Was watching Paheli on a lazy Sunday afternoon, an unconventional folk lore romance set in Rajasthan and was enjoying the experience just like my previous encounters with the movie! The leading man was so much better for me in this movie as compared to his over the top romantic mannerisms with the Chopras and the Johars. And I wondered why did he not do more offbeat movies like this.
That got me thinking. What are some of the best offbeat love stories that Bollywood has produced over ages that have really stayed on with me. Here are the five which were my top of the mind recall…
1. IJAAZAT – Now I know that many may not concur that Ijaazat was indeed a love story! But to me, what else would you call the absolutely eccentric chemistry between oh so adorable Maya and the very charming Mahender; or to the very matured Sudha and her affection towards Mahender and his responsibility towards her. This is Gulzaar’s story telling at its best, with the depth of relationships explored with unparalleled finesse; outstanding performances by all the three leads, aided by the best compositions of Pancham and Asha ever. And for relationships that get described through ‘geela man shayad bistar ke paas pada hain..’, how can one not fall in love with that pain over and over again?
2. LAMHE – A movie at least a decade ahead of its time if not more, and recalled as the personal favorite by Yash Chopra himself, Lamhe is a beautiful experience in totality! The stories of Pallavi, Viren and Pooja are all so natural, challenging every notion of conventionality and yet so matured at the same time. Powered by some of the most memorable dialogs (still remember quite a bit of it verbatim), and truly remarkable leading acts, this indeed was Yash Chopra romance coming of age and remains extremely relevant and fresh even today. And just like Ijaazat, this one had such a perfect end! I wish more and more commercial movies had the guts to tell such amazingly strong stories.
3. KAAGAZ KE PHOOL – This is Guru Dutt’s life legend told with equal grace and passion, and so poignantly enacted through the stories of Suresh and Shanti. The classic battle of love, reverence, ego, pain and solitude finds its beautiful portrayal in this real meets reel epic, and appropriately summarized through ‘waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam’. Unfortunate that such beautiful movies like this one or even Lamhe turn into box office disasters of its times invoking near bankruptcy for the makers but later get branded as cult classics for their sheer depth and merit!
4. MILI – It takes a Hrishikesh Mukherjee and all so natural first couple of Bollywood to tell the beautiful tale of friendship, love, strength and faith between Mili and Shekhar. The movie shows how emotions can be so simple, relatable and yet so deeply moving at the same time. It makes you laugh and cry with equal ease, lose your soul through ‘jab main raaton ko taare ginta hoon’, only leaving you behind to ask for more; so much so that the end shot actually leaves you somewhat short changed appearing like a hurried and half-baked closure to an otherwise beautiful tale!
5. GUIDE – Guide again is path breaking cinema. The story of Rosy and Raju is way ahead of its time again and is very eloquently portrayed by the breathtakingly beautiful leading protagonists. You empathise with the pain and longing of both Rosy and Raju in spite of all their faults, and can’t take sides when their love is all about ‘tu mujhse main dil se pareshaan dono hain majboor’. SD Burman possibly composes his best album ever with Guide and each gem of the album helps to take the story forward through its symphony of emotions!
Well, these were five of my most favorites when it comes to unconventional love stories of Bollywood. And yes, luckily there have been more of such offbeat romantic films through the times saving the cine-lovers from the boredom of clichéd love tales through the ages.
Even in the more recent times, one can only feel great that stories such has The Lunchbox, Jab We Met, Lootera, Barfi, or Highway are being told and appreciated as good cinema both commercially and critically! These are good times for cinema and cine lovers when the lines between commerce and creativity are getting blurred, more experimental stories are being told and enacted by the best and brightest of the industry.
Look forward to more and more of such offbeat love stories in the days and years to come…
What would be your favourites in this genre of unconventional love stories? Want to share?