What do we talk about when we talk about love?
For almost a generation or two, we saw a female protagonist with suspicious unibrows wearing a salwar kameez waiting for her beloved to meet her. We saw the male lead wearing a leather jacket and riding motorcycles. We envisioned both protagonists falling in love, going against their families, dancing in the Sarso Ke Khet and after an unrealistic fighting sequence, they lived happily ever after. But is this real? When was the last time we saw a man gate crash a wedding and steal the girl?
Over time, our ideas about best friends, unrequited love, and romance have changed in the post-Covid-era. When we look at today’s scenarios, our current generation is unbothered about Bollywood rom-com. We are surrounded by multiple questions that rattle our heads. As 90s kids and hopeless romantics, why do our hearts crave a love story like Jai and Aditi’s from Jaane Tu Yaa Jaane Na? Why are we in awe of Aisha and Sid's romance from Wake up Sid?
The main reason is that we all are looking for real, raw, and relatable love. The main protagonists from Jaane Tu Yaa Jaane Na, are classic examples of fairy tale romance with the essence of reality. The main lead, Jai, who is shy, introverted, and reserved, goes against the odds, runs to the airport, fights with the villains, and wins Aditi’s heart, which make our hearts sing Yuuhi Nahi Dil Lubhata koi! To be honest, our sceptical minds know it is a bit unreal, but the acting of the duo and the phenomenal love story have moulded its audience in its favour.
Erstwhile, Aisha and Sid from the highly critically acclaimed 2009 Rom-com, Wake up Sid, shows us a different side of the world. A 29-year-old, financially independent woman falling in love with a 22-year-old spoiled brat was a new experiment by Ayan Mukherjee. This unexpected imperfect romance was a perfect fit for our hopeless romantic hearts. Their love story was unusual, but it was worth it. There was something exceptional about these movies, and there was a reason for loving these Rom-Com flicks.
Apart from Jai and Aditi’s love story, Jaane tu… portrayed different layers of emotions. Jai’s relationship with his mother, Savitri Devi was a visual treat for us, and simultaneously, Aditi’s bond with her brother, Amit, was relatable. From him splashing a bucket full of water on Jai, to him advising Aditi that Sushant is not right for her, we embraced Amit’s journey, too! How can we forget the scene when Amit says, ‘Tujhe pata hai mera kaun dost tha? Tu thi.’
In Ayan Mukherjee’s directorial debut, we saw our adulthood visualised on the big screens. Many of us related to Aisha’s strong character, but the majority of us were Sid in real life. Watching this film became our wake up reminder. The journey of Sid, from a careless, pampered boy to a man with passion, is the equivalent of a warm hug. Who didn’t get goosebumps when Sid gives his father his first cheque? But today's romances like Kabir Singh, Radhe Shyam, Tadap, Love Aaj Kal, and Shiddat, to name a few, aren’t talking about love anymore. The message to the youth is wrong. Instead of a healthy relationship, they are projecting emotions like how men can control women, how easy it is to slap them, and how okay it is to be obsessive! On top of that, the films are filled with over-complicated plots, bad acting and zero chemistry between the leads.
The rom-com genre has declined and is being shunned by Gen Z. These modern-day love stories project the false image of how love should be! We are stuck in a loop where we are unlearning what we have learned about love from the 90s. True love is portrayed through doing mutual efforts, believing in each other, respecting their personal space, and staying loyal. Love should be empathetic and personal, which was beautifully explained by Jaane Tu Yaa Jaane Na and Wake Up Sid. But what we see today is a mirage. Maybe, one day, we hopefully find water.