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Myriad Strands of Love: A Hindi Film Perspective

February 14, 2024 | By

Exploring love across different eras in Hindi movies, Gaurav Sahay embellishes his study of the myriad hues of love and romance with cinematic references. A Valentine’s Day special feature.

The month of February, colloquially hailed as the month of love, prompts individuals to seek avenues to articulate their sentiments for their significant other. Valentine’s Day, an occasion free from inhibitions and hesitations, beckons lovers to unabashedly express their emotions. The younger generation, in particular, embraces this opportunity with exuberance, overcoming the trepidation of rejection to unburden themselves of the fervent emotions that envelop their thoughts.

Romance permeates the atmosphere, transcending the constraints of any particular season. The juncture at which an individual encounters a kindred spirit, one whose essence complements with the dormant image they held, marks the inception of deep emotions or love.

Bollywood, mirroring societal shifts, has transformed its depiction of love. Exploring love across different eras in Hindi movies, I’ll embellish these stages of love with cinematic references. These stages, while not exhaustive, provide a suggestive framework.

  1. Love: The Childhood Crush —Interrupted, Yet Hibernating

Hindi cinema is never short of ideas, often fantastic bordering on bizarre, to take the story forward. One popular situation is to show a boy and a girl, yet in their knickers and frock respectively, still at a fair distance from their teens, in togetherness, in a kind of love-hate relationship distinctly different from a sibling love, though the kids themselves are not conscious of what is incipient. Then the story takes a turn and the two get separated circumstantially and almost for good. And as if by a tryst of destiny, the two again meet much later, but the girl, now a mesmerizing beauty, has no memory connected with the boy, now a hunk, who was so close to her in her childhood. The only connecting thread, even though hazy, is a song that the two sang in their togetherness, which the young man invokes, often, repeatedly, to reach and enliven the relevant memory recess of the beauty so covetable!

We thus have, as a consequence, such popular numbers Bachpan ke din bhula na dena, Jeet hi lenge baazi hum tum, O saathi re tere bina bhi kya jeena, Kya hua tera waada, Raanjhanaa hua main tera and there have to be few more.

In this stage, individuals subtly experience attraction to the opposite sex, finding the concept of falling in love more captivating than the reality. Emotions surge and any reciprocation is often misconstrued as love. Adolescents fail to discern between infatuation and genuine love in their ardour.

Bollywood, in its repertoire, has woven numerous narratives around childhood love and infatuations, as seen in the film Raanjhana, where the protagonist grapples with the harsh realities of unrequited love, ultimately succumbing to an all-consuming passion for Zoya. While this film is hailed as a contemporary cult, my sentiments resonate more with Muqaddar ka Sikandar. In this timeless tale, orphaned Sikandar finds solace in the genuine affection offered by Kamna, the daughter of his benefactor, creating a compelling and heartrending narrative.

My pick here: O saathi re tere bina bhi kya jeena.

The soul-stirring melody, O saathi re, which, like the film itself, remains perched on an emotional pinnacle. The emotions mirrored in Sikandar’s eyes resonate deeply in KK’s voice. It is as if, with each pause before the song’s stanzas, Sikandar, while singing, traverses his past. A poignant scene unfolds—a boy, clutching a stolen doll intended as a gift for Kamna on her birth anniversary, peers through a window, navigating the uncertainty of entering a gathering of affluent individuals to bestow the precious doll upon her secretly. The radiant eyes of Amitabh Bachchan convey the innocence of a circumspect boy yearning to confess the burgeoning emotions within him. Sikandar lives for and dies by a childhood emotion Kamna (Rakhi).

O saathi re (Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, 1978) Kalyanji Anandji / Anjaan / Kishore Kumar

  1. Love: The First Flush!

The first flush of love overpowers and overwhelms. The world becomes centric to the other the other one has fallen for. The concomitant vulnerability, the rawness, the heightened sensitivity is palpable though, ironically, there is every attempt on the part of the stricken to keep the feelings to himself/herself. Yet there are tell-tale symptoms. The well-known doctrine — Ishq aur mushq chhupaye nahin chhupta applies in full. And if the other has yet not reciprocated, then every fantasy, for that while, seems driven by her/him, and even the real is turned into the surreal!

