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Why the Movie Raanjhanaa Ruined My Ideals of Love (And Why I Don't Care)
The first Bollywood movie I ever saw was Raanjhanaa. I watched it on the plane on the way to India, and I remember not having strong feelings about it. I even fell asleep. I was just fourteen then, and I suppose I didn’t care that much about love and dramatic romances that ran parallel with equally dramatic political plots, and I didn’t know enough about religion to care about the drama that existed between the Hindu boy and the Muslim girl. But that all changed when I grew up just a little bit, and fell in love with many aspects of Indian culture.
That was when my late attempt to educate myself on Bollywood began, when I was fifteen. I needed to catch up on so much! I needed to learn the lyrics to Shreya Goshal hits, I needed to fall in love with Shah Rukh Khan, and I needed to watch all the popular movies!
These attempts to educate myself on Indian popular film culture were half successful. I did learn the lyrics to many Bollywood songs, simply from listening to them over and over again, including Barso Re and Banarasiya (both by Shreya Goshal), but my attempts to watch all the popular movies and to fall in love with Shah Rukh Khan were not. See, Bollywood movies are normally 2 ½ - 3 hours long, and it’s difficult for me to find time to sit down and watch a movie of that length. Also, I just didn’t get why everyone loved Shah Rukh Khan so much. I mean yes, he’s a good actor, but he’s not that attractive or romantic. I’ve had long discussions about this with my little sisters, and we all agree that he's just not attractive because of his weird nose, strange jawline, and bad hairstyles.
Shah Rukh Khan with actress Kajol in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)
But when it came to the movie Raanjhanaa, the first Bollywood movie I ever saw, my attempts to be educated were entirely too successful.
I was browsing YouTube one day, watching Bollywood music videos, when I came across the “Tum Tak” video (“Tum Tak” translated to English means “For You”), from Raanjhanaa. At this time, I had completely forgotten that I had seen the movie. I watched the video and I fell in love with it. I don’t know what about it made me love it so much more than anything else I’d seen before. Perhaps it was Sonam Kapoor, the lead actress, as Zoya, and her beautiful smiles and gorgeous salwaar kameez. Perhaps it was Dhanush, the lead actor, as Kundar, and his intense love for Zoya. I think that part of me wanted to be like Zoya, who was so effortlessly gorgeous, unattainable, and confident in herself. I wanted someone to love me like Kundar loved Zoya – unconditionally, strongly, and beautifully. Love at first sight.
I watched "Tum Tak" over and over again for a long time, and forced all my friends to watch it as well. They sighed – “oh goodness it’s Gypsy being Gypsy again,” but I didn’t care that they didn’t feel how I did. Raanjhanaa awoke inside of me something I had never felt before. Perhaps it gave a slight reprieve to my intense longing to go back to India; perhaps it satisfied my love for everything that expressed the beauty and passion of the world.
I got a copy of Raanjhanaa, but it didn’t have English subtitles and it was completely in Hindi, so I read the script and an extensive plot summary so that I could know what was happening while I watched it. I made my sisters watch it too, and they loved it almost as much as I did. The three of us sighed over Zoya’s amazing outfits, her gorgeous long hair, her beautiful smile, and the jingle of her bangles and anklets. We laughed about Kundar, and how funny he looked in the Holi scene in "Tum Tak." We laughed at him, but I think we all were secretly in love with his cheesiness. Little River, who’s seven, learned Zoya's dance to the "Tum Tak" song, and Phoenix, who’s eleven, took a lot of fashion inspiration from Zoya. I, however, was inspired by something else in the movie: its intense portrayal of the emotion of love.
As I watched Raanjhanaa, I thought about what it would be like to have someone love me that much. “Do I think they’d love me as much as Kundar loved Zoya?” I’d ask myself whenever someone expressed interest in me. Unfortunately, the answer was always no, mostly because I’m a picky person who doesn’t express romantic interest in just anyone. I had to find my Kundar, my guy who’d love me almost unconditionally, who’d make me sing Bollywood songs about love in my head whenever I saw him.
Dhanush, looking like a good marriageable young man.
As I’m only sixteen, I’m still rather young and impressionable, and I was very influenced by Raanjhanaa. I wanted to find someone who would love me even when I didn’t love them and I wanted someone who would treat me with the utmost respect and consideration, like Kundar was to Zoya. I wanted someone who would make me feel inexpressibly happy.
Raanjhanaa ruined any realistic ideals of love, romance, and relationships that I had at ages fifteen and sixteen. In the place of attainable relationship ideals, it instilled seemingly unattainable ideals filled with strings of jasmine flowers, jeweled bridal saris, and song-and-dance numbers. This bothered me for a little while, because I thought I’d never find someone to fulfill this. Everyone knows how teenagers are – everything is now or never, we have to have everything be perfect, we “fall in love” very easily, and we are extremely impressionable.
Sonam Kapoor as Zoya in Raanjhanaa - looking gorgeous as always.
Though Raanjhanaa gave me these unrealistic ideals, it also gave me strong high standards, so I don’t care if it made me picky. It helped me realize that I don’t need to go out with just anyone, I should only choose a person who will treat me well, who will love and respect me. These ideals, along with what my parents have taught and shown me about love and relationships, have helped me be in a successful relationship where I am respected and where I respect my significant other as well. I think that my high standards and love of everything beautiful and romantic will help me succeed in finding good people in my life, as has already been proven. I will give others my love wholeheartedly, because, as Raanjhanaa has shown me, those people might be taken away at any moment, and life is for enjoying and finding the beauty and love in.
But, I must admit, I am still rather concerned for my sisters’ future love lives, for they are having these "Raanjhanaa love standards" set at very young ages. Who knows though, maybe they will find their Kundar and Zoya relationship, like I have.
#Real #Bollywood #Raanjhanaa # Romance #HighStandards #UnrealisticIdeals #HinduBoyMuslimGirl
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