Ramblings on one of the finest Bollywood actors Alok Nath
Alok Nath has become the man of choice whenever Bollywood needs a middle aged father, or a selflessly unmarried uncle, or a samdhi experiencing the stirring of a love that dare not speak up, or the father of wronged daughters, or anyone dejected, disappointed and taken aback in life yet braving all odds with twinkling eyes and of course that endearing smile.
Way back in 1989, when Maine Pyaar Kiya had just released, I was fascinated to note how here was an actor, Alok Nath, who neither laughs nor cries. (Shocked??) He does them both together!! He laughcries! Alternately, he crylaughs!
Alok laughcries when darling daughter Bhagyashree becomes jawaan (of an age to rid herself off the gruesome burden of virginity). In a scene worth repetitive viewings, rustic Alok crylaughs while barging into a board meeting which his city-bred, corporate type pal is conducting. Registering a divinely prasanna mudra on his face, with weltering tears in his eyes, Alok bashfully questions, “Mujhse gale nahi milega, yaar” (Won’t you embrace me, you duckface?). I forgot to mention The Voice. Its mellow. Its hushed. A tone that usually men above forty-five employ to sound like young college boys
Without awaiting an affirmation, Alok rushes across the table to hug his, too stunned to resist, old male friend. Alok’s hug is accompanied with such an achingly gratuitous expression on his laughcrying face that it almost conveys, this is not just another everyday hug, but a kind of a long-awaited, kinked-out sexual release?
On the other hand, if you haven’t seen an Alok Nath quivering with rage, you have seen nothing. Its priceless. He trembles, his jowls shake, whines like a nagging wife, and looks like a total lost cause in life.
Then came THE movie that ruined Hindi cinema irreversibly, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, showcasing Alok Nath as never before.
I so wish I could quote in a three sheet monologue by Ajit Vacchani introducing Alok’s character. Ajit V. goes, “Aap hain Ramkishenji/ Durgaprashadji or whatever his dumb name was?
As an aside, Alok always has these archaic, long winding names in his movies. RamSharanji / Vidya Charanji/ Radheshyam Shuklaji/ Shyam Prasad Bharadwaj ji or something equally annoying. Or he has to have ‘babu’ suffixed to it, it’s never alone. Pick from – Sharad babu, Shekhar babu, Dayashankar babu.
Returning to Ajit V’s three sheet monologue introducing Alok Nath,”Aap hain LongWindingName ji?, blah blah about how he started off young with two rupees in his pocket, went ahead to build up a business empire, and how with hard work he selflessly conducted the upbringing of his two moronic nephews, Monish and Sallu, ignoring any of his own necessities, yak yak. This eulogy ends with a traffic stopping, heart wrenching phrase, “aur aapke ke bare mein kya batayein, aapne toh abhi tak shaadi bhi nahi ki..!!
Note how during this verbal character-sketch by Ajit V, the camera pans lovingly on Alok’s laughcrying face soaking the words of praise with characteristic timidity, diffidently shrugging away the compliments. As a fitting finale to this brilliant bit of emoting, Alok removes his glasses, cross-stitches eyebrows together, wipes 4 tears, with 32 teeth in full frontal display, saying something that goes, “heheheh Aap kyun sharminda karte hain Govind Babu?? .Also note, Alok is the only guy who can smile with lips upside down yet show maximum teeth.
All I can say about the ‘Samdhi Samdhan’ song is that this is stuff that legends are made of.
At a ladies? sangeet session during a garish wedding, boys and girls seated afore each other, segregated by gender and a carpet. Amidst the ruckus, dancing and singing, a red-hot affair is brewing secretly, to which the whole world is alas oblivious. Alok gives nuanced smiles to a blushing Reema. This is a man attending is own son’s wedding, witnessing youthful kids getting flirty with each other, has his eyes set on a well-rounded lady giving him her best possible ‘come-hither-and-take-me-royally-you-tiger’ looks, he so badly wants to throw caution to the winds by aiming a slingshot ( ala Sallu in the movie) at her but just can’t. Aakhir lok-laaj, sabhyata, izzat-aabru naam ki bhi koi cheez hoti hai. (After all, there are such things namely – shame, culture, virginity et al)
And then the affair continues with Reema singing some heavy-duty lines on how her daughter is now the shobha of Alok’s aangan, (the USP of his backyard). So, Alok silently portrays that henceforth he will ward off and quash all overtly sexual feelings for Reema keeping the ‘laaj’ of this naazuk rishta intact, needless to add, accompanied with a crylaughing face. The song in Hum Aapke hai Koun epitomizes all that Alok stands for in 95% of his movie appearances.