Sooraj Barjatya revolutionised the portrayal of Indian families via his movies so much so that a lot of us were envious of the fictional families we saw in his movies.
Growing up in a nuclear middle class family, the FOMO I felt while watching the larger than life Chaturvedi khandaan singing and dancing in Hum Saath Saath Hain while they prepped for Vivek’s wedding was very real. Maybe that’s why I’ve watched this one more than 40 times. As much as I took in every single happy scene with wide eyes, watching the family fall apart was heartbreaking but it also felt so familiar and close to home. Fighting over who gets the bigger room and Mummy kisse zyada pyaar karti hai might be an occurrence in every Indian household just like fighting over property but it’s what follows the latter that made these movies feel so disturbingly real and beautiful – the inherent nature of Indian families to be ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’ even after tearing each other apart.
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That’s the beauty of films directed by Sooraj Barjatya; they remind us of family feuds while also making us reminisce about that one time we took a holiday together. The world he creates with his movies makes you want to live in a joint family too so that Taiji can spoil you rotten with your favourite foods, Tauji can take you shopping after school and there are enough cousins for you to never feel lonely again in your own home. His movies spoke to the inner child in me and they taught me that as messed up as families can be, they’ve still got your back. Family shows up, period!
In 2022, Sooraj Barjatya redefined family with Uunchai by showing us a group of 70 something best friends who haven’t worked out a day in their lives but decide to go on a trek together to EBC only because it was their friend’s last wish. We might not have climbed mountains, sir, but with this film, you represented so many thick friendships that take on the role of family for some of us. Your films are full of feelings and as melodramatic as they may come across to some, they are what we grew up on, they’re what comforted us when life wasn’t always so pleasant and easy going. In the middle of family feuds and specifically during our teen years, you kept us going and helped us believe that we maybe misunderstood, but we’re not alone.
Thank you for showing our inner child what families can look like even in the middle of feuds, death and whatnot. Thank you for keeping it real, thank you for giving us hope via your movies. And thank you for giving us Renuka Shahane’s iconic fall in Hum Aapke Hain Koun which made sure that we’re always careful when we see any flight of stairs. Happy birthday, sir!
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