Monday, June 27, 2016

Isolation, And Expectation

Over the last few months, I have felt an exhausting isolation. I do not write personal posts these days, but this isolation has troubled me, frustrated me, and fascinated me. I felt immensely hurt by the acts and the words of some people. In the process, sometimes, I hurt other people. I tried to rationalize the actions of people, and ultimately, everything came down to my expectation, and it was the disappoinment of not living up to that expectation, that made me feel hurt. Perhaps, it was my fault to expect anything in the first place itself. Thus, I am learning to not expect anything, and trying to think from someone else's point of view as well. This takes a lot of patience, and requires to stay away from some core emotions. I am not sure if I will completely become like a monk, but at least, I can try to temper down my expectations.

This isolation made me reflect on my own characteristics which I did not think I knew earlier. I am not a talker at all, I am generally very quiet, but I realized I really miss talking about my feelings. I miss having a really good friend. I have some friends, but those friends are not really there, like they don't really understand, or they are actually not here. I am not talking about a romantic relationship, but a sort of a friend that you can relate to, and tell him everything, like your thoughts, desires; somebody with whom you can really share stuff without any judgement. Last year, I had gone through such a harrowing experience and I really wanted someone to just listen to me, but I had no one. I went through it all by myself, bottling up a lot of things. I went on a trip recently, and I wanted to tell so many things, but I couldn't. As they said in The Lunchbox, "We forget the things if we have no one to tell them to." I want to tell that I have a crush on someone, that I saw this thing in this movie, that I have this problem to solve, that I want to grow a beard. I am surprised by how much I tweet because I use that as a medium to share. I read this article on WSJ that as you grow older, it is so difficult to make friends. It is actually very true. I know as an almost thirty year old (next year, I will be thirty *cries*), I am talking like a three year old, but I miss having a person, my person, a friend. I don't know if I will find one, but not losing hope, perhaps, someday, I will.  

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Dil Chahta Hai—Of Life Like A Ship

At one point in Dil Chahta Hai, the three friends, Aakash, Sameer and Sid are enjoying the beautiful view of the sea from the ramparts of the Chapora Fort during their trip in Goa. The scene became so iconic that the fort came to be called as Dil Chahta Hai fort, and any trip to Goa is considered incomplete without a picture taken at the fort. The three of them see a ship sailing through the sea and Sid remarks that they all are like that ship, and sooner or later, they will start sailing to their respective destinations and it might be possible that their destinations might not the same. The ship seems to have a particular significance because it appears to be deliberately added in the sequence as its shot looks different from the normal view from the fort. 

Sid is the most mature of the three friends, and this scene yet again shows his ability to understand reality better than Aakash and Sameer. At this stage, their friendship is strong but it has not faced any dire and testing times. The three of them have recently graduated and are still trying to find their aim in life. It is one of the most realistic scenes of the film and it would resonate with anyone who watched it. All of us when we were in school or college would have had the same discussion with friends whether they will remain friends for the rest of lives. There is a feeling of doubt and uncertainty about being friends forever. However, more often than not, we lose touch with some of our friends. Whether it is ending up in different cities or the commonly used excuse of lack of time, or the tyranny of distance—emotional and physical—crops up in friendship and it falls apart. It is this feeling that the scene effectively portrays and brings out something relatable. We can never be sure of what lies ahead in the future but for now, we have our friends. Immediately, after this scene, the magical lyrics in the voice of Shankar Mahadevan reiterate the feelings in words. We also see the three of them sailing together in a ship after this fort scene, because the three of them are together and their journeys have been the same till now. In addition, the song sequence is splendidly shot, and it is the perfect song placement which accentuates the mood at that moment.

 Kaisa Ajab Yeh Safar Hai, Socho To Har Ik Hi Bekhabar Hai, 
Usko Jaana Kidhar Hai, Jo Waqt Aaye, Jaane Kya Dikhaaye

How strange is this journey, 
Each of us is so unsure of where he is destined to go, 
Who knows what the future has in store for us?

