This year’s Vadodara International Marathon (VIM 2018) somehow made me recall the great hindi film – Satte Pe Satta. I find a lot of similarities between the two. Here are 7 (to keep up with the theme) of these:
1. This is a fun love story. The love story begins with a slap. But Amitabh Bachchan is besotted & gets into hot pursuit mode. AB (as Ravi) woos the lady with fruits, then flowers, feigning injury next & finally succeeds (in classic Bollywood fashion) over the course of a song. Over the years, VIM has also gone through these stages:
The slap: In 2013, I walked off after the start for two reasons: the start was much delayed (for the aspiring PM-cum-Chief Guest arrived late & gave a long speech), and there was no way of getting out except after being flagged off!! (This blog didn’t exist then, so no account here)
The Fruit & Flowers: The next time, the start was again delayed (for the CM-cum-Chief Guest arrived late but gave a shorter speech this time) but not as much.
The Deception: Last year, they started on time but there still was much scope for improvement.
The Song: VIM 2018, when the organisers decided 7th Jan 2018 will be that “ek din” when “pyar ho jayega”.
2. While AB is the undisputed lead, the film is about 7 brothers who live a life of their own. On their own terms. Close to, but away from civilization. Coming to Akshar Chowk, it seemed as if there was some Occupy OP Road going on. But realized soon enough these were the 10K runners. They were in groups, chatting & having fun amongst themselves. Just like our 7 brothers in the film, but a few thousands in number. It seemed as if they would break into the song any time: Zindagi bhaag ke bitayenge, Sab ko sath mein bhagayenge, Hum to marathoners hain, Zindagi run-geen banayenge... If you think this is outlandish, imagine a couple of grown-up men going to a bar & asking for milk. This particular scene is more in the line of a Johny Lever, but the brothers make it look very natural.
3. An unconventional Hema Malini is the female lead, though it may appear that she is more of a supporting cast (to the 7 brothers). I particularly admire her role in this film. She takes on the men & emerges victorious each time. She has portrayed a strong, independent woman in other films too, notably Sita aur Gita & Sholay, but here she displays the conventional feminine traits too. Coming back to the film, she would never have believed that a place such as the brothers’ dwelling could ever exist. But she is up to it. Starting at one end, task by task, she totally transforms the disorderly house into a spick & span home. Pulling off an event of magnitude such as VIM requires equally meticulous planning & attention to details. This time they succeeded – from route selection to on route provisions & volunteering. Just like Hema makes her brothers-in-law take a bath (after having washed their clothes)!!
4. If the eldest one gets his lady love, can the rest be denied the same? No way, and they soon bump into a group of lovely ladies who are brought into the house (actually kidnapped). They are 6 in number, one for each of the remaining brothers. VIM 2018 too had something for everyone. Apart from the timed runs (42K, 21K & 10K), they had the mandatory 5K fun run, a costume run, a separate category for NRI’s (who happen to be in town this time of the year) & also one for the physically challenged. I suspect the VIM organisers were also impressed by Satte Pe Satta, where a wheelchair-confined Ranjeeta was the leader of the gang of girls!! Except that it should be called Satte pe Satte pe Satta for having these 7 categories in the 7th edition held on 7th January.
5. If you think this movie was all fun & love, you are wrong. It also had a health-related message for the viewers – “daru peene se liver kharaab hota hai”. And this message was reinforced multiple times in a short sequence. VIM too had a social objective – Swachhata (cleanliness). Hope Baroda turns up in the top-3 cleanest cities soon!
6. Bollywood has always believed in the Wodehouse dictum, “unto each life, some rain must fall”. Thus, no bollywood film is complete without the mandatory bad man. Satte pe Sata was no different, but here we got a villain with a heart of gold, aka Babu (AB in a double role). He walks out of jail & is contracted by Amjad Khan for another assignment – to kill his niece, Ranjeeta. A professional to the core, he quickly assumes the hero’s identity to get close to his target. VIM too had its share of mishaps. Like the refusal of the volunteers to provide ORS to the slower HM runners. But to keep it for the FMers come later when the sun is truly up & its warmer. Thus, they had the best interests of the FM runners in mind while doing so & were not really the bad guys. Like Babu, who did not take advantage of the lady, despite being in a position to do so.
7. Essentially, I feel the film was about transformation. An unkempt, ruffianish Ravi into a suave gentleman who can romance a girl. A tyrant eldest brother who begins to admit his mistakes (he appears to be genuinely sorry for having lied to Hema abt his family/household & the girls for having kidnapped them). A no-nonsense, disciplinarian Hema Malini into a caring wife & sister-in-law. The wild brothers into civilized men. So has the VIM improved year by year into what turned out to be a blockbuster event this year. And just like Ravi’s friend in the film, Shekhar, I am sure most regular participants would have wondered at the end of the event, “Ye registan mein phool kaise khil gaya?”.
These similarities apart, do you know what’s my favourite scene in the movie? It is Hema Malini throwing back the fruit gifted by Amitabh Bachchan. It was a water melon (ROFL) & I was afraid it would crash on his head. It was a relief it didn’t & I knew she would soon be his!! The medal too, in honour of AB’s choice, decided to perch on this fruit.