Bollywood's famous couples who dared to love while their families fought

·8-min read
Stills from Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981), Laila Majnu (1976), Chameli Ki Shaadi (1986), Sanam Bewafa (1991), Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), and Dil (1990)
Stills from Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981), Laila Majnu (1976), Chameli Ki Shaadi (1986), Sanam Bewafa (1991), Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), and Dil (1990)

As far as filmy formulas are concerned, feuding families opposed to love birds is one of Bollywood's oldest and most minted one. There are multiple Romeo Juliet-inspired stories of love blossoming between the wards of sworn enemies, young lovers rebelling against parental opposition or jumping hoops to convince them. This Valentine’s day, let's take the opportunity to revisit some of the famous love stories that weathered against family enmity.

Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963)

A young architect falls in love with the daughter of his father's business rival. To make matters worse, he is tasked by both families to design their houses that face one another. Dev Anand and Nutan's breezy love story was one of the biggest hits that year; its legacy endures thanks to the stars' charming chemistry, Vijay Anand's clever screenplay and direction, and most importantly the film's evergreen songs – Dil Ka Bhanwar, Tu Kahaan Yeh Bataa, and the very delightful title track where a drunk Dev imagines Nutan inside his drinking glass.

Jawani Diwani (1972)

Think retro in Hindi cinema and the image of Jaya Bhaduri and Randhir Kapoor grooving to the snazzy tunes of Saanme Yeh Kaun Aaya splashes across one's mind. While the peppy campus romance is very much about fun, frolic and joie de vivre, it wasn't without the hiccups of generation gap and sulking elders.

Bobby (1973)

The iconic teenage love story starring Dimple Kapadia and Rishi Kapoor used the hackneyed rich-boy-and-poor-girl-in-love trope to create an engrossing and musically-rich entertainer about rebellious love fighting class divide, religious differences, and social trappings. While Pran played Kapoor's wealthy, unaffectionate father disagreeing to the match, Prem Nath appeared in the scene-stealing role of a genial, boisterous fisherman who dotes on his daughter but holds self-respect above her wish.

Laila Majnu (1945) starring Swarnalata-Nazir, Nutan-Shammi Kapoor in the 1953 version, Ranjeeta-Rishi Kapoor in the 1976 film, and Tripti Dimri-Avinash Tiwary's 2018 film
(From top left) Laila Majnu (1945) starring Swarnalata-Nazir, Nutan-Shammi Kapoor in the 1953 version, Ranjeeta-Rishi Kapoor in the 1976 film, and Tripti Dimri-Avinash Tiwary's 2018 film

Laila Majnu – 1945/ 1953/ 1976/ 2018

The eternal folktale of star-crossed lovers from two rival clans has spawned several adaptations in Hindi cinema and other languages. Among them, HS Rawail's ambitious 1976 production remains the most well-known. Debutant Ranjeeta Kaur became the beauteous Laila while Rishi Kapoor played the young Qais whose devotion for his ladylove and inability to be united with her drives him insane. Laila Majnu's costumes and lavish production values drew praise and it was a great commercial and musical success. Recently, Imtiaz Ali presented a modern telling of the story set in contemporary Kashmir. Directed by his brother Sajid Ali, the latest offering weaves an enchanting tale of love, longing and loss that's both singular and breathtaking.

Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981)

Doomed lovers Vasu and Sapna's defiance that weathers the barriers of language, cultural differences and family resistance took the nation by storm. Unlike the silent and suffering couples one was used to seeing in films, Vasu and Sapna's rebellious resolve that scandalizes their parents and refusal to be mistreated struck a chord – especially with the young audience. To date, Sapna mixing the burnt remains of Vasu's photograph in her tea and drinking it to spite her foul-mouthed mother remains an iconic moment in Bollywood history. The film's tragic climax is said to have triggered multiple suicides by disillusioned lovers across the country.

Chameli Ki Shaadi (1986)

The “Mohabbat ke dushman” family angle gets a light-hearted, comic twist in this Basu Chatterjee flick. Amrita Singh plays the feisty Chameli who falls for an amateur wrestler Charandas (Anil Kapoor) and together they must thwart their families bent on separating them. True to Chatterjee's cinema, Chameli Ki Shaadi builds a world of delightful and quirky characters, and addresses issues like intercaste marriage, female gaze and a woman's choice in an effortless manner.

Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)

The arrival of VCRs and the Eighties Bollywood producing low-impact cinema are often considered the two drivers for family audiences moving away from cinema halls. That changed with a romantic drama helmed by a first-time filmmaker and featuring two newcomers. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak arrived at a time when the audience was desperate for good, clean entertainment and the film offered that. And so much more. The film's melodious music was an instant hit and Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla's lovely pairing made them the nation's darlings. Inspired by Romeo and Juliet, Mansoor Khan built a dramatic story about two young people, whose families share an ugly past, falling in love. While industry pundits warned against the film's tragic ending, the makers went ahead with it. The film's mega success proved their intuition correct.

Dil (1990)

In the Nineties, romance made a comeback to Bollywood with films like Dil, Aashiqui, Saajan and Deewana. The biggest grosser of the year 1990, Dil celebrated the rebellious heart. Campus rivals Raja (Aamir Khan) and Madhu (Madhuri Dixit) fall in love after a series of pranks. But their dads become enemies. The spiteful fathers attempt to separate the pair, but Raja and Madhu won't have it. “Laila nahin hum… Majnu nahin hum/ Zulm-o-sitam jo has ke sahein,” they declare.

Saudagar (1991)

The multi-starrer centred around the rivalry between Veer Singh (Dilip Kumar) and Rajeshwar Singh (Raaj Kumar) – two childhood friends turned sworn enemies – who are forced to reassess their relationship when their grandkids fall in love. The buzz surrounding the film was about the clash of the Bollywood titans as it was about the newcomers Manisha Koirala and Vivek Mushran who play sweethearts and familiarised the nation with a new lexicon for declaring affection: ILU ILU.

Sanam Bewafa (1991)

When the scions of two warring Pathan tribes, Salman (Salman Khan) and Rukhsar (Chandni), fall in love, their feuding fathers use their marriage as an opportunity to settle scores. The elders' stubbornness wreaks havoc in the lives of the newly-weds and causes more destruction for both sides. Directed by Sawan Kumar Tak, Sanam Bewafa's success cemented Salman's stardom and is best remembered for its massively popular songs like Mujhe Allah Ki Kasam, O Hare Dupattewali and Choori Mazaa Na Degi.

Doli Saja Ke Rakhna (1997)

Inder (Akshaye Khanna) and Pallavi (Jyothika) fall in love and hope to win their families' acceptance. However, circumstances force the couple to elope and their families snapping ties from them. A remake of the Malayalam film Aniyathipraavu, Priyadarshan's Doli Saja Ke Rakhna gives a thoughtful, sentimental twist to the young love versus opposing families trope. The buildup results in an unusual and endearing climax that makes up for the film's many ill-conceived actions and silliness.

Josh (2000)

The film said to be inspired by the Hollywood classic West Side Story trains its gaze on the rivalry between two street gangs of Goa. The Eagles led by Max (Shah Rukh Khan) and the Bichhoos headed by Prakash (Sharad Kapoor) are constantly fighting for dominance over the town of Vasco. Amidst their power struggle, Max's twin sister Shirley (Aishwarya Rai) and Prakash's kid brother Rahul (Chandrachur Singh) fall in love. Rai and Singh's pairing looked uninspired and frankly it was Khan and Rai as siblings that really was the pivot of the film. Josh did decent business at the BO and remains popular for its diverse soundtrack – one of the highest-selling ones that year.

Hulchul (2004)

College mates Jai (Akshaye Khanna) and Anjali (Kareena Kapoor) fake romance to do the bidding of their feuding families only to realise they have truly fallen in love. Knowing their alliance will never be accepted in both houses, the couple finds ways to get their families to call a truce. It leads to a series of misadventures where secrets are revealed and confusion reigns supreme true to the Priyadashan school of slapstick comedy.

Ishaqzaade (2012)

Yet another adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, but director Habib Faisal builds a gripping narrative against the backdrop of small town politics that addressed sexism, interfaith relationships and honour killing. Firebrand Zoya Qureshi (Parineeti Chopra) and brash Parma Chauhan (Arjun Kapoor) hail from two rival political families. After some acrimonious exchanges and a grave deception by Parma, the duo finally falls in love and goes on the run hiding away from their vengeful families.

Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013)

The Bard gets a bold, bright and boisterous turn in this Sanjay Leela Bhansali outing. As two feuding Gujarati clans Rajadi and Sanera are engaged in violent animosity for the last 500 years, Ram and Leela – the two successors of the respective groups – find themselves hopelessly attracted to each other. The film's enthralling backdrop, unabashed energy, and the lead pair's electrifying chemistry makes it the most distinct desi retelling of the tragic classic.

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