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Shades of Love - 25 great romances in Indian Cinema

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TRM Editors
February 13, 2014

If there’s one thing Indian cinema does better than any other film industry – it’s romance. While most Western films simply ‘cut to the chase’ and move on with the rest of the story, Indian films dish out delicious tit-bits of the love story like a seven course meal. At times too cheesy to digest and at others leaving you wanting for more.
So what will it be for you this Valentine’s Day? Whether you have gone all out and accessorized everything with a heart-shape or, you simply want to throw up at the sight of the letter ‘V’, there’s a movie to suit all your moods. And here’s our prescription for the shade of love that you may be feeling today.


Who wouldn’t empathize with Sunil’s pangs for Anna? Watch it for one of Shahrukh’s most adorable roles and the masterful direction by Kundan Shah, not to mention the mood-lifting music.



Timeless and heart-rending, Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa conveys the universal truth that ‘love is pain and love is the remedy’. Waheeda Rehman as the compassionate prostitute is a treat for sore eyes and India’s hair massage anthem “sar jo tera chakraye” will make all your headaches vanish.

Beyond Barriers



Yash Chopra is the synonym for Bollywood romance. Of all his magical love stories, Veera-Zaara stands out as a true epic. A love between an Indian man and a Pakistani woman is forbidden and punished – yet their feelings remain unblemished.

One of the rare Indian films that explores the idea of lovers who don’t understand each others’ languages – being North Indian and South Indian respectively. But they can still speak the language of love. Not recommended if you hate tragedies.

Lacking self-confidence

This hilarious comedy about the painfully shy Arun unable to muster the courage to tell Prabha how he feels about her, is a Basu Chatterjee classic. We love it for Arun’s constant efforts to get her attention and his hopelessness when the ultra-confident and suave Nagesh (Asrani) arrives and woos her.



Aamir singing ‘Kya karen, kya na karen’ on a moonlit street with his entourage of hoodlums, defines the love-struck and tongue-tied hero of Hindi cinema. His unspoken love for Mili who treats him as her best friend, is legendary.




So you’re that secret lover stalking your object of obsession waiting for the divine moment of truth to strike. This is the ‘what-not-to-do’ film that will help you keep your symptoms in check.



If you’re looking for a more recent take on obsession, here’s another one. Nothing has changed. You still need to get yourself checked.

BFF turned BF/GF

Oh Yes. Archie, Betty and Veronica starring in ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ = perfect ‘friends turned lovers’ romance. Your favorite stars, hip college campus, basketball and summer camps – fun, fun, fun!

Age no bar



Yash Chopra’s self proclaimed favorite is the controversial one-sided romance between a young girl and her father figure – a man who was deeply in love with her late mother. An intriguing premise handled with great care as only Mr. Chopra could.

Falling in love with an older woman is still a novelty in Indian films. Although Konkona Sen is playing a woman only in her late twenties opposite a recent college grad (Ranbir), it’s still scandalous enough by Bollywood standards. Watch it for its ‘cuteness’.

Marital bliss



When the film is about marriage, you know it’s headed for trouble! An iconic movie about a beautiful partnership disintegrating into professional rivalry, jealousy and distrust, Abhimaan is as popular for its great music as its subject matter.

The Tamil original of ‘Saathiya’ directed by Mani Ratnam is sworn by as a better and more effective version of the before-and-after marriage story. Why not give this one a try? The music by A. R. Rahman is easily one of his best.

Love and Loss



Rajesh Khanna was the original king of romance with his killer looks and blink-of-the-eyes seduction strategy. In this beloved film, his ‘Sapno ki rani’ Sharmila Tagore is left heartbroken and pregnant when he dies in an air-crash and what ensues is a life full of sacrifices and an undying love. And who can forget the sensual ‘Roop Tera Mastana’ – the song shot without any camera cuts.

Tum Bin


This film deserves props just for its surprising plot. A woman mourning the loss of her fiancé in a road accident, finds herself healing unknowingly in the company of the man who was behind the wheel in that accident. The song ‘koi fariyaad’ by Jagjit Singh is one of the greatest ghazals in modern Hindi cinema.

What can be said about this film that made a superstar of a newcomer overnight? Hrithik Roshan’s double role was no way enough for the audience. The dancing and music – followed by deep loss – followed by even better dancing and music…more please!

Young Love and Family feuds



The film that re-christened polka-dots as the ‘Bobby print’. The whirlwind romance between the bold and beautiful Dimple Kapadia and the original chocolate-boy Rishi Kapoor was a national sensation. Rich boy, poor girl, crazy love and their families are sworn enemies – perfect.

Much before Bhansali’s ‘Ram-Leela’, we had this more endearing and Indianised version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, with one of Bollywood’s most popular screen pairs making a debut that destined them to superstardom.

A Change of Heart

Jab We Met


Not all first loves are meant to last a lifetime. When Geet and Aditya meet, they are both in love with different people. However, their unexpected journey together brings them much closer to the meaning of life and true love. A modern day classic.

An unofficial remake of ‘It happened one night’ (later remade as ‘Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin’), this film saw the last of one of the most popular screen couples – Raj Kapoor and Nargis. Nargis plays the rich, spoiled daughter who runs away to marry the man of her choosing, much to the dismay of her father. On her way, she meets Sagar (Kapoor), a struggling journalist who wants to cover her story in return for keeping it a secret until she reaches her destination.




This novella by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay has been adapted for screen no less times than Romeo And Juliet. Whether you pick Dilip Kumar or Shahrukh Khan, there’s no denying that Devdas is the ultimate story of self-destruction due to regret in love.



Those of us who love Gulzaar’s work, know that Ijaazat is a masterpiece. Marriage for duty and the subsequent emotional effort to subdue a past relationship, is a complex emotion. The poignant song ‘Mera kuch saaman, tumhare paas pada hai’ is one of Gulzaar’s most profound poetries.


‘I could give my life for you’ is an often used phrase in love, but in Mughal-e-Azam, allegedly based on the true story of Prince Salim and his courtesan lover Anarkali, it is actualized. She was ready to give up her life for the love and honor of the Prince. Madhubala’s defiant ‘Pyar kiya toh darna kya’ is etched in people’s conscience ever since.

Mush and Gush

Finally! There can be no dispute that Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is the absolute godfather of romance in Indian cinema. The spoiled brat-meets-nice girl who’s about to get married, is the oldest story in the book. But then, never once having declared their love for each other, his arrival at a distant land to break up her marriage and somehow trick her dictator dad into letting her marry him, is too much relentless fun. It’s everyone’s dream love affair.

Not only did this movie bring audiences back to theaters (by not releasing simultaneously on home video), but it completely turned the tide from the horrendous, best-forgotten 80s to the delectable 90s and onwards. Two people falling in love right under the noses of the hundreds of relatives surrounding them was delightfully relatable to the Indian audience.

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