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.
Tum Bin, director Anubhav Sinha
Indian producers have a few films about road accidents. Tum bin is a sad film about Amar Shah (Rakesh Bapat), a Canadian citizen who is killed on a road accident in Mumbai on his way to the airport to catch a flight back to Canada and his fiancée Piya (Sandali Sinha).
Shekhar Mehta (Priyanshu Chatterjee) is the man behind the wheel. He is trying to avoid a little girl and a dog when the car hits a fire hydrant blinding him. That is how he hit Amar Shah. Shekhar gets out the car and the dead man’s phone rings. He picks it up and listens to a woman reciting a poem for him not knowing that Amar Shah lies dead.
Bosco (Rajesh Khera), Shekhar’s his friend from Canada who is in India for a visit drags him away from the scene and burns the evidence, Shekhar’s t-shirt full of blood. Shekhar cannot forget the accident. He flies to Canada to go and apologise to Amar Shah’s family.
They let him in and he apologises to Amar’s father, not realising that he cannot hear him. He lost his speech and hearing after his son’s death. This fuels him even more. He is determined to force himself into the Amar family’s life.
Dil Ka Rishta, director Naresh Malhotra
This film, which was shot in both India and Cape Town, South Africa, takes hit and run drivers head on. Jai Mehta (Arjun Rampal) has lots of money, so does his father Mehta senior (Paresh Rawal).
Jai has expensive toys that he drives at full speed on highways around the world. The film opens with him speeding to Cape Town International Airport to catch a plane to India. He always goes there for his mother’s birthday, which he celebrates with his father because she is dead.
He stays in India afterwards and meets Tia (Aishwarya Rai), who is a teacher in a school for children who are hard of hearing. Jai thinks she cannot speak so he teaches himself sign language to impress her. He also showers her with gifts. Tia however, loves Raj (Priyanshu Chatterjee), an orphan whose motor bike keeps breaking down.
Jai is devastated when Tia chooses Raj and marries him. Jai drinks himself silly, something that breaks his father’s heart. His childhood friend Anita (Isha Koppikar) convinces him to move on and accept that Tia is now Raj’s wife.
This conversation takes place in a bar. It’s time to go home and Anita offers to drive since Jai has had one too many. He says he’s alright. He can drive. There’s a terrible accident and Anita is killed. Raj, Tia's husband is the driver of the other car. Tia survives the accident but loses her memory.
Jai cannot forgive himself. He tries to make amends to Tia's mother for the loss of her son-in-law. She cannot hide her hatred. Jai’s father comes in and convinces her to accept whatever his son is offering. He cannot bring back her son-in-law but he wants to help them continue with their life.
Jai’s father gives her a long lecture about hit and run drivers. He says very few of them own up. They just run. He says his son is trying his best to make amends.
Jai’s father had a point but it is something that is hard to digest for a grieving mother or a child who lost his father. Blame is the only thing on their minds. The accident happened because Jai was drunk. In Tum Bin, the driver was trying to avoid a child and her dog.
These two films are quite provocative. I wonder what your take will be after you’ve watched them.
Nonqaba waka Msimang is the author of Sweetness the novel.