On a related note, it is worth mentioning to observe the distance between the three of them in this particular scene, and compare it with the another scene at the same place during the final moments of the film when they reunite. Earlier, the three of them are sitting somewhat farther from each other. However, during the climax when they reunite, the distance between the three of them has reduced and they seem to be sitting more closer. The reduction in the physical distance among the three of them in the two scenes is related to their emotional closeness. Their friendship went through an arduous time but it has come out stronger and deeper. During that scene, Aakash also remarks, “Woh dekh tera jahaaz. Do saal pehle itna chhota tha, ab kitna bada ho gaya,” conveying that like the ship that has grown in size, the three of them have also matured and grown up and so has their friendship. It is their coming of age and the ship is a befitting metaphor for it.

Dialogue of the Day:
"Lekin har dosti me ek hadd hoti hai jise paar nahi karna chahiye, tune aaj vo had paar kar di hai."
—Sid, Dil Chahta Hai

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Aaja Nachle—Dance With Me

I don't know what prompted me to watch Anil Mehta's Aaja Nachle again. Perhaps, it was the return of Akshaye Khanna to the movies. He is supposedly playing a villain in the upcoming Dhishoom, and I could only remember his 'bad guy' act in Aaja Nachle. Notwithstanding the film's lackluster performance at the box office, and equally unflattering reviews, Aaja Nachle is one of my favorite films. It is almost nine years since the film released and was the comeback film of the divine Madhuri Dixit.
The film is the story of Dia (Madhuri Dixit) who has her dance studio in New York. She receives a call from Shamli in India that the teacher who taught her dance is dying. She comes to meet him, but he has passed away already. He has left a message for her that the theater Ajanta where he taught dance to students is on the verge of being demolished. Dia, for whom there is no love lost by the town dwellers, because of her past activities, has to now save Ajanta theater. She goes to the meet the town's member of parliament (MP) Uday Singh (Akshaye Khanna), who tells her that if she can convince him that the people want the theater, he will not demolish it. She, then, tells him that she will do a show of Laila Majnu at Ajanta after two months, and it will be done by the people of Shamli for the people of Shamli. There in lies the tale of convincing people to do her show and make them realize the importance of nrtiya and sangeet in their life.

Like the recently released Maneesh Sharma's Fan, which was based on real-life story of Shah Rukh Khan, Aaja Nachle also seems a biographical account of Madhuri Dixit. Her character Dia loves dancing, gets married to an American, moves to the US with him, and then comes back to India. Madhuri's life, too, follows the same pattern, where she went to US for a few years after her wedding, and then came back to India. The film was touted as her comeback film.

