While some couples will be heading out making expensive purchases of teddy bears, overpriced flowers and chocolates this 14th February, there will certainly be couples who decide to stay at home with a nice romantic film or two. Now obviously the definition of ‘romantic’ can differ vastly from person to person; particularly from a person of one gender to a person of the other gender.
So let’s just make a list of good cinema that also happens to be a love story – stories that are not necessarily romantic but which tell stories of grand passions, of doomed love; tragedies – movies that remind us love is precious; that we are lucky to love and to be loved; movies that remind us simply to give thanks for having love in our lives.
Watch these movies either because you watched them and loved them before, or because you’ve been meaning to watch them. Watch them for the simple reason that they tell a great story (and please excuse me if I wax eloquent about the magnificence of the music – for each of these films has haunting, unforgettable, marvelous music):
Pyasa – This is the story of the struggling poet Vijay played by Guru Dutt – a prostitute Gulabo (Waheeda Rehman) helps get his work published but he is torn between Gulabo and his love from his college days (Mala Sinha). In 2011 Time magazine declared this film as one of the top 10 romantic movies of all time. And the music! Just listen to Jaane who kaise – enough said!
Awara – It is a tough ask to choose between Raj Kapoor’s iconic films of the time: Barsaat, Awaara, Chori Chori, Anari and so many others – lovely stories, stunning music – all those films had. Awara was the quintessential Hindi film love story where the love of the young people is frowned upon because of economic and social disparities. The gentle, hesitant love of dum bhar jo idhar mooh phere is palpable; it speaks for itself.
Mughal E Aazam – This is a great film by any standards – arguably one of the greatest of Hindi films ever made – it is so not just for the majestic scale and sweep of the film, the acting and the unforgettable music – it simply told a beautiful, albeit doomed love story.
Pakeezah – The story of a deep, abiding, pakeezah (pure) love is Pakeezah. The story of Salim Ahmed Khan’s (Raaj Kumar) undying love for the courtesan Nargis (Meena Kumari) – one of Bollywood’s most enduring love stories. If you haven’t watched it yet, watch it this Valentine’s Day – if nothing else, let the music mesmerize you.
Guide – The film starring Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman was an unusual and avant garde film for its times. It touched on themes of adultery, self actualization and the complexities of interpersonal relationships. The film has some of the best music ever composed by the genius S D Burman –perhaps tere mere sapne has to be the most romantic ballad ever made.
Bobby – The story of innocent young love that flies in the face of convention and makes a nonsense of economic, religious and social differences. A heart- wrenchingly young leading pair makes the movie an iconic Bollywood love story.
Silsila – The brooding Amitabh and the stunning Rekha are star crossed lovers who try but fail to contain their passion for other – caught in this maelstrom of emotion are Jaya Bachchan and Sanjeev Kumar’s characters; their respective spouses. Watch the film for Amitabh Bachchan’s most uncharacteristic role, Rekhas’ passion, for Shiv Hari’s music and for Holi festival’s most indispensable song.
Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahi – Aamir Khan’s other romantic films such as QSQT may be better known, but I thought that this is one of the most enjoyable romantic films that he ever acted in. An adorable lead pair and Anupam Kher playing the father who encourages his daughter to elope – just a very cute film!
Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge or DDLJ is the quintessential Indian romance, steeped in traditional values that refuse to be eroded by the supposedly insidious influence of the West – this one featured the original Punjabi Wedding song, something that has become a de rigueur in films now.
Devdas – This one has long been a favourite with Hindi filmmakers, there have been at least three hugely famous Bollywood versions made of this story by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay – so take your pick out of the films starring K L Saigal, later Dilip Kumar and most recently Shah Rukh Khan. For sheer visual grandeur and some excellent songs, pick the Shah Rukh Khan film featuring the two stunners Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai.
Yahaan – A little known film that tells a beautiful story of an Indian army officer and a young Kashmiri girl. If you’ve not heard Naam Ada Likhna from this movie, do it now – it will stay with you.
Lootera – This period movie was a gently paced, beautifully enacted and visually appealing film that told a heart wrenching story of love, passion, betrayal and the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of love. This was the movie that told audiences that Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh are actors with talent to reckon with.
This list is already too long – and I wanted to include movies such as Abhimaan, Andhi, Amar Prem, Chashme Baddoor, Sparsh, Ek duje Ke Liye, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Lamhe, Fanaa, Jab We Met, Jodha Akbar, Raam-Leela and more! Ah well, you can always watch these as well! Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!
By – Reena Daruwalla
Image Courtesy – IMDB – Mughal E Aazam