Thirty years after the release of his debut romantic saga, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Aamir Khan’s name is synonymous with perfection in our country. His mastery over his craft, fierce dedication and a perceptive mind that exactly knows the pulse of his audience make him the most exciting superstar of our times. However, for the millennial generation who have always seen him playing extremely diverse and challenging roles, from a genius to an alien to a middle-aged father to four young girls, it is quite a task to imagine him as the once-upon-a-time teenage romantic heartthrob. But to not know just how good he was at being one would be a colossal loss for any Bollywood fan, regardless of whichever era he/she belongs to.
It was around mid 1993, and I was just four years old when I saw the video of the song, “Papa Kehte Hai” from QSQT (as it was popularly called) on Doordarshan for the first time and fell instantly for this good-looking ‘hero’ with a cherubic face and guitar in hand. I was too very young to understand anything significant, but he was the only actor whose name I knew back then. Even though it was five years post the release of the film, the song was still very popular with the youth and Aamir Khan was definitely the quintessential chocolate boy whose easy charm enticed the fluttering hearts of millions of girls across the nation.
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, made by debutant director Mansoor Khan, cousin of Aamir Khan, was released on April 29, 1988. Eighties, I am sure every single film critic would agree with me when I say that it was the most abysmal phase of Bollywood ever. Yes, there were the critically acclaimed art films and a few good massy movies like Mr. India, but as far as the majority of commercial Hindi Cinema was concerned, there was hardly anything more than bizarre storylines and cringe worthy costumes.
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak was like a breath of fresh air amidst all that mediocrity and it came at a time when people had almost stopped going to the theatres to watch those meaningless violent movies that Bollywood was churning out one after the other. QSQT broke that ridiculous phase of Hindi Cinema and started a fresh new trend of young, innocent love stories, which we saw in abundance in the 90s. After Bachchan’s ‘Angry Young Man’, it gave us a new hero who wasn’t fighting for justice against the world, but was just discovering himself and falling in love! It won’t be wrong to say that much before SRK’s ‘Raj’ in DDLJ, Aamir’s ‘Raj’ in QSQT had already set the tone for the dreamy-eyed romantic hero.
It’s biggest strength as a film was the unconventional approach that director Mansoor Khan had in telling of the story, going by the 80s standards. For instance, the romantic scenes between Aamir’s ‘Raj’ and Juhi’s ‘Rashmi’ felt far more authentic and believable than most of the overtly dramatic films made then. Also, the fact that Aamir and Juhi were relatively new (QSQT was their debut film as lead actors but they had both done small roles in Holi and Sultanat respectively) added to the overall tonality of the film. They weren’t the mature actors that they are today, but in a way, their raw and unaffected performance contributed to the youthful story that they were portraying on screen. They had a natural chemistry which is seldom seen in actors working together for the first time.