The Hindi film industry is blessed with certain writers, directors and producers who do not shy away from talking about bold relationships. Today, they don’t think that they need a Paris runway to make a film work. It can just be about something we see everyday, something that the social eye generally ignores, something that is hidden, concealed. And relationships outside of social conduct are a good example of the same. Let us look at some of the films in Hindi cinema that talk about the same. (I know that I might get criticism regarding the fact that I’ve only chosen some recent films, but those are the ones I’ve actually watched and those that came to my mind when I thought about the topic).
Starting off with the latest release, Haraamkhor. Shweta Tripathi and Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Haraamkhor primarily deals with an illicit relationship between a teacher and a (minor) student and how he uses her just for the sake of sexual pleasure. This man is a very horny man, who if looks at Sandhya (Tripathi), you feel sorry for her. Now such relationships, or rather forced relationships do exist in our country, maybe not so much in places where people are educated enough, but they do exist in a large part of rural India. Even though the movie tells us that Sandhya is happy to be in that relationship, she actually isn’t. Shyam (Siddiqui) seems to have casted a veil over her and moreover, that is the only thing she knows. Early into the film we are told that he has tricked her into having a relationship with her by lying to her. Many people I discussed this film with said that this is a common thing to happen to uneducated people. But, wasn’t Sandhya already in a school and wasn’t Shyam a teacher? All the other characters – her father is in the police, the mistress is a nurse – are educated too. So it isn’t really about education. Sometimes, our desires go beyond what they actually should and we tend to break social boundaries. Shyam isn’t deprived of a sexual relationship. He already has one with his wife, but it’s his greed and horniness that drives him to fool Sandhya into believing in a thing called love.
The Dirty Picture
How far can a person go to get things his way? And more importantly, how long can he/she sustain on that? In The Dirty Picture, Vidya Balan played a very controversial character. Silk aroused a lot of questions and dilemmas in a lot of people’s heads. Her outlook towards life, and particularly towards her sexual life. She did not confine herself to men she would fall in love with. If work was getting done and as long as she was climbing the ladder, she’d do anything, whether it included sleeping with Naseeruddin Shah or even his younger brother, played by Tusshar Kapoor. But little did Silk’s innocence realise the grasp of these patriarchal men, one of whom is married. Little did she know that she would never be more than a mistress. But why does the human heart take a leap towards such a relationship? Is this a general merger of love and career or is the desire to be successful so strong that you travel such paths? Who is to be blamed here though, in both the relationships? The men or the woman? Is the drive for sexual pleasure so eager that you search for it outside of marriage?
Cheeni Kum & Fire
Cheeni Kum traced the lives of Buddhadev Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan), a 64 year old man and Nina (Tabu), a 34 year old engineer. In the film, Balki talks about the essence of love based on the fact that love knows no boundaries of age and time. What follows is Buddhadev falls in live with Nina and the only boundary that remains is her father (Paresh Rawal), who is 6 years younger to him.
On the other hand, in Deepa Mehta’s Fire, the first instalment in the Elements Trilogy, she talks about a very intimate relationship between two women – Sita (Nandita Das) and Radha (Shabana Azmi) – of the same house, as their husbands find solace in mistresses.
Now, how blind is love? Did this man not see that the woman he is about to fall in love with is almost half his age? Did Sita and Radha not think about the relationship they share as sisters-in-law? Or was it that their love for each other was so strong to defy the social norms, while falling in love with a young woman (Cheeni Kum) or with another person of the same gender after being married to a man (Fire)? Whatever it was, both these movies talk about forbidden relationships, well at least socially, because ‘log kya kahenge’. And they talk about these relationships in great glory and that is exactly where the beauty of the films lie. We live in a society which has created ground rules for us, fair enough. But are those patriarchal rules still so prevalent? is it not high time that we readily accept, without resistance, if two people are in love – people of varied ages, people of the same sex, people from different social groups. For how long will we pretend to live in a chaos we ourselves have created and keep calling it the ‘calm’?
Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna
Everyone knows about my love for Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna by now, hopefully. And if you didn’t, now you do. It is one of my favourite movies in Hindi cinema just because of the beauty of the relationships involved, that of Dev (Shah Rukh Khan) and Rhea (Preity Zinta), Dev and Maya (Rani Mukherjee), Maya and Rishi (Abhishek Bachchan) or even Sam (Amitabh Bachchan) and Kamaljeet (Kiron Kherr). Though, everyones favourite shall always remain the one between Dev and Maya, the one with the mistress (or the one with the mister). The human heart is an emotional fool. Here is a conversation between Dev and Maya from the very beginning of the film:
Dev: Go now, get married.
Maya: Aur agar woh pyaar mujhe shaadi ke baad mil jae toh?
Dev: Nahi dhoondogi toh nahi milega!
In just a few dialogues the characters show how easy it is to fall out of marriages but at the same time it is not every difficult to make marriages work. But, there always is a void. There is an empty space, always, that you want to fill, maybe with some love. In order to make their marriages work (though there lies no love in their individual marriages), Dev and Maya decide to help each other and eventually fall in love.
But weren’t they helping each other? What happened? Did Maya finally give in to search for love? Was Dev too looking for love? Yes, maybe inside their marriages. But does the heart know where to go when set out? Don’t we tend to leap on to the closest pillar of support when we are at our worst?
Dev and Maya’s relationship was certainly wrong. Infidelity, even in other words, is infidelity. But there was love in it. Though there is no defending their wrong. There are ways in which you do things, and sometimes there are things you don’t do at all. But sometimes, in their defence, I feel that what could they have done? Living in an unhappy marriage is not easy, sleeping with someone you don’t want to everyday is not easy, having a child and wanting to break the marriage is also not easy, breaking the trust of a father is not easy.
We live in a society that is surrounded by unhappy marriages, particularly India. And I think I’d blame our social and cultural systems and boundaries for the same. Why is stepping out of an unhappy marriage wrong? Why are women or men, sometimes, so weak that they cannot say ‘it’s over’? Why does having a child mean staying together? I agree that as Indians we have a deep rooted culture we are bound to, but till when and why?
Ask yourself, how many couples you know exist in unhappy marriages? Of course they wont tell you, but you’ll know. You’ll see the signs. And if its an unhappy union of poeple, either end it or solve the problem. Because if your own home is broken, you have to blame yourself and not the mistress/mister. As Rhea rightly says:
Rhea: Kya baat hai Maya? Aaj mujhse nazare nahi mila paa rahi ho? Kyuki tumne mera ghar toda hai?
Maya looks up.
Rhea: Toote hue ko tum kya todti Maya…