Bollywood or the Indian Film Industry has never had a dearth of love stories. On the contrary, they find a way out to insert a love angle in almost every movie they make. And who can forget that the most popular Hindi songs are also from the tales of romances. To top everything, love stories are time tested formula for saving many an actor’s career or giving it a thrust.
However, in this list, I am trying to compile my top 10 favourite unconventional romantic sagas — primarily Hindi, but also considering dubbed and Hinglish movies.. Despite the considerable number of love stories being churned out by the Indian film industry, there are quite a few which have never received their due credit (at least as per me)… No list is ever universal and I am sure you will agree and disagree with me at some points of the list or the other… Why I am enumerating them is purely because I find something unique about each of these movies… And as a true patron of the underdogs, I really couldn’t help it…
While a lot many of the current generation might not have seen this film, those who have would agree it was an extremely bold and delicate subject to handle, way back in 1978. An exceptional story and a beautifully penned love story. Full credits to writer Dinesh Thakur and director Manik Chatterjee for attempting a film like this. Rekha, one of my favourite actresses, portrays her role to such perfection that she makes you feel her insecurity, fear and grief… Vinod Mehra, famous for not so famous side-roles, plays a rare lead role of his career and excels.. It was during those times when Mehra and Rekha had an active off screen romance… And obviously who can forget the beautiful tracks – “Aapke aankhon mein kuch mehke hue se raaz hai”, “Tere Bina Jiya Jaaye Na” or “Aaj kal paaon zameen par..”
09. Chashme Buddoor
“ek Tutty Fruity aur ek Coffee” — Take my word for it – Farooq Shaikh and Deepti Naval were a cuter couple than Shahid and Kareena, anyday.. They perfectly represented the urban middle class lovers of the 1970s – early 80s… And Chashme Buddoor is an epitome of that chemistry.. This Sai Paranjape film is one of the finest pieces of romantic comedies that Indian cinema or Bollywood has ever seen… Besides the lead pair, what also catch attention is the friendship between the hero and his two flatmates – Ravi Baswani and Rakesh Bedi… If you haven’t seen this film, watch now for some genuine laughs and endearing romance..
08 Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa
This is one of the few films where the hero doesn’t get the heroine… and man o man, do u feel bad for him!? Kundan Shah, known for his cult classic “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron” weaves a tale of what every young guy would do for his lady love – lie, deceive, convince, connive.. before eventually putting her happiness before his.. Shah Rukh Khan, as the loser cum liar is so affable that you want him to have everything despite being such a flawed character.. If not for anything, this movie is worth watching only for him.. Deepak Tijori, Suchitra Krishnamoorthy, Sadia Siddiqui and Naseeruddin Shah all shine in their respective roles..
07 Ek Duje Ke Liye
For once, Kamal Hassan didn’t try anything extra and Rati Agnihotri actually acted.. This love across language film was 2 decades before the Hrithik-Barbara “Kites”, and presented the romance with far more believability and passion than the latter.. The Tamil vs Punjabi duel between the protagonists’ families was so fierce that even Chetan Bhagat couldn’t help mentioning it in his popular novel 2 States (though his case was the reverse).. With Goa as the backdrop, some melodious songs and a heart-rending (though a bit exaggerated) ending, Ek Duje Ke Liye was a super ode to romance…
“Waise toh amavas 15 din ki hoti hai, par iss baar bohut lambi thi..”
“Nau baras lambi thi na?”
Well, this is just one small example… Gulzar saab’s political romance “Aandhi”, supposedly inspired by late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her husband Feroze Gandhi’s life is a film-makers guide to fine writing and exemplary acting.. Suchitra Sen (as the housewife turned political aspirant and eventually minister) goes beyond her much talked about beauty and Sanjeev Kumar (like most of his movies) delivers a tremendous performance as the middle class husband who is panged by his wife’s absence but cannot accept her world either.. Moments of present interluded with flashabck sequences draw the life of this couple who meet-fall in love-split-meet-only to separate all over again, though with a hope.. With gem of songs like “Tere Bina Zindagi Se..” and “Tum Aa Gaye Toh” – Aandhi is a cult film.. I so wish that Gulzar saab didn’t stop making films. He has been one of my all time favourites..
