LOVE AAJ KAL
CineBlitz|February 2020
Tragic to comic, realistic to fantastical, historical to contemporary, dreamboat heroes to feisty heroines, much-loved to much-debated — we pick the best of Bollywood reel romances over the last 20 years to celebrate the month of love.

Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai (2000)

Director: Rakesh Roshan

Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Ameesha Patel

It was twice the romance with a double dose of a new hunk who caught the fancy of women and the envy of men even before the film hit the theatres thanks to the trailer that showcased those drool-worthy muscles and magic moves. Rohit Sharma, Hrithik Roshan’s first avatar in the film — a poor innocent boy who falls in love with a rich innocent girl Sonia (Ameesha Patel) and gets killed for his transgression — might be the sweeter of the two, but it was undoubtedly the sexy swagger of Raj from New Zealand that sent the nation into a tizzy.

KNPH was an age-old story of ill-fated romance, revenge and the triumph of love, but the rage called Hrithik — rocket-launched by Papa Roshan — makes it a must on such a love list.

Saathiya (2002)

Director: Shaad Ali

Starring: Rani Mukerji, Vivek Oberoi

Love is more than a thrilling pursuit, a passionate affair or a forbidden marriage. It is also about misunderstandings, compromises and the hard yards, and Saathiya captured that side of love beautifully. Vivek Oberoi’s Aditya and Rani Mukerji’s Suhani’s romance starts the way most romances started in the pre-mobile phone and pre-social media era. A chance meeting, some sleuthing, helpful friends and phone calls to the local shop set the stage for a thrilling love story between a middleclass girl and a rich boy. They go against parental wishes and get married believing that their love for each other would be enough to live happily ever after. But reality bites and the pulls and pressures of daily life cause cracks in the fairytale romance. But true love wins all — ultimately — and Aditya and Suhani’s story is no different. What sets Shaad’s directorial debut apart, other than the stupendous A.R. Rahman soundtrack of course, is the very real depiction of “the after” of grand screen romances and how marriage is not a destination but a journey that needs as much labour as it does love.

Veer-Zaara (2004)

Director: Yash Chopra

Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukerji

Shah Rukh Khan is known as the ‘king of romance’ for a reason — think Mohabbatein to Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Devdas to Jab Tak Hai Jaan since 2000 — but it is VeerZaara that makes it to our top 20. Spanning decades, this story of two star-crossed lovers — Indian Air Force pilot Veer Pratap Singh (Shah Rukh Khan) and Zaara Hayat Khan (Preity Zinta), daughter of a Pakistani political leader — torn apart by two countries in conflict is an epic tale told Yash Chopra-style. Veer and Zaara meet in India and fall in love but Zaara is promised to someone else. When Veer travels to Pakistan to rescue Zaara, he is falsely implicated and imprisoned. His dark tale comes to light and life 22 years later thanks to a lawyer, Saamiya Siddiqui (Rani Mukerji). Veer-Zaara endure long years of separation and then reunite after a stirring monologue on love conquering all by SRK in a Pakistani court. The songs composed by Madan Mohan and sung by Lata Mangeshkar underlined the soulful experience.

Hum Tum (2004)

Director: Kunal Kohli

Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerji

Fun and fresh, this Saif Ali Khan-Rani Mukerji starrer gave the romcom genre in Bollywood the jolt it needed and won Saif his first National Film Award. Loosely based on the iconic Hollywood film When Harry Met Sally, Karan and Rhea’s transnational love story made us laugh, swoon and sniffle. Saif’s flirty cartoonist was believable and adorable, instantly captivating the female audience while Rani as a feisty but propah fashion designer was someone every man wanted to take home to mom. Their relationship graph, from strangers to antagonists to friends and then lovers, sent every romantic heart soaring. The Jatin-Lalit soundtrack complemented the refreshing treatment of romance with a peppy Ladki kyon and a soulful Hum tum.

Paheli (2005)

Director: Amol Palekar

Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukerji

Who knew ghosts could be romantic and hot? In this fantasy film based on a Rajasthani folk tale, the King of Bollywood takes on a double role — one as Kishan, a merchant who leaves behind his wife for work the day after their marriage, and the other as a ghost who falls in love with the abandoned wife Lachchi (Rani Mukerji). The ghost takes the form of Kishan and thus begins a passionate love story between the two. SRK and Rani shine bright as one of Bollywood’s most powerful on-screen couples, this time amidst Rajasthani havelis. Backed by a stellar supporting cast and Dheere jalna by Sonu Nigam, the film is an emancipated and empowered portrayal of a woman’s quiet quest for love and happiness. The truly unconventional storyline sets the film apart. If only we had a ghost lover of our own too — and in the form of SRK!

Jab We Met (2007)

Director: Imtiaz Ali

Starring: Kareena Kapoor Khan, Shahid Kapoor

A feisty Punjabi girl (Kareena Kapoor Khan) wins the heart of a brooding businessman (Shahid Kapoor) and makes us fall in love with love in one of the best romances to come out of Bollywood in the last two decades. No one does romance quite like Imtiaz Ali, whose debut film, Socha Na Tha (2005), was a serious contender for this list too. A simple storyline, a standout character and a soul-stirring soundtrack made JWM an unforgettable experience. The onscreen chemistry of Kareena and Shahid was on fire and the fact that they had split up in real life by the time the film released, made it that much more absorbing. But if there was one thing that stood out, it was Kareena’s portrayal of the innocent, irrepressible, talking-a-mile-a-minute Geet. Geet humari bhi favourite hai!

Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na (2008)

Director: Abbas Tyrewala

Starring: Imran Khan, Genelia D’Souza

A love story that resonates with youngsters even after a dozen years, Jaane Tu… is a modern romance that is cool, funny and hip. Jai (Imran) is a nice, polite Rajput boy while his best friend Aditi (Genelia) is an aggressive and impulsive girl. The film traces their journey from friends to lovers in a refreshing take, launching Aamir Khan’s nephew as the new Chocolate Boy of Bollywood. With a perfect ensemble cast — think Naseeruddin Shah to Ratna Pathak Shah to Paresh Rawal — and catchy songs composed by A.R. Rahman that we still hum to this day, the film has become a cult classic among those who grew up with it. Jai and Aditi have become the friends we never had, and we can only hope to find a fun and heartfelt tale like theirs, airport climax and all! (P.S. Pappu still can’t dance sala.)

Love Aaj Kal (2009)

Director: Imtiaz Ali

Starring: Deepika Padukone, Saif Ali Khan, Rishi Kapoor

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