One thing about our world, for sure is that we are in love with the idea of love. So, a country where love marriages are dejected, we are in love with love stories we see in Bollywood films (read a tweet on this and started this thought thread). The OTT stories of two strangers meeting, hating each other, then falling in love, (insert any dramatic scenario that could add another 20-30 mins to the film) and finally living happily ever after. You’d believe that an industry that thrives on this formula should make the most sense about ‘love’. But that’s precisely whats wrong with our culture and why we abstain from love marriages. Because through generations of Bollywood films we’re told that love happens at first sight, has songs playing in the background, is for the rebellious lot, and majorly means physical intimacy (kissing and sex as words also might get banned in the near future, so just sticking to the basics). Is what we see in films really love?
Love is more a state of mind than just a feeling
There are few people in our lives who make us feel good, motivate us even if they say nothing. These are the people we feel, we love! Some of these are a part of our family; some are friends while some become romantic interests. The trickiest of all the loves’ is the romantic love. From my experiences, the romantic love, is when we find the right balance of comfort, understanding, acceptance, motivation, trust and belief. Those are lot of words to make sense of but that’s what Love is!
And these words are as difficult to get to life. That’s where our Bollywood love stories fall, very few of our films are able to do justice to this idea of love – get all the above emotions to life and yet be a ‘love story’. But, the few films that do it right are an exception to Bollywood’s love formula. These are films that have told us the same story in a different way, in a way that it’s relatable and real. And of course, a story is only as good as its story teller, the director. They’ve told us the stories in such a real way as if it were their own and you’d feel that it’s almost like your own story. They make it so real that it feels unreal 🙂
Ayan Mukherjee – captures our generations’ struggles between non-existence, ambitions and commitment
Look at Wake up Sid, the way both Sid (Ranbir) and Ayesha (Konkona) despite being so strikingly different from each other in every aspect get the best out of each other and grow individually through the bond they share.
That’s Ayan Mukherji, a story teller who tells us that love is all about motivation, motivating each other to grow and do what you’d do best!
Looking at Ayan’s other film – Yeh Jawani hai Deewani, Bunny (Ranbir) and Naina (Deepika) are a perfect example of how comfort and understanding can nurture the most beautiful relationship between two polarised individuals. A bond that stays true over years. Only because Naina had long accepted the differences between Bunny and her, she could understand him better.
That’s love, when you look out for each other even if it means letting that person you love, go!
The Akhtar siblings – how acceptance and rejection from anyone can equally change your life, if you give it a chance
While at it, I’d also like to mention a couple of offbeat examples from the Akhtar siblings’ films.
We might remember Dil Chahta Hai for many things, but for me, of all 3 stories the most powerful was the comfort between Tara (Dimple Kapadia) and Sid (Akshaye Khanna). The film tells us that there’s nothing right or wrong about whom you fall in love with. Their bond is special, though the love might be one-sided but the companionship and care is common and what makes it work.
That’s love. It’s about what both of you get from each other – what you share. And that’s unique only to the two of you.
Another from Farhan’s film Lakshya is the way Romi (Preity), a career oriented woman is in love with someone who almost aimless in life. Her disbelief is what pushes Karan (Hrithik) a notch further when he gives up on the first and only decision he’s ever made in his life.
That’s love. When the person who really loves you pushes you further to pursue his goal in life and achieve it.
Coming to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Zoya Akhtar’s portrayal of Laila (Katrina) and Arjun’s (Hrithik) love story is almost surreal. They fall in love because of the intrigue and how she can make him experience something he never thought existed. And how one experience turns his world upside down.
That’s love. When you experience something special that might not mean the world at that moment but would change your world forever.
Imtiaz Ali – you find love when you find yourself truly.
I’m keeping the best for the last. Imtiaz Ali. He, his storytelling coupled with his interpretation of love supersedes everything I’ve seen or even felt till now.
Look at Jab we Met, Aditya (Shahid) is on a suicidal trip and he finds love in the most unlikely places – a fellow loudmouth passenger who is persistent on helping him, come what may. What follows is a rollercoaster which lead to Adi finding himself – what he really wants to do, who he is and this one experience redefines his ideologies in life – about work, love and people in general. He’s so affected by Geet (Kareena) that he actually starts thinking like her and it helps him solve the worse of his problems. He’s at so much ease with himself that when he finds Geet at her worst, a role reversal of sorts happens and he helps her stand up again, just the way she did for him.