Aaja Nachle deals with many conflicts. There is the conflict between modernity and tradition, between Western- and Indian-culture, between the past and the future, between being tied to your roots and flying away to freedom, between naach-gaana and nritya-sangeet, between letting go and trying to hold back to not only things, but relationships as well. It is the conflict to save the heritage of Ajanta instead of a mall, but also the conflict of holding on to your old feelings and moving on. At a much simpler level, Dia's story is like that of a migratory bird. When she is leaving Shamli with Steve, her teacher says, "Phaila apne pankh or udd ja." Open your wings, and fly away. When she calls out her parents' hypocrisy when they listen to songs of Lata Mangeshkar and Mumtaz on the radio, but stop their own daughter from dancing, Aaj Kal Paon Zameen Par Nahi Padte Mere from Ghar plays in the background. That song also talks refers to flying metaphorically. The rickshaw that she rides on with Doctor (Raghubir Yadav) has Ajanta Ki Bulbul written on it, like Dia is also some kind of bulbul, a songbird. This bird has come back to save theater, but will fly back again. 
Even though Dia might have migrated, she has not forgotten her roots. She has her own dance studio in New York, but she still refers to Shamli as her own city, and the people of Shamli as her own people. At one point later, she says, "Is sheher me mera tha kaun, jo main iski sagi banne chali thi." The film opens with her dance on an English song Dance With Me, but she is equally fabulous at Indian-style classical dances. She names her American daughter Radha, an Indian name. She has imbibed both elements of Western- and Indian-style in her, and she thinks she can bring the same to Shamli. Ajanta is dying, and she wants to save it, because her teacher said the art does not need a city, but it is the city that needs art. Ajanta is a reference to the beautiful art caves in Maharashtra, and at one point, Imran even mentions the theater as Ajanta-Ellora. In its place, a jazzy mall is going to be built. This is the conflict that we have been witnessing quite a lot. Dia has an emotional attachment to Ajanta, but it has to be evaluated as a cost benefit analysis to the city. Uday Singh makes a great point that people cannot eat art and dance. Maslow's hierarchy of needs are different for people. For people, who cannot afford a basic standard of living, it is necessary to give them a livelihood. If it was a rich town, dynamics would be completely different. Moreover, no theater had taken place at Ajanta after ages, and even after the play, Dia went back to New York, so we don't really know what happened to Ajanta. It was this thing for which I was not truly convinced if Shamli really cared about Ajanta, but as a lover of art, I completely understand Dia's good intentions and actions. I was also reminded of Piku. At one point, Piku while showing Kolkata to Rana, says that there was once a theater but now a new building has come up. Rana says that she is also doing the same, by selling her own ancestral house Champakunj. She says that she is being practical. He, then, makes a profound statement, "I am not saying tum galat ho. Maybe this is the way forward. Isi ko log development bolte hain. Par apni roots unko agar ukhad do, toh kya bachega."At the very least, Piku's ancestral house had her relatives living in it, but Ajanta was a platform where nothing existed. But, there is of course, an emotional attachment to everything. We don't destroy everything, but, then, at least, people should take care of Ajanta. Honestly, there are no easy answers for such conflicts. 
Mohan (Ranvir Shorey) is a restaurant owner who was left at the altar by Dia. We first meet Mohan when Dia takes Steve to his restaurant. The song Mere Sapno Ki Rani from Aradhana plays in the background, and we know that Dia is indeed his sapno ki rani. Mohan also keeps a picture of Madhubala in his restaurant, perhaps, he sees Madhubala in Dia, as Madhuri is, sometimes, called the Madhubala of the Nineties. Later, when he sees a poster of Dia's return put up in his restaurant, the song Kabhi Kabhie Mere Dil Me from Kabhi Kabhie plays in the background, and the song from a movie pining for his ex-lover who is now married to someone else is a song that exactly fits the situation of Mohan. When policeman Singh, Dhan Kuber, and Mohan are having a drink, another song Jaane Vo Kaise Log The from Pyaasa plays; again befitting to the situation of Mohan, who is wondering who are the people who loved, and got love in return. He would go onto sing the same song at his audition for Laila-Majnu. This playing of songs from another film that fits in the character's situation will show up again in Shuddh Desi Romance, a film that was written by Jaideep Sahni, who wrote Aaja Nachle, too. 
Dia runs away with Steve, and Mohan is heartbroken. There is a picture of flashing neon heart bulbs in the background, and one can't help but feel sorry for him in that situation. When he sees her poster that she has come back, he tears it off, but, then, he is not able to forget her, and irons it back again. It is a lovely moment. He goes onto meet Dia and tells her, "Chai bhi aap ki, main bhi aapka." The tea is yours, I am also yours. As much as I liked Mohan, I really want to go and shake him up, and just tell him, "Move on, Mohan." It is eleven years, and he is still nursing the old wounds. Something, really terrible happened to him, but he should accept it and think of his future. How long will he keep waiting for Dia when she has clearly told him that she will go back. Only in his dreams, he can get Dia, like we see in his dream in Ishq Hua, but in reality, she and he are unlikely to be together. He tried to hate Dia, but could not, and he is ready to support and stand with her, even when no one in the town is willing to do that. At one point, Dia regrets that she did not even apologize to him, and then, asks him, "Tum kis mitti ke bane ho?" What are you made of? While other people had a self-interest to play a role in Laila Majnu, Mohan was perhaps, the only own who came out of his own volition just to help Dia. There is a statue of Gandhi right outside his restaurant. Perhaps, it is the Gandhian influence on him from whom he has imbibed this self-sacrificing spirit. He even shares his first name with Gandhi—Mohan. Seriously, Mohan, you are a great person, but be a little selfish for your own sake. 
Mohan's friends call him jalebi, which I suspect is a euphemism for the word chutzpah that was used in Haider. At one point, his friend calls him Devdas. In the end, the policeman calls him Majnu. Mohan is actually a little bit of everything. There is also an interesting contrast between him, and Uday Singh. All the while, he served tea to Dia and her crew. He makes pakoras. In the end, Uday reached New York and offers Dia a Starbucks coffee, and he makes pizza. Whose taste she prefers?
