Mansoor H. Khan tells Pankaja Srinivasan that he is surprised that so much is being made of his directorial debut QSQT released 25 years ago...

Twenty five years ago, Aamir Khan sang ‘Papa Kehte Hain…’ in the movie Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, and just as the lyrics of the song promised, he made a huge splash in Bollywood, along with his leading lady Juhi Chawla. QSQT as it came to be better known, went on to win the National Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment. And love stories were never the same again.

Action and revenge dramas such as Tezaab, Khoon Bhari Maang, Loha and Shahenshah were more the order of the day, and the young director of the film, Mansoor H. Khan, was perhaps the catalyst for QSQT taking off in another direction altogether. He was young, had ideas, the courage of conviction, and, of course, he was his dad’s son. Mansoor stepped in to direct the film written by his father Nasir Hussain.

QSQT did not just set a trend, it also provided a spectacular launch pad for music directors Anand-Milind and playback singers Alka Yagnik and Udit Narayan.

Mansoor recaptures some special moments of his QSQT days

The story

The story was my father’s idea as he thought that a good love story had not been made for a long time. Besides, a love story would be the perfect vehicle to launch Aamir’s career which was his prime objective. I was then working on the story of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. When I was unable to complete the screenplay of Jo Jeeta to my satisfaction, he told me to take over directing QSQT. The movie proved my father’s hunch right as the film got hugely accepted. It was also because the film spoke a more contemporary language that the youth related to. So it was a combination of many things. Not to forget the scintillating music by Anand-Milind. I was instrumental in guiding them to my taste which was very westernised but also leaning to more sparse instrumentation.

Aamir and Juhi

Picking Aamir was a given. That was the whole purpose behind QSQT. I had met Juhi during my stint running a video studio and she had done a shampoo ad for us. I also called her, way before we started on QSQT, to ask her if she would do a TV programme. As I was relating the concept to her, I loved her reactions and her natural and charming manner. So when my father asked ‘And what about the heroine’ I already had Juhi in mind. My father being a careful man wanted me to screen test her though I said it was not necessary. He eventually conducted the screen test himself and felt the choice was right.

Experiences while shooting

Being a film with so many first timers there were lots of trial-and-error moments. There is one moment I have never shared because I felt personally very bad about it. But I will share it now. I was doubtful and worried about how Aamir would face the camera especially for the song sequence and other flamboyant scenes. I always knew him as this very shy and quiet cousin of mine. So when we were shooting Papa Kehte Hain I felt Aamir was not getting the dance steps and I may have showed my dissatisfaction too openly which I should not have. I came to know later that he went to the make-up room and bawled his heart out and was consoled by my sister and others! But he collected himself and came back with new conviction and the rest, as they say, is history.

The music

The only thing I was really sure about was the music for the film. I had already worked with Anand and Milind for a video film that I had shot just as a personal experiment. And my experience with them had ironed out many things between us. So I was really looking forward to the prospect of selecting tunes and then arranging them and further recording them. I had also worked with Udit in my video film and I was sure that his voice would suit Aamir. Alka was introduced to me by Anand and Milind and I instantly liked her voice. I guess it works when it all comes together. As my father used to say ‘nothing succeeds like success’.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

Oh for sure. In the screening which we had the other night for the 25th year anniversary I really enjoyed the first half of the film but thought I would treat the second half a bit differently. Not the scenes and the flow itself but the treatment of the scenes. I felt they were a little raw in how I shot them. And by saying this I am holding the director responsible, not anyone else.

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