5 years after their super successful outing together, Ajay Devgan and Aishwarya Rai returned to celluloid (ignoring a stupid film in between, which i don’t remember) with veteran Bengali director Rituporno Ghose’s maiden Hindi film “Raincoat”. Shot in approximately 3 weeks, with a stringent budget and majorly in one apartment, this tribute to O Henry’s hugely popular short story “The Gift of the Magi” is a dialogue drama of two star struck lovers who still bear out everything in their lives at the altar of the love they had sacrificed but still cherish the most.. Pooja Bhatt once said in an interview, she watched Raincoat with only 25 other people in a theatre but at the end of the film, everyone in the hall stood up and applauded!! Surely Aishwarya’s finest performance till date, with commendable support from Annu Kappor, Mouli Ganguly and of course Ajay Devgan, “Raincoat” is a love to treasure…
At least 20 years ahead of it’s time, this Vijay Anand classic based on R. K. Narayan’s critically acclaimed novel of the same name, Guide is now considered a masterpiece and even screened at Cannes 42 years after its release.. Forbidden love is like the forbidden fruit, and you cannot help feeling fascinated by it.. Raju and Rosie’s love story is an epitome of that fact.. Dev Anand as Raju the guide and Waheeda Rehman as Rosy – the battered housewife to a superstar, bring the two characters alive on screen.. I am actually at a loss of words trying to convey this film’s beauty and would only shift to the next best thing about the movie – its music.. Possibly one of the best Bollywood albums ever, Guide is rare piece of art that has only tasted critical acclaim but not popular support.. If you like good Indian movies, make sure this is on your ‘must watch’ list..
Another tale of romance, ahead of its time and adorned with awesome songs.. Abhimaan traces the misunderstanding in a relation when a rustic but finely talented Uma brushes past her superstar urbane singer husband Subir.. Hrishikesh Mukherjee, one of the most versatile directors ever, does what he is known best for — sketches strong characters and dramatic scenes.. Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan as the couple are fabulous, but then so are Asrani and Bindu (especially because she is remembered mostly for her vampish roles).. Years later, Karan Johan tried to emulate the lead track in his finest film till now – Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, but not meting equal success.. No doubt its serious cinema, but it is even more pertinent in today’s world when a whole lot of wives are more talented and successful than their husbands..
It’s surprising that despite the thousands of love stories that Bollywood has churned out, my top 2 favourites are not typically Bollywood – while one was dubbed for larger audience, the other was kind of a cross-over Hinglish.. But they are such fine pieces of cinema, that ignoring them would be sinful..
I fell in love with Madhoo while watching Roja, and I am sure most guys would have.. (I rarely liked Madhoo in any of her other films).. But this was special.. This was Mani Ratnam, and at the master’s peak.. Obviously what makes the film also very memorable is that it launched India’s musical maestro – A R Rahman.. Like many of Ratnam’s films, Roja also deals with terrorism and violence, but at the heart of it lies an engimatic tale of love — a woman’s struggle to find her husband — overcoming language barriers, cultural differences and political hassles.. She pulls all strings to save her husband from terrorists – the same husband whom she despised in the beginning.. Arvind Swamy became an object of fancy for all Indian women after this film.. And Pankaj Kapur as the conscientious freedom fighter of Kashmir is understated and brilliant.. Roja makes you smile, breaks your heart, scares you and moves you to tears..
01 Mr and Mrs Iyer
Aparna Sen is one of the few female film-makers we have around today.. While her counterparts Deepa Mehta and Mira Nair have operated mainly from West ala US, she has also made films from West ala Bengal.. Not that all her films are equally brilliant, but she peaked some altogether different level with Mr and Mrs Iyer.. Might be the luck factor of working with her daughter for the first time, director Sen made an amazing story of love and honour come alive on screen.. In the face of communal violence breeds an unconventional love between a Hindu Tamilian house-wife and her Muslim co-passenger whom she saves by claiming him as her husband.. Will not reveal the story any further, but the last scene when Meenakshi waves off Raja saying “Goodbye Mr Iyer” would give you goosebumps as much as it gave to me.. Rahul Bose, India’s art-film specialist does a commendable performance but it’s Konkona Sen Sharma as Meenakshi Iyer (in one of her earlier performances) who snatches the show away in most cases.. But what stays with you is a love so understated yet so palpable.. The moments are strong and so is their growing mutual desire, that you want them the married woman to break her marriage and be with this man, though her husband is nowhere at fault.. Many of you might not have watched this, but please do..
There are an abundant number of films I wanted to include but could not – for some reason or other.. as of now, these are the top picks I can come up with.. And sincerely hope that we have some stories that can supersede any of these 10.. )