The celluloid love story continues to change form and shape

‘Love' is probably one of the most overused, overrated and misunderstood words in the English vocabulary. Pop culture has explored it using many layers — sex, betrayal and much more — but the thought that it can be understood is a misnomer. The love story has grown, been degraded, and been put on a pedestal, and it is still evolving. When it comes to old-time romances, this scene from Aradhana flashes bright. An infuriated Sharmila Tagore misdirects a bucketful of water on Rajesh Khanna and calls him her servant. He just smiles and says, “Camera nahi hai mere paas, varna ek gazab ka photograph zaroor mil jaata....” NTR sings Aduvari matalaku ardhale veru le in Missamma. The romance is subtle. Raj Kapoor's tryst with his several loves and his ailing heart in Mera Naam Joker tugs at more than one heart string; as does the simplicity of Kamal Hassan's unrequited love in Sagara Sangamam when he shields the bindi on her forehead from getting washed away in the rain.

We loved Tom Cruise as an action hero from the moment he stepped on to the screen, but he really became a hero when he said, “You complete me.” Stevie Wonder tugged at our heart when he sang that there were no chocolate covered candy hearts to give away. Rhett Butler broke our hearts and won our respect when he said, “Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.” Nidhi Sampath, a 19-year-old ‘romantic fool', says she shed a tear watching Love Actually when Mark uses cue cards to tell Juliet (his best friend's wife) that he loves her. Nidhi admits that her outlook towards love has been carved out by pretty much what she watches and reads.

Love has always been the central theme of the grand idea called life. Films, books and television have explored love lost, love gained and plain unrequited love. The love story is getting a make-over. There aren't any villains anymore. The real villains are the egos or their inability to act upon the feelings.

Sandhya Nair, maker of short films, agrees. “The 80s saw a build-up of larger-than-life love stories using grand gestures. Mothers and fathers were the most obvious villains but now stories are slowly changing.” Godavari and Anand put an old wine in a sparkly new bottle and that is much appreciated, she adds. Even the telly has adopted a trend of unique love stories with Kuch toh Log Kahenge, Bade Ache Lagte Hain, Phulwa, which shows a relationship between a cop and a dacoit, and Maryada, which brings in the aspect of gay love.

We might have always marketed romance, but we're constantly revisiting the old-world experiences of love. Facebook may be where you find love now, but Bollywood sticks to love at first sight. Also, let's not bury the bus-stop romance, says Sandhya. Films like Love Aajkal, Break ke Baad, Mere Brother ki Dulhan, and Jaane Tu ya Jaane Na have been inspired by fresh-brewed ideas of romance. But the music traces its roots back to lyrically strong songs. Pehli baar mohabbat from Kaminey, Aahatein from Ek Main aur Ekk Tu and Shaam from Aisha or the soft tunes from Kotha Bangaru Lokam and Orange have recharged the demand for melodies.

Ideas of love have always been sold to us and we have happily bought them, interpreting love in myriad ways, hoping we have bested it. In a corner, there is a fresh new story brewed and as always we're standing in queue waiting to lap it up.

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