I have to admit that I am not a big Rishi-Kapoor-as-romantic-leading-man fan. He's too much of a teddy bear for my taste. I enjoyed watching him more after he grew a beard in Chandni. But as we meet him on 25 Jun 1992 in the film Deewana, there's no beard. Just a Teddy Ruxpin leading man named Ravi who manages to woo the beautiful young girl Kajal (Divya Bharti) into conjugal bliss.
I had a little trouble buying it.
So, as I watched the first half of Deewana, I was more interested in watching Ravi's mother (Sushma Seth) interact with bad guy Pratap (Amrish Puri) and his son Narender (Mohnish Behl). These angry men eventually shoot Ravi and send him over a cliff making Kajal a widow and leaving a bereft mother without a beloved son.
And then in rides Raja Sahay (Shah Rukh Khan) and his macho on a motorcycle. He is definitely no Rishi Kapoor. This Casanova is young, confident, and looking for love in the world. And the world is about to fall in love with him.
When Raja meets Kajal there are sparks that you just don't see between Ravi and Kajal. With Ravi it seemed more like puppy love whereas Raja has palpable passion.
Of course, there is a little craziness, too. Actually, some serious deewana on Raja's part, like when he carves Kajal's name into his arm. And he's got unresolved issues with his rich guy dad, Ramakant Sahay (Dalip Tahil), who seems to be a key source of Raja's deewana.
Where Ravi was full of kindness, Raja has his demons. But who cares, really? Raja is passionately and hopelessly in love with Kajal. He forsakes his father to marry Kajal and becomes a son to Ravi's mother. But Raja knows that Kajal's past has trouble giving way to the present. On the wedding night he tells Kajal,
"Kajal ... you are my first and last love. I have never loved anyone before you and neither will I love anyone after you. Life's every moment is yours. I have willed my every heartbeat on your name. I know somebody else's memories are resting in your heart. And that a wedding night is more than just two bodies resting together. And until those intimate feelings for me are aroused in you, I'll not touch you."
(I swear I just heard Aretha Franklin singing "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" in the background ...)
Raja and his friends open a garage so he can earn a living now that he's cut himself off from his father. Kajal eventually falls in love with Raja. Raja has taken the place of the missing son. Everything seems perfect until Raja intervenes in a fight in a back alley and rescues the victim who turns out to be ... Ravi.
Okay, so when you see Ravi and Raja standing side-by-side, who would you choose to spend the rest of your life with? Hmmm ... tough decision ...
As Ravi and his mother part ways with Raja and Kajal, Ravi says to Raja,
"Don't try to change the law of nature. You can't do it. No power on earth can! I'm just a past. But you are her present. And a yesterday can never be today."
And what a today it has become. Watching Deewana, you feel you are watching film history in the making. The shift from Indian cinema of the past to Bollywood of the present is tangible. While Rishi Kapoor dances on the stage, Shah Rukh Khan dances his way into our hearts.
You can almost see Kapoor pass the Bollywood baton to Khan.
Enjoy the song "Aisi Deewana" from Deewana, Shah Rukh Khan's first film.
Update: 25 June 2014
I have till date not seen Deewana. I have a notion that I don't want to see my first or last creation. They r bookends, the story is between— SHAH RUKH KHAN (@iamsrk) June 25, 2014