With the onset of social media, we have been made hyper-conscious about labels and days like never before. Originally a western concept, Valentine’s Day is now a phenomenon in both South Asian and South-East Asian cultures, including India. However, since human beings are inherently the same all over the world, the emotion of love that is celebrated around this day, is cherished among all societies. Nevertheless, manifestations of this universal emotion vary from one culture to another, giving rise to a plethora of cinema and songs around it. We have put together a curation of some of the most beautiful love stories made in India, which explore the sentiment in a manner that is universal. Have a look!
I. Annayum Rasoolam
The Malayalam movie Annayum Rasoolam revolves around the love story between Rasool (Fahadh Faasil), a Muslim taxi driver and Anna (Andrea Jeremiah), a Latin Christian girl working at an apparel shop. Their love story takes shape during her boat rides from Vypeen to the city. Rasool sees her on the boat and stalks her everywhere, in which he is helped by his client, Ashley (Sunny Wayne), who is Anna’s neighbour. The story is told through the narration of Ashley as he recollects the events that happened in Kochi. Their love story is the crux around which other events unfold in the movie. Glimpses of the life led by those in the lower strata of society are shown. We see one of Rasool’s friends, Abu, married with kids, and earning odd jobs for a living, besides indulging in delinquent behaviour. Their love story is explored in greater detail at the end of the movie, unlike the first half of the film where nothing much happens between them besides the exchange of a few glances and smiles.
Thoovanathumbikal is a Malayalam romantic drama film written and directed by P. Padmarajan. It is partly based on his own novel, Udakappola. It revolves around the double life led by the protagonist, Mohanlal, and his attraction for two starkly different women. One important aspect of the movie is its exploration of identity and the various layers we have within ourselves. While working on his farm one day, Jayakrishnan becomes re-acquainted with Radha, a distant relative he hasn’t seen since childhood. Radha’s no-nonsense attitude immediately attracts him and he soon falls for her. However, Radha rejects him, after which he falls for a girl named Clara, whom he met through a curious turn of events involving his friend, Thangal, a pimp. The most beautiful thing about the film is the way the director plays with the rain symbolism each time Mohanlal meets Clara. However, it does not rain at the final meeting between Clara and Jayakrishnan, symbolizing an end to their on-and-off relationship.
Swayamvaram is a 1972 Indian Malayalam-language drama film co-written and directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan. The film depicts the life of a couple—Vishwam and Sita —who have married against their parents’ wishes and want to start a new life at a new place. The title is an allusion to the ancient Indian practice of a girl of marriageable age choosing a husband from among a list of suitors. The film begins with the introduction of the two principal characters of the film traveling in the bus with other passengers. The entire scene can be interpreted as a journey, which Vishwanath and Sita are about to embark upon, one that will be filled with hardship. The other members of the society, just like the passengers of this vehicle, will not give a damn about their situation. The scene ends abruptly with a stop signal on the road and in the next scene we find the characters in an elevator of a hotel, which in a way implies that they are now placed in a new environment from where they have to take care of one another. From now on, they will also be responsible for the effects of their own actions and choices. The film is an exploration of how two people in love navigates the realities of life. With the death of Vishwanath, Sita is left alone with her baby. The final scene of the film fades in with Sita preparing the milk bottle for her child. As she is feeding milk to her child, the rumbling noise of the storm is heard outside. A dilemma faces her & she needs to make one final decision. She can either stay with the family of the old accountant, or go back to her parents or earn her livelihood as a prostitute.
IV. Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi
Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi is a masterpiece of Malyalam cinema directed by Samir Thahir. Inspired by The Motorcycle Diaries, it is based on the early life and travels of Che Guevara. The film revolves around Kasi and Suni who go on a road trip from Kerala to Nagaland. They travel to Orissa via Bangalore and Vizag where they are attacked by bandits. There, Kasi develops an attraction for a surfer named Ishita. The rest of the film revolves around their travails around India, and how they navigate the communal tensions throughout their journey together.
One of the classics of Hindi cinema, Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa is a nuanced take on the clash between the materialistic world and that of the inner life of an individual. The theme is given shape through the life of the poet, Vijay, whose works are not taken seriously by publishers or his brothers. The world’s indifference to his artistic vision is established in a prologue depicting Vijay composing a poem. The symbolism of the nature imagery depicting a bee that has been flitting from one flower to another suddenly being crushed by a passing stranger is one of the most revealing moments of the film. Eventually, he falls in love with a prostitute named Gulabo, in whom he finds an admirer for his poems. A series of unfortunate events lands him in a mental asylum, after which the story draws to a conclusion with Vijay bidding farewell to the worldly life. He gets married to Gulabo to start a new life untainted by corruption and materialism.
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