The Hindi cinema has always found this strand of love handy to take the story forward. My pick here are two songs Jaaneman jaaneman tere do nayan and Pehla nasha. I really love this character Arun (Amol Palekar) so real to life! He is smitten, love is written all over his persona his love object giving hue to his every fantasy! He is fantasizing that Prabha (Vidya Sinha) is on the pillion of his yet-to-be-purchased motorcycle and in another funny scene while watching a movie featuring Dharmendra and Hema Malini, he imagines himself in place of the hero and Prabha in place of the heroine — the real turning the surreal!

Pehla Nasha

Pehla nasha pehla khumaar, naya pyar hai naya intezaar  — this composition ascends gracefully on the notes of Jatin-Lalit’s piano and the timeless verses by Majrooh, who, at the age of 74, gifted us with this eternally youthful melody. It continues to stir the emotions of today’s generation, eager to declare their encounters with unprecedented feelings.

The phrase Ek kar doon asmaan aur zameen encompasses the emotional journey one traverses. Usne baat ki kuchh aise dhang se, sapne de gaya woh hazaron rang ke — harks back to the days when the simple act of conversing with our beloved brought unparalleled joy.

The inaugural slow-motion dance within the song unveiled a groundbreaking spectacle. As Aamir Khan gracefully leaped and descended to his knees, a million hearts beat relentlessly, fuelled by a deep desire to be close to their cherished ones. Pehla Nasha stands as the quintessential anthem for those who tasted the sweet essence of love for the very first time.

Pehla nasha pehla khumaar (Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, 1992) Jatin-Lalit / Majrooh / Sadhana Sargam and Udit Narayan

  1. Love: Making the Right Moves

Dating, or a more serious courtship,  supplies communicational continuity even if inane at times. Most importantly, it informalizes and un-barriers the interface. It often characterizes the relationship and helps a definitive view of its future, whether it is worth pursuing or giving it a slip! It is normal that these exploratory moves, I call them the right moves, precede or prepare the ground for a formal commitment and a confession of love. And it is the flippancy, at times subtly suggestive, that spices dating/courtship. From my experience, I can tell you that I enjoyed this pre-confession stage more than the one later.

It is the juncture when one desires to proclaim to their beloved that love has taken root. Amid this delicate moment, many songs unfurl, each defining the hero’s earnest attempt to capture the attention of the heroine. Some are overt in their declarations: Tum kamsin ho nadaan ho, Thoda ruk jaayegi to tera kya jaayega, Tera peecha na main chhodoonga soniye, Main koi aisa geet gaoon and Is deewane ladke ko koi samjhaye.

Contrarily, there exists a collection of songs that navigate a more subtle path, avoiding explicit direction toward the object of affection. Infused with a touch of insecurity, these songs reflect the hero’s cautious attempt to gauge the beloved’s mood before laying bare his emotions. Among them, Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si stands out as the mechanic Kishore sings of Soti raaton mein jaagi si, mili ek ajnabee se koi aagey na peeche, tum hi kaho yeh koi baat hai. This subtle flirtation, a prelude to bolder moves, adds layers of anticipation and charm.

Rajesh Khanna, the pioneer of romantic stardom, paved the way for a new era. Shahrukh Khan, blending youth, charm, romance, energy, and wit in the 90s, left a lasting impact on young hearts, influencing their ways and mannerisms.

Ruk ja o dil deewane

The song Ruk ja o dil diwane, poochoon to main zara captures the essence of charming and mischievous Raj, who ingeniously won the heart of Simran. Invited to play the piano, Raj shattered Simran’s perception of him as a roadside Romeo lacking class and dignity. Displaying dexterity on the piano, Raj surprised everyone, later dancing with a carefree, swinging charm reminiscent of Shammi Kapoor in O Hasina zulfowali jaane kahan. Raj’s subtlety and indirect approach were evident as he danced freely with Simran’s friends, not overly focusing on her. In a surprising move at the song’s end, Raj dropped Simran to the floor, leaving an indelible mark on her mind and solidifying the realization that they were meant for each other.

