Dhanraj Singh (Dalip Tahil) kills Randhir Singh (Goga Kapoor)’s brother when the latter ditches his pregnant sister, who commits suicide. Dhanraj goes to jail for the murder and the two families become bitter enemies. Years later, Dhanraj’s son, Raj (Aamir Khan), and Randhir’s daughter, Rashmi (Juhi Chawla), meet at a holiday spot and fall in love. Raj finds about about Rashmi’s family but is unable to tell her the truth. Dhanraj, out of prison, tells Rashmi the truth about Raj’s background and that she must forget about Raj. When Randhir Singh finds out about this affair, he immediately arranges Rashmi’s wedding. The two lovers take on their families and elope, dreaming of an idyllic life together. Furious at the turn of events, Randhir Singh hires a contract killer to trace the couple and kill Raj…
Qayamat se Qayamat Tak, or QSQT as it is better known, came as a breath of fresh air when it was released in 1988. It was thought producer Nasir Hussain was committing hara-kiri releasing a soft love story at a time when senseless action films were ruling the day in Bollywood. QSQT got off to a slow start but picked up rapidly following extremely good word-of-mouth publicity. Not only did the film go on to become the biggest grosser of the year, but it also gave the Hindi film industry two sensational stars in Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla, besides being one of the more memorable stories of young love seen on the Indian screen.
QSQT is the perfect blend of the oft repeated theme of Romeo and Juliet with the standard ‘items’ of a Nasir Hussain film. But what takes the film that one notch above the commonplace is the treatment and the sure-handed direction by Hussain’s son, Mansoor Khan, making his directorial debut. By then, Hussain had stopped directing as his formulaic approach to filmmaking had caught up with him following the failure of Manzil Manzil (1984) and Zabardast (1985). Mansoor Khan takes much of the very same elements but gives them his own take, tweaking them with a modern sensibility. What emerges is a glossy and technically slick film helped by an extremely believable youthful romance that caught the imagination of youngsters across the country.
The storytelling has an innocence, cuteness, freshness and simplicity that is the film’s biggest asset. The setting of the film amidst two warring Rajput clans works well with the tough Rajput ideals and principles of family honour contrasting against the sweet little love story of the young couple. The scenes of Raj and Rashmi falling in love are well-drawn out with some witty and well-written dialogues but then that was always Nasir Hussain’s strength as he believed it was far more exciting to show the process of how the boy and girl fall in love rather and their courtship rather than showing the couple already being in love. Incidentally, it is interesting to see that Rashmi’s character is unusually forward in taking the relationship forward – for example she even leaves her ‘assigned’ place the other side of the campfire to sleep next to Raj. She flirts with him through the Gazab Ka Hai Din song and she is the first to tell him she likes him. Even in a typical scene of the heroine being harrassed by goons, Rashmi gives it to the man hitting him ‘right where it hurts.’
A big reason for the film’s success has to go to the film’s young lead pair, Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla. Though both had acted before – Aamir as a child actor in Yaadon Ki Baraat (1973) and Madhosh (1974) besides Ketan Mehta’s Holi (1983) and Juhi in a supporting role in Mukul S Anand’s Sultanat (1986) – one could say that QSQT was really their launching pad. Aamir and Juhi make a fresh, likeable young pair, sharing wonderful chemistry with each other. What’s more, they both respond with fine performances and more than capably carry the film on their young shoulders. Hence, they make you feel for them greatly thus giving the tragic end of the film a solid emotional wallop even as Mansoor drives home the futility of hatred. Aamir captures the charm and shy awkwardness of Raj perfectly while Juhi as Rashmi is simply enchanting and wins you over as easily as she does Raj’s parents till they find out her true identity. The young couple are extremely well supported by Raj Zutshi as Aamir’s cousin and Shehnaz as Juhi’s friend Kavita while the older brigade Alok Nath, Dalip Tahil, Reema Lagoo, Beena, Asha Sharma and in particular, Goga Kapoor too give a good account of themselves.
The other huge factor contributing to the success and perennial appeal of the film is its youthful, evergreen music. The film is the breakthrough film of Anand-Milind, sons of veteran Hindi film composer Chitragupta. Every song in the film was a raging hit be it the teasing Gazab Ka Hai Din or the intensely romantic duets Ae Mere Humsafar or Akele Hain Toh Kya Gham Hain but still, if one had to pick the biggest hit of the film, it is undoubtedly Aamir’s introductory song in the film, Papa Kehte Hain, where he is introduced at a college farewell party with guitar and all, an amalgamation of Grease (1978) and the typical Nasir Hussain hero! The success of the film and the songs sung by Udit Narayan made him almost exclusively the voice of Aamir Khan for a long long time to come.
On the technical side, special mention must be made of Kiran Deohans’ splendid camerawork. A top shot advertising cinematographer, he brings a certain neat and clean-cut rich look and technical virtuosity to the film. The film won for him, deservedly, the Filmfare Award for Best Cinematography – the first ever won by an FTII alumnus. Filmfare Awards also went to QSQT for Best Film, Mansoor Khan for Best Direction, Aamir for Best Male Debut, Juhi Chawla for Best Female Debut, Udit Nayaran for Best Male Playback and Anand-Milind for Best Music. The film also won the National Award for the Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.
As is the norm in the formula driven Hindi film industry, Aamir and Juhi found themselves subsequently paired in a series of films like Love Love Love (1989), Tum Mere Ho (1990) and Daulat Ki Jung (1992) but none had the magic of QSQT and the films were mostly dismal flops. They did combine beautifully again in Hum Hain Raahi Pyaar Ke (1993), a take off from Houseboat (1958) and a fine romantic comedy in itself, and Ishq (1997) though the pair completed Ishq with some strain as due to some misunderstanding, they were not on talking terms when they did the film!
Hindi, Romance, Color