Monday, February 25, 2019

Gully Boy—Apna Time Aayega

It is New Year's Eve. The outside world celebrates and starts the countdown to a new beginning of time, while Murad (Ranveer Singh) sits all by himself in his employer's car and awaits the dawn of his time. The car is parked under a canopy of lights in a square area. The reflection of the lights falls all over the car while Murad sits in darkness inside, having moments of self-reflection, that lead to his soliloquy, "Apna time aayega. Ye shabdon ka jwaala, meri bediyaan pighlaayega.My time will come. The lava in my words will melt the shackles that hold me. It is as if he attains enlightenment at that particular moment under the lights and the stars. Later, Murad's time eventually comes, and he gets an opportunity to sing in front of a huge audience and the lights shine on him, in contrast to the previous scene. Zoya Akhtar's exquisite Gully Boy tells this story of Murad as he goes on a personal journey of waiting for his time from a budding poet to a famous rap artist. Murad is the son of Aftab (Vijay Raaz) and Razia (Amruta Subhash) living in the cramped slums of Dharavi. He is in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend Safeena (Alia Bhatt) who is studying to become a surgeon. Murad meets an artist MC Sher (Siddhant Chaturvedi) who helps him create a rap song video that ultimately paves the path for his success. Gully Boy is loosely inspired by the story of Divine and Naezy who found fame by rapping about their life experiences.
Gully Boy is a film about dreams. It is about dreams that help escape the stress of everyday life. It is about dreams that give hope for a better future. It is about dreams that won't let you think of anything else. Koi badi murad agar sapne mein dikh jaaye toh uske liye try karneka na. If you dream of a big desire, is it worth chasing? Murad dreams of a better life for himself. Safeena dreams of being a surgeon. Razia dreams of her son who will take them out of poverty. Usko leke bade khwaab hai mere. It is about not giving up on those dreams even if they do not match your existential reality. It is about making sure that your reality catches up with the dreams. Main nahi badalta apna sapna apni sachai se mel khaane ke vaaste. Main apna sachai badlega jo mere sapne se mel khayega. What is a life worth if one has to compromise even his dreams? Murad wants to break the rules of society that a driver's son can only be a driver. He has an equal right to dream. Zinda mera khwaab. Ab kaise tu dafnaayega
Zoya Akhtar's oeuvre has always emphasized the importance of dreams and espoused her characters to follow them. The first lines in her first film Luck By Chance encapsulate the theme of dreams. Aamir Khan while shooting for a period film says, "Lekin sirf wohi sapna saakar hota hai jo lakh samjhane par bhi insaan bhulana nahi chahta." Everyone dreams but only that dream gets fulfilled which a person does not want to forget, in spite of being told to forget it. This, essentially, becomes the motto for Vikram (Farhan Akhtar) to fulfill his dream of becoming an actor. Dreams come up again when Vikram goes for his audition at Romy Rolly Productions where the song Sapnon Se Bhare Naina plays. The lyrics talk about the twinkle of dreams in the eyes of the dreamers. Sapnon se bhare naina, na neend hai na chaina. When there are dreams in your eyes, there is neither sleep nor peace. The song is shot in a room full of men who are auditioning to become actors. There is someone in the room who does not even have any money to buy a new pair of shoes. He does not know English and is a little embarrassed to ask for Vikram's help in filling the form but he is here just to fulfill his dream to become an actor. In Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Laila (Katrina Kaif) encourages Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) to follow his dreams. At another stage, Kabir (Abhay Deol) argues with Natasha (Kalki Koechlin) as to why does she plan to quit her job after their wedding. It was her dream and she should continue to work on that. Natasha wants different things in life because her dreams have changed. After all, the rich have the privilege of changing their dreams as often as they want.
