Lamhe was maverick filmmaker Yash Chopra’s attempt at another shade of romance. Not many know that when the film released 25 years ago, it was dubbed a disaster at the box office and was panned from all quarters. But similar to the fate of Andaz Apna Apna, Lamhe too assumed cult proportions with the passage of time. Alongside Deewar and Kabhi Kabhi and Trishul, Lamhe too found a place of respect, though only years later. The love story between a daughter and a father-figure was marked as ‘too radical’ 25 years ago but today filmmakers yearn to lay their hands on such subjects. Honey Irani, the story and screenplay writer of Lamhe recalls her ‘lamhe’ associated with the film.
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‘The Story Was Branded Dangerous By Industry Folks’
We had gone for the premier of Lamhe and when we came out, we had already got the news that the film was not doing well. Yash Ji informed us that the film has not been accepted by the audience. I can’t really recall where the premier for Lamhe happened but I think it was Minerva in South Bombay.
The idea for Lamhe was pitched to me by Yash Ji . He informed me that he has been toying with this idea for many years and no writer has been able to achieve what he has been looking for. I really liked the idea and in the next few days got completely consumed by it. I worked upon the script and after I finished it came back again to narrate it to Yash Ji. Yash Ji’s instant reaction was that he walked out of the room after hearing the narration and went to another room and shut the door. I and Pam (Pamela Chopra, wife of Yash Chopra) were sitting there and I just started crying. Pam consoled me saying that she loved the script and there is nothing to worry about as it was a good subject. But I said to her that it was my first attempt at writing something and now the party is over. After some 30 odd minutes, Yash Ji emerged from his room and hugged me and then told me that Honey you have no clue what a great job you have done and this film is on.
At that point of time, I was actually writing Aaina for them but Yash Ji informed that he is going ahead with this project first and that’s how Lamhe went on floor before Aaina.
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The film was initially rejected by people because they thought the film dealt with father-daughter relationship but it did not. The initial shock was like “Oh my God”, but later on people slowly realized that it was not that. It took a little bit of time for people to digest but when the film had released it had done very badly at the box office. But in due course of time everyone loved the performances of Anil Kapoor, Sridevi and Anupam Kher. The film grew with time.
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Initially when we were writing the script, many people from the film industry had heard the script and most of them had dubbed the script as a ‘dangerous’ one, they also told Yash Ji that people won’t accept the story. It was only later that Yash Ji suggested that we should do another ending for the film. We tried to change the ending and we did about two, three versions of the climax and then one day when me and Yashi ji were sitting in the room, he said: Yaar Honey, what we have liked about the film is its end and now we ourselves are getting scared. Jyada se jyada kya hoga, picture nahi chalegi naa! I want to make what I believe in.”
And that’s how we went ahead with Lamhe. Yash Ji was a very very daring person.
When the shoot of the film was on, I was on the sets 24X7. The London schedule was a very big one and while shooting in London we were informed that Sridevi’s father had passed away. She had to come back to India. Yash Ji told the entire unit that if he were to cancel the shoot and go back to India then the shoot will never happen as it would be a task getting Sridevi’s dates again. He went ahead and said that the best thing would be that if unit members want to go anywhere they were free do so but he will stay put in London and wait for her arrival from India. We were all there for 15-20 days or could be a month, when Sri finally joined the unit in London. Sridevi was very low and disturbed and depressed when she had come to London and the very first scene that we were supposed to shoot with her was a comedy scene. Hats off to her, she did the scene brilliantly. She just got into the skin of the character and that was simply outstanding.
It was also the first time when Anil Kapoor took his moustache off for a film. When I narrated the film to him and when Yash Ji spoke to him, he said that if he wants to look younger than Sridevi in the first half then we need to show him as someone who is fresh out of college. The idea was to portray someone who has stayed abroad and was about to fall in love for the first time and so the moustache has to go. And Anil Kapoor had no qualms and did it willingly. I remember Anil saying that he has never done it for anyone and will never do it again but this time he was all game for it.
Lamhe is one of my favourite films and people recognize me and know me because of this film, it will always be my favourite film, come what may.
(As Told To Abhishek Srivastava)
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