In ‘Asli Naqli‘ (Hrishikesh Mukherjee, 1962) Anand (Dev Anand), a rich businessman’s (Nasir Hussain)grandson lives a wastrel’s life, blowing up money with both hands. After a fight with his grandfather who thinks all he is good for is to marry off to another rich businessman’s daughter and consolidate a business partnership, Anand walks out of his comfortable home.
In ‘Wake Up, Sid‘ (Ayan Mukerjee, 2009) Sid (Ranbir Kapoor) is a rich businessman’s (Anupam Kher) son who lives a wastrel’s life, blowing up his father’s money in having fun. His father cajoles him to come and work at his office by promising him an expensive car. But he walks away after a week. Then he fails to graduate. After a fight with his father who is fed up of his rude, inconsiderate, selfish behavior, Sid walks out of his comfortable home.
After this, the films develop in completely different ways. In ‘Asli Naqli‘, Anand really sees a world that is different from his. He tries to sleep in the park, and is chased off by a policeman. A passing factory worker, Mohan (Anwar Hussain) befriends him and takes him home. His home is in a slum, where he lives with his younger sister. Mohan’s neighbors are all laborers like him, uneducated, poor and hard-working. Anand sees real poverty, and relationships based on mutual needs, and not greed. He meets Renu (Sadhana) who works in an office all day, and visits the slums in the evenings to teach the illiterate workers. She has her own problems, a sick mother (Leela Chitnis) to whom she has to lie that her father is still alive, a younger school-going sister, and the burden of running a family.
Anand finds it impossible to get a job. He gets one with the help of Renu, even though he is not qualified for it. She covers up for his lack of skills at work, but he eventually gets caught and fired. Then a neighbor (Mukhri) helps him find work as a bus driver for a school. His grandfather manages to trace him there. He threatens Renu that he will reveal the secret of her father’s death to her mother and blackmails Anand into leaving Renu for the welfare of her mother. It is only when Mohan and the other slum dwellers intervene and Renu’s mother learns the secret accidentally that the the grandfather has nothing to hold Anand back with. Anand walks out of his palatial home once again to be with the people who have taught him the values of life, and marry Renu.
In ‘Wake Up, Sid’, Aisha (Konkona Sen Sharma) is a newcomer to the city, but she finds a job in the magazine of her choice immediately. It is with the same ease that she moves from working women’s hostel to an independent flat at the sight of a cockroach on her bed. When Sid leaves home, he lands up at her house. She lives alone and agrees to let him stay with her. Sid’s problems are keeping the house neat, learning to cook an egg, and not spending as much money as he used to. Instead of playing video games, he now photographs people. Ayesha is able to get him a job in her office as easily as she got her own. He gets his first pay check and visits his father to give it to him. His father forgives him, and asks him to come back home. Sid without a thought for Ayesha, packs his bags, ready to leave. He realizes he loves Ayesha only once he’s back home, and when he reads her first-person narrative of her arrival in the city and her love for him. Sid and his friends’ problems remain relationships, and love. They never move out of their comfort zone of their friends and peers, and they never come in touch with the world outside their own. Even so, when they do drift apart, no one makes any real effort to re-connect, except accidentally or once when a friend comes over with Sid’s camera and other essentials, and tells him that he is not the only one with problems, she has her own, her weight.
I’d hate to think this is indicative of the society we are living in now. But it is certainly indicative of the kind of people who are making commercial films in Bumm-Bumm-Bhole-Land today.