Growing up in the Eighties, screenwriter Suprotim Sengupta remembers waiting for Hindi film songs to play on the radio. Music was hard-earned; so was love. "You measured it by how much you were willing to wait for it,” said Sengupta. “We used to calculate how much you love a person by the number of buses you'd miss for her at your college bus stop." Fittingly, all this was folded into his first film Meri Pyaari Bindu (2017), where love is measured in time and music signals its passage.
In Meri Pyaari Bindu, Abhi (Ayushmann Khurrana), an erotic-horror novelist, turns to writing about the first love of his life, Bindu (Parineeti Chopra), when faced with writer’s block. In flashback, we see how fate kept bringing them together, and she, an aspiring singer, kept tearing them apart. Bindu loved Abhi, but she valued her freedom more — leaving Abhi with heartbreak and giving Hindi film audiences a love story that’s unusual not only because of its bittersweet ending but also because Sengupta wrote a hero who doesn’t turn toxic because of the woman who got away.
Sengupta made sure the film found space for classics like "Abhi Na Jao Chhod Kar" by Asha Bhosle and Mohammed Rafi to "Mere Sapnon Ki Rani" by Kishore Kumar in addition to a memorable original soundtrack composed by Sachin-Jigar, and lyrics by Kausar Munir. The jewel on this crown has to be "Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahin", sung by Sonu Nigam and Parineeti Chopra. “I don't think the movie could have been complete without the songs that Sachin-Jigar and Kausar created, especially ‘Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahin’,” said Sengupta. “In spite of having the luxury of cherry-picking our favourite songs from the archives of Indian film music, these songs still stood out and we were greedy to fit them in our story. I think that is a testimony to how good they were.”
In the film, we see Abhi take shelter from the rain in the room where Bindu and he used to hang out as children. He meets a young girl there, who turns out to be Bindu’s daughter. Then, on seeing the love of his life after many years, a swirl of emotions descends upon Abhi as he hands over his manuscript to her — a version of their story that ends happily and is only for her to read — while accepting the reality of their present. “Maana…” begins playing as Bindu takes her daughter home, and Abhi follows her, smiling wistfully. Meanwhile, a birthday is being celebrated and both Abhi and Bindu are roped into the party. Suddenly, it’s almost as though the intervening years have been washed away. They dance joyfully even while the song in the background reminds us of their actual story. Abhi’s hero moment comes when he and Bindu hold hands for a moment, only for Abhi to squeeze her hand with friendly reassurance, a sign that he’s accepted their changed relationship. Sengupta and Roy were certain music, rather than dialogue, would do justice to the ending of Abhi and Bindu’s story, leaving them enjoying each other’s presence.
Meri Pyaari Bindu is one of those unusual love stories that has found its audience over the years. If it feels intimately personal, it’s because Sengupta wrote the story inspired by his own experiences. The script struck a chord with producers Maneesh Sharma and Aditya Chopra of Yash Raj Films, who attached debutant director Akshay Roy to the project. And the rest was history. “We met and then I never left his side,” Sengupta said about his relationship with Roy. “I made his Yash Raj office mine. He was Vikram, I was Vetaal, He was Bindu, I was Abhi. He just couldn't get rid of me.”
Sengupta said that if he were to write Meri Pyaari Bindu today, cynicism would probably creep in. For him, the film is imbued with the wish to return to “the kind of people we were, which allowed us to love like that.” His first film remains an ode to the stories he grew up with, and what they taught him about love: “You had to really pine for it.”