Marriages, they say, are made in heaven. But even if they do, some of them are a disaster on earth. When Rishu (Vikrant Massey) and Rani (Taapsee Pannu) get married in Haseen Dillruba, it goes from a could-be cute love story to an all hell breaks loose relationship. It becomes so dark after a point that even when Rishu is being violent, almost trying to kill her, Rani keeps falling deeper in love with him. It’s a strange bond that feels uncomfortable and deeply problematic, despite them seemingly getting their twisted version of a happy ending.
Here, we look at a few more marriages in Hindi cinema, who weren’t perhaps as blatantly discomforting, but weren’t good for each other either. And yet, they happened to find a resolution – because if it doesn’t end well, then… picture abhi baaki hai mere dost?
Ranjeet and Sharda Chadda/Chintu and Vedika Tyagi
Film: Pati Patni Aur Woh (1978, 2019)
How do marriages like these even last? The films, released in 1978 and 2019, essentially had the same storyline – other than a ‘twist’ ending for the latter. This was perhaps suggestive of how things haven’t changed much from a societal perspective. The fact that the bothersome idea of ‘men will be men’ continued to be at play 40 years on speaks loudly enough about human evolution.
Both Ranjeet and Chintu find themselves entitled enough to manipulate not one, but two women, just to have their share of ‘fun’. While a happily-married Ranjeet finds himself getting attracted to his secretary, Chintu, burdened with his wife’s desires of moving to a big city, starts crushing on a young woman looking for a plot in his town. From thereon begin their series of lies, as the men struggle to keep their two worlds separate. While Sharda is coy, and believes all of Ranjeet’s lies, Vedika is street-smart, quickly catching up with Chintu’s string of lies. However, both women, when faced with the truth ultimately want one thing – their husbands. Both are willing to give their marriages another shot, because who cares about their philandering ways anyway?
Raja and Aarti
Film: Raja Hindustani (1996)
This starts off as a love story breaking the boundaries of class. Raja wants to be loved for the way he is while never loving Aarti for the way she is. He wants to change her completely – right from her way of dressing (blaming her for wearing short clothes) to the love that she has for her father. She belongs to an affluent family of businessmen, while Raja is a driver, trying to make ends meet. When given a choice by her father to choose between her life back home and Raja, she chooses the latter. They struggle with their conflicting lifestyles, and while Raja wants her to adapt with his pride and self-respect, he keeps taking out his frustrations with Aarti’s family (read evil step-mother) and their class differences on Aarti. He is easily manipulated into believing that his wife is embarrassed of him, and behaves inappropriately with her in front of a house full of people. And Aarti is alright with it all till he raises his hand on her father. They struggle with severe trust issues, as their relationship remains muddled in manipulations, with both easily giving in to the ‘villain’s’ conspiracies. Months later, he kidnaps their unborn child, and after a long chase sequence, Aarti accepts the flaws in their relationship, paving the way for them to start anew.
Yashvardhan and Nandini Raichand
Film: Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (2001)
On the exterior, they were the embodiment of an ideal couple, still deeply in love with each other. On the inside, they were just another couple deeply drenched in the notions of patriarchy. Yashvardhan Raichand is too proud, egoistical, and entitled to listen to Nandini. He doesn’t seek her opinion in any decision-making, nor does he bother to listen to her even when she does put forward her perspective, dismissing her with a cold – ‘keh diya na bas, keh diya’. His reputation clearly weighs more than anyone else’s emotions – he doesn’t hesitate in abandoning their son for marrying out of his will. Nandini too, gives in, without uttering a word. Her mother once told her that the pati (husband) is Parmeshwar (God), and she believes it until about the last 10 minutes of the film.
Gopal and Radha
Film: Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam (2002)
Gopal and Radha may be named in a way they would seem like soulmates, but they were anything but. Gopal was the embodiment of toxic masculinity – he had a problem with anything Radha did. He literally wanted her life to revolve around him, and no one else. And Radha, despite being raised by an independent woman, willfully becomes her husband’s punching bag. She is ready to break ties with her brother – because Gopal doesn’t like financially helping him (his money is for his family and not hers?). She even agrees to stop talking to her best friend Suraj (Salman Khan) because Gopal suspects them of having an affair. In a drunken haze, he blames her and becomes violent – hurting himself and terrifying Radha in the process. But everyone from Radha’s brother to Suraj’s girlfriend, beg him to see the truth and ‘take’ Radha back.
Kamal and Neelam Mehra
Film: Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)
Their relationship is as fake as their 30th anniversary celebrations on a luxury cruise. What started off as a love marriage, gradually progresses – rather deteriorates – into a dreadful silence. They don’t talk, they can’t quite see eye to eye on anything, and often converse only to fight. Their children, too, have grown up seeing them bicker all the time. Kamal doesn’t treat Neelam well – often indulging in short-term dalliances, while Neelam, aware of it all, gulps it down because she has to. For her, and the family she was brought up in, leaving a husband isn’t an option – an ‘advice’ she passes on to her daughter when she tells her about her own marital problems. The health-conscious Kamal often body shames Neelam too. At one point, she ends up stress-eating on a lot of cake – as if stuffing her mouth with it was symbolic of her keeping her mouth shut to maintain their façade of a happy couple.
Tanu and Manu
Film: Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015)
Tanu and Manu felt like one of those classic cases of opposites attract, that is until the sequel of Tanu Weds Manu came about. Giving their relationship a new dimension, the film looked at their lives after their eventful wedding in the original film. However, it doesn’t take long for one to realize that their relationship is doomed. Four years on, they are unhappy with each other, and their marriage lacks ‘spark’. So much so that Tanu has no qualms detaining him in a mental asylum in London before moving back to India. There’s a constant to and fro between them and yet they refuse to communicate with one another – remaining completely unaware of each other’s standpoint. They are clearly still obsessed with each other, though, perhaps unhealthily. Manu, in fact, finds a rebound in the kind-hearted Kusum, Tanu’s lookalike. Tanu, on the other hand, is shocked when Manu agrees to divorce her, as if she just expected their decaying relationship to magically heal itself.