Ruk ja o dil deewane (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, 1995) Jatin-Lalit / Anand Bakshi / Udit Narayan

Kai baar yun hi dekha hai

Expressing one’s feelings is crucial in any relationship. Frequently, individuals experience anxiety and a sense of self-consciousness, making it challenging to openly communicate, potentially harming the nascent connection. In this regard, the song Kai baar yun bhi dekha hai is one of the best on women torn between the pull of the past and an engaging present! The moving car symbolizes a fuelling of inner conflict! Deepa (Vidya Sinha) looks beautiful. Her inner conflict is writ large on her face, enhancing, though strangely, her magnetism. Naveen seems more interested in his smoke than the girl. And much as she wants, Deepa is unable to cover a small distance to touch Naveen’s hand. Though mentally she does, symbolized by a falling saree traversing that distance.

Kai baar yun bhi dekha hai (Rajnigandha, 1974) Salil Chowdhury / Yogesh / Mukesh

  1. Love: Confession and Commitment

The perplexing riddle of why we must unveil and fasten our emotional cards to the sleeve eludes me. I must confess, I’m not entirely convinced that our beloved is blissfully ignorant of the depths of our affection. However, in this grand theatre of emotions, one is compelled to utter those magical three words — I love you — or risk a life devoid of purpose, as if one were a protagonist in a tragic tale without a plot. Metaphorically, it parallels the diligent preparation and study undertaken before an examination, with the outcome serving as a barometer for the depth of comprehension. The act of confession and commitment, akin to an examination, stands as a pivotal juncture that determines the trajectory of our connection and any potential shared future with the cherished individual.

This phase unfolds with its share of highs and lows. Initially, it feels like a fairy tale, with togetherness reigning as the most striking aspect. However, the journey is not without its challenges, as lovers may find themselves drifting apart due to circumstances rooted in personal differences, familial expectations, or the physical distance that separates them. Occasionally, love may reach its zenith too soon, only to fade before it can be sanctified through matrimony.

The intrusion of someone new into one’s life can also become a catalyst for separation. Yet, during the blossoming phase of love, everything else seems inconsequential, creating a captivating cocoon where the outside world fades into insignificance.

Hindi films have bestowed upon us numerous melodies that celebrate the essence of togetherness. Maang ke saath tumhara, Pyar hua iqrar hua, Gaata rahe mera dil, Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein, and Tujhe dekha to yeh jaana sanam are just a few examples, each evoking lot of emotions and filling our hearts with joy.

However, among these timeless classics, two songs hold a special place in my heart:

Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa to nahin

Chance brings together, though for a while, the separated JK and Aarti — played by Sanjeev and Suchitra — rejuvenating their love. But the compulsion to keep under wraps the fact of their marriage forecloses conciliation. Yet the emotional up-surge is far too overwhelming, heightened further by an acute consciousness that the togetherness will be just for a few fast fleeting moments! The two artistes, arguably the best of their times, deliver the scene with an intensity and skill very rarely seen in Hindi cinema. The scenic impact cascades as their empathizing communication, mostly in silence, is given voice to, so heartily, so eloquently, by Lata-Kishore duo on a brilliant RDB lilt.

But the number owes its extra-ordinariness to the muse of Gulzar. In two short antaras, he intertwines, inalienably, Arti’s catharsis and her wistfulness for togetherness as a destination unto itself:

Kaash aisa ho tere qadmon se,
chun ke manzil chale
aur kahin door kahin

Tum gar saath ho,
manzilon ki kami to nahin

Jee mein aata hai, tere daaman mein,
sar chupa ke hum
rote rahein, rote rahein

Teri bhi aankhon mein,
aansuon ki nami to nahi

And JK also traverses an extra mile of emotion, pleading for a togetherness transcending the ephemerality symbolized by a night in descent:

Tum jo keh do to aaj ki raat
Chand doobega nahin,
raat ko rok lo

Raat ki baat hai,
aur zindgi baaki to nahin

Tere bina zindagi se koi (Aandhi, 1975) RD Burman / Gulzar / Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar

Phir chidhi raat baat phoolon ki

This song is close to my heart. I was in my early twenties and had started feeling for a girl who, too, seemed to be reciprocating. It was her birthday and we decided to celebrate it in an exclusive togetherness. As I proceeded to pick her up from a point located a little away from her residence, I realized that all I had were Rs.150 to defray the celebratory expenses. Anyway, I bought five bright red roses for Rs. 80. Luckily the car was not short on fuel. The weather was cloudy. As she settled in, I wished her and presented one rose. A smile broke on her face and that was rather assuring. After a brief pause, she looked at me, raising her eyebrows in askance: What is the plan! I told her to enjoy the weather and the ride. I played the music audio player unaware that Bazaar-Umraao Jaan cassette was already inserted. Suddenly, the Lata-Talat Aziz mellifluence permeated the car ambiance… Phir chhidi raat baat phoolon ki — the voices, the melody, the words exacerbating a surging emotion! At that point I presented her another rose and eased into, as if by an inner urge, an audibly articulated hum… phool ke haar phool ke gajre..! The song ended. She requested to rewind. I presented another rose. Again broke the silence by singing… Aapka saath saath phooloin ka… aapki baat baat phoolon ki... she leaned her head on my shoulder. Nazrein milti hain jaam milte hain, mil rahi hain hayat phooloin ki. The song was played over and over, as I had exhausted my roses even though the song was yet on! We didnt get down, except for an ice cream

This was Khayyam and his flowers, and his melody, confessing for us! But later, circumstantially, we drifted apart though the memory of this car drive bedecked with flowers still cuddles, still stirs an emotional susceptibility. Yet the reality that we breached a commitment that we never witted, though implied, becomes so apparent as I chance upon the other Khayyam number from the same film: Karoge yaad to har baat yaad aayegi, guzarte waqt ki har mauj thehar jaayegi.

Phir chhidi raat (Bazaar, 1982) Khayyam / Sagar Sarhadi / Lata Mangeshkar and Talat Aziz

  1. Love and Passion Run High

Proximity breeds contempt, they say. But in love, it breeds passion. In fact, a passionate state is an indispensable prerequisite for a tangible expression of love, the physical concourse. It is a yogic state for the lovers the mind, body and soul converging at and pulsating to the moment present!.

The Hindi cinema has used this biological surge in men and women to create song-scenes that tend to be evocative, with an emphasis on the physical part of the relationship. In fact, in some films this give-in-to-the-moment is the central point of the respective stories. Instances Dhool Ka Phool, Aradhana, Julie, Masoom,  Astitva and Dil Kya Kare.

My pick specific for this strand of love is:

Roop tera mastana

My mother once shared that when this particular song was played on All India Radio, parents diligently switched off transistors to shield their children from any potential negative influences. The protective instinct of parents strives to shelter their children from exposure that might nurture feelings of lust and intensify the longing to be with a beloved.

Yet, one wonders about the efficacy of such measures, considering the challenge of silencing Kishore Kumar’s romantic voice. The preceding generation either resorted to lowering the volume discreetly or, with no alternative, indulged in playing the song secretly.

It remains uncertain whether parental censoring truly prevents life’s journey toward conjugal happiness. Time has ushered in changes within Bollywood, where what was once deemed as obscene has evolved into a societal norm, finding widespread acceptance. Despite this shift, I still find myself uneasy witnessing intense romantic scenes with both my parents and children.

While there are other cinematic moments where on-screen lovers surrender to the moment, what has evolved is the impact of such scenes. In the past, lovers were depicted in contemplation and remorse, whereas today, the portrayal of consummation in movies tends to be rooted more in pleasure, often laced with carefree abandon.

Ye khaamoshiyaan, ye tanhaayian.

It is a song of the lovers raring to give in, to succumb, to the moments brimming with carnal desire. The characters on screen handsome and hunk Sunil and lissome and beauteous Leela — surging on words borne on an undulating, over-powering melody. And Rajinder Krishan has the words for the occasion — suggestive, evocative, sensuous. Just revisit the last two lines: Jahaan paanv rakh de hai fislan hi fislan, kadam chodte ja rahe hain nishaan.

Ravi’s melody stands completely intertwined with the words — as if in consummation of their own, of sorts; has the effect of exacerbating and fuelling the sentiments intended in the words.

  1. Love: The Pining, The Wait, The Perceived Separation

No love is complete unless the lovers are separated at least once, even if separation is perceptional, and there is a consequent pining and wait. Often, separation leads to a deeper bond, for one’s presence is felt more in his/her absence! A pining lover does not look at himself/herself, for a part of his/her emotional being — the yin-yang existential connect is not there physically! The heart overrides the head! The desperation is palpable, maddening. Nothing seems to help!