With Highway, look at Mahabeer (Randeep) and Veera (Alia), a story that doesn’t even qualify as ‘love’ as per normal standards. The comfort that Veera finds in chaos, in Mahabeer’s company is something which not many can understand. The peace Veera attains in Mahabeer’s world which has no restrictions, lets her into a never-seen-before side to herself. She experiences not only the beauty of nature, but also enjoys freedom in bondage. Freedom that was only an illusion until she had met Mahabeer. While for Mahabeer, Veera’s naivety pushes him closer to his own reality, his experiences from childhood come alive and he faces what he was running away from. Both of them together, almost in a way complete the void in each other’s lives, a void that did not exist in their real worlds, but only in their souls.
That’s love. When you just complete the picture for the other person. A picture which might look like a disaster to the naked eye, but is a treasure in reality
The most complex of all these stories – the Tamasha that was Ved and Tara. I remember the early definitions of a word we learnt in science – catalyst. Something that affects the reaction between elements without itself participating. In scientific terms it did help me sail through the next couple of years but Tamasha is when I truly understand the meaning of the word to the fullest.
Tara comes like that surprise element in Ved’s life who so deeply affects the reaction that’s his life that neither of them realize it. And that’s the whole ‘Tamasha’ – drama. I would’ve loved to decode the whole film frame by frame but I’d just stick to the essence of it.
Let’s look at Ved, he could be any of us. Or rather all of us have a part of him within us. A part who wanted to be something else, but is stuck in the monotony of mediocrity. A part who has a dream plan but the plan looks as dreamy as anything else. A part who wants to be true to the reflection of what people see you as. A part who is longing to live the dream even if it be for just a couple of days.
The story goes like the same old stories do – Ved takes a tour to Corsica where he meets Tara but they meet as Don and Mona darling, an attempt to live his thoughts, to be someone else – everyday. That’s Ved, he’s so complex that his simplicity and his ‘decency’ becomes a façade to hide those complexities.
Tara on the other hand while enjoys the bit that happens for a week but cannot resist the magnetic charm that Don leaves on her for the following four years. She, being the woman who clearly calls her own shots, is stuck at the mercy of just the thought of meeting Don again and what it could’ve been. Such was the impact of Ved on her life that she could never not think of him. She finally stalks him in Delhi and meets him. There are sparks from both sides again but that’s shortlived because now she meets Ved who’s nothing like the Don she fell for.
That’s Tara, she knows what she wants and wouldn’t settle for anything less. That said, she isn’t impassionate. She fights for it and tries to help Ved through his turmoil, but doesn’t pile on. She leaves him on his own when it’s needed. She understands the difficult phase Ved’s going through and gives him the space he needs. But never, does she give up on him.
Tara’s honesty not just breaks Ved’s heart – it breaks into what he’s been trying to hide since years, even from himself. It opens up a tsunami of emotional turmoil where Ved ends up losing his job and being looked upon as insane. That state is Ved fighting himself to be what he isn’t. He doesn’t want to believe that Tara who met him only for a week could know him better than anyone else. But that’s what Love can do to you.
Through a wonderful screenplay with flashbacks from Ved’s childhood dominated with stories from Fakir Baba and his fight with math and grades, Imtiaz brings us a Ved who is actually looking for solution from the Fakir, or being what the world thinks he is. But what the Fakir had been trying to tell him through endless stories is something he doesn’t realize until he hears it from him – Dil Mein Heer liye, or heer khoje virane mein? This one thought makes him comes to terms with himself. And more than that the courage to be himself.
Goes on to set the record straight for everyone, his dad, himself and Tara. What’s fascinating about Ved is how he meets people on his journey who are going through the same dilemma – the rickshaw driver, and helps him live his dream in whatever little way possible. His theatrics start, like the fakir, below a tree and move on to a full audience in an audi. Once you follow your dream, live up to the fullest.
One might think its Ved story alone and Tara is just a mere catalyst to his story. But I beg to differ, its Tara’s journey as much as Ved’s. The more Tara pushes him, the more she finds what she really is looking for. She’s not really looking for Don. She’s looking for the magic that existed between Don and Mona and get it to work between Ved and Tara. This story could be a happy one only because both Ved and Tara both made efforts from each end to bridge the gap and that’s how Don and Tara and found middle ground at Don Returns and Mata Hari.
That’s love. When someone who really loves you doesn’t try to change you, but pushes you to be the best you. And that quest makes them also a better person.
With an overdose of Wake up Sid, Yeh Jawani hai Deewani, Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Jab we Met, Highway and more recently the Tamasha hangover, one thing that stays is:
The best love stories are not about love alone! When you find yourself, love will find you 🙂