Which was the last Hindi romantic movie that you truly cherished? A movie that you could watch often and recommend it to your friends. A movie that reinstated your belief in romance. That love exists and it’s just a matter of time before it happens to you.
If you haven’t come across a movie lately that fits your idea of romance, then your wait might just end on this Friday with the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Or it may not.
The word romance holds a different meaning for each one of us. Each day, we steal away some moments from work life to think about this other ‘version’- that life could have been. Reading Jane Austen novels. Sipping a glass of wine. A long conversation with an old friend. After all, who wouldn’t want to romance life in all its possibilities?
Movies fill that vacuum to a large extent. And what could be a better antidote for breaking the daily monotony of life than watching a truly romantic movie? However, of late there has been a dearth of romance on screen. We have been too caught up with exploring different genres and themes – biopics, fantasy and so on.
It’s not as if filmmakers aren’t making any movies around love. What’s lacking in these movies is, however, romance. The romance has been replaced with the story of two adventure-seeking people who don’t want to be in a relationship. Pick any recent romantic movie – Tamasha, Shudh Desi Romance, Baar Baar Dekho and now Befikre — and you will find something familiar in each one of them.
What’s more worrisome is the stereotyping of young people as ‘casual’, and ‘carefree’ and always in ‘party mood’ in these movies. Labeling these characters as someone who has no goal in life and spends most of his time in a disco is far from reality.
Unlike these characters, young people do want to fall in love and invest their time and money to find a meaningful relationship. They do party but also work.
It seems like filmmakers are toying with all the new, beautiful things that modernity has lavished on this generation without understanding warp and waft of love in today’s time. That’s a lot of work and demands a keen understanding of our times. That’s why you see these wild, free characters on-screen but not those vulnerabilities and complexity that come with that freedom.
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil seems to be an archetypal Karan Johar film. However, this time his characters have got more layers (at least it looks from the trailer) and are far edgier. They look more mature.
And that’s a relief. For a change, you see Ranbir Kapoor talking about this unrequited love. Anushka Sharma’s character might seem cynical when she says—pyaar mein junoon hai, dosti mein sukoon hai. But you also see her different side in Channa Mereya song, that look of maybe – what if I have been in love for all this while.
The importance of emotions, feelings, and heartbreak can’t be denied. They are very much part of our lives as they were 20-30 years ago. It’s just that emotions and feelings have taken a backseat. We have pushed ‘romance’ a little lower on our priority list. We have just got better hiding our need of love.
Our filmmakers need to scratch that surface and look beyond. The emotional depth and range of human relationships that one sees in Hollywood romances including Closer, Before Sunrise, The Reader, Atonement, The Revolutionary Road, The English Patient and for that matter even a Pride and Prejudice are conspicuously absent from our movies.
Karan Johar’s movies celebrate life. His movies are essentially about small pleasures that we seek secretly while toiling all day in office. A family gathering, a happy picnic, bright colorful parties, good conversation, long walks and the list goes on. His last full-fledged romantic movie was Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. That was the year 1998. But this is a different time.
With a good-looking ensemble and grooving dance numbers, there are all possibilities that Ae Dil Hai Mushkil could do well at box office. But will ADHM get acceptance of the audience? Will people add this movie DVD to their shelf? Will audience give it the same love that they did to a DDLJ or Jab We Met?
Those are some of the challenges before Karan Johar or any filmmaker endeavoring to depict a new-age romance on screen.