The anticipation of the beloved’s arrival sometimes transforms the wait into a pleasurable experience, as each passing moment intensifies the excitement for the imminent reunion. At this juncture, I simply adore the melody:

Inteha ho gayi intezar ki
ye hamen hai yakeen, bewafa woh nahin
phir wajah kya hui, intezaar ki

This number eased my driving and un-stiffened my back, and as I inhaled the music, the song visually flashed by, leaving me to reflexively pause on the words, which seemed a cry of desperation, of doubt of the quintessential lover in wait.

But our smitten hero Vicky is lucky. Before the candle of his hope ebbs, his flame announces herself with a love cry — O, mere sajana, lo main aa gayi — signalling the world to swivel in two consummating melodies!

Inteha ho gayi (Sharaabi, 1984) Bappi Lahiri / Anjaan / Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle

Tanhai Tanhai

Love remains unaware of its depths until the hour of separation unfolds its intricate reality. Perceived distance often acts as a gentle awakening, especially for those yet to discern their authentic feelings for one another. Dil Chahta Hai narrates the tale of three friends, with Akash (Aamir Khan) standing as the most discerning. Despite his firm conviction that love was beyond his reach, Akash’s emotional fortitude crumbled when Shalini (Preity Zinta) candidly disclosed her imminent marriage to a childhood family friend.

Imagine this scene: Shalini, bidding farewell to Akash, endeavours to elucidate why she chose to be engaged to Rohit. Akash, feigning disinterest, is gently prodded by Shalini, who underscores his importance, understanding the reasons. She recognizes that he hadn’t perceived the fat opera lady with closed eyes as his soulmate. A silence ensues before Sonu Nigam resonantly erupts on Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s Tanhai. The song’s visual depiction juxtaposed against the swift movement of the world summarizes Akash’s entanglement in a love so deep it seemed insurmountable.

The seemingly imperturbable man finds himself deeply ensnared by love. In a vulnerable moment, Akash reaches out to his old friend Siddharth, mistakenly presuming it is Sameer. This act of reaching out is a moving realization, considering Akash had once mocked Siddharth for falling in love with an older woman.

In matters of love, separation transiently magnifies the significance of the other in one’s life.

Tanhaayi (Dil Chahta Hai, 2001) Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy / Javed Akhtar / Sonu Nigam

Tadap tadap ke is dil se

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam is possibly Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s finest work. The film features timeless music and outstanding performances by Salman-Aishwarya-Ajay.

Nandini, the central character, portrays a newfound conviction and intensity, appearing more self-assured and convincing than ever. The first half revolves around her being in love with a handsome man who is on the same turf as her clan — and that is music.  However, love’s inevitable revelation leads to her father banishing him. This leaves Nandini inconsolable and distraught.

The parting scene between them is portrayed beautifully via the song Tadap tadap ke is dil se aah nikalti rahi. The song is penned so sensitively by Mehboob Kotwal especially lines like Bejaan dil ko tere ishq ne zinda kiya, phir tere ishq ne hi is dil ko tanha kiya.  And in each stanza, the lyricist uses apt words to describe the state of heart. When the lover in Sameer can only see Nandini’s  face in daylight and pines for her in the long nights, the lyricist uses Machal machal to indicate the restlessness of heart yet to come to terms. A little later, he uses sisak sisak — the sobbing heart. Aisa kya gunaah kiya — the departure of Sameer (Salman) from Nandini’s life unfolds as a touching spectacle. Witnessing Nandini lose her sense of purpose, resorting to severing her wrist veins in the agony of separation, is an agonizing scene. Meanwhile, Sameer, casting his gaze upward, questions the divine, Jism mujhe deke mitti ka sheeshe ka dil kyun banaya.  He beseeches and laments to the Almighty, questioning the reason for enduring such intense pain in love. The onscreen execution of the song is flawless.

The song has the power to emote, to create an empathizing connect with the man evicted leaving viewers with a lump in the throat. Ironically however, when they do come together at the climax, Nandini retraces her steps to be with the man (Vanraaj) she is married to.

