If you’re in the mood for some feel-good cinema magic that will make your heart skip a beat, you’re at the right place! From epic love sagas that span generations to charming tales of star-crossed lovers, Bollywood romances have an undeniable charm that’ve captivated audiences around the world. But today, we’re exploring films that delve deeper into the complexities of relationships, celebrating the power of love and the human spirit.
What sets these films apart is their ability to evoke a range of emotions, from heartache to happiness, often in the span of a single scene. Whether it’s the longing gazes, the playful banter, or the subtle gestures of love, these romances tug at our heartstrings and leave us yearning for more.
Now, Bollywood primarily thrives on the romantic genre and among this humongous collection, lie some rare gems. Quickly then, here are some of the most well-crafted Bollywood romances.
1. Cheeni Kam (2007)
R Balki’s classic romantic comedy has an interesting premise: a 64-year old chef (Amitabh Bachchan) falls in love with a 34-year-old software engineer (Tabu). The fun and complications begin when he discovers that the father of the girl is 6 years younger to him. It sets you up for some hilarious situations. There are some classic tropes and some original ideas in here.
What’s commendable is that the film manages to go beyond its light-heartedness and give us well-written characters. We get to see a charmingly funny side of our ‘angry young man’ Amitabh Bachchan who outdoes himself in every film. A rom-com might not be up his alley you might think. Think again!
Where to Watch: Zee5
2. Good Night Good Morning (2010)
Sudhish Kamath’s critically acclaimed indie romance is a night-long conversation between strangers Turiya and Moira who bump into each other on a New Year’s night. Bollywood has rarely pulled off character-driven films well. And Good Night Good Morning is a beautiful lesson in how to carry such a film with ease and aplomb. It takes us back to the Before Sunrise trilogy. Except its setting, though, and the fact that it follows two strangers, the two are uniquely different films.
Turiya and Moira are believable characters, their conversations real and organic and the film is all heart. The voice-over in the trailer sums it up best. “If you have ever been in love or ever hope to be in love, here’s a story you will love with all your heart.”
Where to Watch: iTunes
3. The Lunchbox (2013)
Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox featuring Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a rare Bollywood film that has won hearts both on the homeground and overseas. As an original piece of filmmaking, it depicts an unusual friendship that takes birth through a mistake made by Mumbai’s tiffin carrier service. There is a saying that goes: “The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world.” Picking up that sentiment we jump into a movie that transforms two worlds while winding them together with a misdelivered lunchbox.
Here perhaps, the right ‘dabba’ went to the right man. A beautiful relationship is born of this happy coincidence and that one lunchbox connects two very different people in an epistolary bond. Their daily exchanges and the comical back and forths are innocently simple yet deeply touching. The minimalist tale hides within itself a timeless love story for the ages.
Watch The Lunchbox
4. Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015)
Director: Sharat Katariya
Sharat Katariya’s very unconventional romantic comedy Dum Laga Ke Haisha, starring Ayushmann Khurana and Bhumi Pednekar is a valiant yet beautiful battle against stereotype. The movie is a love letter to life itself. It preaches the existence of love in all forms. The physical is pushed aside in the final message, providing us with a clear contrast between the physical itself and the platonic. This clear distinction then becomes a staunch critique on the societal and normalised standards of beauty.
And this too is achieved so wonderfully and subtly that you could go the entire movie without feeling the usual social justice cringe that goes along with such titles. That is what separates it from its contemporaries. Yes, it has a social message; yes, it questions predetermined and prejudiced standards; but at its core, it is a pure, pulsating romance.
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5. Hasee Toh Phasee (2014)
Director: Vinil Mathew
The insanely funny and quirky romantic comedy drama, directed by Vinil Mathew and starring Sidharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra, is a refreshing watch. It is one of the most funniest yet soulful romcoms from Bollywood. The touch of the new/modern cinema is evidently clear from the way in which the movie has been stylised and presented. There’s humour, though subtle and extremely effective. The film maintains a pace of its own and lets us gradually in.
