Love, Aaj kal

From Bobby and QSQT to Kuch Bheege Alfaaz, film romance changes with the times

By Bharati K. Dubey
  • Published 15.02.18
Zain Khan Durrani and Geetanjali Thapa in Onir’s Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz

It’s that time of the year. Love is trending — on Facebook, WhatsApp and the big screen.

Has love changed? Some think not.

This Valentine’s week we get to see the release of Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz, about love in the time of social media. Says Onir, the director of the film: “Then and now are the same. Just the representation or the modes of communication may have changed.”

Ayesha Jhulka

Song of love

Pehla Nasha from the ’90s campus romance Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar is not just our favourite, but leading man Aamir Khan’s too.

Aamir wished his fans a happy Valentine’s Day with a nostalgic tweet about the 1992 film. “Hey guys, listening to my song Pehla Nasha on Valentine’s Day! Ideal song for this day :-). And, I must say it's one of my own favourites...” he wrote.

The song, composed by Jatin Lalit and sung by Udit Narayan and Sadhana Sargam, was the first to be choreographed by Farah Khan.

Saqib Saleem’s Dil Junglee is an upcoming romantic comedy. It is about how love changes as people age. In a recent interview, Saqib had said: “The story captures the innocence and immaturity associated with love when you are 18 and then shifts focus to a more mature understanding of it. It also delves into how your friends influence your choices about love.”

But whatever has happened to the good old love story? The one in which love conquered all and there were no other qualifiers?

“The romance of Dil, Aashiqui or Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak are not really made today. Even the NRI romance has withered away,” film critic Dilip Thakur said. “Now we see films like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha.”

These films have an added social dimension, an edge or a twist. “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha can be called social romance. Even Padman falls in the same genre. But I still feel that if a Bobby or QSQT comes back, the audience will accept it,” Thakur said.

Scenes from Bobby (above) and Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (top), movies that defined romance 

Producer Prerna Arora, who produced Padman and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, herself wishes the days of timeless romance back. But she doubts the relevance of the all-out love story today. “Times have changed. Relationships are weak and self-centred today. If you ask me Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is one of the most romantic films set in a small town,” she said.

Arora seems to be speaking for others.

Dhadak, a remake of the Marathi film Sairat, is about romance in times of honour killings. Raazi is about a Kashmiri girl who marries a Pakistani officer so as to provide the Indian intelligence with information.

Meghna Gulzar, director of Raazi, says her film does not lend itself overtly to romance as such, but feels love has changed. Yash Chopra meant romance for her.

“Today it is far more aggressive, in your face and on the front foot. But perhaps, that is because that is how our generation, our audience has also changed?” said Meghna.

The new, empowered heroine in films like Badrinath ki Duhania and Dum Lagake Haisha has added to the change: she has altered the power balance in films. Since she is no wallflower, love blossoms differently.

However, filmmaker Jyoti Kapur Das feels that the girls were far spunkier then and today girls are given less meaty roles, unless it’s a heroine oriented film.

“Somehow the girls are behaving like boys in the romantic movies also, like Tanu Weds Manu and Simran (not a real romance). Or they are going on the other end of the spectrum where they are just hiding behind the muscle boys.”

Another film with Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma has just gone on the floor. Set in India’s heartland, Sui Dhaaga — Made in India is about finding love and respect through self-reliance. The film’s plot is inspired by the Make In India campaign.

And yet another classic love story is getting a twist. Sudhir Mishra’s version of Devdas is titled Daas Dev. “…if Devdas is a journey from a noble person to a ‘das’, this is a journey from ‘das’, a person who is a slave to his addictions and the dynastic ambitions of his family, to ‘dev’,” Mishra said.