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Got to watch ‘I Hate Luv Storys’  finally after almost a year of the release of the movie.  A friend actually ‘informed’ me that there is Salman in a guest appearance at the end of the movie and the girl gets to marry him — so I didn’t want to miss the movie at the cost of my own life. Salman hardly gets to marry the girl in any of his movies when he is in guest appearance 😦 . Moreover, didn’t even check IMDB for the spoiler. Well, then wow! I did it again — watching another LOVE STORY!!!

However, this post is not going to be a ghisa-pita review of the movie, we have enough of reviewers on the block. My intention is to see its practical application (whatever that means) 😛 .

For so many years I have been promising myself that I will watch Spiderman, He-man, Shaktiman, thriller, action, even vampire…but not a love story!!!! However, as destiny would have it I land up ‘lyking’ love stories and vice versa. No, I mean theoretically —  don’t really know what am I supposed to explain this as. Academics has so much taken the better of me that these days I think only in terms of theory and labs :(.

Coming back to the movie, ‘I Hate Luv Storys’  like all the multiplex masala Bollywood movies of ‘our times’ has a confused hero, an equally confused heroine, and a not-so-confused fiance. As cliche has it, girls fall for the attractive and confused good-looking, non-committal hunk rather than the nice guy who would make their lives much easier. There are of course well-meaning common friends who try their best to fix-up the love story, but keep failing. Five-six songs later and an engagement later the ‘oh so confused poor hunk’ realizes that he has to win this girl, and then running through airports, two-three cabs change, a few gorgeous looking tee-shirts later, the girl and the guy are back with sehnais and with happy parents blessing the love story. Grrrrrrrr!! I hate love stories!

However, the crux of my problem today is do I “really” hate love stories? What makes love stories click in the market? There must be some ‘feel good’ factor, some sweet promises that make these stories tick.  In fact, when you come back home tired and lost, why is it that a soft romantic number makes the evenings bearable rather than the strong disco types? Why does Bollywood have to get 14 songs shot in exotic locations in order to make the big bucks? Why do characters like ‘Prem’, ‘Rahul’ and ‘Raj’ still remain (almost) every girl’s fancy? Filmy, that I have always been, ‘I Hate Luv Storys’ inspired me to investigate these questions further.

Even in Hollywood, greater is the love story greater is the bucks that it makes…. Let me recount from memory some of the classic love stories which in spite of achieving hall of fame, thousands of pages of reviews, awards, and accolades, still remain review-hungry.

I have always thought and lived with a dream to meet Humphrey Bogart, the super-cool American expatriate in the movie Casablanca (1942).  The gorgeous Ingrid Bergman and her entry into Bogart’s life in that old club, the mystery of love in the backdrop of a larger-than-life 2nd World War and Nazi concentration camps, Casablanca is a movie that would inspire the romantic of romantics. The exit scene when Rick and Ilsa walk hand in hand into the thick mist mumbling the cult dialogue: “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” — stuff that dreams are made of . The statement “one should not fall in love, but rise in love” would best suit the characters in this movie.

Who can forget the chirpy Audrey Hepburn, the pretty princess running away from the tyranny of the palaces into the life of the bohemian journalist Gregory Peck in the classy classic Roman Holiday (1953) ? The combination of charm, beauty, love, humor, and magic — the beautiful princess falling for the ‘common’ man became a model for generations of film-makers. The film has inspired girls to emulate the naughty, wide-eyed princess let loose with a dream man on the roads.

I can name ‘n’ number of movies and review them where the protagonist is no one but “LOVE” … ! Cleopatra (1963) was supposed to be a historical tale recording the life of the young, versatile Egyptian queen, who emerged as a challenge to the entire Roman empire.  In addition to the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor (Liz Taylor was known as the ‘dream of every American man’ in her times) and Richard Burton as Marc Anthony, Rex Harrison as the towering Julius Caesar, make the movie a cult among love stories, with passion and darkness as its core. Recently, while I was reading tributes pouring in for Liz Taylor on her death, the only thing I could remember was the movie, and the shock, the surprise, the intrigue on Caesar’s face when he unrolls the Egyptian rug sent to him as a present by Cleopatra, and finds Cleopatra herself bundled-up within the rug!! These are love stories that write and rewrite histories.

