Romantic films have already been a part of the staple fare of movies worldwide. We all love a good mushy romance, with emotion and tragedy and drama all rolled into one. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they fall into trouble of all types, and in the end they kiss and make up or they overcome all obstacles – this scenario has been played out for generations and has been loved by all generations.
Today we are looking at a return of romance as the main story base in Bollywood again. Earlier a simple romantic story – this seemed to have got lost somewhere in the minds of the scriptwriters. Their stories got more and more complicated – maybe they felt the need to cover those three hours without losing the interest of the audience. They wanted us to sit at the edge of our seats, be on tenterhooks and anxious, rather than relaxing and watching a tender scene being played out on the screen! Thankfully, this trend is being reversed, at least to some degree.
The first really beautiful romantic film which I can recall was Awara – with Raj Kapoor and Nargis at their inimitable best. Even today the sensuous portrayal by Nargis, the chemistry between the two of them and the great music do not overshadow the love story being played out on the screen.
There were many other romantic films which left an indelible mark on Bollywood’s movie history. Chaudhvin Ka Chand, Mere Mehboob, Pyaasa, Sangam, Amrapali, Amar Prem, the list is endless. All these films emphasised the relationship between a man and a woman and all of them relied upon simple stories, superb music and understated performances to hold the viewer’s interest.
These were followed by films such Pakeezah – dance, music and the ethereal Meena Kumari all combining together to give us a memorable movie; Kabhie Kabhie – lots of intermingled stories but most of them based on romance once again; Silsila – a tender portrayal of love beyond the realms of societal norms; Maine Pyaar Kiya – Salman Khan at his romantic best; Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak – Aamir Khan in his debut role; Hum Aapke Hain Kaun – a family musical, but the romance between Salman and Madhuri touched our hearts and of course the pre-eminent Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge – we really do not need to say anything about this tender and starry-eyed romance.
DDLJ saw a flurry of copy-cat films, but none of them achieved it’s level of popularity. Somewhere down the line the stories became more complex and the characterisations became more intense and romance began to take a back-seat. Action films and crime stories became the mainstay of a film’s byline – there was romance, but it was only a sideline.
Is Bollywood imitating life? Is life really so complex that the films are imitating it? Just hypothetical questions, which even I do not have the answer for, but these are just something to ponder over.
Today we are looking at a revival of the eternal romance – maybe not quite the way we are familiar with – but in a way which mirrors the changing atmosphere among the young – after all romance is a part of their lives. Band Baaja Baraat, Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani, Anjaana Anjaani, Singhh is Kingg, Wake Up Sid, these are but a few names where romance formed the basis of the entire film. Love was blooming all around and you loved the joyful extravaganza and the Mills & Boons storylines.
Has romance really changed in the 21st century? After all the basics are the same – boy meets girl, they fall in and out of love, etc., etc. So what has changed – apart from the clothes and lack of running around the trees scenes?
Maybe it is the attitude towards living together to check out their compatibility. Maybe it is the non-sacrificing nature of most romances – if they love someone, they are willing to fight for them. Maybe it is the fact that women no longer behave like withering wall-flowers, they also love with equal intensity and passion. Maybe it is just the fact that romance is no longer the overriding emotion in their lives – they love but they also live life intensely and work passionately.
But as I have always said – Viva La Romance – I would still prefer to go and see a mushy romantic film, which makes me feel that all is well with the world when I come out of the hall. And as long as the girl gets the boy in the end – I am happy and so is the rest of the world.