If anything, old cinema magazines are a treasure trove of information – of the wanted and the unwanted. A perspective on film and celebrity coverage during the period aside, they also provide a glimpse into the kind of people that our celebrities were back then. There are biting interviews, cheesy declarations of love, and deliberate attempts to fuel saucy gossip. Clearly, neither the publication, nor the interviewees worried about potential defamation suits or the backlash that the content might give rise to. Of course, there was no social media back then, but it’s quite hard to say if they were indeed good times.
Case in point: Some excerpts from Cine Blitz magazine’s February 1997 issue.
On the cover page are Akshay Kumar and Raveena Tandon – two actors who had dated for a while – indulging in a couple photo-shoot. The interview is cheesy and bold, but serves the purpose of the magazine – good fodder for entertainment (and gossip) enthusiasts.
Speaking about their relationship, Akshay Kumar describes his girlfriend as “a family-oriented girl”, and states that he would propose to her “whenever they cross the bridge together”. To which Raveena responds, “I will wait on the other side of the bridge! He will have to propose. I won’t!”
Talking about each other’s faults, Akshay says,“When I do lose my temper, it is very violent. I leave my house, in case I hurt somebody. I can get very violent. My anger is such that I can’t see who I am hitting and what the relationship is. I won’t even look where I am going. Raveena knows about my temper. I can go to extremes when I lose my temper.”
Raveena responds in the affirmative to this questionable declaration, but thinks it’s fortunate that he loses his cool only once in six months or so. Akshay, she says, is also “kind enough to not judge her past” and has no qualms about her acting with his alleged arch-rival Suniel Shetty. Raveena then adds that it’s difficult to keep the women away from him.
The other interview in the issue is one with Saif Ali Khan. Titled ‘Showdown’, it begins with the rumours surrounding the actor’s marriage to ex-wife Amrita Singh. Saif addresses the rumours with pretty vague answers.
When asked if his ‘flirtatious nature’ has taken a backseat now that he’s a married man with a child, he says, “My past is pretty open as far as I am concerned. So perhaps the image has become too big to handle. Maybe I land up in the wrong places and people tend to draw their own conclusions. So I shouldn’t be where I’m not supposed to be. That’s what I tend to do.”
Also the talk of the town then were Sridevi and Boney Kapoor. Sridevi, pregnant with Jhanvi Kapoor, was confronted by Boney’s ex-wife’s mother at a New Year’s party who allegedly assaulted her.
Actress Archana Puran Singh, talking about the incident, says, “I did what any bystander would. If it was a family matter, it should have been dealt with at home. But if it’s going to go public, no decent bystander would allow a woman to be kicked and abused by another woman. At an elite party or anywhere else for that matter. I don’t know Sridevi, but at that moment, all I saw was a lady being attacked.”
The article also takes subtle digs at the Kapoor brothers, who barely moved when Sridevi was being vilified as the “homewrecker” and was abused from all sides.
The sauciest article in this issue of Cine Blitz from 20 years ago is the one that features Bengali actress Moushumi Chatterjee, who takes digs at other Bengali actresses in Bollywood. From terming Suchitra Sen a “bad actress” to calling Sharmila Tagore a woman with “the human touch missing”, the interview is nothing short of controversial and would have been at par with the nepotism debate in this age.
“I have no respect for him (lyricist Gulzar) as a person. We are talking of Bengali actresses, but he is relevant here because of his relationship with Rakhee. I was to do Koshish with him, but I quit after three days because I could not give him what he was expecting of me. I’ve seen the man from close quarters and let me tell you, he’s better from afar, if you know what I mean.”
About filmmaker Aparna Sen, Moushumi says, “She is a complicated personality. Once, she created a racket over a sari I wore. She did not want me to wear it because it was a nice one and she refused to shoot till I changed. She threw a tantrum and went to her room. The director went to console her, while the hero told me she had a complex.”
Finally, there’s a standard 90s article that reeks of male privilege. One in which Anil Kapoor says he can “get” Madhuri Dixit if he wanted.
When asked whether he was “dumped” by Madhuri after she became No. 1, he says: “As for Madhuri not doing films with me, let me me inform you that we are doing two films together. Viraasat and Wajood. I told you before, I will never give anyone the pleasure of making decisions for me. No one will see me down and out. If I want Madhuri, I will get her, if the role requires her.”
Interestingly, Wajood (1998) starred Madhuri but not Anil. And, Viraasat (1997) starred Anil, but not Madhuri.