Can Bollywood handle a complicated heart?

First Cut
7 February 2012

Can Bollywood handle a complicated heart? As far as love stories are concerned, with a few exceptions, Bollywood usually loves to play it simple. Some of our favourite Bollywood romances follow an uncomplicated plot, a predictable conflict and a simplistic resolution.

Whether it was K. Asif's 'Mughal-e-Azam', Raj Kapoor's 'Bobby', Mansoor Khan's 'Qayamat Se Qayamet Tak' or Aditya Chopra's 'Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge', parents have always been responsible for the conflict. The resolution has therefore been simple; rebel and elope or convince the parents that you were always the right choice.

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If only matters of the heart had such easy resolution. Only a select few filmmakers have dared to dabble in more complex issues. Vijay Anand's 'Guide' for example, dealt with an unusual premise, where a guide falls in love with a unhappily married woman; while she manages to walk out on her marriage, her new relationship becomes complicated and unhappy.

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Karan Johar's 'Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna' had a promising premise of infidelity and finding love outside marriage but Kjo has the tendency to gloss over anything that is remotely discomfiting. So we end up with melodrama, culminating in this completely ridiculous climax where the ex-husband (Abhishek Bachchan) asks his ex-wife (Rani Mukherjee), who cheated on him, to go and find her true love.

Imtiaz Ali's love stories hold promise: the approach is simple enough but the characters are conflicted. In 'Socha Na Tha', Abhay Deol and Ayesha Takia are sure that arranged marriage is not for them and yet they fall in love after they get engaged to other people. In 'Jab We Met', Kareena is convinced that she wants to marry her long-time boyfriend and yet she falls out of love when he's remorseful.

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Ali's later films have become more experimental with the plot and the story-telling. In 'Love Aaj Kal', a modern couple rationally gets together and mutually decides to break-up. However, when they both decide to move on, they don't ration for the fact that love will intervene, especially after the girl gets married. When Ali made 'Rockstar', it was quite obvious that he did not care about the demands of the market. 'Rockstar' questioned the notions of rightdoing and wrongdoing. Is there really a right and a wrong when you fall in love?

Are Hindi love stories finally moving on from the set Bollywood formula? Are we ready to experiment with different love stories?

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You can also connect with me in Twitter.
Read my review of Rockstar.

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