In Sheila Ki Jawaani of Bombay Talkies, Katrina Kaif, playing the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, tells Vicky (Naman Jain) who wants to become a dancer that it is important to preserve one's dreams and for that, he might even have to lie. "Kabhi kabhi apne dream ko chhupana padta hai. People always don’t understand you, so they will discourage you. Lekin tumhe to pata hai na, tumhara sapna kya hai, toh uska khayal bhi tumhe rakhna padega. Jaante ho tum jo chaho kar sakte ho, jo chaho ban sakte ho. Follow your heart for there is magic in your dreams. If you believe them, they will come true. Bas yakeen karo ki aisa hoga aur tumhe koi nahi rok sakta." In Dil Dhadakne No, Kabir (Ranveer Singh) is taken aback by the fearlessness of Farah (Anushka Sharma) to follow her dreams. He never thought of rebelling, but only after meeting Farah, he gets the courage to talk to his parents that he wants to do something in the field of flying. In addition, there is the film's title song that says, "Hum toh yehi samjhayenge usey, sapne jo hai sajaane thode se bano diwaane." We’ll only say to him, that if you want to fulfill your dreams, be a bit crazy. 
All of Zoya Akhtar's films have talked about dreams but Gully Boy is closest to Luck By Chance in terms of other themes, characters, and treatment. Luck By Chance narrated the story of two struggling actors, Sona (Konkona Sensharma) and Vikram (Farhan Akhtar), trying to make it in the Hindi film industry. The film commented on the role of luck, destiny, and persistence in our lives. In one particular scene, Sona's dream is shattered after she learns that she is not going to play the lead role in the film that was promised to her. She laments that maybe it is not in her kismet to be an actress. Vikram disagrees as he believes that kismet is for those who do not have the strength in them to make their own life. Will some other person tell her that she cannot be an actress? He consoles her that all this time, she believed in someone else; now, she has to believe in herself to make the decisions of life. Chances are not given; they are made. Kamayaabi hum tak nahi aati, humein kamyaabi tak jana hota hai. Apne raaste par chalte raho. Dheere dheere sari duniya tumhare raaste par aa jayegi. Success does not come to us; we have to chase success. Keep walking on your chosen path and the world will change its path to come to you. In Gully Boy, Murad and his father Aftab have a conversation that is similar to the one above. Murad leaves the job at his uncle's office because he did not like the way he was treated there. His uncle told him that a servant's son can only be a servant. His father tells him that it is the truth but Murad says, "Koi dusra batayega mereko main kaun hai?" Will someone else tell me who I am? This is just like the way Vikram tells Sona that will Chaudhury tell her that she cannot be an actress. Aftab then counsels Murad to change his dreams and accept his reality that he is never going to make it big. Murad disagrees and says that he will change his reality to match with his dreams; just like Vikram believed that the world will follow you and come to your path if you never give up.
One of my favorite things in the movies is to watch people encouraging and empowering each other. The characters in Gully Boy support each other, many a time, putting their personal ambition behind them. From the first moment that they meet, MC Sher pushes and supports Murad. He guides him and helps create his first video. He motivates him to not let insults bother him. I kept thinking that at some point MC Sher and Murad will enter into some kind of competitive confrontation. But the film never hinted at any kind of animosity between the two. The film's subversion comes across in these little moments. Even after MC Sher does not make it to the top five at the competition, he is happy about Murad making the cut. Murad never fails to thank him. When Sky (Kalki Koechlin) offers him a contract, he conveys to her that it was all due to MC Sher, after which they both collaborate with her. In another lovely moment before his final performance, Murad hugs Sher and almost starts crying because he would not be there without him. Later, when Moeen is behind the bars, Murad is ready to give up everything because he realizes that when no one was there for him, it was Moeen who helped him give a roof when he needed one. The name Moeen also means a helper or a supporter. Friends really stand up for each other in Gully Boy. A friend takes them to the Benetton store at night at the risk of losing his job. Murad's relationship with Safeena also displays this unbridled espousal. "Tereko jo karne ka hai, tu kar," says Safeena. You do whatever you want. She is ready to financially take care of him after they get married and he can continue to do his music thing. She adds that Murad does not try to change her. He accepts the way she is and lets her be. Sometimes, just doing nothing becomes the greatest act of championship. This is a complete contrast to Vikram's behavior in Luck By Chance where he behaved in the most selfish way, actively sabotaging other people's chances to make it big. When his friend Abhi (Arjun Mathur), with whom he was staying, applies for the same acting role, Vikram's face shows apprehension as he does not want to compete with him. Vikram makes new friends after he finds success, forgetting the old ones who were there for him earlier. "Unhe mat bhoolo, joh tumhe tab jaante the jab tum kuch nahi the," says Shah Rukh Khan to Vikram at some party, "kyunki bas yeh hi hai, joh tumhe hamesha sach bolenge." Never forget those who were there with you when you were a nobody because only those will always tell you the truth. Murad does not need this lesson as he already follows this in spirit. He remembers to thank all his friends and pays back to Moeen for his generosity.