I would also want to go and shake Mr. Chojar up and tell him, "Loosen up, Mr. Chojar; at the very least, let your wife enjoy whatever she likes." He has got a gem of a wife in Mrs. Chojar. She has awesome homilies to share at every moment. Mr. Chojar is an uptight government officer and he does not like when his wife does something in public that can cause him embarrassment. He does not even like when she eats gol gappas in the bazaar. As her wife said, there are two people in their house, he and his izzat; she is just a file in his life. Their marriage is having some serious lack of communication issues. He realizes his mistake, and requests Dia to give him a role in her place because his wife called him the most boring man on earth. It is always wonderful to see a man trying to make efforts to save his marriage. It is not easy for people to be something that they are not, and shed their skin to become a different being. Mr. Chojar is even embarrassed to show his face in public, but he does a brilliant job in the end, and showed his wife that he can fun, too. I hope the next time, he allows Mrs. Chojar to participate. In this context, the same plot of the Chojars becomes the rudimentary plot of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. In that movie, Tani enters a dance competition with her boring husband who took on another identity. There is also a gol gappas scene in that film.  
In terms of women being forced to not do what they like, even Najma, Dia's friend, had a similar story. Her husband uses her as a source to advance his business interests. She is just a tool for him. There is a scene where he tells her to say things about Dia's character so that people do not go to watch the play, and he awards her with a necklace. He is putting it in her neck and then he gets a call on his cellphone, and he attends the call, while Najma is left holding the necklace. It described the state of their marriage, which does not seem very different from the Chojars. He says that she is a tohfa (a gift) that God has made only for him. Rightly said, which is why he uses this gift to advance his interests, she is a decorative item like the necklace herself. 
Both Mrs. Chojar and Najma reflect the objectification of women as beings who are used as some kind of flashy objects. While Mrs. Chojar has to compete with the izzat of her husband, and do not do anything that harms his izzat in public, because as a wife, she is not her own self, but someone who belongs to her husband. In private, she is the file her husband can open and close anytime he wants. Likewise, Najma is the tohfa who her husband shows it off to other people, and uses her. She is the ostentatious necklace to the society, but in private, he will scream at her. In an earlier scene, when Dia goes to meet Najma, and when Radha tells Farooque that her parents are divorced, Najma helps him put on his blazer, again, a scene that points at the state of their marriage. Both these women do not work, and even if they want to, they cannot come out of this marriage. Interestingly, neither of them had kids even after years of marriage, which is kind of surprising in the society they live, perhaps, a reflection on the lack of physical intimacy, though there is a big picture of a baby in one of the calendars in Mrs. Chojar's room, a prop that has been used often in films to reflect impending pregnancy in the character. There is a strong correlation between working women and divorce rates. In this context, Dia is a divorced woman, living independently on her own in New York, and is raising a daughter all by herself. She has no bitterness about her marriage, and she realizes that she and her husband were not just meant to be. So, she got out easily. She has even no hard feelings about the city people who keep saying about her activities, and she does not let it impact her. She is truly an independent woman, and is willing to stand up for herself. She does not even get afraid when a bunch of goons break her set, rather finds her Majnu in one of the goons. Perhaps, that is why Najma says to Dia that she was always a brave woman, and she could never be like her. Also, not to forget to mention Dia's clothes. Dia wears whatever she wants, and dresses whatever she likes. All other women in the film are shown in traditional Indian attire. Roaming in a small conservative town has limitations, but Dia does not adhere to that unwritten code. The only slightly false note I felt was when she is practicing dance in her balcony in the night, Mr. Chojar comes and he turns his face, and waits for Dia to put her jacket, which I felt was not really necessary, but the presence of that scene shows that the film did make a point about her attire. 
Any women who does not belong to this social code is either labelled an outcast (such as Dia) or called as different, perhaps, which is why Konkona Sen Sharma's character was named Anokhi meaning someone who is different and weird. Eventually, she also came around as a traditionally dressed beautiful Indian woman. 
In the last few years, there have been many films focused exclusively on the foreign journeys women take. These include films, such as English Vinglish, and Queen. At the risk of repetition, I always go back to Santosh Desai's thoughtful take on Queen, where he says, "What Europe does for Rani is to merely to lift the invisible force-field that surrounds women in India. We find that an individual emerges from within quite effortlessly once the cloud of implicitness that governs behaviour is lifted. Europe lifts the expectations that accompany class and gender in Rani’s local context in India, and her foreign-ness renders irrelevant her external appearance and behaviour. She is freed even from the limitations of language; English is after all, merely another language in Paris, not an instrument of class. If Europe erases the descriptors that fix a person into a place, her return to India subtly re-codes her. She has become, as her fiancĂ© put it, more modern. As viewers too, we see a Rani that has inched closer to the self-image of those that watch films like Queen admiringly. Europe may have embraced Rani as she was but we need her to change just ever so little for her to be accepted here." I was thinking about this while watching the film. In the above mentioned movies, the focus was on the journey, but we don't know what happened to them after they came back home. Did Rani get married again? Did Shashi continue to run her business? Aaja Nachle was released in 2007, much before these other films. It is actually the story of a woman post her transformation. Was that one reason that audience did not accept the film, unlike these others movies. Though it is heartening to see the recent trend of the higher acceptance of women only films in last few years; it is a good sign, indeed. 