Tadap tadap ke (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, 1999) Ismail Darbar / Mehboob / KK and Dominique

  1. Love in Blossom

Even now, when some people are toying with the idea of sologamy — marrying self the sanctification of love between a man and a woman, as marriage, is still the most looked forward to ritual the world over. It gives something to live for beyond a mere companionship dotted with regular episodes of sense satiation. In fact, the marriage renders sex incidental, no longer an end unto itself but rather a means to a creative purpose where their fusion — of man and wife — fructifies into a new being who is them yet different! Marriage marks the time to actualize the dreams that were seen together, to redeem the pledges and commitments made. Marriage is the freedom for the twosome to live life on their own terms.

Marriage, to begin with, is a celebration. We call it a honeymoon. It’s a let-go to arrive at an exhaustion of sorts before the real nestle begins. Hindi films have always loved this celebratory aspect of the love sanctified. There are beautiful songs — Sanware salone aaye din bahar ke, Tere mere milan ki yeh raina, Chanda chamke (Fanaa). But my pick is the duet from the film Tere Mere Sapne:

Jeevan ki bagiya mehkegi

Progeny is the most concrete fructification of a romance, of a love. It gives the belief, rather a conviction, that the love has acquired a perpetuity, a permanence — a subconscious assurance that we would still be there even when we are gone! The run-up to this concretization of begetting a child, therefore, effuses the love and the romance manifold. This complementing sentiment of a man and woman in love, anticipating a child, has been so movingly brought out by Neeraj in the duet Jeevan ki bagiya mehkegi.

Look at the words, the unbelievable imagery in this number. Bandhega dhaaga kaccha hum tum tab aur bandhenge — the rawness, the child, embodying our love will bind us further, his smile will give us the dawn of our love. Jab jab woh muskuraega, apna savera hoga… Thoda humara, thoda tumhara, aayega phir se bachpan humaara — our childhood will revisit us in part in the fruit of our togetherness .

It is a celebratory song yet it emotes, for it articulates a universally shared sentiment of a man and woman in love, and married. The interplay of flute and santoor enhances the on-screen bond of Dev and Mumtaz.

Jeevan ki bagiya (Tere Mere Sapne, 1971) SD Burman / Neeraj / Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar


  1. Love: Betrayal, Infidelity, Desertion

Betrayal, Infidelity, Desertion! Do these feed on the susceptibility, the void that accrues once the incumbent love sours, or slips into a decline, or is just through its shelf life even though the players may only be hazily conscious of the changing character of the emotion that reigned the relationship thitherto? The hurt is and should be, palpable only during this neither-in nor-out period of transition. But what if another person with an overwhelming romantic sway over his / her opposite in the relationship comes in, even when the relationship is yet strong? This obviously will not be without repercussions, often serious. Kaifi’s questionnaire on man-woman relationship — Koi ye kaise bataye ki wo tanha kyon hai — is the best.

Andaaz (old) and Sangam — two outstanding films — built themselves on woman’s betrayal whether fantasized or real. The suspecting males in the first (Andaaz) though could never lay their hands on clinching evidence, for there existed none. Yet the consuming fire of suspicion created a total tragedy.

In Sangam, it is only Sunder who suspects, though rightly, that Radha had a pre-marital relationship. However, his ascending suspicion bordering on lunacy seemingly has only one end — the self-elimination of Gopal, his bosom friend. Raj Kapoor’s on-screen execution of Dost dost na raha elevates his stature as an actor. He embodies the complex emotions of anger, disbelief, envy, vengefulness against the adversary in love, and love for Radha in a commendable manner.

Din Dhal Jaaye

Our Hindi films have artfully navigated through such intricate situations. Recall the timeless song Din Dhal Jaaye from Guide. Rosie’s love for Raju has a tinge of suspicion, yet Raju reflects sans anger, sans complaint, sans resentment. Nostalgic about a bygone era, he yearns for its return — Aisi hi rimjhim, aisi hi phuharein, aisi hi thi barsaat, phir se woh sawan ab kyun na aaye.

