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1942 Revisited: Again
Mar 12, 2006 08:37 PM 5182 Views
(Updated Mar 12, 2006 08:37 PM)





I remember asking my Grandpa a very interesting question: ''Grandpa? What is a classic?'' His answer to my question was pithy and the best way in which I can introduce my review. He told me:

''A classic is something, which you are supposed to like, no matter how old it is. Even if you don't like it, a classic is something you're supposed to say you liked. Judge a true classic not by how good it is. Judge it by how sharply you are censured for not liking it.''

# # #


It was on a journey aboard a bus bound for Pune that I was tugged into the Pre-Independence era of 1942. There is some romance about this era. So many stories are scattered all over the country, obscure on the aggregate scale, but heroic at their independent levels. There are so many legends of brave fights. And I don’t think we’re going to feel tired of listening to them in a hurry. Now wait a minute… Am I being a complete cynic? I’ll answer that a little later.


I knew what it was going to be the moment I saw the title. I’d never read a review on this movie before nor heard of it. (Actually, I had read a review on this before, but I never quite bothered to remember it. Don’t do that with my review, though. Remember it a little longer. Long enough to reach to the comments section without a blank brain). Anyway, the point is this. That I knew this was going to be one among a plethora of romantic tales of love and romance in the midst of an atmosphere set ablaze by violence and revolution. I knew it was going to be one of the scores of pseudo-debates: principles vs. emotions; head vs. heart; patriotism vs. love; truth vs. escapism. And it was exactly that!

Imagine how little surprised I was when I found a boy born into a rich family with a silver spoon (figuratively), whose father is a staunch servant of the British Empire, falling in love with the daughter of a revolutionary! Imagine how little it amazed me to know that her father disapproved of this! Imagine how disarmingly boring it was to see how the boy reformed, strayed from his father’s loyalty, set himself ablaze with the fire of patriotism, and fought on his love’s side! Imagine how completely obvious it was for me when I saw each tormentor in the movie die a painful death and each victim have the last, teary, nationalist laugh!

Cast Performances

ANIL Kapur can be exasperatingly boyish at times. I have to make a confession; I have never seen a very realistic depiction of naïve innocence, of which Kapur’s character is meant to be a personification. As the aforementioned boy, he is stereotypical and quite sad.

MANISHA Koirala plays the girl, another typical template character. It seems that our movies will never really tire of showing women as individuals torn between battles of principles. Each woman must either choose obedience to her father, or obedience to her heart, the latter necessarily implying severe disregard to morality in her perception. And if you add a mediocre performance to that, that yawn is going to be hard to suppress.

ANUPAM Kher fails to justify himself in this movie. Yet, to be a little just towards him, I must applaud him for his role—the only memorable pillar in a house of cards.

JACKIE Shroff escapes narrowly by playing a role that demands a necessarily cardboard face. But don’t count on anything more than 5 on 10 for him.

Music, Direction, Screenplay

Should I excuse this movie for its patchy camera-work, unrealistic and larger-than-reality sets and generally eccentric music direction, just because it was made quite long ago? Or should I put it through my microscope? I would rather sit the fence. Not completely excuse it for its age, nor censure it for its mediocrity. I’ll pass on a 5 on 10.

Random Ramblings

(I observe that this phrase of mine has gotten assimilated in the normal usages of people on this website. I’m amazed!)

We boys and girls, the members of Gen X are constantly at the receiving end. We’re called cynics. We’re called anti-culture, a term, which has a meaning deeper than ‘uncultured’. We’re called ‘pseudo-modern monkeys’. But let me ask you this question.

How long are we supposed to cling on to old tales, old fables, ancient preaching and customs, to their literal meanings? How long are we to follow them in their literal sense? Is it truly anti-culture to apply those teachings to the contexts of today, realize that their implications in the scenario of a constantly changing world are different and to discard those things, which no longer apply? Must nostalgia be a way to bottle up change? Or should it be a mechanism to decide what this society wants to remember in the context of every change?

Are we cynical? Or just too progressive? Answer us!

So, then, was I cynical when I said that I have begun to tire of these love amidst tension, heart amidst head, emotion amidst barren principles stories? Or am I only trying to select only those things, which our changing mindsets wish to remember? Am I being progressive? Or am I being cynical…? Question marks!!


I know how many people I have hurt when I said that this movie, 1942: A Love Story, is an old-fashioned and outdated plot and that it is full of templates that have been run down the grindstone a few times too many. I know I have raised your eyebrows. But don’t worry. There are two things, which you must never forget.

One: I hate to toe the line.


Two: Judge a true classic not by how good it is, but by how much you are censured for not liking it.

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1942- A Love Story