Chapter 2: Siddharth and Tara
“Kuch rishtey hote hai jinka koi naam nahi hota.”
Farhan Akhtar was an assistant director to Pankuj Parashar for Himalyaputra (1997). It was on the sets of that film where he first met Akshaye Khanna and promised to cast him in his own film. Farhan had initially wanted Akshaye to play Akash, but to bring Aamir on board, he asked him to play Sid, which became one of the most memorable roles in Akshaye’s career. Akshaye is known in film circles to be quiet and reclusive. He does not open up easily to people. These are also some of the same traits that he shares with Sid. The actor and the character merge to give us one of the most thoughtful characters in Hindi cinema.
Sid, or Siddharth Sinha, is a painter by profession. He is the only child of a single mother. We never get to hear about his father, although we see some pictures of men in his house, which gives us an impression that his father passed away. Unlike Sameer and Akash, who belong to affluent business families, Sid does not appear to be as financially well-off as his other friends. He shares a candid and honest relationship with his mother. I have wondered if the presence of a father would have impacted the career choice of Sid. His mother (Suhasini Mulay) gave him the complete freedom to do whatever he wants, but would he still have been a painter if his father was there? Fathers are generally strict, and it is worth imagining if his father would have accepted Sid’s choice of being a painter. His mother does not force him to attend social functions because she knows he will get bored there. She says, “Duniya me aisi bahut kam jagah hai jahan tum bore nahi hote ho.” At a later point in the movie, she probes him on his plans for marriage. She says, “Aaj tak to tumne mujhse kuch nahi chhupaya,” which points out that their relationship is beyond the formal strictness of a parent and child. Contrast this with Sameer, who, when staying back in Goa with Cristine, told Akash and Sameer not to call his home till he returns. Even Akash’s parents have a certain sense of expectation from him that he does something in his life and thinks about his future. Sid’s mother wants his son to do whatever he wants and never chides him for the decisions of his life. This aspect makes me think that if Sid fell in love with an older woman like Tara (Dimple Kapadia), who might be closer to his mother’s age than someone of his age. Growing up in a home where there is no fatherly figure made Sid’s mother closer to him, and they became joint decision partners, and maybe that is why he became more mature than someone of his age. His maturity makes him fall in love with someone like his mental age, and Tara is a perfect candidate. Tara is also a single parent, who has a daughter and is divorced, bringing a sense of familiarity with his own mother’s life. Perhaps, that explains why he could relate to Tara and along with sharing complementary professions. She is an interior decorator, and he is a painter. She understands him just in their second meeting by looking at his paintings. Even his friends and family, who have known him for ages, do not. How could he not fall in love with her then?
Sid is shy and introverted, and he does not share much with others. As Tara said, his beautiful paintings show that he does not allow people to enter his life. He is the sort of person who will have few friends, but those friends will be there for life. He hates when relatives surround him. It appears that his relatives do not get him or his profession, as he says, “Vaise mujhse yeh koi sawal kare to main jo jee mein aye keh deta hun.” But to Tara, he will not lie because he thinks she will understand as she is an interior decorator. He thinks deeply about problems and is always trying to find answers to his internal questions. Like the way, he solves the Rubik’s cube at Akash’s house. Like the way, he tells Deepa that sometimes he wonders why does anyone love someone. Kabhi kabhi sochta hun koi kisi ko kyun chahta hai.
I have thought about how he could have become friends with Akash and Sameer. His being friends with Sameer can still be understood, but to be friends with someone as pompous as Akash, is a bit surprising. I would have loved to know how they became friends in the first place. Were they some childhood friends, or did they meet each other in college? Akash and Sid fall on the two opposite ends of the personality spectrum. Akash is gregarious and an extrovert. However, he has a mean and wicked streak too. He ridicules people. I can picture Akash with thousands of Facebook friends, have a party every weekend, and update his status many times a day. Sid is the exact opposite. He would have few friends, post artistic and creative pictures, and take a stand on social issues. Sameer lies somewhere between the two.
There is a conversation that the three friends have in Goa that brings out further nuances in their personalities. Akash, Sameer, and Sid enjoy the scenic view of the sea from the ramparts of a fort in Goa. The three of them see a ship sailing through the sea, and Sid remarks that they all are like that ship, and sooner or later, they will start sailing to their respective destinations, and it might be possible that their destinations might not be the same. Sid is the more realistic one here. He understands how life usually turns out. Friendships slowly wither away with time as people’s circumstances change. He is mature and pragmatic.
As Sid is a painter, he connected the most with art and beauty. His room is full of all the artistic things. He calls Akash and Sameer to his house in the middle of the night because he wanted to show them his finished painting. Sid loved making portraits. He made a portrait of Shalini on a napkin at their graduation party. There is a portrait of Akash in his room which, I am guessing, is also made by Sid. Towards the end of the beach scene in Goa, when he counsels Deepa, he admires her face for a few moments, maybe, imagining a portrait of her. When Tara agrees to be painted by him, he can not contain his excitement. He runs faster than Usain Bolt at that moment to get his art stuff, but he is left disappointed as Tara had some work that came urgently. However, he fulfills his wish in Kaisi Hai Yeh Rut, where he finally paints his favorite face.
