Is there any third-act twist, any romantic trope, or any narrative arc more vulnerable and heartwarming than characters meeting each other again after they've gone through the twists and turns of the narrative? Two people – sometimes drenched, sometimes sobbing, sometimes silent – looking at each other and realising that the passage of time has changed everything except for how they feel when they hold each other's gaze. Two people who have become who the story wanted them to be. Sometimes so that they can be reunited, other times so that they can realise that while this love will always hold a place in their heart, their journey lies elsewhere. But always, always so that they can have that one moment where they know that this has been their person all along.
Every single on-screen pair that writers put through this gut-wrenching and surreal moment experiences it differently based on their story. However, one thing remains constant: the familiarity that does not necessarily require detailed verbal communication anymore. Both of them know what's going on. Here are a few characters whose 'Phir Le Aaya Dil' moments were heartbreaking and heartwarming at once:
Bubla from Meri Pyaari Bindu is a writer above all else, so it makes sense that words play an exceptionally important part in the story because he is the one narrating it. However, the moment a saree-clad Bindu walks into his life again, none of his sentences matters anymore because he and Bindu do not need them to talk to each other. Of course there is rain and of course there is music; but there is also a realisation that he has been writing this story for an audience of two only. It has been an exercise in feeling her presence in his life by reliving the moments they spent together, but now that she is here, the book doesn't matter anymore because they don't need it. The song 'Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahi' is therefore not an exclamation of their respective inner monologues, but a narration of a conversation that they are having in real time. While most Phir Le Aaya Dil moments are about resolutions or longing, this one is about moving on. They are both telling each other that it's okay to let go of what they could have been, while still tightly holding on to what they once were.
The Phir Le Aaya Dil moment in Made in Heaven is not about reuniting with past selves, but about acknowledging the existence of present ones. It is not one of reconciliation, but of heartbreak. Throughout the story, Karan is running away from what is making his heart ache, distracting himself with flings and carrying his remorse at the back of his mind. It is when he finally sits across from Nawab, however, that both he and the audience realise that what he has been labelling as guilt so far has actually been grief. It is not just that he is remorseful about how things ended between them, it is also that he experienced a huge loss. The intimacy in this particular sequence is haunting because it is bursting with love and forgiveness, but also with the very obvious knowledge that it is too late to make amends that are significant enough for him to have Nawab in his life in the capacity that he longs for.
The eternal nature of Yash Chopra romances is such that the poetry of reuniting at once interacts with the prose of separation when Veer and Zaara finally meet each other after so many years. It is the real Zaara whose presence sets Veer free literally, while the phantom Zaara in his memories has kept him from feeling confined even during his time in jail. What makes this particular sequence stand out is also the acknowledgement of the fact that meeting and interacting with someone whom you have an unresolved past with also gives you the space to be reintroduced to who you were when you were around them. Veer and Zaara are at once grey-haired lovers who have been longing for each other without the other's knowledge, and young souls who are moved by the excitement and comfort of a newfound romance and connection. The fact that they are both still carrying one anklet each from Zaara's payal is also a beautiful metaphor for how they have been holding on to each other through everything.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful films centred around old lovers meeting again, Before Sunset is another film that focusses on a writer's perspective while employing this trope. It takes the dramatic route of Celine and Jesse's eyes meeting across the rooms while he in the middle of narrating a story based on his memory of their last meeting. There is a play on the meta-nature of this scene as the journalists sitting around him are trying to predict whether or not the characters in the book that he has written based on the time they spent together will meet again. The fact that Jesse takes a brief pause when he looks at her and then continues narrating the story brings the moment alive with poetic fervour because his narration is based on a story that factors in the fact that they will probably never meet again – and there she is, in front of him, as real as the memories they both carry.