Happy Valentine's Day! It's a day roundly ignored by Bollywood (unless you count this assault by the Rajshris and some other token attempts featuring red, heart-shaped balloons). Proof that Valentine's Day is not big on the Bollywood calendar is that none of the Khans are falling over themselves to release a film on this day. Sadly, it seems that while our movies are full of love stories, cutaways to flowers and coitus, the maroon occasion of Valentine's Day has not yet bloomed on our screens.
Part of the reason for this could be that romance in Bollywood is stuck in a time warp. If we look at iconic romances onscreen, the list would include films like Barsaat, Devdas, Mughal-E-Azam, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Bobby, Lamhe, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Maine Pyar Kiya and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Basically no film made in the last 20 years makes the cut. Maybe Jab We Met or Kuch Kuch Hota Hai could squeeze in, but it would be a stretch.
Clearly, we need a love story for this age. Something that captures the amorous zeitgeist of our complex times. Something relatable. Call me unimaginative, but though I can watch Anarkali's namesake kurta swirling in the Sheesh Mahal umpteen times, I don’t think her conundrum quite reflects our current struggles with Cupid. Romance in Bollywood needs a makeover before it’s relegated to the background like an overweight junior artist.
So here is a list of things that, for starters, could kick off the process:
Embrace how technology is shaping love
Facebook has started making regular cameos in Bollywood films only in the last two or three years. At this rate, it will take a couple of decades before Tinder features in a film. Would it be so bad if Bobby swiped right on Raj’s profile and they ended up meeting?
Retire the last minute train catching sequence
If I see one more arm-extended-train-catching sequence, it is possible that I will go down the route of Aaron Ralston in 127 hours. Let’s assume Simran was not secretly training for the Standard Chartered marathon and didn’t make it into the train, what would have happened in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and every other film that has followed in its footsteps? For that matter, what’s with the mad dash to the airport? Why are Hindi movies so against travel agents and online bookings and web check-ins?
Get used to homosexuality
Stop featuring queer characters for mere comic effect (looking at you, Student of the Year) or as trophies (looking at you, Madhur Bhandarkar). Don’t be sly about pushing the envelope (looking at you, Dostana). Wake me up when an A-list star plays a gay character.
Stop the lip sync
There is something very anachronistic about a hero/heroine breaking into a lip sync song in this day and age, especially since the playback singers’ voices don’t really match the heroes’ speaking voices. Lip sync sticks out like a sore thumb. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Songs are great, but lip syncing needs to go. It’s dissonant and never feels authentic.
Professions: Did Geet in Jab We Met have a job? She was a teacher in the time that she was lovelorn. However when she was chirpy, she had no job. So maybe the two are related. What did Simran in DDLJ want to be professionally? What does Anjali in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai do, apart from teaching summer school? Does Veera in Highway have a job? The answers to all of these are vague or in the negative. Love stories in Bollywood seem to believe that being in love is a professional occupation for a woman, thereby making an actual job redundant. It would make for more rounded characters if a professional life was at least hinted at with some degree of authenticity.
Pucker up, but skilfully
And finally, while this is not a prerequisite, could our heroes and heroines please learn to start kissing better onscreen? Every time a hero lunges forward for a kiss, I am reminded of a swimming instructor administering CPR. Offscreen, I doubt any of them have any inhibitions or lack of skill when it comes to the tongue tango, but in front of the camera a kiss on the lips is enacted as if a gun is being held to the actors’ heads. It probably speaks to the last vestiges of prudery that dictates what's kosher for a star to do. If our filmi PDA begins to look convincing, maybe our love stories will follow suit?
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Updated Date: Feb 16, 2015 09:44:31 IST