Off-beat Hindi film romances: Romance remains one of the most popular genres in Bollywood films even today. Especially in the last one year, a lot of us have craved for feel-good romantic movies to cheer ourselves up. But the fact that the best love story of 2021 is nestled inside a war film says the state of romance in films today.
It feels like romance has run its course. All possible angles have been tried and tested. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, battle society or family and live or die together in the end. Boy and girl fall in love, but they are not sure if they want to take this relationship forward and thus battle with their internal demons rather than external forces. Love triangles, tragedies, one-sided love, long-distance relationships, mature woman inspiring a man-child to find himself - Bollywood has been there, done that.
However, every now and then one comes across a film that breaks the long-held stereotypes of Bollywood romance and challenges our own understanding of love. Here are five such films:
This 2018 film by Kanwal Sethi is about two middle-aged people who give love a second chance. Amar (Neeraj Kabi) is an ageing superstar who battles loneliness- being divorced and sharing his daughter's custody with his ex-wife. Tara is a widow who runs a small restaurant in Mumbai with help of her son who is about to get married. Some people might feel that Once Again takes itself too seriously on many occasions, but it is one of the rare films that address the desire for intimacy and companionship among two middle-aged people. Besides, you can just watch it for Kabi and Shah's stunning chemistry.
Another film about two adults who find love late in life, Listen Amaya is more about the need for companionship among older people than desire - a theme that doesn't often come to mind when we think of Bollywood's depiction of love. Deepti Naval plays the role of Leela in this film, who is a financially independent single mother. When she gets close to a photographer named Jayant (Farroq Shaikh) her daughter Amaya grows insecure and develops contempt towards her mother for trying to "replace" her father. Actor Swara Bhasker essays the titular role in this film which attempts to normalise finding love in the later part of your life.
Wake Up Sid
Arguably the first film to trap Ranbir Kapoor in the character of a man-child on the path of self-discovery, stereotypes end in Wake Up Sid end right there. It is one of the few films where we see romance bloom between a young man and a relatively older woman. In Hindi films, we often see men play knights in shining armour who rescue their princesses from tricky situations. Wake Up Sid reverses this trope and it is Konkona Sen Sharma's Ayesha who comes to Sid's rescue when he feels lost in life. Ayesha schools Sid for his irresponsible attitude, motivates him to find a job and teaches him the value of financial independence, which was earlier lost on the poor little rich kid.
Ayushmann Khurrana's debut film does more than break the taboo around sperm donation. When Ashima, played by Yami Gautam, tells him that she is divorced, Vicky's feelings towards her don't change. He does warn her to not tell about the divorce to his mom when she meets her. The conversation in a Punjabi family on bringing in a divorced daughter-in-law doesn't sugarcoat the stigma that many women in Ashima's position face in India. Vicky's mother takes a not-so-subtle jibe at Ashima's father who wants a simple wedding, by telling him, "Hamare bete ki to pehli hi shadi hai." Eventually, Vicky and Ashima have their way and get married.
Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu
One of the best takes on one-sided love, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, featuring Kareena Kapoor Khan and Imran Khan, rejects the idea of men losing their minds when rejected in love. Falling in love with Riana leads Rahul on a path of self-discovery, but instead of pinning and singing sad songs, Rahul learns to be happy with his feelings. He doesn't stalk his lady love, drunk call her, or cry inconsolably. Instead, Rahul accepts the situation and is happy being friends with Riana, quietly hoping that her feeling would change for him.
Views expressed are the author's own.