Disposable Friends

I am an NRI, translated into: no-real Indian.  I follow Indian cinema in my quest to find only one million original films before humanity as we know it disappears.  I will use the term Indian cinema sparingly because I only have access to Hindi films, not Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati and other languages. 

Being used hurts, especially by a close friend or relative.  Alok Nath, for whatever reason seems to like roles where friends betray him.  He plays Tarababu, who lives in Chamba with his daughters in Subhash Gai’s film Taal.  One day Jagmohan (Amrish Puri) arrives with his entire family including Manav (Akshay Khanna) his only son.

Jagmohan is in Chamba to secure a big project that has been eluding him for years.  Tarababu is well-respected and connected and manages to convince the minister responsible to give the project to Jagmohan’s company Mehta and Mehta.  Jagmohan hugs him and says, “That was made possible thanks to you.”  They part as friends and Jagmohan tells Tarababu to look him up when he is in Mumbai.

His son Manav falls in love with Tarababu’s daughter Mamsi (Aishwarya Rai).  She takes his red scarf and writes their names in embroidery.  Tarababu takes Mamsi to Mumbai when he discovers that she is in love with Manav.  Manav’s aunt doesn’t allow them in and they sit outside with the dogs for nine hours.  Jagmohan does not offer them water or a seat when he comes in. 
Tarababu gets angry and slaps Jagmohan when he suggests that he will pay him for helping him secure the Chamba project.  Manav is livid that Mamsi’s father slapped his.  She cuts off the relationship and joins a famous musical director Vikram (Anil Kapoor) who falls in love with her.

Alok Nath’s character Karan is also betrayed in Maine Pyar Kiya.  Kishen (Rajiv Verma) and Karan (Alok Nath) are childhood friends who grew up together in their village.  Kishen goes to Delhi and becomes a successful businessman.  He has one son Prem played by Salman Khan.  Years later, Karan leaves his daughter Suman (Bhagyashree) with Kishen and his wife (Reema Lagoo) when he goes to Dubai to work so that he can have enough for Suman’s dowry.

In his absence, Suman falls in love with Prem but Kishen’s business friend Ranjit wants Prem for his daughter Seema and poisons Kishen’s mind against Karan.  When Karan comes back from Dubai he is shocked when Kishen accuses him of having left Suman in his house to entice Prem.  Karan is scandalised and returns to the village with Suman. 

Kishen’s wife is shocked at her rich husband’s behaviour because she knows what Karan did for him before he became rich and famous.  Karan even helped them have a child.  He prayed for them when he heard that they had difficulty having children.  She got pregnant with Prem after that and she never forgot it. 

What is strange about people who use their friends and dispose them is that they don’t see anything wrong.  The discarded friend is hurt.  The user is not and will come back again to abuse the friendship and go away.  Manav’s father in the film Taal at least admitted his mistake and came to his Tarababu to ask for forgiveness, but then he ate humble pie because he wanted to save his son’s life. 

My language has a saying, ‘ifa leziduphunga lidliwe abahlakaniphile.’  Fools’ riches is taken over by clever people.  Indeed, decent human beings are seldom rich.  What is the saying in English, survival of the fittest?  There’s more about this in Taal, because Vikram takes Tarababu’s folks song, re-mixes them, throws in psychedelic dance steps and makes a fortune.

Nonqaba is the author of sweetness The Novel.


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