Indian cinema may go down in history as having the unique distinction of doing everything possible to sc**w up the cause of sports movies. If Hattrick, Dil Bole Hadippa, Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal and Ta Ra Rum Pum weren’t bad enough, casting Harman Baweja as a cricketer in Victory may just go down as the worst possible thing to happen to cricket since Ravi Shastri turning commentator.
And yet, all these faux-pas are quickly (and deliberately) forgotten because of one film that ‘broke away’ from the clutter of nauseatingly dramatic sports films like Apne, and just plain nauseating ‘sports’ films like Meerabai Not Out.
Yes, Mansoor Khan’s 1992 film, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (JJWS) won’t get any points for originality, since the plot was ripped off form Peter Yates’ 1979 classic, Breaking Away, but Khan deserves credit for a screenplay so distinctly Indian, that it would’ve done Yates proud. Yes, Yates mayyyy still have been angry about his film being shamelessly plagiarised, but he’d certainly have been invested in its emotions!
JJWS revolves around the life of carefree middle class kid Sanju (Aamir Khan), who’d much rather spend his time checking out high society girls than studying. Sanju’s elder brother Ratan (Mamik), on the other hand, is a hard-working student, who tries every year to bring glory to his father and his college, Model College, by beating the cocky boys of Rajput College at the annual cycling championship, but doesn’t succeed. The inter-college rivalry takes an ugly face when the boys from Rajput, led by Shekhar (Deepak Tijori) make things personal, and it is up to Sanju to step up for his brother and his college.
This was a coming-of-age story for both the protagonist of the film, Sanju, as well as for Indian cinema, for which ‘inspirational’ films meant those in which the hero takes revenge for his sister’s rape. Be it the songs (‘Pehla nasha’), the on-screen kiss by the ‘hot’ (I strictly mean at THAT time) Pooja Bedi and Aamir, the touching bond between the brothers or the dramatic final race, JJWS hit all the right gears for a Hindi film of the time.
For all these reasons, and for being the defining college flick of the ’90s, you’d be doing yourself a favour by watching JJWS. Unless, of course, you think Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is the defining college flick of the ’90s – in which case, you should, in the words of Ross Geller of Friends, ‘jump up your own a** and die’.
Starring: Aamir Khan, Ayesha Jhulka, Deepak Tijori, Mamik, Pooja Bedi
Written By: Mansoor Khan, Nasir Hussain
Directed By: Mansoor Khan
Note: This recommendation first appeared in MTV Noise Factory, May 2011 issue
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