PLURALIZING PLEASURES OF VIEWERSHIP 85
employees of the household participate in the revelry. HAHK can be seen as an extended version of the antakshari sequence in Maine Pyar Kiya. It presents a dream family that negotiates its way through numerous social (and religious) rituals with little crises and even lesser conflict. In the fragmented and dystopian nineties, HAHK presents an impossible dream: the vision of a loving and supportive community in which everybody has everybody elses best interests at heart. Arriving a year after the demolition of Babri Masjid, HAHK presents a lost imaginary: a happy and united community of people.
At a historical moment of strife and turmoil, the film searches for 'communality' in the recesses of the home and within the family. For the characters in the film very little exists outside this idyllic bubble. Diagetically, the idea is reinforced by shooting the film indoors on sets recreating the interiors of Kailashnath's lavish and expansive home. Only a few sequences are shot outdoors. The happy and extended family of HAHK embraces even those who are not its biological members. This includes the two domestic helps Lallu and Chameli, the dog Tuffy (who has a significant presence in the mise-en-scene) and a Muslim couple who are close family friends. The portrait is completed by family gods who when invoked respond with suitable favours. Predictably, Prem's 'gypsy' sports the graffiti. "I love my family."
The iconography that frames the mise-en-scene is evocative of renascent Hinduism, the space of the mandir and that of the home are blurred that the difference is hard to tell. The characters enter and exit the house by first paying respects to the mandir whose walls are inscribed with "Jai Shri Ram". Pooja's best painting is that of a mandir and when she first enters Kailashnath's house she is handed a copy of the Ramayana and gently reminded of Sita. This is undoubtedly a 'feelgood' scenario for the Sangh Parivar. Similarly, Pooja upholds the self-effacing Sita ideal of Bombay films. Prem describes her as va treasure chest of happiness' (khushiyon ka khazana) who rises with the first rays of the sun and is the always the last to sleep. Unlike her sister Nisha, Pooja rarely participates in the song and dance routines and before dying dutifully gives birth to a son. She is frequently described as the epitome of love and nurturence. After Pooja's death, the straight and narrow ideals of "Indian womanhood" become embodied in Nisha. During the climax of the film she readily "sacrifices' her love for Prem and decides to marry her recently widowed brother-in-law without the faintest murmur of protest.