In the past 20 years, AAA has gone through an incredible AAA is as culturally relevant as it has ever been transformation very few Hindi films can boast of. Starting its journey as a box office disappointment, and then becoming a cable channel mainstay, rental favorite and now a source of notable quotables on social media timelines, AAA is as culturally relevant as it has ever been.
If you’ve seen the movie, and most likely are a fan and got the not-so-subtle reference in the title of this piece, then even a list of memorable dialogues is enough to make you laugh out loud. But if you have yet to experience this nutty piece of Indian cinema, chances are you’ve been left out of quite a few jokes and dialogue-baazi (exchange of memorable dialogues) amongst some of your friends and family.
So how did AAA end up where it is?
The premise of the film is simple enough. Amar and Prem are young men from different towns but with similar lives: a working class background, no real careers to speak of, and nagging fathers hoping their offspring will become gainfully employed. Both feel they’re too good for their circumstances and are destined for wealth and fame, with their potential ticket to the good life appearing in the form of an NRI heiress looking for a suitable mate in India. But in between leaving their towns and finding love, off-the-wall supporting characters, pop culture parodies and hilarious verbal sparring in the midst of wacky scenarios leave the viewer in splits.
Released during a time when legal VHS copies of a film were made available the same day as the theatrical release, AAA wasn’t able to fill cinema seats like the bawdier, masala entertainers released the same year. Neither crass nor offensive, AAA’s snappy quips and deliciously silly insults (‘Circus ka retired bandar’, a retired circus monkey, is as offensive as it gets) can be enjoyed by the family, as I did with mine two decades ago with the video cassette being the only way to watch Indian movies in most American cities.
At every turn the film pokes fun at the melodrama popular Indian entertainment is made of, whether actress Juhi Chawla plays herself (yet spoofing a stereotypical Hindi heroine — coy and glamorous) or an inn-keeper is overcome with emotion as he imagines Amar and Prem as Ram and Bharat (from Ramanand Sagar’s teleserial, Ramayan) when the duo feign adoration for each other.
Equal parts clever and ludicrous, AAA is essentially the inside joke which now everyone knows. Much of the blame for AAA’s fate AAA is essentially the inside joke which now everyone knows.at the box office is blamed on lack of publicity and advertising, despite two big stars, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan along with popular leading ladies Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor playing topline roles. It appeared AAA’s story was mimicking the lives of Amar and Prem — finding itself relegated to VHS and cable television, rather than the silver screen it thought itself worthy of.
Now many years after its initial release, video copies, DVDs and repeat telecasts are cited as reasons for its ardent fan following. With the advent of social media, I along with other AAA groupies across the globe have found each other and take comfort in the fact that there are more people like us who also enjoy gems such as Crime Master Gogo’s ghagra, an amnesia-curing metal pipe, and one cup of chai for two to share. Because the film did not fare well at the marquee, we fans feel we’re in on something very special.
When we reply with a one-liner (‘Galati se mistake hogaya’ I made a mistake by mistake), The film’s admirers judge a person’s character based upon their opinion of the movie. decide to name a pet Teelu or refuse to consume oranges, it’s like a verbal nod acknowledging our appreciation of comedic excellence. It wouldn’t be farfetched to claim AAA admirers judge a person’s character based upon their opinion of the movie. If it’s not your cup of tea, you probably take yourself far too seriously to have a serious friendship with us.
There are conflicting reports of whether a sequel is in the works as AAA enthusiasts celebrate any small news which hints at the opportunity to see more antics from the dynamic duo. Nostalgia for mass entertainers from the 90s gaining popularity has further galvanized a movement for a part deux. Rumors of an animated sequel were making the rounds a few years ago, while whispers of Raveena and Karishma being signed on have appeared recently on blogs.
When interviewed, Aamir and Salman are often asked whether they would consider reprising their roles as the awesome twosome, and it’s easy to see how the megastars continue to be surprised at how big the film has become. Director Rajkumar Santoshi has denied news that a second inning is in store for the beloved comedy to which its devotees say, never say never. But fans can take solace in the fact that AAA has successfully withstood the test of time — 20 years to be exact, to which Prem would happily declare: Happy birthday, Rabbit!
Shivani cannot remember a time when she wasn’t madly in love with Indian cinema, which now inspires much of her writing. She lives in both New York City and Twitterpur at @Shivani510.