In a beautiful scene in Gully Boy, Murad is asked to work as a chauffeur for some time and he is waiting when his employer's daughter comes out crying from a party. He wants to talk to her and console her but he is hesitant. Maybe the words of his father to not talk to his employers stop him from reaching out. He talks about the distance between the two of them. Even though they are physically near, yet they are far apart. They belong to two completely different worlds separated by the barriers of class. Main bhi yahin hoon, tum bhi yahin ho, par sach ye hai, main hoon kahin, tum aur kahin. I am here, you are here, but the truth is I am somewhere else, you are somewhere else. It is about the invisible barriers that human society has put up between its own people that stop us from displaying the ethos of humanity, something that makes us human in the first place. This is again reminiscent of the wonderful scene in Luck By Chance when Zafar Khan (Hrithik Roshan) meets a bunch of street kids in his car. He and the kids belong to two different worlds separated by the glass window. Gully Boy is about those kids who played with Zafar Khan and who aspire to be like him when they grow up. Moments later, the song Doori begins in Gully Boy that shows a montage of underprivileged people of Mumbai for whom life is an everyday struggle. It is shot quite aesthetically like the opening title sequence of Luck By Chance which also showed the invisible people working behind the scenes in the Hindi film industry without whom these films would not be made. Even the opening sequence of co-writer Reema Kagti's Talaash showed a montage of the invisible people of the underbelly of Mumbai at night. In fact, Talaash was also a story of these invisible people. The life of the underprivileged is cheaper. A girl disappears and no one cares. As Rosie (Kareena Kapoor) says, "Hum jaise log to ginti me hi nahi aate." People like us are not even counted.
Albert Camus once wrote, "In order to be created, a work of art must first make use of the dark forces of the soul." In Imtiaz Ali's Rockstar, the aspiring musician Jordan (Ranbir Kapoor) looked at the posters of famous musicians, such as Jim Morrison, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Kurt Cobain, and says that these people have experienced a lot of pain in their lives. But he had to never struggle for anything in his life, perhaps, that is why he might not be a musician. He learns that "Toote hue dil se sangeet nikalta hai." Music can only come from a broken heart. Jordan needed a Heer to break his heart to help him create his art. In contrast, Murad's life is an everyday struggle. He does not need his heart to be broken as life has already given him enough things to get angry about. His friend MC Sher advises him that all the cheer-phaad artists fought for the food and then spoke about their hunger. As he does in his own life, he channels the angst of a missing mother and an alcoholic father to create music. Murad needs to do the same. Apne andar ka lava phat ke bahar aane de. Bring out the lava from deep inside. Murad's angst brings out his poetry and MC Sher adds rhythm to that poetry to create rap music. Murad's art, then, becomes a mixture of rhythm and poetry. 
The familiar terrain of dysfunctional family dynamics in Zoya Akhtar's films can be seen in Gully Boy as well. The aspirations of children are repressed by their parents. Mothers are close to sons (Murad and MC Sher). Fathers are close to daughters (Safeena). The three younger kids—Murad's brother, Safeena's brother, Murad's cousin—are almost always quiet in the presence of their horrible parents and meekly obey their orders. Even the rich girl had to deal with her parents asking her to do something better in life. I kept wondering why does Murad not say anything to his father. Murad rebels when his father abuses his mother. Rebellion is the way to escape this parental claustrophobia. I think Safeena will also go on to rebel at some point later, which is why completing education is of paramount importance to her so that she can become independent in life. Remember Sona in Luck By Chance ran away because her parents wanted her to get married to a guy who belonged to her caste. Even Farah from Dil Dhadakne Do ran away from her house to become a dancer. For now, Safeena rebels in little acts by sneaking out at night, taking off her hijab, and putting lipstick.
