10 Film To Watch On Valentines Day Love In Indian Cinema

It is often said that love is just the best thing we do. The same can be said about our film industry. Indian cinema is notorious for its obsession with matters of the heart.

It’s customary then, on Valentine’s day, to dwell on the idea of love and how our movies have approached it over the last decade. Rather than offer the standard list of easy-to-digest, cinematic comfort food, this is our attempt to look at films that represent different shades of love. From rural to urban, romantic to platonic, first-time to long-lost, unabashedly mainstream to unapologetically art house, here’s our list of 10 love stories that deserve your attention:

 Sairat

Rich-meets-poor love stories have graced our screens time and again, but none quite like Sairat. Set in the interiors of Maharashtra, Nagraj Manjule’s 2016 Marathi gem about a college romance between an upper-caste girl and a lower-caste boy was as cinematic as it was relevant.

Manjule smartly used mainstream language (backed by Ajay-Atul’s unforgettable soundtrack) to swallow us whole and makes us fall for Parshya and Archie and their love story. Once he had us in the palm of his hand, he began to tell the story he wanted to – about the horrors of inter-caste relations.

Available On: Netflix

Dear Zindagi

Gauri Shinde’s 2016 film Dear Zindagi not only delicately broached topics of therapy and mental health with mainstream Bollywood audiences. It was also the rare film that explored the kind of ‘love story’ that is all too often overlooked – self-love.

Shinde showed commendable restraint in her film about young filmmaker Kaira (Alia Bhatt) and her struggle to come to terms with old wounds. With the help of her dimag ka doctor Jehangir Khan – one of best uses of Shah Rukh Khan onscreen of the last few years – she sets off on a quest to address her demons. Dear Zindagi is a movie about healing that tells us we don’t require a significant other to be whole.

Available On: Netflix

Badhaai Ho

We rarely see our parents as sexual beings let alone as people capable of romantic love. Just the idea of them having lives beyond their kids and in-laws is an unexplored concept in film.

Amit Sharma’s gentle ensemble comedy is centred on a couple becoming pregnant at an older age, thereby embarrassing their son Nakul (Ayushmann Khurrana) who is marriageable age. The film, which was one of 2018’s most loved films, gave us a tender love story between an older married couple played by the wonderful Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao.

Available On: Hotstar

Premam

A through and through hug for the soul, Malayalam hit Premam (2015) told us the story of a man told through his experiences with love. The film is most remembered for the breakout performance of the charismatic and vulnerable Nivin Pauly as George, and Sai Pallavi’s delightful turn as Malar, one of his love interests.

Between the winning performances and stunning visuals of small-town Kerala, the world of director Alphonse Putharen’s Premam has a magical quality to it. Putharen made you feel like you’re on a journey of a lifetime with George. From a doting teenager to jaded adult, you see what he sees, feel what he feels and above all, you experience the people that come into his life.

Available On: Hotstar

Masaan

Like Sairat, Masaan showed a face of love in India rarely seen on our screens. A layered tale of interweaving stories in Banaras, Masaan mainly traced the story of two people whose lives are separate, but they’re struggles are the same. When Richa Chadha’s Devi is caught trying to sleep with her boyfriend, she is publicly shamed and ostracized for it. Vicky Kaushal’s Deepak, who belongs to a community which cremates bodies, falls in love with a girl from a higher community. Masaan explores love among a newer generation which yearns to be free and doesn’t think and operate like its predecessor but is shackled by the same restrictions and mentalities.

Available On: Netflix

Ek Main Aur Ek Tu

Before he turned the notion of the quintessential movie family on its head with Kapoor And Sons, director Shakun Batra did the same with the typical love story in his debut feature Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu. While on the surface, the film – about two strangers who get married after a drunken night in Las Vegas – screamed of convention, underneath it had far more to offer through its understated charm.

Batra’s film proposed that love need not move mountains, resound across the ages, or play out as you might think.

Available On: Netflix

Labour Of Love

Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s gloriously shot Bengali arthouse treasure followed a single day in the life of a married couple. He works through the night and she the day, and that one moment of overlap they get takes you through a lifetime. Set in Kolkata, the achingly poetic silent film celebrates the mundaneness of everyday life. Arthouse films such as this are often alienating, but the purity of Labour Of Love makes it accessible to all.

Available On: PrimeVideo

Bangalore Days

With Bangalore Days (2014), Anjali Menon pulled off a casting coup banding together some of Malayalam cinema’s most exciting talents. Just the idea that there is a film in which Fahadh Faasil, Dulquer Salmaan, Nivin Pauly, Parvathy and Nazriya Nazim all shared screen space is pretty nuts.

Bangalore Days looked at the one relationship central to the Indian experience rarely explored in our cinema – the bond of cousins. That unique dynamic that dances between friendship and family. The feel-good romantic drama followed the lives of three cousins Kuttan, Divya, and Arjun and their trysts with love in the titular big city

Available On: Hotstar

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“Are you happy?” he asks Janu – the now married one-that-got-away. “I am peaceful” she eventually replies, not wanting to further elaborate. They both sit silently wishing life could have panned out differently.

C Prem Kumar’s slow-burning 2018 romantic drama, about childhood sweethearts who meet more than 20 years later at a school reunion isn’t high on plot. Instead, the majority of the film covers the few hours they get to spend together at a reunion before they must return to their respective lives. The film is spearheaded by wonderful performances from Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha Krishnan.

Available On: Sun NXT

Tamasha

Imtiaz Ali’s misunderstood and polarising film about self-discovery was at its core, a love story. Ranbir Kapoor’s Ved, who at first appears full of promise, becomes caged in a life imposed on him by an oppressive father. But Tara, played by Deepika Padukone, understood him. She could see him and recognise him for who he was right from the first moment. She was the catalyst that undoes him and sets him off on a turbulent path of self-discovery. Between how the film achingly depicts heartbreak through A R Rahman’s soulful Agar Tum Saath Ho and the film’s climax which sees Ved on stage having come into his own, Tamasha boasts of some of the most memorable scenes capturing love in recent times.

Available On: Netflix

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