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Dhanno was 4 when ‘Dil To Paagal Hai’ (Yash Chopra, 1997) released. It was the first film she saw in the theatre. She had had a glimpse of ‘Midnight Cowboys’ from her pram at the CRT in FTII. Barely 3 months old, she stayed for not more than 10 minutes.

In ‘Dil To Paagal Hai’, she danced in the aisles, decided she wanted to marry Shahrukh Khan and started her first piggy bank to save for the grand wedding she thought Shahrukh deserved.

20 years later, Valentine’s Day was celebrated by screaming in fandom at Shahrukh, Madhuri Dikshit, Karishma Kapoor, and Akshay Kumar in the august company of other fans, all so, so happy to be in the theatre. Someone sang along with all the songs. Someone mumbled the dialogues in advance. Someone took snapshots through the film. 3 hours didn’t seem too long. In fact, Dhanno wondered, how the hell, are we supposed to wake up to reality tomorrow?

There were no muscles, no perfect abs, no sculpted jaws, no glossy hair. There were double chins, split, frizzy hair, and belly fat. There were purple and pink, orange and silver, tights and shorts over shorts, and shirts falling off shoulders. There were dazzling smiles, and dazzling dance moves, and lithe boy dancers in the background in skimpier clothes than Karishma or Madhuri. There was Lata Mangeshkar. And a musical within a musical. There was the moon, and heart balloons, which fly from one location to another, and love like a tune in your head, that won’t go away.

There was more chemistry in Shahrukh’s nuzzling Madhuri’s neck, and his trembling fingers on her shoulders and her ever-so slight gasp at his closeness, than in all the rubber duck kisses of newer, bolder films. There was friendship and time-pass, and Ganeshji and Tai, and waste-of-time scenes and characters that create a world bigger than the love story.

There was sheer, sheer cheesiness, the daring of writing a scene that says ‘Then Pooja sways dreamily in the moonlight and a red heart balloon comes flying by.’ Or ‘Pooja runs in the green fields, and falls on the grass, and turns and smiles.’

Pooja’s bedroom that opens to the lawn in an inner courtyard, Rahul rehearsal studio with loft, bedroom, cafeteria space, green, flower laden gardens where you can bicycle, swim, work out, sit by the lake and curse God. Bombay that is Europe and Europe that is Asia. Tacky lighting forgiven, who would want to wake up to reality the next day?

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