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There are two types of films that you see as a viewer. There are ones that you love and would repeatedly watch every now and then. These are films that, much like life’s singular events, reveal new things on every revisit. And then there is the other kind that rarely commands a revisit. But nestled in between is a third kind of cinema – the one that you are glad for watching but know that you’ll never visit it again.

What is it about certain good or even great films that never command a repeated viewing? The biggest reason that a viewer shies away revisiting a good film is the toll it exhorted the first time around. One such film is Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). Many of us remember the day they saw One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest clearly and would never forget the profound effect it had. Randall McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) prefers prison time by pleading insanity over the trials of life thinking that a few months later he’d be out and everything would be shinny. But once inside the asylum it becomes clear that he might never come out. The beauty, or the tragedy, of the film is that much like McMurphy’s misplaced belief that he can waltz away from the asylum anytime he feels like, the viewer, too, erroneously ends up thinking that they can distance themselves from the film. There is nothing that can prepares you for the pain that unfolds on the screen and you just can’t help but end up emotionally identifying with McMurphy’s heartbreak.

When it comes to Bollywood it’s usually the stupidity of most films that stops us from watching them the second time around. The 1990s might have been the decade that saved Hindi films from the all-pervasive rubbish of the 1980s but one would probably choose death over revisiting many films from this era. Think of films like Phool Aur Kaantein (1991), Saajan (1991), Baazigar (1993), Darr (1993), or even Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) and imagine the bad make-up, the obnoxious costumes, the studded belts, jeans comfortably perched north of the waist … you’d watch a few minutes of these while surfing channels and that’s that.

For me there is one particular film that I just can’t get to watch again in spite of not disliking it the first time around. Hailed as highly modern and forward looking in every aspect, Dil Chahta Hai (2001) is a film that I shrink from more as the years go by. With the passage of time DCH comes across as highly pretentious with its view of the honest goodness in rich people. Somehow I can’t help but feel that Farhan Akhtar’s writing is like a well-rehearsed answer to anyone who, he believes, thought that he got everything on a platter because of being Javed Akhtar’s son. The three men seem to be the different facets of his being and the women, well…they all look the same – diminutive, undecided lost souls who are incapable of taking any decision. There isn’t anything wrong in being overtly personal about your craft but like Javed Akhtar mused that sitting in a five star hotel in Bombay couldn’t help him imagine Kaala Patthar’s (1979) coal miner in Dhanbad beyond a point, Farhan’s imagined insight of a regular guy’s perception of Javed Akhtar’s son and how to make them think otherwise is too obvious to be ignored.

One Hindi film that you’ll be blown by but perhaps would never see again would be Dibakar Banerjee’s Love Sex Aur Dhokha (2010). It is LSD’s use of the medium along with the tools to go beyond shocking us without titillating us what makes it one of the most important films in the annals of Hindi cinema. Given the nature of the film Banerjee could’ve justifiably gone overboard but its understated manner ends up making it more effective. LSD’s perverted honesty scares you in its immediacy. You can’t look away from it much like a horrible car crash unfolding in front of your eyes. What’s worse is that you are so busy thanking fate that you weren’t a part of the crash that you walk away without bothering about the crash victims.

Revisiting any film gives it an opportunity to be interpreted differently. The obvious question then is shouldn’t the bad ones deserve a second glance in case we missed something? Well, if the attached emotions could be undone then Kill Bill: Vol.2 (2004) would be something more than just a hugely anticipated sequel that bored you to death or Titanic (1997) wouldn’t be a cinematic event where the damned ship took too long to sink, or 3 Idiots (2009) wouldn’t come across as too packaged, Ghajini (2008) could be less asinine, or Avatar (2009) would be viewed beyond a fantastic 3D experience, or Monster (2003) and Shame (2011) could be less demanding or Bandit Queen (1994) wouldn’t be too morbid. Either that or just be like Pauline Kael, the legendary film critic, who never saw a film twice because she got it the first time around.