Murad's father Aftab works as a chauffeur at someone's place where he has to keep quiet all the time and the only time he gets to show his authority is at his home over his family. It is as if all his frustrations are released onto his family. He marries another woman adding more members to their house. His new wife is probably the same age as his son, so, when he sees Murad sitting without a shirt, he asks him to wear one, exposing his own insecurity. In a moment of emotional vulnerability, Murad's mother Razia questions her husband if he ever touched her intimately, without realizing that her kids are listening. In Dil Dhadakne Do, Neelam (Shefali Shah) took comfort in food to bear the philandering ways of her husband Kamal (Anil Kapoor), but there is nothing to ease the pain for Razia except dreams for her son. The first thing that Aftab's second wife does when she comes home is nudging the bag of Razia under the bed as if it does not belong there, just like she has done to her. Razia is left without any space in their house. She has to sleep on the floor now. Gully Boy shows the clamor for space (physical and emotional). Razia and Aftab have to go out of the house to have a private conversation. It is the space outside their house on the street that offers them more privacy. In another quiet scene that belies this quest for space is when Murad visits Sky's place and he is astounded by the space in her washroom. Using his footsteps, he measures the length of the washroom, which is larger than many houses of Dharavi combined.
The relationship between Safeena and Murad is a charming one indeed. The very first scene where they meet each other makes us think that they are meeting for the first time, but it cleverly plays with us. In Dil Dhadakne Do, the first scene between Kabir and Farah also began in complete silence in a swimming pool where neither of them spoke to each other. "Mohabbat ki shuruaat me zubaan se toh baat kam hi hoti hai," says Pluto. At the beginning of love, many words are not spoken. Here, we learn that Safeena and Murad have already been in a relationship for over nine years. It was part of their daily routine meeting. Murad and Safeena have reached that stage where they share everything and support each other. They usually meet on a bridge surrounded by garbage that separates the regions where they come from. Safeena is financially well-off as compared to Murad and comes from a better part of the city. However, they share the same oppressiveness of parents. Safeena does not have many demands from life. She just wants to live life freely like her friend Suhani. But she cannot do even that. With Murad, she feels free and who lets her be, which explains her crazy possessiveness for Murad. One of my favorite scenes of theirs is at the bridge when they meet after the Albina incident. On being asked to swear that she will not create a fuss like this again, she says, "Marjayenga tu," and Murad starts blushing as if he is also enjoying that moment.
In Gully Boy, the narrative keeps coming back in some form or the other, usually underscoring the contrast from the earlier instance. Early in the film, Murad waits outside a posh club, and the rap song being played inside interests him. However, the bouncer signals with his hands asking him to go away from there. Later, when things turn around, Murad is invited to the same club where this time the bouncers happily welcome him. He is asked not to pay anything while his friends have to pay. He just walks inside. Then, there is also the time when Murad sings Apna Time Aayega all by himself in darkness surrounded by the lights. Later, he sings the same song again on the stage in front of an audience that is rooting for him. At another stage, there are Murad's employers who are trying to convince their daughter to study further instead of working. In contrast, there is Safeena who has to literally beg her parents to let her study while her mother wants to get her married at the earliest. Then, there is Murad's mother who was angry that her husband is married another woman. She tells her husband that she is going to do the same and get a man for herself. This comes back when Safeena gets to know that Murad and Sky hooked up. Like Murad's mother, she tells him that she is going to do the same with another man. Both women learn to live with or accept the infidelity of their men. And, then, there is another reiterating aspect related to white women. On being asked about he met his girlfriend, MC Sher tells Murad that in our society, before entering any relationship, people look at jaat, joot, aur jubaan but the foreigners look only into the eyes. For them, other things don't matter that much. The same thing happens again when Murad asks Sky why is she is interested in him even though she knows that he belongs to a different class. Sky replies that for her, he is an artist and that is all that matters. 
