My generation had Dilip Kumar to tell us the story of India. But we also had Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand. Nargis came close to capturing the nation's imagination in Mother India but soon went into her domestic retreat. Their films told Indians' stories back to themselves. The story changes as the nation changes. The confident '50s changed into the sombre '60s. But the real dark period came with the '70s. Rajesh Khanna was good for the uncertain '60s but Amitabh Bachchan was needed for the '70s. There was conflict around and faith in the system had gone as Indira Gandhi destroyed the decencies her father had so painfully nurtured in the political system.
The dark violent '70s descended into the '80s and the middle classes abandoned cinema halls and stayed at home with their colour TVs and vcrs. It was only in the '90s that the nation came back to itself, happy and unshackled at last from a bureaucracy that had killed all joy. India was arriving and indeed a lot of it was abroad. TV channels popped up with glitzy commercials and newspapers responded with Page 3. India was going to have fun. It had come through hell.