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Sunday, December 10, 2023

10 Underrated, Must-Watch Bollywood Love Stories

When it comes to love, Bollywood has always presented some memorable films and characters.

Many of us have loved popular titles like Dilwale Dulhania Le JayengeHum Aapke Hain Koun..!Dil To Pagal Hai and several others.

However, there have been other which perhaps didn’t get the attention that it rightfully deserves.

As such, titles within this article are those which weren’t talked about as much at the time of release or not received as well (as much as they should have) at the box-office.

Lamhe (1991) Dir: Yash Chopra 

Carrying a bold and ‘controversial’ theme for the time of its release, the musical drama is one which is timeless.

In the film, Viren (Anil Kapoor) falls for Pallavi (Sridevi), but she marries Siddharth.

The couple dies, leaving behind their daughter, Pooja, who grows up to look just like her mother and falls in love with Viren.

The movie is an idyllic Yash Chopra flick. There are foot-tapping songs, snowy sequences, colourful aesthetics and a never-say-die romance.

Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994) Dir: Kundan Shah

Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa is a nostalgic coming-of-age movie which has its heart and soul in the right soul. An ode to true love which deserves more appreciation.

Given that Shah Rukh Khan did some exemplary love-stories during the 90s, this one is a rare gem which doesn’t get talked about as much as his other work.

The story revolves around Sunil (SRK) who tries every trick to win over Anna (Suchitra Krishnamoorthi), who is in love with Chris (Deepak Tijori).

In a desperate attempt to win her love, he creates misunderstandings between her and Chris but ultimately realises love has to be mutual, not one-sided.

Available to stream on Netflix. 

Fire (1996) Dir: Deepa Mehta

Fire was one of the first Indian films to explicitly show a Lesbian relationship, a trailblazer which tributes ‘love is love’.

It is one of the bravest endeavours to exhibit homosexual relationships, for which Deepa Mehta also faced a lot of backlash during the time of release.

Starring Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi, the story revolves around how two women, married into the same family, find solace within each other.

Carrying conversations around freedom of speech and empowerment, it makes one wonder how the movie would’ve been received had it released today.

Available to stream on YouTube.

Raincoat (2004) Dir: Rituparno Ghosh

This film is pure art. When you watch, it just seems like a painting that has been brought to life. But sadly, this too went majorly unnoticed.

It is an adaptation of the short story The Gift of the Magic by O. Henry which tells the story of two lovers (played by Ajay Devgn and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) separated by destiny, who meet again one day.

This encounter allows each of the characters to realise the truth about the lives they are living.

With the film set predominantly in one location, the sense of regret and incomplete love is felt within the pauses of every dialogue.

Available to stream on YouTube.

Pyaar Mein Twist (2005) Dir: Hridhay Shetty

This film emphasises the idea of timeless love and second-chances in life. Whilst many reviews favoured Pyaar Mein Twist, it deserved better.

The Bollywood romantic comedy revolves around Sheetal Arya (Dimple Kapadia) is a high-powered businesswoman and a perfect mother.

Her family are shocked however when she meets and falls in love with older businessman Yash Khurana (Rishi Kapoor) and before long both families are doing everything they can to split the loving couple up, with hilarious results.

Seeing the iconic Bobby couple unite (then) after 32 years, it only makes us more emotional especially after the passing of Rishi Kapoor.

Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video/YouTube

Salaam-E-Ishq (2007) Dir: Nikkhil Advani

Salaam-E-Ishq is quite a lovely film. Given the fact that anthology-style of storytelling was relatively unexplored in Bollywood at the time, I thought did a good job at it.

With a multiple star-cast consisting of big names like Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Salman Khan, Juhi Chawla, Anil Kapoor, John Abraham, Govinda and Vidya Balan, it is truly a treat.

Although stories of the couples vary, the common theme within them is to rise above their limitations and overcome all boundaries to get their love.

Even though it’s lengthy, it’s a shame that audiences back then didn’t show much appreciation for this movie. Definitely ahead of its time.

Available to stream on Eros Now.

Lootera (2013) Dir: Vikramaditya Motwane

Lootera is an artsy ode to Bengali, vintage Indian cinema pioneered by filmmakers like Satyajit Ray and Bimal Roy. This film is an unspoken, underrated masterpiece.

Inspired by O. Henry’s 1907 short story The Last Leaf, Vikramaditya Motwane creatively customises this traditional tale amidst the backdrop of the Zamindari Abolition Act by the newly independent India.

An aristocrat’s daughter (Sonakshi) falls in love with a visiting archaeologist (Ranveer), but he holds a secret that could drive them apart.

Though narrated at a slow pace, the developed characters and picturesque locations enhance the film’s beautiful appeal. It deserved better ticket numbers!

Available to stream on Eros Now.

Tamasha (2015) Dir: Imtiaz Ali

Imtiaz Ali is a director whose filmmaking style exceeds the paradigms of cinema. Period.

Boy meets girl in Corsica who decide to not reveal their real names or personalities. A spectacular drama proceeds to take place, as this temporary couple goes on an adventure like no other. But time changes everything for this love story.

The convoluted story on inner-conflicts between profession/passion, self-discovery and love, this unconventional romance is relatable and the non-linear screenplay is visually daring.

Whilst it may not have been a major earner at the box-office, it’s still considered to be an unspoken masterpiece and AR Rahman’s mesmerising soundtrack continues to strike a chord.

Available to stream on Netflix.

Sanam Teri Kasam (2016) Dir: Radhika Rao, ‎Vinay Sapru

When Sanam Teri Kasam released, Harshvardhan Rane and Mawra Hocane were relatively new faces to Bollywood audiences but since then their chemistry has been very memorable.

After being disowned by her family, Saru (Mawra), an awkward librarian relies on the help of her brooding neighbour Inder (Harshvardhan).

Since Aashiqui 2, this was a love story which resonated strongly with audiences and brought freshness with the unique pairing and chartbuster songs.

Even though it grew strongly on word of mouth, the film couldn’t gather as much moolah at the box-office, because it certainly deserved to!

Available to stream on Eros Now.

Notebook (2019) Dir: Nitin Kakkar

Notebook is a remake of the 2014 Thai film The Teacher’s Diary, but a very fresh and dynamic treat for Hindi film audiences.

Given that several Bollywood newcomers have had quite ‘decorated’ debuts, Pranutan Bahl and Zaheer Iqbal play quite mature roles as Firdaus and Kabir, respectively, in their first film.

It the story of a young retired army officer (Zaheer) who joins his father’s school as a teacher to save it from closure and falls in love with the previous teacher (Pranutan) after reading through her memorabilia left behind in the drawers.

Although it didn’t gather a lot of money at the box-office, the movie has since gained a lot of love on social media and definitely worth the watch.

Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Overall, these are just a few lesser-known love stories which deserve to be watched. 

Other underrated titles include Dil Se (1998), Zubeidaa (2001), Socha Na Tha (2005), Cheeni Kum (2007), October (2018) and Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (2019) among others.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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