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Celebrate the day of love with these lovely films!

2022 Feb 12, 18:31, Mumbai

Valentine's week finally is coming to an end. The icing on the cake of this week is undoubtedly the showstopper day: Valentine's Day. Originally celebrated in honour of Saint Valentine, who got lovers married secretly, the day has evolved to become a surface-level treatment of the most beautiful feeling everyone feels, in varying degrees: love.

Love... what is it, in popular culture? We usually see a plethora of films every year, wherein the girl is usually bubbly and the boy is a 'depressed dude', or vice versa. It's rare to see a couple, heterosexual or homosexual, to be equal to each other in temperament in mainstream cinema. Almost everyone roots for a popular on-screen couple to get together in the end, even if it logically would be the most illogical thing to do in the story.

So, on this note, here are some conventional and unconventional love stories that you can watch this Valentine's Day. These films give a nuanced portrayal of relationships and love.

1. 'Chhoti Si Baat': 'Chhoti Si Baat' is the sweetest film on this list as it showed beautifully, how love can be simply expressed by opening up to the person you really like. Amol Palekar plays the lead role of an extremely shy young man, Arun Pradeep, who lacks self-confidence and often lets everyone use him as a doormat. He falls in love with Prabha Narayan, played by the ever-charming Vidya Sinha, but is unable to express his feelings. This movie is a Basu Chatterjee classic and is an instant mood-lifter for Valentine's Day. The song 'Najane Kyun Hota Hai Ye Zindagi Ke Saath' will stay with you for a long time!

2. 'Rajnigandha': The name rings a bell but for the wrong reasons. Rajnigandha is the name of Tuberose in Hindi, unlike the pan masala brand everyone knows it for. Now that we have that out of the way, let us talk about the beautiful and nuanced movie, 'Rajnigandha' starring once again, Amol Palekar, Vidya Sinha and Dinesh Thakur and directed by the maestro himself, Basu Chatterjee.

Released before 'Chhoti Si Baat', in 1974, this movie was the Hindi debut of Amol Palekar and the first screen role of Vidya Sinha. The film centred around the life of Deepa (Vidya), a Psychology graduate, in a long-distance relationship with Sanjay (Amol). She gets an interview call to Mumbai where she meets her ex-lover Navin (Dinesh) and she falls for him again. The year was 1974 and, in that time, when no one would even think of a girl having a boyfriend, Basu Da showed us a protagonist who was suddenly stuck between her past and her present, which was way ahead of its time. The film won numerous awards. 'Kai Baar Yun hi Dekha Hai', by Mukesh, won him the National Award for Best Male Singer that year.

3. 'Mouna Ragam': It would be criminal to mention 'romance' as a genre and not bring in films by Mani Ratnam in it. 'Mouna Ragam', starring Revathy and Mohan in the lead role had Karthik in a guest appearance in it.

It narrates the life of Divya (Revathi), a free-spirited college girl who is forced into an arranged marriage with Chandrakumar (Mohan) by her father (Sankaran). Divya hates Chandra for marrying her as she is secretly mourning the death of her former lover Manohar (Karthik) who was shot dead. The story follows Divya's inner conflict between holding onto her past and coming to terms with the present and making a life with Chandrakumar. Mohan's character can be safely called the most patient husband ever portrayed on-screen, putting up with every tantrum of Divya. This film established Mani Ratnam as a filmmaker, fetching him the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil along with many other awards. It became a box-office success, with a theatrical run of over 175 days. It was remade in Hindi in 1992 as 'Kasak', and in Kannada in 1999 as 'Chandrodaya'.

4. 'OK Kanmani': After such a complex film, it is once again up to Mani Ratnam to lift our mood with this breezy but charming romance. Though a live-in relationship isn't a big thing nowadays, the beauty was the way it was presented in the film. The characters of Nithya Menen and Dulquer Salmaan delivered their dialogues as if they were actually expressing what they were feeling.

It was as if a camera was following a young urban couple. Unlike the effort that was visible in the performances of the Hindi remake, 'OK Jaanu', the original version had a more fluid flow to it. It is sure to leave you with a lovely smile at the end of it!

5. 'Bajirao Mastani': How can the king of grandeur not feature here, when his most ambitious film became a modern cult classic? The film showed the female lead fearlessly professing her love for the unattainable 'Peshwa', knowing that nothing but humiliation and unacceptance was in store for her. Despite that, she chose to be the 'other woman', of her own free will.

The film also showed the pain and the betrayal faced by 'Kashibai', played wonderfully by Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who felt cheated for all the love she had so unquestioningly given to her better half. The film is draining and often becomes the love story of three people, who are stuck in the wrong situations at the wrong time.

The song 'Aaj Ibaadat', sung by Javed Bashir and composed by Bhansali himself is an underrated gem, that comes as a cool breeze that flows after the end of an exhausting battle. This film is a visual spectacle and is a must-watch.

6. 'Notebook': A piece of heart-warming poetry from Kashmir, gift-wrapped in a film, is the 2019 release 'Notebook'. It is perhaps one of the few films wherein the hero and the heroine hardly share any screen space together but yet, develop mutual respect and love by reading about each other's lives from a little 'notebook'. The film stars debutants Pranutan Bahl and Zaheer Iqbal along with a bunch of cute little children, often the driving force of the film. The movie is a delightful watch and without being overtly preachy, shows why it is important to not find validation about oneself from others.

7. 'Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa': Another criminal offense would be to talk about romance and NOT talk about the KING of romance: Shah Rukh Khan. The '90s can safely be called the most romantic era of the century as there was a plethora of romantic films in that era, starting with Mahesh Bhatt's 'Aashiqui' (1990) to Shah Rukh's 'Dil Toh Pagal Hai' (1997).

But this underrated film is perhaps the only one wherein the lead hero does not unite with his heroine in the end, but is still happy in her happiness. The film though has romance at its core, but expresses beautifully, the feelings that an everyday middle-class family feels. It is a Kundan Shah classic and has one of the most heart wrenching and natural performances of SRK.

8. 'Paheli': A rather unconventional film, it is a remake of the 1973 Hindi movie 'Duvidha' by Mani Kaul based on the short story written by Vijayadan Detha in Rajasthani. It was directed by Amol Palekar and starred Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee in the lead roles.

It tells the story of a newly-wed girl, Lachchi (Rani) whose husband Kishanlal (Shah Rukh) goes on a business trip, immediately after marriage. She is then visited by a ghost, disguised as her husband, who is in love with her. The most refreshing thing about this film is that even the ghost takes the consent of the girl and never forces her to love him. The choice, the dilemma (duvidha) that Lachchi faces in choosing between her wants and needs and a life of unnecessary sacrifices, wherein she is never asked how she feels, is the crux of this story. It is a homage to the beautiful culture of Rajasthan and its breath-taking beauty.

These were some heavy, some light, some easy-breezy and some out-of-the-box films you can watch this Valentine's Day. Unlike many films which glorify toxicity and encourage the perspective of a lover not moving on from a heartbreak, it is important to understand that love is never toxic. The toxicity arises when the boundary line of sanity is crossed in the name of love.

Love is ultimately all about letting go and moving on and these films provide a perspective on this very thing. Happy Valentine's Day! 

Valentine Chhoti Si Baat films Rajnigandha Bajirao Mastani
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