Sid’s idea of love was different from Akash’s. His concept of love was almost platonic, while Akash did not believe in love. Sid thought that love could happen anytime with anyone, while Akash felt that falling in love is under one’s control. “Toh phir main hone nahi deta“, Akash says to Shalini. Akash did not realize that Sid was serious with Tara, which caused the turmoil in their friendship. Akash was bragging about his sexual escapades with women all the time and his friends never raised any moral compunctions against his philandering ways. Early in the film, Akash comments that the portrait of the woman that Sid made resembled Miss Kashyap, their economics teacher, as he knew her figure. During his argument with Sid, he discloses, “Meri shuruaat bhi aise hi hui thi,” suggesting that he had his first sexual encounter with a woman who was older than him. Therefore, it is not difficult to fathom how Akash reacted when he heard about Sid’s love for Tara. Akash felt that Sid was following in his footsteps when he learned that Sid loved Tara. Sid also added that neither did he want Tara to become his, nor did he want her to marry him, just like the way Akash thought about his relationships. It made him believe that Sid was also interested only in a physical relationship with Tara, and he has no issues with that. That is why, Akash said, “Agar aisi baat hai to mujhe koi aitraaz nahi hai. Vaise bhi tere liye perfect rahegi. Experienced hai, akeli rehti hai, aur tera roz ka aana jaana hai.” It is this that made Sid extremely angry that he slapped Akash and broke off their friendship. It is only when Akash himself falls in love that he comes back to Sid’s life.
Sid is that one friend who is always helpful and dependable. One can trust Sid with their life. From the first moment when a truck drops her luggage to the last moment when another truck takes away her luggage, Sid stood by Tara. In their first meeting, Sid sees Tara unable to carry her heavy baggage inside her new house. He is a stranger to her but offers to help her. Wary of unknown people, Tara refuses, but the handle of her luggage soon breaks. Any other person in his place would have left, but Sid is that Samaritan who sits quietly behind, watching her struggle because he realizes that she will need him. Sid helps to carry not only Tara’s physical luggage but also her emotional baggage. She is divorced and is not allowed to meet her daughter. She is a struggling alcoholic. Sid is the one who takes care of her. Like the time he celebrates her birthday with his friends after her ex-husband spoils her plans for the day. (It is the only time in the film I felt Sid was genuinely happy from inside when he saw Tara dancing with Akash.) Like the time he takes her to the hospital in the end. Just as initially she refused to take Sid’s help, she is, at first, aghast when Sid tells her that he loves her. Gradually, she realizes that she has become dependent on Sid. In her dying moments, she tells him, “Tumne bahut saath diya mera..kuch rishtey hote hai jinka koi naam nahi hota,” where she acknowledges the bond of love that developed between them.
In an interview with Professor Madhavi Menon, Farhan Akhtar said the kuch rishtey line was not in the script’s first draft. He added it much later when people kept commenting on the relationship between Sid and Tara. It went on to become one of the iconic lines of the film. He elaborated that the unnamed bond between Sid and Tara was based on love. He said, “Given the society within which we choose to exist, there are certain things that are termed as acceptable and some that are not. There are many things in the world, which are hard to describe. One word is love. How do you describe love? It’s a feeling that can be described in a hundred different ways. As things change, words will develop for all kinds of relationships, beyond the obvious. The relationship that Tara and Siddharth share in the film is purely love. But in terms of what their relationship is, they are not husband and wife, they’re not dating, they’re friends, but they’re not even great friends. So what do you call what they share? They do share something. Which is exactly what she says in the hospital.” He is further probed if there was any particular reason that Tara had to die. He added, “A lot of people have asked me if I killed Tara in the film because she and Siddharth could not be together? No, that’s not the reason I killed Tara. I think Tara had to die for many other reasons beyond the fact that she could not be with Siddharth. For me, it was to bring Siddharth emotionally to a particular point. I think the fact that he gets his friend back before he loses something else so important to him was very crucial for me. For me, the thing that had to happen was he had to meet Akash. That had to happen. It couldn’t happen that Tara lived and he didn’t meet Akash. That could not have happened, and I did not want to give Siddharth the best of both worlds.” Farhan also said that if he could change a thing about the film, he would not have added where Sid ends up with a new woman. He believed that there would always be something missing in Sid’s life, and it would never be complete. It is a pretty harsh fate for Sid, but I believe he deserves all the best in life.
In Imtiaz Ali’s Jab We Met (2007), Aditya (Shahid Kapoor) tells Geet (Kareena Kapoor Khan) that he thinks about how Geet would react to a particular situation whenever he is in a difficult situation and then makes a decision. Likewise, I have thought about Sid guiding me like he motivates Deepa in her low moments. He taught us to never apologize for falling in love. He taught us to be there for the people in our life. He is the friend and the guide everyone wishes they had. Sid is really special. He will always remain special.