The characters are real. The romance is honest and unpretentious. The film pulsates with a heart. That’s what helps us connect as a viewer. The intelligence of the audience is respected as we are never offered a polarised view of things. The characters and the scenarios are approached from multiple angles and every character gets ample room for an individualistic as well as collective growth. The most interesting thing is that the movie takes on themes that are quite complicated but exploits the comic aspect so well that the underlying darkness is completely blurred out by the jovial and cheerful performances.
6. Choti Si Baat (1976)
Director: Basu Chatterjee
Choti Si Baat is a remarkable piece of work, which is considered one of Basu Chatterjee’s finest. The movie also cemented Amol Palekar’s career in comic roles. The type of comedy that the movie employs is a comedy of manners. It takes popular stereotypes and triumphantly thwarts them. The movie displays our protagonist as an extremely shy person who literally stalks the girl who he saw and fell in love at first sight. A contrast to his very introverted personality is provided in the form of an office colleague to the woman.
This man is everything our protagonist is not. He is smooth, smart and confident. He emerges as a potential love rival to our main character. But things do not stop there. Our protagonist seeks the help of another very comical character who has vowed to help the cause of true love. He must undergo a rigorous grooming in order to build up his personality and stand up to the woman he so loves. Now, these parts are particularly hilarious as we see the man stifled and gasping for breath in an environment that is completely unknown to him, treading upon uncharted territory just for love.
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7. Socha Na Tha (2005)
Director: Imtiaz Ali
Critics loved it but the box office snubbed it. The film was a commercial failure, possibly because it had no big names to boast of or bring audience to the theatres. It was a first for director Imtiaz Ali and actor Abhay Deol, while Ayesha Takia had two flops behind her, the same year. It was much later when moviegoers warmed up to it.
Socha Na Tha is a simple film at its core. Our leads Viren and Aditi, through the arranged marriage route, are set up for a date. It’s not love at first sight for them. But there’s a spark ignited. Over the passage of time, the film explores that spark until they eventually do fall in love. The story, like I said, is ultra-simplistic. The magic lies in the masterful execution. Imtiaz Ali has outdone himself with this film as he portrays a seemingly minimalist story with such charm and honesty, it stays with you long after you finish watching it.
Socha Na Tha is mainstream romance done right. And our master storyteller is among the very few who nail this genre.
8. Jab We Met (2007)
Director: Imtiaz Ali
The second Imtiaz Ali movie on this list (he truly can create timeless romantic classics), Jab We Met, stars Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor, who share a great chemistry onscreen, if not offscreen and are brilliant actors.
Another gem from the great storyteller, Jab We Met was the defining film of Imtiaz’s career. It had everything going for itself. Well-written characters, memorable performances, crackling chemistry and a solid script that was well narrated. Most importantly, it had a heart! Kareena immortalized Geet (which was at one point the title of the film) and Shahid Kapoor finally delivered his first major hit. It spawned several remakes and clones, but nothing matched the success of this modern love epic.
The film acted as a breath of fresh air in an industry that was oversaturated with cliched and conventional romantic tropes. Tropes that were becoming more cringe-y with every passing year. Jab We Met helped break the monotony. This was one of the few Bollywood romances where the characters were equally well explored.
9. Wake Up Sid (2009)
Director: Ayan Mukerji
Another modern classic that refuses to grow stale is this coming-of-age drama comedy. Wake Up Sid is a story of young, carefree, urban boy Siddharth Mehra whose life transforms after falling in love with a woman, who happens to be a writer. A woman with dreams, aspirations and a path cut out for herself. Unlike Sid, who’s still lost and hasn’t tried to figure out life yet. Not until he meets this woman. She gives him a new perspective to life. A reason to live. With believable characters and an indie flavour, Wake Up Sid feels fresh in every viewing.
The real magic of the movie lies within the multidimensional characters who can be identified as real, breathing people. The movie has a lot of heart poured into it as we witness an unlikely romance and a form of character development that is rarely seen in Bollywood movies that are marketed as romantic comedies. The movie develops on the unlikely couple dynamics with an amazing pacing. It masks itself as a journey in search of oneself, but while finding one’s soul, one is often brought to the door of one’s soulmate.
By Deepjyoti Roy
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