Love and illness have formed a strong bond over the years in Bollywood. There are quite a few Hindi movies that have played with the popular film tropes, sometimes to great success. And very soon, we will see Shoojit Sircar’s romantic drama October, dealing with the same issues. At least that is what the trailer suggests. The trend seems to be on the rise in the industry, especially if one takes the past few years into account. But Indian filmmakers have been exploiting the ‘genre’ for a considerable amount of time. Remember the 1975 film Mili?
Mili starred Jaya Bachchan and Amitabh Bachchan in lead roles. The film is about Mili, who suffers from a disease called pernicious anemia. Mili meets the alcoholic Shekhar (played by Amitabh Bachchan) and things take a starry turn. Shekhar falls hard for the girl with the cheerful attitude. And towards the end of the movie, we see the two make a trip abroad to get Mili treated.
In the 2002 Sanjay Leela Bhansali romantic period drama Devdas, Shah Rukh Khan drinks himself to death. A little twist here, what with love leading to illness–a complete destruction of the liver. In the 2004 film Phir Milenge, Salman Khan plays a character who has AIDS, who after a one-night-stand with Shilpa Shetty’s character, ends up transferring his unfortunate fate to the latter. The film was directed by Revathi and boats of a credible performance by Shilpa.
Years later, Farhan Akhtar played Karthik Narayan, a man with a dissociative personality disorder in the movie Karthik Calling Karthik. The performances of both Deepika Padukone and Farhan were convincing enough, and with a decent script at hand, the film delivered.
However, one of the films that one can’t help but discuss in such a piece is Onir’s wonderfully made My Brother…Nikhil. The premise of the movie is set in the late 80s when AIDS was much more of a taboo than it is now. Reportedly inspired by true events, the film received critical acclaim for dealing sensitively with AIDS. The movie deals with two kinds of love, the romantic sort, and the familial love. My Brother…Nikhil starred Sanjay Suri, Juhi Chawla, and Purab Kohli in significant roles.
Karan Johar’s 2010 film My Name is Khan was another movie that played with the subjects of love and illness. And it did so with a bang. The film starred SRK and Kajol in the lead, and after its release broke several box office records.
More recently, in 2014, Kalki Koechlin’s Margarita with a Straw earned quite the acclaim, thanks to great performances and the film’s screenplay. The film’s story revolves around Kalki’s character, who has cerebral palsy. The movie follows her journey as she struggles with her circumstances to find love.