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End of the cocktails era

Back in 90s, a cocktail party excuse was found at every opportunity – be it a film launch, a film celebrating 100 days, 25 weeks and so on. But now, trends seem to have changed

End of the cocktails era

Sharaab and filmmakers seem to share an unbreakable partnership. There may have been many reasons why the two got bound together and kept company with each other all the way.

Can't say when and how that happened. But, most of the stories we heard while growing up were about film celebrities sacrificing their lives in preference to alcohol. In the absence of any distractions, the people who worked on films, gathered and relieved their day's tensions spending evenings cheering with each other.Those were not the days one could drink with elders of the family or even drink at home.

But, in most cases, alcohol invaded a film aspirant's life much before he made it to films. Later, when successful, it was used to celebrate. There was a time in the industry when the non-drinkers found it tough to communicate. Or, be a part of the circuit.

A film was launched with, what was called, a mahurat. The mahurat formality done, the real celebration started in the evening. Such jaunts were aimed at the media, cast and crew. They sort of created a bonding. A cocktail party excuse was found at every opportunity, be it a film launch, a film celebrating 100 days, 25 weeks and so on.

Most of the filmstars took to alcohol before they started their careers. When one saw references to aunty ka adda or Pascal ka adda in 1970s films, these were real-life projections and referred to real-life hooch joints of suburban Mumbai. Pascal's was a joint near the National College in Bandra; aunties were all over the suburbs. A lot of actors have confessed to being patron of these hooch joints in their chats with the media over a period.

Nobody liked to drink alone. Especially the stars. While most of the stars had their session with a close coterie, there were a few which liked crowds, called chamchas or the hangers on, in those days. And, when it came to such sycophants hanging around a star, Rajesh Khanna stole a march over all his contemporaries.

Throwing party was a norm with both filmmakers and music companies. The latter did that on the release of an album as well as to celebrate its success. That assured media turnout. Now, no such parties are thrown. Events are held during the day and the target media is mostly electronic. The media folk have to run from event to event and also meet deadlines. That has put paid to the cocktails era.

Most of the aspirants who alighted from the Frontier Mail, like Dharmendra, had nothing to go back to if they failed to make it in Mumbai. There was only films where one could try his luck. No TV or other avenues. This lot had no family sending bank transfers. On the days when things did not work out, it ended at Pascal's or Aunty's. Again, it has been reflected in a lot of films of that era.

Alcohol addiction proved fatal, especially when a filmmaker or actor faced a bad patch as one got into frustration and self-pity, drowning it all in alcohol leading to death. A couple of reputed directors could not avoid drinking while suffering from jaundice, leading to death.

Then came a generation of actors that abhorred the stuff. There was a new triumvirate in Sunny Deol, Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff. Sunny and Anil were non-drinkers while Jackie was an undemonstrative drinker. There were some who decided to stop drinking. And, that affected their social life. There is the example of the bigtime publicist, Bunny Reuben, who handled media for big banners, from RK Studios to BR Films and many more. Drinking and inviting the media to share it was a norm for his kind of work. But, once he gave up drinking, he gradually started withdrawing from socialising. He stopped attending his own clients' cocktail functions and that began telling on his work.

However, there are also instances where saying goodbye to alcohol helped eminent men turn a new leaf. Two prime examples are Mahesh Bhatt and Javed Akhtar. Both chronic drinkers gave up not only drinking but also smoking one fine day and successfully returned to glory to their respective fields.

The in-between generation of actors, at least some of them, were addicted to mild drugs along with smoking. But, the later generation was reported to be more on high drugs. Those who drink among the present lot do it more as a fashion statement.The liquor will flow again next week during the traditional Diwali cards sessions.

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