If Murad is named as he represents desire, then Sky is so named as she represents the pinnacle of aspirations that he desires. She has everything that Murad wishes he had. She could well be Laila or Natasha from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara who has come on a project to Mumbai where she talks about following your 'passion'. She helps Murad become a YouTube sensation and eventually they hook up. Here, again, we see similarities between Vikram from Luck By Chance and Murad of Gully Boy, where both these men cheat on their respective girlfriends after finding some success. Vikram is thrown out by Sona when he tries to reach out to her again because she realizes in Vikram's narcissist world, she has no place. Tomorrow, he will move on to something else. She is better off without him. However, Murad goes back to Safeena and is forgiven after he realizes his folly. "Safeena ke bina mera zindagi na aise ho jayega jaise bina bachpan ke bada ho gaya jaise", he says to Sky. Without Safeena, my life would be like I grew up without a childhood. Safeena forgives him for his encounter with Sky and takes him back. There has been some criticism of the role of Sky in the film. I think her role is added to bring some conflict in the love story of Murad and Safeena. What does not come out as organic is the whole vandalism sequence where she and Murad go onto deface public property. She is protesting against so many things that there is no clarity as to what she is really protesting against. Art might require anger but manufactured anger comes across as fake. It comes across as if she is looking for her source of angst to create her art as she got everything in life.
Gully Boy shares many subtexts with Luck By Chance. However, there are some elements in other films of Zoya Akhtar that are used here. The way poetry has been incorporated in Gully Boy is reminiscent of the poetry in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Like Imran, Murad is also a poet. They both write poetry in their diary. They are closer to their Ammis. Sky and Murad talk about following passion and junoon, like Laila and Arjun did. At some other stage in Gully Boy, someone says, "Paint the town red." There was a song in Zindagi Na Milegi No Dobara with these words, "Paint It Red."
Gully Boy takes a little time to set things up. It was only after MC Sher arrived that the film picked up and in the second half, it gets even more interesting. The film's music and lyrics are politically charged as it can be seen from the way the political parties are lapping it up for their election campaigns. They talk about jingoism, nepotism, and communalism and yet some of these don't exactly connect with the film's story which is more personal. The film does not also give much importance to his external identities. I think for this reason the music did not become greater than the sum of its parts. Apna Time Aayega works like a powerhouse because it is Murad's story. The line dikkat ki hai, aafat ki, himaakat ki, ibaadat ki, adaalat yeh hai chahat ki, mohabbat ki, amaanat ki is so rousing that one can't help but cheer along with Murad. I wish there was more of that. Gully Boy is a wonderful film but Luck By Chance remains my favorite Zoya Akhtar film, which still gives me a new perspective to think when I watch it. Maybe in due course, Gully Boy will reach there.
The performances by all the cast members are splendid. There is not one false note in any of them. After playing the understated Kabir in Dil Dhadakne Do, Ranveer Singh shines again in a quiet role here. I have liked him more in those roles where he emotes through silences. Alia Bhatt is a star; thankfully, the film does not have her typical breakdown scene. Siddhant Chaturvedi (who was the funniest person in the web series Life Sahi Hai) and Vijay Varma are terrific, stealing the scene in some cases. Vijay Raaz and Amruta Subhash bring humanism to the roles that one feels for them. 
Gully Boy emphasizes making the best of the chances that life offers and showing courage to take those chances. In the poem Ek Hi Raasta, Murad talks about taking that one turn that could have changed our lives forever but so many of us don't have the courage to choose that path. Koi deewana hi hota hai, jo udhar jata hai. Only a passionate soul will go there. Aftab admonishes Murad to not let go of his office job because, "Aisa mauka baar baar nahi milta hai (these chances don't come again)," because in his life, he had to struggle for a job like that. He is even more cautious because they are Muslims and as he tells his wife, these days no one cares for them. Again, we see Murad's Uncle Ateeq (Vijay Maurya) who comes and tells him, "Sabko zindagi me ek mauka milta hai, usko kabhi nahi chhodna. Aaj tune apna future tay kar liya hai." Everybody gets one chance in life; never let go of that. Today, you have chosen your future. Then, there was also Murad's conversation with Safeena where he asks her how can she be so daring. She replies, "Zindagi me kuch accha mile na toh chup chap le lene ka." If life offers something good, take it readily. There is only one life we have and if God has given you a gift, make the most of it, and leave a legacy behind so that people remember you long after you are gone. Kal ko main off ho gaya, phir bhi log yeh video dekhenge aur kuch mehsoos karenge. If I die tomorrow, people will still watch this video and feel something.
