It begins and ends with the title (pun intended). The literal meaning of 'Qayamat' (the Urdu word is derived from the Arabic 'Qiyamah', which carries the same principal meaning) is the 'day of judgment'. Secondary meanings of the word include 'calamity' or a 'heartening implosion' (the word is used often in poetry, within the context of courtship!). No matter how one applies these meanings to the title of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), it makes sense. From one calamity to the next. Bringing hearts together. Through the day of judgment.
It's been 21 years since its release, through a generation. In hindsight, there could not have been a better coupling for the lead pair of Mansoor Khan's directorial debut. See, those who believe in the concept of an afterlife of any sort need not worry if they have been advocates for love and not hatred. This most certainly includes actors in their lead role debuts in this film, Aamir Khan (Raj) and Juhi Chawla (Rashmi), who will likely go to heaven for spreading all the Love, Love, Love! Which brings us to the premise of this film -- a family feud that gets in the way of love.
Honor killings around marriages are a terribly sad reality, and almost accepted by some. When it's not lovers being killed, it's family members. Like radicalism and terrorism, it is, in my view, somewhat independent of the class issue (here's an example of a North American family from India involved in one). So they're not restricted to the less educated or poor. Too often, parents are instigators. Which is why QSQT is an extremely well packaged film that carries a valid and relevant social message. It also includes implicit commentary on women's rights, and addresses the dynamic that often guides these unbelievably ignorant and hateful crimes. In so doing, it doesn't once deviate from being a good old family drama with a love story at its foundation.
Having said that, this is hardly (primarily) a message film. At its core, it's the tale of the young and the innocent. Here's a film that was different with its simplicity. The consensus is that QSQT was a landmark, a welcome drift from the violent films marking the 1970s and 80s, which led to a shift in filmmaking practices following. Innovation in cinema in some ways (innovation, by definition, isn't always 'new').
Before discussing the details of the film, here are some notes on the cast and one song (from the soundtrack by Anand-Milind, and with lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri). It really was a family affair for Nasir Hussain's kin. Here's Reena Dutta wearing red (Aamir's first wife, they were married since before QSQT), in a special appearance. Reena was also the Executive Producer for Lagaan (2001).
This was also Imran Khan's (yes, that Jaane Tu kid!) debut film, as he played young Raj.
Rajendranath Zutshi as Shyam was Raj's cousin and aid.
As you can see, these guys go a long way. (Rajendranath was Nasir's son-in-law at the time.) How fitting is it that one of the more pivotal scene involves Shyaam holding a cricket bat?
Because Shyam is none other than Ismail from the greatest film ever made!
Viju Khote (left), Robert in Andaz Apna Apna (1994):
My tie rack provides ample evidence I like slim ties.
Who could possibly be hotter than Juhi Chawla (this scene is classic, by the way)?
Juhi on horseback!
If she said 'hi' to me, I'd wave back and say 'haaye' <|:o) How 'bout a good ole Haaye Allah?!
The filmy dads here are quite a handful. When it's not Raj's father Dhanraj Singh (Dalip Tahil, right) or uncle Alok Nath (second from right), it's Rashmi's father Randhir Singh (Goga Kapoor, left) whose personality reminds one of Amrish Puri.
Of course Alok Nath tried, as Alok Nath almost always does, to knock some sense into people. Would it work?
There's a favorite filmy mom in Reema Lagoo (center).
Lesson learned, Papa-ji.
Which brings us to a song that might well be the most popular debut song for any actor-singer duo. Aamir's first song in a lead role is also Udit Narayan's first in Hindi film. Rightfully, then, Udit's label as 'Voice of Aamir' carried through the decades. Papa Kehte Hain was part of Dil (1990). The intro to Koi Kahe in Dil Chahta Hai (2001) was inspired by it. Pappu Can't Dance in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na (2008) invoked it. Here it is (if this video doesn't work, please visit this link):
You might also enjoy some fan works it influenced. Here's a cute video with a kid on the piano. Here is the song on the harmonica. Here is its use in the classroom (this is great!). And some fun pastime. I've lost count of how many times I've heard (and sung) it with friends, and I can't find an audio clip for some reason. I'll save my silly singing for another song involving Juhi that doesn't fit here. :)
A snapshot from this news clip notes Aamir's efforts to promote QSQT through rickshaw drivers (this campaign must've been hard work):
And finally, here's a historic and remarkable video of Aamir, Mansoor, Udit and Co. at the Filmfare Awards in 1989, also involving Amitabh Bachchan, Jeetendra, and Meenakshi Sheshadri. A big thank you to fellow Aamirian SkorpionChik06 for sharing. If you have not seen the film, you must skip minutes 5 through 6. Must see Aamir's speech starting at 6:30, and an Aamir interview at ~8:00. They'd asked him a question about pressure in the face of a sensational debut. Fast-forward two decades years. I think he's done extremely well in sticking to his focus on the audience. A salute to you, Aamir. It's been a fun, enriching ride all along for your fans, sir :)
Now, we're only just getting started. Nida at Bitten By Bollywood saw this recently, and I'm glad to turn it over to her, then. Part 2 of this review is available at her blog at this link.