Love aaj kal is no longer what our moms, dads or grandparents believed it to be. It’s evolved manifold with every passing decade and generation. This Valentine’s Day we look at some recent romances that discarded the fairy-tale ideals attached to the four-letter word.    

The schmaltzy thoughts one has on developing the first crush, surge of chemicals and emotions that take over after that first kiss, joie d vivre brought by first love, the pleasure of ‘saving oneself’ for the special someone and a happy marital life are cherished experiences and common expectations, but it no more encapsulates modern day mohabbat. The magical and beautiful expression is confusing, just like the social networking generation’s ever-changing relationship statuses.

So Aamir Khan revolting against his family and dying to be with the one he loves, Juhi Chawla, may not happen as there are many fishes in the sea to romance. Rich brat Salman Khan toiling in the fields to prove sacha pyaar for Bhagyashree is stuff that reads well in fairy tales. Shahrukh Khan trying every trick in the book to bring back his disgruntled wife, Rani Mukerji, demands far too much tolerance and patience. But that’s how love was envisioned in the movies back then. In those days prem kahaanis were filled with righteousness and had happy endings.

Contemporary pyaar isn’t so straight forward. It is complex – sometimes eye-popping – and trailblazing. But what’s fascinating is that the new-age filmmakers have been successfully chronicling the metamorphoses of love through their reel romances. Well, many movies from the past and present ventured into uncharted and controversial regions around the L word, but there are a few films that really redefine today’s pyaar, ishq aur mohabbat.

Old love diktat: First love is real love 

New: For the common man, who grew up watching Hum Log, Buniyaad, Mahabharat on Doordarshan and films like Ram Lakhan and Hero on VCR, their first romantic relationship culminated into marriage. But Anurag Kashyap confessed on Koffee With Karan that he envies Imtiaz Ali for magically weaving in the Sufi-style ishq in his love stories. Jab We Met’s Aditya Kashyap and Geet Dhillon loved dearly and lost bitterly, only to eventually discover that eternal romantic bliss lay in the arms of the stranger-turned-friend on a train. They weren’t meant to be together with the people they fell in love first.

Old love diktat: A person’s past romantic relationships hinders a happy future

New: Ali’s next film, Love Aaj Kal, glorified pehla pyaar. After an amicable break-up Jai and Meera move to different cities and hook up with other people. But both are constantly haunted by sweet memoires of their intense romance. So few frivolous relationships later, the two reunite as they couldn’t let anyone else in their hearts. What’s important is that the couple’s past love affairs didn’t evoke bitterness, anger or hatred towards each other. Jai and Meera do end up in the list of happily-ever-after couples, but are tad different.

Old love diktat: True love is based on emotional connection

New: Back in the day, emotional connection always preceded physical intimacy in love. We never ever saw Amitabhs, Dharmendras, Anils, Jackies or Khans explore sexual compatibility with their lovers onscreen. Young filmmaker Maneesh Sharma’s Shuddh Desi Romance dared to tell the truth about contemporary love as it is. It was the strong sexual craving for each other that brought together the confused Raghu and the bindaas Gayatri. After living-in together the couple faced compatibility problems and went through a round of break-ups and link-ups before having clarity about their real feelings for each other.

Old love diktat: Preserving one’s virginity is a virtue

New: While physical relationships before getting hitched was unaccepted in films in the 70s, 80s and 90s, saving one’s virginity signified pure and real love. Ishq wasn’t just a physical act but a spiritual connection. Tell that to the uber cool heroes and heroines of Homi Adajania Cocktail and Ayan Mukerjee’s Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani, and you get amazed and astonished expressions. Having ‘sleeping’ partners without being married has become cool, casual and kinda compulsory.

Old love diktat: Marriages can’t be broken

New: Unlike Amar (Sanjeev Kapoor) and Mansi (Sharmila Tagore) of Basu Bhattacharya’s Griha Pravesh or others of their ilk, the married couples in Karan Johar’s Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna didn’t try too hard to rekindle the romance in their relationship and reach reconciliation. They opted for the dreaded D (divorce) word and moved on to better partners with little guilt.

Old love diktat: Same sex couples don’t exist

New: Remember KJo is the one whose name is attached to some of most sugar-coated onscreen romances like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Kal Ho Naa Ho, etc? Post KANK though he dared to touch upon the controversial homosexual relationships in Dostana and Bombay Talkies. While Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham projected a fake gay relationship, Randeep Hooda and Saqib Saleem will go down in the Hindi film history for being the first men to kiss in Hindi cinema.

Old love diktat: Love is meant for young people

New: The movies that really turned over a new page in reel romances were R Balki’s Cheeni Kum and Bela Seghal’s Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi. Falling in love wasn’t just for pretty-young-and-handsome-people, and it made over-the-hill individuals singing love duets and dancing to mushy tunes look cute and romantic.

So as American author James Baldwin says, “Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is growing up.” Certainly the Hindi film industry has matured manifold when it comes to LOVE. And the process has just begun.

In the coming days there is an exciting mix of prem kahaanis like Highway, Shaadi Ke Side Effects and Bewakoofiyan, among others that will harp a different love note, but nonetheless beautiful and melodious!

By Rachana Parekh

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