There are certain moments in films that get to you, touch you deeply and yes, make you cry. What’s more, these scenes continue to have a deep impact on you and move you to tears every subsequent time you see them. These are some unforgettable cathartic moments for me where the tears have flowed unabashedly, freely and repeatedly.
Rajesh Khanna’s death in Anand (1970) for one; As Amitabh extols his lifeless body to speak to him and turns away, we suddenly hear Khanna’s voice going “Babu Moshai!” Immediately, Bachchan turns around and we see the tape playing that Anand had made before his death. As it plays with Anand lying there, it is as poignant a moment as any that Hindi cinema has captured.
The end of Ritwik Ghatak’s masterpiece, Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960), as Nita cries out “Dada! I want to live!” and her voice reverberates amongst the mountains is another where the emotional floodgates just burst open and refuse to stop. Just thinking of that scene, surely one of Indian cinema’s greatest moments, makes one’s hair stand on end. For many of us at FTII, Meghe Dhaka Tara was a film that possibly affected us the most and moved us profoundly. It still does.
Cinema Paradiso (1988)’s final scene, when Toto screens the reel that Alfredo has left for him of all the censored kisses from films shown in the small town down the years, is one of the most bittersweet endings in the history of cinema. You cannot help but be moved with Toto and tears flow down your cheeks just as they do Toto’s. Any film lover and filmmaker would undoubtedly count Cinema Paradiso in his all-time favourite movie list.
While growing up in the 1970s, one cannot forget the impact of Franco Zeffirelli’s The Champ (1979) even if it has dated rather badly in certain portions and feels over-sentimental today. The relationship between the father and son is beautifully portrayed and even today, it is impossible to watch this film without crying thanks to the moving performances by Jon Voight and Ricky Schroder. The end post the climactic fight is particularly heart-wrenching.
No one can make you laugh and cry like Chaplin. Both The Kid (1921) and Citylights (1931) are absolutely unforgettable emotional experiences. The anguish of the separation scene in the former and the tenderness and sadness of the recognition scene in the latter are heart-breaking.
Talking of heart-breaking, another image that is tragically unforgettable, while hitting home the hard truth about the futility of violence, is that of a distraught Natalie Wood with Richard Beymer lying dead, his head on her lap at the end of Robert Wise’s classic West Side Story (1961), a brilliant re-setting of the Romeo and Juliet tale amidst rival street gangs of New York.
A similar feeling, shattering one completely, is echoed in Gulzar’s directorial debut, Mere Apne (1971), when Meena Kumari gets caught in the senseless fighting between the two gangs and is shot dead.
Coming back to Kakaji, another Rajesh Khanna film that never fails to bring out the tears is Haathi Mere Saathi (1971). The elephant Ramu’s death at the end of the film gives it a solid, emotional wallop. And then, of course, how can one forget Amar Prem (1971) as Anand Babu takes a grown Nandu to Pushpa and asks him to take his ‘mother’ home. Anand Babu may tell Pushpa he HATES TEARS but even his eyes get moist as do mine as Pushpa finally goes to her house with her ‘son.’
“Tears at times have the weight of speech.” – Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) (43 BC – AD 17/18), Roman poet.