It has been a long standing tradition of Hindi movies, to show the protagonists making a clean straight jump from childhood to tall, lanky adults thereby totally overlooking that crucial stage between childhood and adulthood. The explosive years of walking on the thin line between being no longer a child and not quite an adult is not a theme many directors dare to explore. Though the few who have must be applauded for their efforts, not much can be said about the variety on display. So while movies like Bobby, Love Story and Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak had young adult protagonists, they were essentially romantic dramas.
However there have been movies where the film makers see young adults as a bit more than starry eyed lovers and explored young adulthood with much more perspective. So while on one hand you may have a group of wayward individuals fighting the system for justice, on the other, you have a slacker coming to terms with his true self and passions.
The following is a list of some coming of age gems Bollywood has churned out over the years that have successfully manged to realistically portray the many complexities associated with coming of age.
1. Rang De Basanti : This thought provoking masterpiece by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra got going many a debate about politics and the role of youth in society. It revolves around five carefree friends who transform into passionate individuals out to seek justice for their friend who dies in an air crash while on duty allegedly due to govt corruption in buying fighter air crafts. If it is the camaraderie between the friends in the first half, it is the burning passion to call out the culprit in the second half that leaves you overwhelmed with a wide range of emotions.
2. 3 Idiots : Loosely based on Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone, the story follows the lives of three friends at a premier engineering institute (modeled on IIT) . The movie aptly stigmatizes the prevalence of rote learning, insistence on getting high grades, peer and parental pressure that often plague the life of a student. Pursuing your passion rather over a financially secure career .
4. Queen: The most recent offering by Vikas Bahl brings forth the story of a middle class Delhi girl travelling alone for her honeymoon after she is dumped by her fiance on the eve of their wedding. The realistic portrayal of a naive middle class Delhi girl by Kangana Ranaut makes for the heart and soul of the movie as she very courtly trumps her erstwhile ‘king’ . Transforming from a meek girl willing to be directed about her life’s decisions, it is on this trip that she comes to terms with her true self and dares to think of her passions as more than mere day dreams.
5. Highway: Imtiaz Ali took 15 years to write and come out with the final product and you can see why. A journey of two individuals from the opposite spectrum of society end up coming together on an epic road journey, confronting and healing from the pains inflicted by past devils. Spectacular character growth, soulful music and stunning cinematography across six states make the movie a must watch.
6. Dil Chahta Hai: Farhan Akhtar’s directorial debut . What takes away the cake is the bromance between the three protagonists as they pull off pranks on each other, croon on the picturesque beaches of Goa, fall for girls and face hard times which call for making life altering decisions. In its essence, the movie celebrates friendship. Despite being set in a strictly urban upper middle class setting, the movie resonated quite strongly with the youth and continues to be celebrated as one of the the landmark movies of the decade.
7. Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander : The movie successfully portrays the spirit of of school and college years which are spiced with breezy romances, petty rivalries, true-blue friendships and sneaking out on parents to bum a cigarette or two. Aamir Khan plays free spirited Sanju for whom tough times come calling when he has to step in for his brother at the eagerly awaited cycling marathon. The director also succeeds in depicting the psychological effects of the rich- poor gap on young adults. It’s funny, heartwarming and sweet and continues to be watched and loved by legions of fans.
8. Wake Up Sid : Perhaps the most relevant movie for today’s youth who are plagued by indecisiveness when it comes making life decisions. For the carefree Siddharth tough times come calling when he fails his exams and he soon finds himself homeless, jobless, penniless and without a clue about his life. Director Ayan Mukherji successfully shows the subtle character growth of his protagonist as he discovers his passions, moves over the tag of being a failuer and along the way mends broken relationships.
9. Udaan : The film is raw and is sure to strike a strong chord with the middle class youth of today who are bogged down by parental and societal pressures. The bonding between the protagonist and his step brother is sure to leave you teary eyed, as they find solace in each other while facing the ire of their abusive father. Choosing between your passion and a financially secure career is not an uncommon dilemma for today’s youth and the director captures it brilliantly.