This musical masterpiece sums up the resilience of their love during challenging times. Khud se juda aur jag se paraye, hum dono the saath, portrays a heart-rending union in an alienated world. The lyrics beautifully acknowledge the emotional turmoil of both Rosie and Raju: Dil ke mere paas ho itni, phir bhi ho kitni door, tum mujhse main dil se pareshan, dono hain majboor. In harmony with the song’s mood, the director crafts an unhurried ambiance, infusing elements of empathy. As the song concludes, Raju and Rosie come together one last time, thawing their emotions before Raju faces forgery charges, overtaken by the relentless march of the police and its procedures.

Din dhal jaaye (Guide, 1965) SD Burman / Shailendra / Mohd Rafi

Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hain jo maqam

At the entrance where suspicion creeps in, love often makes its quiet exit. Prior to finalizing our marriage, my in-laws graciously invited me to an elegant café to assess my suitability for their daughter. While confident in their acceptance of my appearance, I anticipated their genuine interest in exploring the intricacies of my thoughts. I vividly recall their inquiry about my belief or trust in God. I responded, expressing that I do not believe in God because I harbour no doubts about Him. Their amused expressions suggested a desire for further explanation.

I elaborated by drawing a parallel to a parent’s trust in a child’s journey. When a child is young, a parent seldom expresses explicit trust because they never doubt the child may go astray. However, as the child ventures into the world or moves away for college, the parent advises them to focus on studies and eventually expresses trust. This is a way of dispelling any doubt the parent may have about the child picking up undesirable habits like drinking or smoking. My belief and trust extend beyond the realm of doubt when it comes to God.

Similarly, any relationship constructed on the pillars of trust and doubt will eventually crumble. Love cannot sustain itself indefinitely on the pinnacle, especially in matters of the heart, where a descent is inevitable. Fortunate are those whose love settles gracefully on a relational plateau.

Rajesh Khanna, suspecting his wife of infidelity in Aap Ki Qasam, destroys his married life, succumbing to remorse when it’s too late. The song Zindagi ke safar mein by Anand Bakshi serves as a caution that mistrust and suspicion sow the seeds of tragedy in love. The hero purposelessly wanders from place to place, haunted by locations that serve as reminders of the grave mistake he made in suspecting his wife.

Aankh dhokha hai, kya bharosa hai, suno
doston ko shaq dosti ka dushman hai
Apne dil men isey ghar banaane na do
Kal tadapna pade yaad mein jinki
Rok lo, rooth kar unko jaane na do
Baad mein pyaar ke chaahe bhejo hazaron salaam
woh phir nahi aate

This song carries a powerful message, highlighting the crucial need for open communication between partners. It delves into the delicate territory where personal lives may inadvertently tread, causing discomfort for a partner. The song illustrates the consequences of avoiding confrontation and keeping troubling matters concealed, allowing them to accumulate until they inevitably explode, causing irreparable damage to the relationship. In the current digital age, where social media dominates, the song and the movie have an even more compelling resonance.

Zindagi ke safar mein (Aap ki Kasam, 1974) RD Burman / Anand Bakshi / Kishore Kumar


  1. Love: A Trans-Migratory Wistfulness

Soul-mates are forever — beyond this life, in life after life! Janam janam ka saath! Men and women are paired in the heavens! This is an article of faith for the most in this country. Perception, especially the Hindu, that pairs are ordained turns marriages and the institution of marriage sacrosanct. However, for individuals in love, in deep love with a platonic undercurrent, but hopelessly and helplessly circumstanced as to social sanction of their relationship, this article of faith succours and sustains their spirits against the most daunting odds – gives them a beautiful dream to live for, and also die by, that thou shall be there for thee somewhere, in some form!

For Hindi cinema, love eternal and beyond is a recurring theme. Some of the most beautiful songs have this as the central point.

Aa ja re pardesi

This song, more than any other in the film, connects one to the story. Each stanza is about journey beyond this life and before. If there is an ‘is paar’ there has to be a ‘us paar’ too. Shailendra, the maestro lyricist, deftly entwines the essence of an unfulfilled and unrequited soul. Tum sang janam janam ke phere, bhool gaye kyon saajan mere. The yearning for a connection unfulfilled finds expression in these verses, capturing the essence of a station where souls migrate for an eventual reunion.

Aaja re pardesi (Madhumati, 1958) Salil Chowdhury / Shailendra / Lata Mangeshkar

But what I am left with, can claim to be the best in the genre…

Rahein  na rahein  hum….Majrooh on Roshan’s lilt.