There is also a theme of secularism throughout the film. I had suspected Chaudhury Om Singh's character to be a religious hothead, but he was more a local goon with political interests. At one point, Dia tells him that there is no enmity between Hindus and Muslims in Shamli, so, he should make Ajanta as a poll issue. The film's characters belong to all religions, and there are no visible religious undercurrents in the town. In the final moments of the play, Dia dressed as an angel comes and says, whether one believes in the Brahm Gyan, the Gita, the Bible, the Quran, or the Guru Granth Mahaan, pehle pyaar bhari insaani zubaan ko maano, as a fitting end to the play. 
Any film that has audition scenes are a laugh riot. There is also a effeminate Gabbar Singh in one of those, but Anokhi's scenes are outrageously funny. The film's strength is its genuine characters. But the film belongs firmly to Madhuri Dixit. She is truly a diva, like her name Di(v)a, she lights up the screen by just her presence. At one moment, they even do a hat tip to her stardom, when she herself watches one of the girls in the audition enact her iconic song Dhak Dhak from Beta, and there is also a passing reference to her rival Sridevi, when Binduji dances in the blue saree, quite reminiscent of the song Kaate Nahi Kat Te from Mr. India. I realized how much I missed watching her in the films. My favorite scene is the entire Laila-Majnu play, which I read somewhere was directed by Piyush Mishra. It is beautiful, and I found all dance sequences to be gorgeous. When the play ended, and Dia came on stage to take a bow and the beats of Aaja Nachle start playing, it is a really happy moment. If I was watching it in a theater, I would even whistle (if I knew how to whistle). There is an alternate ending available on YouTube in which Dia gets reunited with her parents. I am curious as to why they did not keep that ending. Despite having some misgivings about the film's ending, Aaja Nachle is a personal favorite. The film's theme to loosen up and come and dance is the best tribute to a star whose only passion is dance. If only, I did not have two left feet, but as Dia said to Anokhi, "Kaam samajh kar karogi toh mushkil hai, pyaar samajh karogi toh kuch bhi nahi." I will heed this advice till I become the next Hrithik Roshan, and then, I will also sing. Sab ko nacha ke nachle, aaja nachle nachle mere yaar, tu nach le.
Mrs. Chojar says the best lines
Before Nawazuddin Siddiqui became a star
Sridevi from Mr. India
Using this in my next Twitter fight
We will make lemon juice
Oi say hello to Liquid from Pyaar Ka Punchnama
 Tum saala Gulam log neeche baithega, aur hum special chair pe baithega

