Although we see films constantly trying to adapt to sophisticated and innovative ways to tell stories and spin novel tales, it’s common to find that the core of the film boils down to primal human nature. At the end of the day, films are trying to tell the story of human beings, and naturally, our thought processes, ideologies, and behavioural patterns end up seeping into the stories and are reflected on the screen. While every genre relies on human drama to a certain degree, some genres like romance almost entirely depend on how the characters are etched. For the longest time, the conflict in the ‘Indian love story’ has majorly leaned towards external factors—differences in culture, caste, class, or simply, evil parents. Over the years, as new-age filmmakers began to emerge, there has been a shift in the kind of stories being told and romance too is a genre that has beheld this change. The emphasis on on the characters’ internal conflicts too is growing. Take, for instance, the highly polarising Arjun Reddy. Sure, Preethi’s father, who rejects the protagonist, citing caste differences is the external antagonist but Arjun Reddy, with his anger, is also the antagonist of his love story. He lost Preethi because of his all-consuming rage.
As character traits play an important role in any film and even more in romance, a trait that can often be found in some of the most interesting love stories is the attraction to the opposites. Yet again, it is all quite… natural. "At its core, the idea that opposites attract suggests that people who have different personalities, interests, and backgrounds are more likely to be drawn to each other," explained Amira Martin, a therapist and professor at Columbia University's School of Social Work, in an interview with Mind Body Green. Whether you have noticed it or not, we have seen this theory brought to life in numerous films, with Kushi being the latest example. Now, let’s take a look at some Telugu romance films or say, love stories, that underline this element.
Pelli Choopulu is the first title that pops up in the minds of Telugu cinephiles when they hear the phrase ‘new-age Telugu films’. Not to generalise, but the conflicts in this romantic comedy hit too close to home for many guys and girls. That also explains why this film made the splash it did back in 2016. A quirky meet-cute incident turns out to be life-altering for Prashanth and Chitra. What makes the tale fascinating is that Prashanth is an unemployed, lethargic guy who wants to become a chef but he lacks the sincerity and the seriousness to give it a shot. Chitra, on the other hand, is quite focused and career-driven but at a point, she is compelled by her father to get married. When Chitra and Prashanth kickstart a food business together, she always has to guide and even run behind his back to get things done. At one point, Prashanth even tells Chitra that he is good for nothing. But what happens later is just beautiful. Pelli Choopulu charts a lovely story about how these two contrasting individuals help each other out, recognise their true selves and eventually fall in love. Like we said, Pelli Choopulu feels way too real to be a film.
Orange can now be declared the most celebrated “underrated” Telugu movie of all time. The film, which was met with lukewarm commercial and critical reception when it was released 13 years ago, has been re-evaluated several times, with the number of people resonating with its themes growing over the years. Orange deconstructs the idea of love through two different perspectives. Ram (Ram Charan) doesn’t believe in ever-lasting love whereas Jaanu, the manic pixie girl, grows up dreaming of finding true love. Ram is instantly smitten by Jaanu but she is taken aback to know that Ram shares opposing views on understanding and expectations from a loving relationship. Ram believes in showering his partner with the love waiting inside him to burst open all at once and then moving on when there’s no love left in him to pour out. Jaanu, on the other hand, expects constant, stable love from her partner, and as a result, she is both attracted to and frustrated with Ram. Orange tracks Ram’s attempts to change Jaanu as well as his eventual transformation. Very few films committed themselves to exploring the intricacies of love the way Orange did.
Imagine you love a person. Not only does the person hail from a completely different cultural background, but is also averse to your dream job. Is finding compatibility and love even possible amidst such differences? This is the question Ye Maaya Chesave puts and also offers answers. The film, indubitably, is one of the most analysed and celebrated Indian films of our times. The question at its core is what warrants all the attention the film continues to get more than a decade after its release, and an all-timer AR Rahman score too. Karthik and Jessie are poles apart culturally; she’s a Malayali Christian and he’s a Hindu boy from a Telugu family. And the more serious concern here is that Kartik is an aspiring filmmaker, and Jessie doesn’t like movies! Now, that’s what we call heartbreaking. “The films are too loud,” Jessie tells Karthik at one point. And Karthik keeps asking himself in the film, “When there are so many women in this world, why did I fall in love with Jessie?” Opposites attract, dear, could be one possible answer.
This one’s an all-timer. Bommarillu, one of the most beloved films of the last decade is also a testament to our ‘Attraction to the opposite’ theory because of its leads. On one hand, we have Siddhu (Siddharth), who is raised by an over-protective father in a privileged household, and on the other, there’s the free-spirited Haasini who is always bursting with energy and is certainly not a person to follow the rule book. As Siddhu meets Haasini and begins learning more about her, he finds himself drawn toward her liveliness and irresistible charm, traits that are definitely not a part of his personality. What happens when Siddhu’s father learns about this love story is a different thing but you can clearly see why he fell for her. She is everything he always wishes he could be: independent and carefree.
The latest film to be featured on the list is Kushi, which takes on a much broader concept—faith—to propel its relationship drama. Viplav (Vijay Deverakonda, once again) is brought up in an atheist household whereas Aaradhya (Samantha, once again) is brought up in a traditional Hindu household that believes in spirituality. Although the blossoming of their romance doesn’t have much to do with their contrasting upbringing and principles, it tests their compatibility and love. Viplav is an atheist but Aaradhya is spiritual, and both of them, after enduring some severe turbulence in their marriage life, realise that understanding and empathy is the key to finding compatibility. While the film makes us wish it dwelled deeper into its serious concepts, it’s still an interesting study of how two individuals have to keep it going even when their clashing worlds and their own beliefs seem to pose a massive threat to their relationship.