In lesser romances, these characters are as good as villains, uni-dimensional tyrants who have no inner life or depth. They are often rich, well-qualified and they occasionally come with the promise of a better life outside India. They can be handsome too, but the bottomline is that they're just basically terrible PR for the institution of arranged marriage. But is it fair to call these guys a Roy? It is, in a way, because the Oxford dictionary is yet to include the term Roy as anything but a name. Its definition is yet to find mention in the Urban Dictionary either so you can probably get away with it, even if you were to assign it any meaning you want to.
But for the sake of an argument, let's take a couple of minutes to define what constitutes the good old Roy in our movies. For one, he is not the aforementioned tyrant. He is not incapable of understanding his wife either. He's just another boy who stands in front of his wife, secretly asking her to love him. In plain terms, he's just the guy whose love story begins in the epilogue of a much bigger love story. If an unhappy ending was personified, it would probably look like a Roy. Here are six examples of this archetype and the way films have used it.
Arguably the biggest example of a Roy, apart from the Roy in VTV and Karthik Dial Seydha Enn, is Vanraj, played by Ajay Devgn in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Over the years, Vanraj has gone from being looked at merely as Sameer's (Salman Khan) cockblocker to a great man willing to help his wife unite in love. Is this the ultimate form of sacrificial love or is it just terrible communication skills during a period of terrible phone networks? Either way, given that Nandini returns to him in the end, you can see that this Roy's life isn't quite the tragedy. Is it a happily ever after? I'm not so sure given how Sameer is still waiting to reunite with Nandini in their aatve janam.
Another example of a very similar character is the one played by Pasanga Sivakumar in the climax of Kadhal. The reason why this film was even made was the result of a real-life Roy narrating his story to director Balaji Sakthivel. This Roy too is unaware of his wife's tragic backstory when they get married. Even Aishwarya, unaware of the complete magnitude of what happened to her ex-lover, perhaps, finds a semblance of peace to be able to move on. Yet, when they run into Murugan accidentally, it throws everything upside down. Had Aishwarya's husband just pulled her away from Murugan, we may have forgotten the film by now. Even in this tragedy about the evils of caste pride, we're still capable of seeing humanity only because of this Roy. For many, the Kadhal in the title is meant for Murugan and Aishwarya. For a few, the real Kadhal was always about Aishwarya and her husband.
In the celebrated romance between Jaanu and Ram, we often overlook the state-of-mind of Jaanu's husband in Singapore who, perhaps, knew beforehand that Jaanu's visit to India was going to change her forever. Janu describes him as a very nice man and a good husband. In an old interview, the film's writer-director Prem Kumar described this Roy, whose actual name is Saravanan, as, "the ideal husband. But, that does not mean that two good people can make a great marriage. Love is something else". About Jaanu meeting with Ram, he adds, "Saravanan knows about him. He knows that his wife has someone in her heart. He knew that Janu would go meet him, fall in love again, express everything that's in her heart. But he also knew that she would come back to him and their daughter. That's why he must have been fine with the idea of her going for this reunion. There may be many husbands who might be against such an idea, but there are just as many who would want their wives to experience something like this. Because, a lot of people end up with someone who they don't really love." Is there a better way to describe a Roy?
The creator of THE Roy has also created one or two other similar characters before him. Even though Sam (Abbas) is not yet the husband, you see traits of many a Roy in him. I mean, he does nothing wrong and he even tries to protect his fiancé from a creepy character, but he still has to end up with a broken heart. Sam lets her go even though her lover is his biggest enemy. But unlike the heroes in these films, he does not get a song and a TASMAC scene to drown his sorrows.
Arivu in Premam
Even though Premam comprises three love stories and time periods, you know that it's eventually only about Malar (Sai Pallavi) and George (Nivin Pauly). After an accident, Malar loses her memory and eventually ends up getting married to her cousin Arivu. Now, how about imagining the film from Arivu's POV? How must it feel to find happiness in a marriage with Malar knowing very well that she was madly in love with George? And, by extension, does Suresh Gopi's character from Innale too become a Roy?
Arguably, the only Roy in this list to get a reasonably peaceful ever-after must be Chandrakumar (Mohan) from Mouna Ragam. This passive-aggressive gentleman is unaware of his wife's (Revathi playing Divya) dramatic love story but when he comes to know, he becomes a different person. By then, she too spends enough time with him to realise that he isn't terrible. The difference, unlike in the earlier cases, is that she has to move on because her ex isn't coming back.
Chandrakumar is the luckiest among the Roys, but is that enough? Are heartbreaks a part of the job description for a Roy, or can you think of an example where such a character gets a love story just as magical as the "original"?