Oh, cheer up, Mohan
Same holds true for me, Anokhi
Filed under I love Madhuri Dixit
Filed under I love Madhuri Dixit  
Filed under I love Madhuri Dixit  
 Filed under I love Madhuri Dixit 
Aaja Nachle
Always, respect the stage, always
Other Reading:
Baradwaj Rangan's splendid and fabulous take on Aaja NachleLink

Dialogue of the Day:
"Teri maa ko mausi bolu."
—Anokhi, Aaja Nachle

"Kismat to kholni ki baat hai, khul jaati hai, har dil ki chaabi hai, dhoondo to mil jaati hai."
—Mrs. Chojar, Aaja Nachle

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Dil Chahta Hai—Of The Subtext Of Fear

Many a time, I have wondered about the challenges faced by the characters in Dil Chahta Hai. All of them belong to high-income families, possibly, with the exception of Sid who appears to be only slightly less well-off as compared to the others. Aakash’s father has an export business while Sameer’s father owns a computer business. We never get to know what Sid’s mother does for a living but it seems that she makes enough to not force Sid to work on a high-paying job. Similarly, Pooja and Shalini belong to prosperous families. Shalini’s parents died in an accident, and after that, she was raised by her father’s business partner. Tara works as an interior designer, perhaps, in a senior role as her company has given her a fully furnished house. Money or the lack of it is not a factor in these people’s lives. The film is not only a coming of age story of the three friends but in many ways, is also a coming of age of the Hindi film industry which finally showed that wealth is no longer a dirty word. Shekhar Gupta, the former editor of the Indian Express, in his column National Interest, called the film to be a turning point in the Hindi film industry. He writes, “When was the last time you saw a Hindi film that celebrated riches, the high life, luxury so unapologetically? In the usual formula, one of the three friends (Aamir Khan, Akshaye Khanna, and Saif Ali Khan) would have hailed from a poor family, brought up by a widowed mother. His would have been the one home with happiness and his mother’s the shoulders his friends cried on for she would have been the fount of wisdom, generosity, and hers a genuinely contented life. Not in this case. Here all of them are rich. They (including the women) drink champagne. They coolly ditch old boyfriends/girlfriends and move onto new ones. They flaunt the symbols of affluence: cell phones, resort holidays in Goa, 51-inch flat-screen televisions. Can we name another Hindi film that was so relaxed, so non-judgmental, so merrily in your face about being rich?” 

Traditionally, Hindi films have demonstrated the differences in the economic status and in some cases, the religious affiliation between friends. In 2009, Raj Kumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots broke all box-office records becoming the biggest hit ever at that time. Starring Aamir Khan, Madhavan, and Sharman Joshi as Rancho, Farhan, and Raju, respectively, the film talked about the rote learning culture in India’s higher education and spread the message to the youth about following one’s heart. The three of them share a strong bond of friendship in the film despite the differences in religion and family status among the three. However, wealth is a factor that they have to deal with, particularly, Raju. He belongs to a poor family that comprises a paralyzed father, a cranky mother, and an unmarried sister. For Raju, getting a job is more important than the other two. He cannot afford the consequences of being thrown out of his college because of his limited options. In 2006, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Rang De Basanti depicted another splendid portrayal of friendship. An English filmmaker comes to India to prepare a documentary on India’s freedom and casts a bunch of aimless young men as freedom fighters. The film stars Aamir Khan, Sharman Joshi, Siddharth, Kunal Kapoor, and Madhavan as DJ, Sukhi, Karan, Aslam, and Ajay, respectively (interesting to note the three main actors were also there in 3 Idiots). At one point in the film, Aslam’s father admonishes him for having friends outside their ‘kaum’. The friends again had differences in their economic statuses, but the film underscored the differences in their religion more. Hindi cinema is replete with numerous other examples where wealth (Ishq, Student Of The Year) and religion come between friends.