Murad's murad eventually turns into reality. He managed to change his assigned destiny. But for many others, life is full of broken dreams. Moeen also aspired for a better future. Things don't work out for him. However, it is important to never lose hope. There is a poignant scene where Moeen tells Murad that he also wishes to be part of his English-speaking group. During the same scene, Allah Ke Bande, a beautiful song that talks about failed dreams, from the film Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II is playing. The lyrics of the song tell us to not be impacted by shattered dreams and to smile because tomorrow will always come again. Allah ke bande hasde, jo bhi ho kal phir aayega. Apna Time might come or not, but whatever happens, kal phir aayega. As some wise man also said, after all, tomorrow is another day.
Trivia:
1. Murad sings N.Y. State of Mind by Nas when some foreign tourists visit his house.
2. Murad listens to Everyday by A$AP Rocky when his father comes home after getting married to his second wife.
3. Sky has studied music at Berklee College of Music in Boston (not to be confused with Berkeley in California).
4. Rahul Bose has a voice cameo in Gully Boy as the father of the rich girl where Murad works. Reema Kagti had a voice cameo in Bombay Talkies.
5. Gully Boy has two Eminem references. There is a poster of Eminem in his poetry diary. At some other stage, Moeen calls him Saleem Shady, similar to Eminem's Slim Shady.
6. Safeena has a friend named Suhani who is studying to be a doctor. There was another medical student named Suhani in Saathiya who also stayed in Mumbai and then eloped with her boyfriend.
7. Some of the supporting cast members in Gully Boy, including Ikhlaque Khan and Sheeba Chadha, have also been present in Zoya Akhtar's previous films. There is also Ashish Sawhny who plays the doctor here and was Tanvir in Luck By Chance. MC Sher's band member is named JD similar to KD in Rock On!!.
7. Amruta Subhash had played the role of Ramanna's sister in Raman Raghav 2.0. Her mother Jyoti Subhash was Meenaxi's grandmother in Aiyyaa. Vijay Maurya was Pankaj in Tumhari Sulu.

The Cutting Scissors:
Other Reading:
1. Rahul Desai's splendid writing on the girl of Gully BoyLink
2. Satyam Viswanathan on hope and despair in Gully BoyLink
1. The posts on Luck By ChanceLink and Link
2. The post on Dil Dhadakne DoLink
3. The post on Bombay TalkiesLink

Dialogue of the Day:
"Apna time aayega."
—Murad, Gully Boy

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Elevators in Hindi Cinema

While watching the elevator scene in Sriram Raghavan's AndhaDhun (2018), an idea popped up in my head to document some other memorable elevator scenes in cinema. In Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator, Andreas Bernard writes, "The moment where people get stuck in an elevator together is always a moment of truth. Let's say a couple who has hidden secrets gets stuck together—they confess it. The room, which is so narrow and which is so close, is like a real confessional—a space where you're forced to say the truth." We don't see a lot of that in Hindi films as the elevators (or lifts, as they are often called in India) have been primarily depicted as tiny places where romance, comedy, horror, and sometimes death happens. 
One of the most popular portrayals of the elevators in the movies is as places where characters romantically flirt with each other. In Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981)star-crossed lovers Sapna (Rati Agnihotri) and Vasu (Kamal Haasan) sing and dance in a hotel elevator much to the amusement of other patrons. While going back from a lunch date at a restaurant, Vasu stops the elevator and starts singing Mere Jeevan Saathi whose lyrics were made up of the titles of many Hindi films. The song became quite popular and is still remembered for its creativity. A similar song and dance sequence in an elevator also happens in Pyar Hi Pyar (1969), the only movie of Dharmendra and Vyjayanthimala together. Vijay (Dharmendra) bribes the caretaker of an elevator of a building to stop it when Kavita (Vyjayanthimala) comes for a party there. Trapped in the elevator, Vijay serenades Kavita by singing the very beautiful Main Kahin Kavi Na Ban Jaaon where he croons that he will become a poet in the love of Kavita (whose name also means a poem). 
In Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), Naina (Preity Zinta) introduces her best friend Rohit (Saif Ali Khan) where he is shown to be flirting with a woman in an elevator. However, he is unaware that the man standing beside her is the woman's husband who obviously is not happy with his shenanigans. The same scene is repeated later in the film when Aman (Shah Rukh Khan) imagines his life as Rohit. In Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008), the philandering Raj (Ranbir Kapoor) makes out with his neighbor Radhika (Bipasha Basu) in an elevator after which he moves in with her. In Sanam Teri Kasam (2016), Saru (Mawra Hocane) is trapped in an elevator with her neighbor Inder (Harshvardhan Rane). Unaware that the person dressed in a bear costume is Saru, Inder starts taking off his clothes untill she tells him to stop. In the recent road-trip movie Karwaan (2018), Avinash (Dulquer Salman) bumps into his airhostess neighbor while coming back from work in an elevator. He tries to speak to her but something keeps happening that prevents him from doing so.
In Dulhe Raja (1998), Raja (Govinda) and Kiran (Raveena) are trapped in a lift and a cockroach shows up giving an opportunity to Raja to flirt with Kiran, giving one of the hilarious scenes in the film. In Ugly Aur Pagli (2008), Kabir (Ranvir Shorey) farts in an elevator and gives a name to his fart smell (not kidding!). Unfortunately, a beautiful girl enters the elevator at that moment and is turned off by the smell and immediately gets out.
In Milenge Milenge (2010), largely inspired by Serendipity, Priya (Kareena Kapoor) and Amit (Shahid Kapoor) talk about the role of destiny in their lives. They decide to play a game where they will enter into two different elevators at a hotel and if they end up on the same floor, then, they would believe that destiny indeed wants them to be together. When they enter the elevators, both of them press the sixteenth floor; however, Amit's elevator stops on different floors and by the time, he reaches, Priya had already left. In Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012), Rianna (Kareena Kapoor) and Rahul (Imran Khan) meet again in an elevator when they are going to the psychologist. In Happy New Year (2014), there is an entire sequence in an elevator where Charlie (Shah Rukh Khan) and his gang telepathically speak to each other without saying anything.
The elevators play a special role in contemporary Hindi horror films where they are often associated with a supernatural event. In Ek Thi Daayan (2013), the elevator is shown as the gateway to hell. A child reads a book of witchcraft from which he learns the number 666 and uses it to time travel on the apartment elevator to some unlisted floor at the bottom of the building, which is called as the entry to hell. In Naina (2005), after receiving a corneal transplant, Naina (Urmila Matondkar) sees dead bodies everywhere. In one particular scene in an elevator, she is terrified when she is trapped there with a dead body. In 13B (2009), a clue that something is not quite right is provided by the building's elevator. It never works when Manohar (Madhavan) attempts to ride in it alone and works perfectly fine if there is a companion with him. In Bhoot (2003), the repeated elevator sequences add to the spooky ambiance of the film. In an interesting research paper titled The Security Aesthetic in Bollywood’s High-Rise Horror, Bishnupriya Ghosh elaborates on the role of gravity and the elevators in horror films set in high-rise buildings. She writes, "The elevator in the high-rise horror becomes the metonym for the mechanical and electrical infrastructure constitutive of vertical living. The key sequences depicting the main protagonists' mental distress introduce gravity as the nemesis of high-rise living. Postproduction shaky zooms at fast camera speeds through corridors and lobbies, and, most often, in plunges down the gleaming, steel-plated elevators create sensations of losing control over height. The fall in the elevator, a staple of high-rise horror in general, counters the earlier sensations of floating but controlled remoteness from the geophysical surroundings. Bhoot and 13B, for instance, incorporate at least six or seven elevator sequences hurtling down to the underground car park; four or five sequences in each film take place there, in those parking lots."