Jab ham na honge, jab humari khank pe tum rukoge chalte chalte
Ashkon se bheegi chandni mein ek sada si sunoge chalte chalte
Wahin pe kahin hum tum se milenge, ban ke kali.

Aah, this ode to love transcendentalism is just mesmerizing. A love so self-effacing yet the quest to remain connected even in spirit, even just as a fragrance!

The love depicted in this cinematic masterpiece (Mamta) transcends ordinary bounds, reaching the pinnacle of selflessness. Despite facing a twist of fate preventing their union, Devyani, compelled into marriage with Rakhall, bears a daughter. Munish, shattered but understanding, transforms his love, choosing to raise Devyani’s daughter as his own, pledging to provide her with an education befitting Devyani’s aspirations.  His altruistic deeds for Suparna (Devyani’s daughter) embodies a self-effacing love that fuels every action, providing solace despite receiving nothing tangible from Devyani. Despite his prestigious background as a barrister, Munish remains devoted, unable to entertain the thoughts of another woman in his life.

The narrative of this beautiful love story raises contemplation on the timeless nature of platonic love. It is a love that is devoid of expiration, enduring beyond the constraints of time. The joy derived from such relationships is unparalleled, and those immersed, find themselves ascending in each other’s esteem.

Rahein na rahein hum (Mamta, 1966) Roshan / Majrooh / Lata Mangeshkar

While countless films explore various facets of love, the essence lies in the delicate and caring interplay between individuals. Love may assume various forms, but as long as it resides within, the potential for rekindling its flame remains ever-present.

More Must Read in Silhouette

10 Most Romantic Songs in Hindi Cinema – Part I

10 Most Romantic Songs in Hindi Cinema – Part II

Abhas versus Kishore — An Existential Reality (Part 1)

Chal Ri Sajani Ab Kya Soche – Torn Between Two Worlds


Creative Writing

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Gaurav Sahay is a Delhite largely though with substantial exposure to urban and quasi rural Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. He has a Masters in Business Administration and a law degree from Delhi University. He is a banker by profession but has interests on a range of subjects, including astrology, homeopathy and sports. He is passionate about films, in particular Hindi. His understanding however is not populist but critical and at times transcending. He writes in English and Hindi with equal command. His essay on Guide is ample evidence of the writer and critic within him.
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8 thoughts on “Myriad Strands of Love: A Hindi Film Perspective

  • Manek Premchand

    This is a beautiful read 😍 In fact, more than an essay this is like a doctoral submission, going way beyond February and your enjoyable thoughts on love. I love your range of hfm, running as it does from the 1950s to the 2000s. Your choice of words (eg, love that is devoid of expiration), is attractive. I will need several visits and that many cups of coffee to fully enjoy this beautiful essay 😍 I also loved the info you shared from your mom, about Roop tera mastana. I have often wondered about that song though in other contexts. Shakti Samanta deserves a salute for filming the entire 3.5 minutes in one single shot. Awesome ☺

    1. Gaurav Sahay

      I wasn’t as delighted upon completing my write up as I am now when I read your encouraging comment.Coming from you means a lot to me, a reward for my work..Thank you very much Sir. 🙏🙏

  • Manek Premchand

    That humbles me Gaurav 🙏 But whatever it is that inspires you to critique a subject so well needs to be kept alive. “A love so self-effacing yet the quest to remain connected even in spirit, even just as a fragrance!”…so well scripted by you! Majrooh Saab would have endorsed it for “Rahen na rahen hum, mehka karenge”. I have often sat abstracted, mouth agape I’m told, at just how high this poet could go, and take us with him!

  • Kamalesh

    Brilliance is the only word that I can imagine
    Clarity of thoughts
    Natural flow of sentiments
    And the best description of love and its fallout that I can ever imagine
    You are specially bestowed with wonderful imaginative capabilities!!!!!
    Great work and even better the simplicity of emotions and it’s natural flow !!
    You should write more often!!!!!

  • Yashodhara Raina

    What a beautiful way of expressing Love in all its forms. The songs picked to describe the love are impeccable. Some of them are so relatable to me. Some have been very close to my heart at various phases of my life. You are a creative gem.
    I am eager to read more of your amazing work afterall love is what a believe in and what I live for.

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