To name a few other such movies Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable ‘s Gone With the Wind (1939) based on the novel with the same name by Margaret Mitchell, depicting the fiery love affair between Scarlett O’ Hara and Rhett Butler, and Sound of Music (1965) would remain  classic favorites in love stories. However, I am slightly more biased towards the novel Gone with the Wind than the movie. That scene when Scarlett pleads Rhett not to leave her: “Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?” He famously answers, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”, make you cringe with anger and frustration. I have always had one question at the end of this scene: “how could he do this to a woman who loved him so deeply and frustratingly?”  Sound of Music is diametrically opposite, here it is love that turns the worst moments of human history for the best. Based on the true story of the 2nd World War Austrian war family of the von Trapps, the movie is a spectacle on wide angle. Love can be so cinematic and so musical, was beyond my imagination until I saw Sound of Music. That song: “I am sixteen, going on seventeen” is a fairytale in motion.

Closer in time,  ‘Forrest Gump’ (1994) and  ‘You’ve Got Mail’ (1998) have been my personal favorites.  That moment when Forrest realizes at the flash of a second that he has been running through the coasts for years because of his unrequited love for Jenny, is so mellow and the last scene when after the death of Jenny, Forrest, and Jenny’s son, the little Forrest spend time at the bus stop before the bus comes to pick the kid away to school, give the impression of  time itself  being caged.

‘You’ve Got Mail’ shall remain a dream movie….I remember each and every dialogue, each and every scene, and in fact when I visited United States on a Valentine’s Day (my longest Valentine’s Day), the first thing on landing at JFK I did was to go and buy a mug of coffee at Starbucks, dream the ‘American dream’ and pay a tribute to ‘You’ve Got Mail’ 🙂 . That brilliant scene towards the end of the movie when Joe Fox stops Kathleen Kelly and asks her: “Well, let me ask you something. How can you forgive this guy for standing you up and not forgive me for this tiny little thing of… of putting you out of business?” and then Kathleen starts to cry, hmmm…makes you fall in love so deeply. The other dialogue that has been a personal favourite through my adolescence, when I was struggling  to learn the computer in school, was of Kathleen Kelly: “What will NY152 say today, I wonder. I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it connects. I go online, and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: You’ve got mail. I hear nothing. Not even a sound on the streets of New York, just the beating of my own heart. I have mail. From you.” 🙂 Hmmm…. The problem of my life was however different, instead of a man like Joe Fox I fell for the computer and the computer screen at that point of time 😛 !

Each of the movies that I was recounting above deserve to have at least one article  independently. However, the thing that’s common to all these movies is love in various forms —  in some it is cute and fairy-tale like, some it’s passionate and angry,  some it’s meant to turn pages of history,  some it’s everyday affair, some it’s ego and business, and in some it’s just unsullied affection which remains non-reciprocated.

There is something deeper that I intended to prove through this post. This post is committed to search for deeper human values and bring into light those aspects of life that people are either reluctant to accept or else believe that it shows their weakness or vulnerability. Those who are fighting against corruption, lawlessness, and terrorism, need to first ask themselves how honest have we been as individuals towards our conscience and towards the fundamental aspects of life. LOVE is that fundamental aspect — need not be always physical, always emotional, always social or cultural, it might be just HUMANE. Love is that angle in cinema which brings human beings face to face with their true selves — because internally we all desire and we all live to be loved. Possibly, that’s the reason why love stories sell a lot: “Har insaan ko zindagi mein ek baar pyar zaroor karna chaheyie. Pyar insaan ko bahut accha bana deta hai” ( Pyar toh Hona hi Tha ;)) We keep on finding solutions to our existence because as human beings our very basis is acceptance, acknowledgment, and reciprocation. Unfortunately, while we are struggling to bring the higher orders of life into stability, the fundamental aspects still remain unattended. Love is a strength and not a failure….

In this context, ‘I hate Love Storys’  is one minuscule of many such fragmentary attempts to glorify love. It’s no where to be compared with the great movies of the past century which I was just cataloguing. But, it did lead me to ask myself the million dollar questions: “why do love stories sell?” and “Do I really hate love stories?” 🙂

Maybe will write about some cult Bollywood love stories if my mood permits in the future….Till then,

“It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy;– it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.” — Jane Austen