Aradhana, while Rajesh Khanna sang Mere Sapno Ki Rani Kab Aayegi Tu to Sharmila Tagore, Sharmila was trying to read Alistair MacLean's When Eight Bells Toll (1966).
Novels of Alistair MacLean are renowned for absence of sex and most of his work is even short on romance. Writing successful thrillers sans sex is a great achievement in itself. When asked about this in an interview, he replied: "Sex? No time for it. Gets in the way of the action."
What has this got to do with Aradhana?
The basic premise of Aradhana provides the answer.
The unplanned sex. It was night, it was raining, they got wet, she had to take off her clothes and wear an off-shoulder orange designer blanket that made her roop look mastana, he had three top buttons of his shirt open, there was log fire burning strategically in centre of the cabin and Kishore was singing. What else could they do?
The movie became a trendsetter of sorts in Bollywood. Scenes parodying this act became a common fixture in countless Hindi films. The fact that Sharmila was shown reading Alistair MacLean was no mere coincidence. It went with the 'modern' yet demure Indian woman theme. If she is really interested in reading a novels, and that too in front of everyone while traveling in a train, nothing is better than Alistair MacLean. Give Khushwant Singh in her hand and fellow travelers can get all sort of ideas! And it would certainly had been a different kind of movie.
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