Free Press Journal

The Lunchbox to Raanjhanaa: Bollywood’s unconventional love stories


Despite being one of the most popular genres, Bollywood romances hardly have variations. But there are a few gems which has won our hearts with their unconventional plots

 Love acts as a guiding force of our life and can’t be explained in words.  Everybody has a different definition of love. For some love is everything in life while for others it is just a four-letter word. But the thing which cannot be denied that everybody has embraced love once in a life. Bollywood has cashed this emotion a lot. Earlier movies followed the typical plot of beginning, middle and end. The movie began with a love a story, the middle was a crisis depicted mostly melodramatically and the end i.e. the climax was a resolution with the couple uniting in a happy ending. With time, the way Bollywood deals with love stories has changed significantly, from cliché to unconventional. Here are movies which brought to screen a different side of love.

  • Dear Zindagi

Dear Zindagi is primarily a film about mental health and not romance. The film revolves around Kaira who after battling with emotional issues, reluctantly goes to Dr Jehangir Khan for treatment and ends up falling in love with him. What is special about their love is that it is very subtly conversed in the end, when Kaira finally express her feelings to Dr Khan. What makes the story unconventional is that Kaira changes as a person after falling in love and emerges so strong that his rejection doesn’t affect her. Her love helps her grow by making her powerful and secure in contrast to what happens at the beginning of the film, where Kaira is an insecure young woman who couldn’t handle her commitments. Also, Dr Khan’s ‘creaking chair’ in the last scene leaves the audience with a sense of uncertainty about his feeling for Kaira.

  • The Lunchbox

The Lunchbox is a film that truly lives to the popular saying “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. The story of Ila and Saajan is so unconventional that not even for once do the meet in the entire film. They only express their attraction towards each other through food and messages packed in lunchboxes. They are not a couple and not strangers either. They are neither friends nor in any commitment. There is no name to their relationship however they both equally reciprocate their feelings for each other, so much so that Ila shares her deepest desires like moving away to Bhopal and Saajan cares for her so much that he decides not to meet her at all on realising she is much more youthful and energetic in comparison to him. Eventually, Ila is convinced he wouldn’t come to her and also dejected by her husband’s dishonesty leaves for Bhopal. While Saajan returns as he is drawn back to her, sadly, only to find her gone forever. Their love is such that they cannot be together and yet they belong to each other. However, in the end, they don’t have a happily ever after, which makes The Lunchbox an unconventional Bollywood romance.

  • Qareeb Qareeb Singlle

‘Qareeb Qreeb Singlle’ is a coming of age romance that depicts the love story of Yogi and Jaya who are two strikingly different personalities but eventually fall in love with each other. While Jaya lives with the baggage of her past, Yogi lives in the moment.  What makes their romance unconventional is how they fall in love. The duo takes a journey together to meet three ex-girlfriends of Yogi. What is supposed to be a carefree, friendly journey ends up making them develop feelings for each other.

  • Black

 Black is a movie which portrays a bond between a teacher and a student.  Michelle who is a blind and deaf girl is introduced to the ways of the world by her teacher Debraj. Debraj pulls Michelle out of the darkness by teaching her how to communicate. Debraj helps Michelle to get admission and overcome challenges in life. They develop a very special bond. In the end when Debraj is suffering from Alzheimer, Michelle helps her teacher to interact with the world. What makes the story of Black unconventional is that it defines love as a relationship of growth and giving. What Michelle learns from Debraj is what she gives him back. Their love is unspoken but not unexpressed.

  • Sadma

Sadma, a love story which revolves around Nehalata and Somu, movie depicts unconditional love of Somu towards Nehalata. In an accident, Nehalata loses her memory and regresses to childhood. She gets kidnapped and sold to a brothel by some goons. Somu not only rescues her from the brothel but also take care of her without any wrong intention. After spending several months together they start developing a special bond with each other.  Somu provides medical treatment to Nehalata, but after gaining her memory she totally forgets Somu and abandons him. Though Somu tries his best to meet Nehalata his efforts go in vain and he is left heart-broken.

  • Highway

Highway is a one of a kind Bollywood film. It bought to the drawing rooms a lot of issues which were only discussed behind closed doors before. The film talks about child abuse, sexual harassment, honour killing and Stockholm syndrome in one breath. Veera on a journey in which she should be insecure, frightened and angry actually feels secure, free and soothed. She falls in love with her kidnapper Mahabir Singh after discovering how both of them have forever dealt with pain and harassment in silence.

  • Cheeni Kum

The love story of Cheeni Kum is a typical Bollywood romance and yet not so. At the beginning of the film, there is a conflict between the protagonists, they then fall in love and go on to battle the world for their love and eventually lead a happy ending. But the unconventional element in the film is the age group of the couple. Tabu plays a 34-year-old woman still trying to find love in life and a 64-year-old man played by Amitabh who despite being her father’s age falls for her. The film justifies the idea that age is just a number and love can happen to anyone in any circumstance.

  • Ranjhanaa

Ranjhanaa may be criticized for encouraging stalker culture, but one can’t deny the spirit of love that Kundan depicts was absolutely honest. Kundan falls for Zoya when they are kids and since then he purely and solely loved her, so much so that caste, class or distance, nothing could affect it. Eventually, Kundan happily dies for Zoya proving the sanctity of his love. In this movie, two love stories run parallel in other words movie is love triangle where Zoya loves Jasjeet and Kundan loves Zoya. Both the stories remain unfulfilled.

  • Barfi

Barfi is a story of souls, not people. What makes the film unique is the idea of love being depicted as an emotion that doesn’t need words but only expressions. This is depicted in the story of Jhilmil and Barfi. While the story of Shruti and Barfi beautifully express how love is not always about having but also about giving, sacrificing and finding happiness in the happiness of your beloved.

  • Lootera

Lootera may not have been a huge commercial success but the film was a treat for those who love the romance genre. What made the film unconventional was that it didn’t deal with a black and white love story but one that had greys. The story of Pakhi and Varun who couldn’t live together but even in parting Varun gives Pakhi a reason to live. Their love is symbolically eternalising with the leave Varun leaves behind for Pakhi to not give up on life.