What would you define a Hindi film Hero as? A do-gooder, with the heart of gold. A man with the sexual charisma only found in Kamasutra, the heroism of Greek gods, the strength of a thousand elephants together and the intellect rivaling the best on human minds. He who can do no wrong, for whatever be the circumstances, he is always righteous.He for whom The End is always happy and merry.
Turning all of these notions on their heads, Darr (1993) gave Hindi cinema a new idea of a Hero- a new paradigm that changed the game forever, blurring the lines between the Hero and the Anti-Hero, simultaneously showing the nation that Shah Rukh Khan was a deadly force to reckon with. Yash Chopra had managed to redefine mainstream cinema yet again, with style.
Darr is the story of an obsessed lover, played by Shah Rukh Khan, who falls for Juhi who is already engaged to Sunny. SRK goes all the way beyond limits to get his love Kiran in a story that shows the darker side of love, bordering on the voyeuristic. The king of romance, Yash Chopra, gave the country a shocking new shade of love that the audiences lapped up with practiced ease.
Like any Yash Chopra film, Darr had its fair share of speculations. SRK, fresh from the antihero of Baazigar in the same year, was the star on the rising and it was a matter of time before the nation’s biggest production house signed him on the dotted line. With Darr, the SRK-Yash Chopra affair started, culminating in the forthcoming Jab Tak Hai Jaan abruptly. Madhuri Dixit, the reigning diva then, was billed to star opposite SRK in the film. Fate had other plans, and Juhi Chawla bagged the role that remains one of her most memorable ones. Styled in off shoulder tops and long skirts, her character channeled the vivaciousness of Madhuri and the innocence of Sridevi to an extent that Juhi herself, said critics, got was lost somewhere.
Darr also had the trademark Yash Chopra musical genius. Music directors Shiv- Hari gave us some of the most iconic songs of the era, Tu hai meri Kiran still being as haunting as it was then. The songs in Darr also stand out for the way they were integrated in the film’s plot and story line, taking the story forward, adding the sense of brooding doom to the proceedings, despite being essentially happy and Indian tunes. Yash Chopra’s acumen for good music remains unparalleled till date.
What remains unique however, the undeniable contribution of Darr to film making in India is the character of Rahul Mehra (made into a cinematic legend by SRK’s stammering charm). For the first time on screen, we had a villain, who overshadowed the hero, not through his evil ways but by making the audience root for him instead. Rahul Mehra is a liar, a stalker, a killer; a psychopath (albeit suitably toned down in accordance with Indian tastes) yet is at his core, a lover intensely in love with his lady. Despite all his devilish plans and scary ways, Rahul Mehra wins the audience sympathy because of the purity of his love for Kiran. Yash Chopra brought out the shades of unadulterated love for someone that writers Honey Irani and Javed Siddiqui bestowed Rahul with, and gave us a character that one cannot but fall in love with, despite everything about him being wrong. Testament to this is the fact that for many, Darr is synonymous with SRK, Sunny Deol, the actual hero of the film is almost forgotten.
Pushing the hero to the supporting actor category, bringing the villain to the hero’s pedestal yet making him do everything evil, Darr spawned a series of such obsessed lover films a little later in the 90’s- Yaarana, Agni Saakshi, Wajood, films that never could recreate the magic that Darr did. Was it the SRK menace that was missing? Or was it the Yash Chopra touch that seemed amiss? Nothing could come close to what Darr achieved on the silver screen.
Was Darr Yash Chopra’s finest film? Far from it. Personally, Kabhie Kabhie was his best and most mature work in the love genre. Yet, Darr stands out in his career graph due to the risks the man took. It is brave to have a film like this when all you need to do is put a beautiful lady in chiffon on the swiss alps in the arms of a hero and you laugh all the way to the bank. Yash Chopra was not someone who shied away from risks, and he found SRK who had the same zeal (then a lot more than he has today). Together, they gave us Kkkkkiran, made stammering fashionable, and being the bad guy a trend.
Note- This is post is part of the special Yash Chopra Blogathon as a humble tribute from MAM to the master filmmaker, Yash Chopra. You can also check out our posts on Waqt, Kabhi Kabhie, Trishul, Kaala Patthar, Silsila, Dharamputra, Dhool Ka Phool, Aadmi aur Insaan, Mashaal, Ittefaq, Faasle-Vijay-Parampara and a tribute to Yash Chopra as well.