'Maachis' turns 25: A look at its rich legacy

'Maachis' turns 25: A look at the Gulzar-helmed movie's rich legacy

The film revolved around the rise of insurgency in Punjab in the 80s

The official poster in 'Maachis'. Credit: IMDb

The 1996 release Maachis is inarguably one of Indian cinema's finest movies. The hard-hitting drama enjoys a cult following due to its timeless songs, socio-political undertones, and sincere performances. On Monday, as Gulzar's masterpiece turns 25, here is a look at the main reasons behind its popularity.

Apt title

Gulzar's movies were synonymous with simple and effective titles that conveyed the crux of the narrative reasonably well. His yesteryear classic Aandhi is a case in point. The film's title, which translates to tempest, conveyed the turbulence faced by the protagonists in their personal lives. Maachis followed the same formula as the title, which means matchsticks, was a metaphor for how the youth can be used to create a sense of unrest in society. The title suited the story as the film essentially revolved around the factors responsible for the rise of insurgency in Punjab in the 1980s and highlighted the central character's transformation from a 'boy next door' to an angry man who takes on the system.

A star is born

The film was a gamechanger for young musician Vishal Bhardwaj as songs such as Chhod Aaye Hum and Chappa Chappa became extremely popular, attaining cult status. VB went on to direct critically-acclaimed films such as Omkara and Haider, emerging as a force to be reckoned with. Gulzar, who stopped directing movies post the release of Hu Tu Tu, penned lyrics for his films. 

Instant stardom

The film established Chandrachur Singh as a household name as his performance received rave reviews from all corners. He did justice to the character's journey, proving his versatility as a performer. He went on to act in several popular films with Josh being the pick of the lot. He eventually took a break but returned to the entertainment industry with a key role in the web series Aarya.

Tabu proves her mettle

Gulzar's films were always been synonymous with strong female characters. Suchitra's Aarti, for example, was the proverbial 'hero' of the previously-mentioned Aandhi as the narrative highlighted her aspirations. It is regarded as one of her finest Hindi films even though it didn't do too well at the box office. Maachis was no exception as Tabu's character proved to be one of its highlights. The powerhouse performer bagged the National Award for Best Actress for her work in her film. She went on to act in films such as Chandni Bar and Haider, emerging as one of Indian cinema's bonafide 'Lady Superstars'.

Detailed screenplay

Maachis was a classic 'show, don't tell' storytelling as even minute details, which appeared to be insignificant at first viewing, added depth to the narrative. A scene in which the protagonist munched on carrots with a friend in their courtyard is a case in point as viewers were able to relate to the reel action. Hard-hitting dialogues as 'woh sirf gharib nahi, bad naseeb bhi hai' made the film even more memorable.