In the supernatural thriller Talaash (2012), Suri (Aamir Khan) meets the prostitute Rosie (Kareena Kapoor) in a glass elevator where he speaks to her about the accident case that he is investigating. She had provided some valuable information regarding the case. Later, after the truth about Rosie's ghost identity is revealed, the scene is shown in a flashback as another instance of Suri talking to himself.
Sriram Raghavan pays homage to one of his favorite filmsElevator To The Gallows—in his delicious thriller AndhaDhun (2018). Manohar (Manav Vij), the inspector having an affair with Simi (Tabu), is called by Sakku (Chaya Kadam) and Murli (Rudrangshu Chakrabarti) to deliver the money in the elevator of an under-construction building. Manohar manages to catch hold of Murli but is trapped in the elevator by Sakku who shuts it down when he is coming for her. Manohar is eventually killed by one of his own gunshots in the elevator. In the new Don (2006), Kamini (Kareena Kapoor) who was working at the behest of the police is kidnapped and killed by Don (Shah Rukh Khan). The police find her body lying between the doors of an elevator that were repeatedly trying to close but could not due to the stuck body. 
In Darr: A Violent Love Story (1993), an elevator appears in two crucial scenes. The stalker Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) follows Kiran (Juhi Chawla) to her apartment in a high-rise building in an elevator. As Kiran stays on the top floor, the elevator becomes progressively empty with only Rahul and Kiran left. At one stage, he plays with her dupatta and attempts to touch her but she gets out in the nick of time. Later, after her wedding with Sunil (Sunny Deol), an angry Rahul attempts to kill them by cutting the connecting wires of the elevator. They are saved but the policemen sent to protect them are killed in the act.
Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) in the iconic Deewar (1975) meets a smuggling leader Samant (Madan Puri) in an elevator and offers him vital information about one of his business rivals. On being asked the reason for his business proposal in an elevator, Vijay replies, "Suna hai lift ki deewaron ke kaan nahi hote." In Bluffmaster! (2005), Dittu (Riteish Deshmukh) plays a minor thief where tries to rob Roy (Abhishek Bachchan) in an elevator. He forcefully stops the elevator but manages to get himself out. He then offers to help Roy come out with the intention of stealing his bag. Little does he know that Roy is a master of such tricks and is a bigger conman than Dittu. In Ghajini (2008), Sanjay (Aamir Khan) is trapped in an elevator by Sunita (Jiah Khan) when he comes to her hostel trying to kill her. He is only released when the police arrive at the scene. 
In Aisha (2010), an adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, the lift is the place of confrontation. Aisha (Sonam Kapoor) and Arjun (Abhay Deol) have a war of words in a hospital elevator where Arjun accuses her of meddling in other people's lives. In Badlapur (2015), a vengeful Raghu (Varun Dhawan) is looking for Harman (Vinay Pathak), the man who played a role in the killing of Raghu's wife and son. In a brilliant scene, Raghu follows him in a glass elevator. Harman seems to recognize Raghu but pretends to behave casually in front of him. In No Smoking, K (John Abraham) sees the same man everywhere after the blast in his car. The man who is the guard at his office is the same one whom he meets in the elevator giving them the moniker Ram and Shyam. In one particular elevator scene in the film, director Anurag Kashyap also makes a guest appearance. 
In Tamasha (2015), the elevator scene is used to show the change in the personality of Ved (Ranbir Kapoor). While going to work, like a well-mannered boy, Ved would hold the elevator for a lady every day. However, when he starts undergoing a mental breakdown, he does not wait for the lady but animatedly closes the elevator, leaving her outside. In a memorable scene in Lust Stories (2018), Sudha (Bhumi Pednekar) eats some leftover sweets given to her by her employers while waiting for the elevator, giving us some subtext about the film's theme. 
Film writing and analysis in the West is so good that they already have written something on this topic. The elevator scenes in English movies feel more innovative and diverse than those in Hindi movies. Untill that happens in Hindi films, we will have to contend with oonchi hai building, lift teri band hai.
Other Reading:
1. Gifts in Hindi Films—Link
2. Diaries in Hindi Cinema—Link

Dialogue of the Day:
"Suna hai lift ki deewaron ke kaan nahi hote."
—Vijay, Deewar