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Born a cinephile and a close observer of society, the author is an award-winning documentary filmmaker/writer. He is a regular contributor to leading Indian publications and is currently working on his first book. Find out more about him here.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Gautam Chintamani loves to closely observe society when not being devoured by Bollywood, politics and everything in between. Commissioned by Harper Collins, Gautam is presently working on a biography of Rajesh Khanna due to come out later this year. He tweets @GChintamani.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments (21) Closed

Ahmed Zeeshan
Oct 03, 2012 07:53pm
So i rate ur article 3/10, first of all its nothing more than your personal opinion which i think cannot be generalized and as u may have observed that most of the comments are against your opinion.....Moreover LSD was a super flop,so no need to mention it,but unfortunately movies you have selected like DCH ,KKHH, 3 Idiots, avatar are the ones i am watching for years and still every time i watch any of these movies i enjoy alot
Oct 03, 2012 10:27am
Poor guy !
Oct 03, 2012 07:58pm
It is very ironic that one of the most critically acclaimed directors ever is reckoned to be Indian Satyajit Ray, but most Indians have never heard of him.
Oct 04, 2012 12:52am
A bulk of the Bollywood movies caters the taste of mediocre minds. Although a bitter pill to swallow especially for Indians but it is true.
Oct 02, 2012 08:10pm
I haven't seen Bandit Queen so can't really say but from the other three it would probably be Ghajini
Oct 03, 2012 01:44pm
Are you educated?
Oct 03, 2012 01:42pm
Indian movies? lol. you watch Indian movies when there are Hollywood flicks you havnt watched? lol..
Oct 04, 2012 07:12am
DCH one of my fav Amir's movie after Jo jta whi sikandr
Oct 04, 2012 06:28am
I think Farhan Akhtar is greatly hyped diretor and more so as an actor.
Oct 03, 2012 03:53pm
This article wasnt addressing Pakistani films probably because their fan following is nowhere near comparable to hollywood/ bolloywood. So your point is as useless as this article really.
Oct 04, 2012 10:10am
I love the absolute no-holds-barred low-brow slapstick of Govinda-David Dhawan movies. I've watched them many many times. Mr Chintamani, how low on your customized IQ scale does that put me?
Oct 03, 2012 02:10pm
I didnt feel like reading all the way ...
Oct 03, 2012 07:57am
How can you not want to watch Dil Chahta Hai again? o_0
Naveen Yadav
Oct 03, 2012 05:43am
your comments is more interested then this article..... very good
Oct 03, 2012 08:14am
I really don't know how many of regular Hindi cinema will agree with the writer's comments about DCH. To me, it was an awesome movie, and can be watched as many times as one likes. Also, I have never found anyone who disliked the movie after/over a period of time.
Oct 03, 2012 05:13am
I totally agree, Sir.
Oct 03, 2012 03:11am
Umm, the writer's name is gautam chintamani. Definitely a pakistani. I can tell how educated you are from your power of observation sir.
Oct 03, 2012 03:09am
Current Indian movies lack any meaningful substance ,direction, acting or music. The golden era of Indian movies lasted till mid seventies, starting in late fifties to early sixties. Current so-called Indian movie stars have basically no acting skills, can dance like clowns, and are either sheer lucky or mostly have family connections to justify the positions they have It is foolish to even compare Bollywood with the talent of Hollywood
Oct 03, 2012 01:13am
What's the point of this useless article? The fact that Indian movies compete on the box office with their Western counterparts does not necessarily put them in the same class. The megalomania of some Indians about their culture is totally out of proportion.
M. Alam. K
Oct 03, 2012 01:07am
The article seems to be written by a Pakistani writer.Alas!!! He included all bollywood and hollywood movies(however most of them are hit of their time and gross earner) but did not include any pakistani movies in never to be watched again movie list, Should I think that All pakistani movies are to be watched again, again and again??? and about loose fitting jeans and studded belt of 1990's bollywood movies :) "Please watch pakistani movies of 1990's before commenting if there were made any". .... You said Titanic too slow to sink a ship and Avatar too much of 3 d experience...Beware!!! Apparently and unfortunately some educated people also visit these blogs.
Oct 02, 2012 01:52pm
actually Dil chata hai is one of the movies that I have seen nearly 20 times with my gang since its release. i command a gang of thorough professionals in their mid 30s.