Jo Jeeta – 24 years of soothing my soul

I was at the swimming pool this afternoon. As my friends settled into the rhythm of their respective routines, I started going through my Twitter timeline. Diptakirti tweeted that he was at a Mumbai Film Festival event where the cast of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar was gathered for a reunion.

My first reaction was, naturally, of deep envy! Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar is one of my all-time favourite movies. He then tweeted a picture that was used in the movie – a B&W pic of the four kids (where Imran is shown as young Aamir). I had an immediate lump in my throat, and tears in my eyes.

Jo Jeeta was released in the summer of 1992. When I was 15, and living in a world of my own. Day-dreaming, solving quadratic equations that I would come up with myself, and memorising one-liners from PG Wodehouse books. A loner. A very content loner.

Everything about the movie had a profound impact on me. First, I persuaded my Dad to take me to Hira Singh Tailors to get me a violet shirt stitched! (Aamir’s character Sanju wears this while dancing around with his friends in the song Pehla Nasha.) I would wear that over a white round-neck t-shirt and feel all Aamir Khan! While the shirt was eventually retired, the pattern of wearing round-neck t-shirts under my shirt continues till today 🙂

Much before the release of the movie, and long before it became the Valentine’s Day anthem of the nation, I had memorised the song Pehla Nasha note-for-note. Over the years, I had many opportunities to sing it in public settings. The first time was I think in a classroom in Jaipur – to the brightest 15 yo’s in Rajasthan (I have no idea what I was doing there!) who were being prepared for the National Talent Search Exam!

A really fascinating aspect of the movie for me was the interaction between Sanju and Anjali (played by Ayesha Julka). Whenever I saw them together in the movie I was filled with hope, and felt that, if I tried, one day I would be able to have a proper conversation with a girl.

There are so many things about the movie to remember fondly. Pooja Bedi’s Marilyn Monroe scene, the silliness that was Naam Hai Mera Fonseca, Asrani teaching differential calculus (which the kids are trying to sort out with a compass!), the “Merey pyaare Ratan, na jaaney mujhey kya ho gaya hai” scene ….the list is long!

The movie is an emblem of a delightful period in my life. A reminder of simple, beautiful, melodious things.