Remember when Zayed Khan and Gaston Gaudio were a thing? And when you cried at the last episode of Friends? MBRB looks back.
Of late, a horribly schlocky low-productions-value kind of video is doing the rounds on Facebook which extols the virtues of the 90s by shamelessly pointing at some benchmarks from the decade. The amateur historian in us looked at the anachronisms in the video and said – “this is rubbish, most of these references are not even from the said time period “. The editor in us thought – “this is a neat way to get people to share our articles when no one bothers with those heartfelt literature and pop culture treatises”.
But mostly, we are writing this column because we can’t believe that 2004 was TEN YEARS AGO. (we get the math, just not the ‘idea’ of it.)
What were things like in Casa Mohan circa 2004?
Ms. Mohan was still in the first of her many jobs, believing- as many do on receiving their first bonus on the 31st of March- that the world didn’t know her worth. She was also staying with one of her best friends ever in a house that was later quarantined by the Pest Control department and burnt down to stem the Crichton-lite Outbreak from that place.
Said friend didn’t believe in Bollywood, so Ms. Mohan pretended not to be interested in what was only THE MOST IMPORTANT pop culture event of the decade- the release of Main Hoon Na on the 30th of April 2004
Shah Rukh Khan as buttoned-down Army Officer? Officially-cool Ms. Sen in Chiffon Sarees? A disturbingly hot Suniel Shetty as villain? Sonu Nigam singing a Qawalli ?It was like someone delved into the inner recess of her psyche and made a piece of art just for her.
She was however, pretending to be excited about a cultural milestone of another kind, the release of Kill Bill Volume 2 on the 16th of April- a movie that has inspired us into practising out Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique on many a sworn nemeses since. We will forever love the Bride and her demented thirst for vengeance.
Elsewhere, the spring of 2004 was also notable for the release of Murder- whose plagiarised soundtrack sounds surprisingly hummable even 10 years later (In 2004 of course, no drunken party ended without someone screeching “uh oh oh” from Bheege Honth with ‘dard‘ in their voice) and of Mean Girls – the movie that introduced the world to the comic voice of Tina Fey. Also notable was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind- a meditation on memory and longing that came to India on pirated CDs (and that probably because of Jim Carrey’s name) many moons later- being passed on from one film lover to another with wonder and awe.
Musically, most of us were still listening to OutKast’s Hey Ya and Outlandish’ Aicha from the year before- both songs as well-loved on club dance floors as in the Red Merrutis of the Delhi M-Block Bad Boyzz. But two new bands that would first be loved and then scorned upon by the hipsters were only just beginning to emerge- ear worm specialists Black Eyed Peas, and “making-misogyny-melodious-since-2004″ Maroon 5.
Only one pop tunescreams spring of 2004 though- in its pretence-alt rock swagger, its sappiness, and complete ubiquity at that time . And that is Hoobastank’s “The Reason”. Listen to it now and you will remember exactly where you were circa April-May 2004.
Pre-IPL, the biggest sporting event of Spring was of course the French Open, and the Men’s Single in 2004 was won by Gaston Gaudio- a man fated to become a footnote to history – before 2005 started the Era of Nadal. Interestingly, this tournament was also the last time before 2012’s US Open that a Men’s Semifinal in a Grand Slam featured neither Federer nor Nadal.
The spring of 2004 had another watershed pop culture moment- the airing of the last episode of Friends on the 6th of May 2004. It is customary now to sneer at FRIENDS, its ‘whiteness’ ; and its perceived improbabilities. But when you watch the show for the first time- at about the same point in your life that friends begin to become a surrogate family, and friendships threaten to turn into romantic entanglements- the series speaks to you like almost no other artefact of that time. Every single group of friends can be broken down into the wise-ass, the flake, the flirt, the nerd, the den mother and bombshell, and when you’re right out of college it is oddly gratifying to believe that these disparate people can stay friends for life (Who was I, you ask? Why of course, the Chandler).
Finally, any mention of spring would be incomplete without mentioning that it was also the year of the General Elections, won by the UPA Government. Smarter people than us will judge the failures and successes from the last 10 years of governance, but at that innocent time, we remember being cautiously optimistic to see academic wonk Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister.
With elections coming again in just a month’s time, one can’t help but wonder what we have learnt about life in the last 10 years. If we could summarise what the Spring of 2004 taught us in hindsight it would perhaps be that:
- Choose wisely- at the least never ever elect Govinda to the Parliament again.
- Friendships change, but that’s ok. So do you, and you will always have 10 seasons worth of episodes to fall back on.
- Will I Am really is the worst.
- Tina Fey really is the best
- There is no reason to be disheartened in a world that can temporarily anoint Zayed Khan as a heart throb. Anything can happen. Anything can be.
That lovely cushion is available here