In Dil Chahta Hai, money or religion do not play any part to impact the relationships among friends. The challenges that the people face in the film are more internal. There is a subtext of fear or ‘darr’ in all the three friends it is this fear that these people have to overcome. Early in the film, Sameer is given an option by his bossy girlfriend Priya to either choose his relationship with her or his friendship with Aakash. He forgets to call her and realizes that his relationship is almost over. Seeing his predicament, Sid remarks to him, “Tu Priya se itna darta kyun hai?” as to why is he afraid of Priya. Sameer replies that he is not afraid of her but he loves her and he does not want to hurt her. This manifestation of fear is seen in Sameer again when he is in love with Pooja. On being asked by Sid as to why he has not yet told Pooja about his feelings for her, he remarks, “Mujhe darr lagta tha, yaar. Agar Pooja ne naa kardi to thori bahut jo yeh dosti ho gayi hai, vo bhi chali jayegi aur main bilkul akela ho jaunga. Tu bhi yahan nahi tha aur Aakash bhi nahi.” He is again afraid of speaking his heart out because he does not want to lose his friendship with her. In both the instances, he has this fear of losing someone. 
While Sameer is afraid of losing love, Sid is in a way afraid of not being understood by his love. Though he is head over heels in love with Tara, he does not want her to know the same because he felt that she will not understand. In one of the film's best scenes, when Tara found out about his feelings, he said that he was sorry that he hurt her though he was not sorry for falling in love with her. On an earlier occasion, Sid advised Sameer that since he loves Pooja that much, he should tell her, “Agar tu Pooja ko itna chahta hai to abhi tak use bataya kyun nahi?” While in his own situation, he, too, loved Tara immensely, but still, he does not want her to know ever. It is the hesitation, apprehension, and fear that his mother saw which made her ask Sid as to what was it that was eating him from inside, “Main dekh rahi hun koi cheez tumhe andar hi andar khayi ja rahi hai.” 
The theme of fear is the most visible in Aakash, and in his relationship with Shalini. While Sameer is afraid of losing love, and Sid is afraid of not being understood by his love, Aakash is afraid of falling in love. His relationships do not last more than two weeks. He says he has seen his friends who have gone through emotional turmoil in their relationships and he feels he is happy the way he is. His belief is that all relationships end up making the person heartbroken, and he wants to avoid ending up in that state. Thus, in a way, he is scared of the emotional consequences of love. When Shalini says that love simply happens, then, he replies, he does not let it happen as if he deliberately tries to stop himself. When he finally falls in love with Shalini, he refuses to accept that he could be in love, too. He never once said to Shalini that he is in love, and only says that moments before Shalini’s wedding. Interestingly, the song Jaane Kyon Log Pyaar Karte Hain also highlights this element of fear in Aakash. The lyrics of the song are like the conversation between Aakash and Shalini and their views on love. At one point, there is a stanza that says, “Log chup chup ke pyaar karte hain, jaane kyun saaf kehte darte hai?” People love stealthily, but don’t know why they are afraid to admit it openly.
In this context, it is also worth mentioning the elements of fear in Shalini, too. When Aakash and Shalini are at an amusement park in Australia, he asks her why is she so scared of the roller-coaster ride. He calls her a coward and to disprove him, she goes along on the ride with him. She loves the roller-coaster ride. In many ways, the roller-coaster ride was a symbolic reference to the roller-coaster of life itself. Shalini is a quiet and subdued girl, who has probably led a protective life. She has made compromises in life. It is Aakash who takes her on this joy ride and helps her remove some of her inhibitions. Immediately after the amusement park scene, we see another depiction of fear in Shalini. Both Aakash and Shalini end up in the train station. Aakash runs to the train, and the train starts moving. Shalini is left behind at the train station. At that instance, a disheveled old man starts approaching her. There is a palpable fear on Shalini’s face; but, just in time, Aakash comes back to the station and she feels a sense of relief. On seeing Shalini’s trepidation at the man, it appears that he is going to punch the old man, but instead of that, Aakash embraces the old man. Although it is a hilarious scene, the thing to note is it again underscores an important message for Shalini and for others as well—to embrace your fears with open arms to scare them away. 
I can’t help but think of Deepa who was perhaps the bravest character in the film and certainly, much braver than the friends. Aakash is afraid of falling in love, Sameer is afraid of falling out of love, and Sid is afraid of not being understood in love. In contrast, Deepa is not afraid of falling in love, does not care if her love is not reciprocated, and never gives up trying to fight for her love. And, they all made fun of Deepa. Really.
Dialogue of the Day:
"Hum dost they, hain, rahenge."
—Aakash, Dil Chahta Hai