost dost na raha, pyaar pyaar naa rahaZindagi hamein tera, aitbaar na raha, aitbaar na raha”

In the year 1973 a sensation happened. Prakash Mehra came out with his Zanjeer with Amitabh Bachchan in the lead. The movie went on to become a path breaker in many ways. It was the first blockbuster in the career of AB, it paved the way for a long relationship between Prakash Mehra, AB & the writer jodi of Salim-Javed and of course the ‘angry young man’ persona which AB went on to successfully symbolize in movie after movie started off with this movie. But amidst all this the element of friendship is also something that the film focused upon. And here the friendship was special- it was the friendship between a cop and a criminal (Pran) who is influenced by the cop and gets reformed. And therein begins the deep friendship between the two. The song“Yaari hai imaan mera, yaar meri zindagi” composed by Kalyanji-Anandji summarises the friendship in the best way possible.

Well,when we are talking about friendship in Hindi cinema, would it be prudent not to talk about Sholay? Jai and Veeru today are probably the best known friends in the entire history of Hindi cinema. Yes Sholay is a classic and probably everything that matters in the movie was a highlight, but certainly one of the biggest positives of the movie was the bonding between Jai and Veeru. Be it the early scenes in the jail when the jodi tries to have a blast in taking a dig a the jailor ( Asrani ) or in the scenes when Veeru is trying to woo Basanti ( Hema Malini )- there is an inherent sense of humour that is prevailing throughout the movie. The song “yeh dosti, hum nahin todenge,Todenge dum magar, tera saath na chhodenge” symbolizes the free spiritedness of their friendship the best. The Jai-Veeru bonding went on to even be an inspiration for the similar bonding of Govinda and Sanjay Dutt seen in movies like Haseena Maan Jaayegi,Jodi No.1 and Ek Aur Ek Gyarah.

When a film’s title is Dostana what else can the movie symbolize but friendship? Both the popular movies with this title, one a 1980 release and the other a recent 2008 release had a strong undercurrent of friendship running throughout the film. Let’s look at Dostana (1980) to begin with. This was a classic tale of friendship between Vijay (who else but Amitabh Bachchan ) and Ravi ( Shatrughan Sinha ) who are best friends in spite of their work getting into the way. Even when both fall in love with the same girl, Sheetal ( Zeenat Aman ) they still manage to retain their friendship with Vijay trying to sacrifice his love. But that’s when their friendship gets fractured on the basis of a misunderstanding created by the villain,Daaga ( Prem Chopra ). The movie was a resounding success and the music by Laxmikant- Pyarelal was certainly a big boost too. My pick of the lot among the songs is definitely –“Bane chahe dushman zamana hamara, salamat rahe dostana hamara”.

Well, in the 70’s and 80’s there were hundreds of Hindi films which stressed on the friendship angle, but in most cases the movie would again go on to become a romantic triangle and the exceptions would be limited to the odd movie like Khudgarz. Just when I thought the topic had almost lost its impact, there came a movie in 1994 which ushered in a fresh wave- Andaz Apna Apna .Amar ( Aamir Khan ) and Prem ( Salman Khan ) begin as rivals fighting to marry a rich heiress and wanting to become rich overnight. Due to turn of circumstances they join hands and then begins the mad comedy of errors. For the way the two characters are shown as fun loving, bumbling characters- the movie can be seen endlessly. There is always an underlying current of one-upmanship between the two and that was certainly refreshing.

There was a movie which came a few years before AAA and which tried to explore the angle of friendship between a boy and a girl. The movie was the trendsetting Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) which along with QSQT is credited to have broken the trend of the mindless action movie of the 80’s. Here the two friends are Prem (Salman Khan) and Suman ( Bhagyashree ) who try to portray that after all friendship can exist between a boy and a girl too. The innocence shows in the form of symbols like the ‘friend’ cap which went on to became a rage across the country. But of course all good things come to an end. This was after all a romantic film and yes the situations eventually lead to them falling in love with each other. Nearly a decade later (1998) the angle was explored again in Karan Johar’s directorial debut ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ as you had Kajol and SRK playing best friends.Of course friendship eventually turns to love here too.

If there was ever a movie to symbolize friendship between 2 women I would probably think of movies like ‘Dor’ and ‘Filhaal’. In case of Filhaal the story tackles the emotions running through the friendship between 2 childhood friends Rewa ( Tabu ) and Sia ( Sushmita Sen ) and brings in the element of surrogate motherhood between the 2 friends. Dor on the other hand is a sensitive portrayal of friendship between 2 women( Gul Panag and Ayesha Takia )of completely different spectrums yet who go on to share a bond- of friendship, that is extremely genuine.

The coming of age when it applies to human emotions and portrayal of friendship, can be seen in the form of Dostana (2008). Here Kunal (John Abraham ) and Sameer ( Abhishek Bachchan ) pretend to be gays to share an apartment with Neha ( Priyanka Chopra ). Though predictably both of them fall in love with Neha and try their level best to spoil her relationship with Abhimanyu (Bobby Deol ), they do end up realizing ultimately that the friendship between the three of them is what matters the most. Probably the best thing that Bobby Deol does in the entire movie is to tell Priyanka in the climax that the 2 of them (John-Abhishek) are truly her best friends.

Duniya Dilwalon Ki (1996- Kadhal Desam in Tamil) takes a slightly unconventional look at friendship again. Both Vineet and Abbas who are best friends are in love with the same girl –Tabu. When it becomes clear to her that both her friends are in love with her, she decides to give predominance to friendship over love and choses to remain friends with both of them forever rather than marrying one of them and losing a good friend in the bargain.The ‘Mustafa Mustafa don’t worry Mustafa’ song became a friendship anthem all over the Nation at that time.

Well, talking about friendship and while discussing current trends how can I not talk about OLLO (Oye Lucky Lucky Oye). OLLO brings a fresh and unconventional approach to friendship. Lucky (Abhay Deol ) the protagonist and Bangali ( Manu Rishi ) are childhood friends who become partners in crime as well. Theirs is a typical tale of friendship as they do most of things in tandem, just when it looks like a regular tale of friendship there occurs a chilling betrayal and the friendship crumbles in a heap. This is a very contemporary take on friendship. As we are all aware life has got a lot more complicated in the recent past and to see such an event happening is but fairly natural.

And maybe another movie which I must mention here is Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Gulaal’. I felt that the friendship portrayed between Ransa ( Abhimanyu Singh ) and Dileep Singh ( Raj Singh Chaudhary ) was impressive enough for the simple reason that it clearly shows how a bold and colorful personality can influence an otherwise mild mannered person.

Of course its also but prudent to talk about the new age ‘friendship is oh!so cool’ phenomena which is being depicted these days often in Hindi Cinema which probably started with Farhan Akhtar‘s Dil Chahta Hai where Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and  Akshaye Khanna play new age buddies with wonderful style. This phenomena just received a reboot recently this time with Farhan’s sister Zoya Akhtar bringing on the magic with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara starring Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar and Abhay Deol.

This was not a comprehensive list of Hindi movies which explored friendship. Rather I have gone on to just look at a sample list of a few films all of which look at facets of friendship different from each other. I would certainly like to know which are your favorite Hindi movies depicting friendship and your take on the movies mentioned here by me.

Note- This was a post originally written in 2009 but now re-edited and made more contemporary. 

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