A TO Z OF MARRIAGES IN HINDI CINEMA, FROM FILMS, FIRST NIGHTS AND INSPIRATIONS TO RUNAWAY BRIDES AND UNFAITHFUL PARTNERS by ASJAD NAZIR With Hindi cinema being built on the bedrock of romance, there have been plenty of weddings on the Bollywood big screen featuring stories centred on married lives. Over the years, filmmakers have explored various themes connected to a couple’s union and offered memorable moments that have left a permanent mark with movie fans along with inspiring those getting married. With the wedding season in full flow, Eastern Eye compiled an all-you-need-to-know A to Z about onscreen marriages in Hindi films. A is for After marriage: Although most Bollywood love stories have ended with the couple getting together, there have been many that explored the challenges of married life. While films like Saathiya and Chalte Chalte saw loved-up couples learning life lessons, including appreciating one another, others explored different facets of married life. In Woh Saat Din and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, the bride learns to love her husband, who initially was her second choice and realises the universe had a bigger plan. B is for Band Baaja Baaraat: The colourful 2010 musical saw Anushka Sharma and Ranveer Singh play wedding planners, who go from making the dreams of couples come true to falling in love with each other. The first commercial Hindi film to revolve around wedding planners had many magical moments, including celebratory songs that have become a part of receptions around the world. C is for Chaudhvin Ka Chand: The classic 1960 romance revolves around a man, who marries the bride of his dreams, but later realises it was the same woman his best friend was in love with. What follows is an interesting triangle weighing up friendship against true love. The tormented man aside, the title track is one of the greatest moments in cinematic history when the husband serenades his new wife in a wonderful way. D is for Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge: The record-breaking 1995 romance made audiences look at the union of star-crossed lovers in a brand new light. Before this film, couples would rebel against their parents and elope if needed. But the most famous wedding-set movie in Bollywood history put across the message of parental acceptance. Aside from the underlying message, the film had many standout wedding moments, including a brilliant mehndi song. E is for Eloping: Yes, for the longest time star-crossed lovers would elope when their parents didn’t agree to the union. They would usually have a simple ceremony and win over elders in the end. The first famous Bollywood elopement in real life happened when 1950s stars Shammi Kapoor and Geeta Bali quietly got married, with her lipstick being used as the sindoor. F is for Family pressure: Every Bollywood story involving a couple getting married has some sort of family pressure involved. Often, the conflict arises from elders in the family wanting their children to have an arranged marriage even if they are in love with someone else. That family pressure continues after the wedding with one example being new brides battling domineering mother-in-laws in films, including in Biwi Ho To Aisi and Beta. G is for Ghost: Nasty in-laws haven’t been the only spooky presence in Bollywood films over the years, there have been appearances by some spirits, too. In the 1968 drama Neel Kamal, a woman who gets married has the spirit of a lost love from a previous life haunting her. In comedy-drama Phillauri, an engaged man mistakenly marries a ghost and releases her spirit from a tree. H is for Hum Aapke Hain Koun: The 1994 wedding-set musical smashed all records when it was released and became the highest grossing Bollywood film in history. The family entertainer essentially goes through the various rituals of a wedding and in the process a love story unfolds between the bride’s sister and the groom’s brother. The musical inspired a whole generation of weddings, whether it was on stage, the big screen or real life. I is for Inspiration: Whether it is the celebratory songs, the gorgeous outfits or plush settings, Bollywood has inspired weddings around the world for decades. Film producers have also been inspired by Hollywood for their wedding-set stories, including Aap Ki Khatir, which was an unofficial remake of The Wedding Date. Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai was inspired by My Best Friend’s Wedding and there have been plenty that have elements of Runaway Bride (see R). J is for Jodhaa Akbar: There have been many historical epics that have had lavish onscreen weddings, including the hit 2008 film Jodhaa Akbar that centred on the real-life romance between Mughal emperor Jalal-ud-din Muhammad and Rajput princess Jodhaa Bai. What made this extra special was the cross-religious element, which isn’t often explored in Hindi cinema. Another notable time it was explored was in the 1995 film, Bombay. K is for Kuch Kuch Hota Hai: There was a time when king of romance Shah Rukh Khan was regularly breaking up couples already betrothed on screen, including in this 1998 romance. His character, a widowed, single father reconnects with a best friend from college and she leaves her fiancé at the last minute for him. Other films where Shah Rukh Khan stepped into the middle of already engaged couples include Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Veer-Zaara and Jab Harry Met Sejal. L is for Love: From a courting couple falling for one another to a husband and wife truly bonding after marriage, Hindi cinema has explored different facets of love across the years. That emotion of love has been the key driving force of stories involving weddings and has also imparted life lessons to audiences that have remained long after the movie has ended. M is for Monsoon Wedding: Even though it is not a Bollywood film, the smash hit Delhi-set drama deserves a mention because of the incredible global impact it made in 2001. The Mira Nair-directed film took the colour of a traditional wedding to a global audience like no other Indian film before it. N is for Night: The wedding night, traditionally known as the suhaag raat, has played a huge role in Hindi cinema and been represented in a number of ways. While some wedding nights have been deeply romantic, others have been represented as awkward, funny and in some cases, quite dark. With Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, the story explored the theme of the husband suffering from erectile dysfunction and the challenges of it leading up to the wedding night. Perhaps the most memorable moment happened in Kabhi Kabhie, where a heartbroken bride sings the title song from a lost love, while the new husband tries to woo her. O is for Outfit: Stunning outfits worn by leading ladies have inspired brides across the years. The plot of Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania is triggered when an engaged young woman goes to Delhi to find the perfect outfit and unexpectedly meets a guy who wants to marry her. P is for Parents: The parents play a huge role in a Bollywood wedding story and will usually be antagonists blocking the way to true love until the warmth of true love melts their cold hearts. But Anupam Kher played two roles as a father that bucked prevailing trends – in Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin, he tells his daughter to run away while walking her down the aisle to prevent her from marrying an idiot and in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, he encourages his son to win over the woman of his dreams. Q is for Queen: In Hindi cinema, many have been left at the altar or had their hearts broken after being dumped. This 2014 film showed what happens to the one who is jilted before the biggest day of their life and revolves around a woman who goes on a journey of self-discovery by going on the pre-booked honeymoon to Europe by herself. The empowering film showed having an engagement broken doesn’t have to be the end of it all. R is for Runaway brides: Pooja Bhatt in Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin wasn’t the only runaway bride Bollywood has delivered. There have been many who have decided to do a runner on the big day due to various reasons, including a change of heart. Some of the most memorable runaway brides include Diana Penty in Happy Bhag Jayegi, Kareena Kapoor Khan in 3 Idiots, Katrina Kaif in Namastey London, Sonam Kapoor in Dolly Ki Doli and Deepika Padukone in Chennai Express. S is for Songs: No musical is complete without songs and Bollywood has offered one for every occasion associated with a wedding, which have been subsequently used by couples around the world. There are songs for marriage proposals, friends of the groom, celebrations and the deeply emotional farewell ceremony when the bride leaves her paternal home. So, Bollywood really does have the complete playlist. T is for Tanu Weds Manu: The hit 2011 film and subsequent 2015 sequel smashed the stereotype of the soft Bollywood blushing bride. Kangana Ranaut plays the rebellious young woman who wants to live life on her terms and R Madhavan portrays an altogether more demure groom trying to tame her. In the sequel, he is unhappily married and meets her doppelganger, who is even tougher. U is for Unfaithful: Yes, there have been naughty people in Bollywood who have become unfaithful after getting married in films, including Arth, Silsila and Kabhi Alveda Na Kehna. This is a happy feature so we won’t dwell on that too much. V is for Vivah: When it comes to weddings, a union of love has been far more popular than an arranged marriage in Hindi cinema. One of the few films that showed an arranged marriage works and can survive challenges was the 2006 romance starring Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao. The film helped restore faith in an old custom that Bollywood had dismantled across decades. W is for Weddings: From the small intimate ceremonies to extravagant affairs, Bollywood has explored weddings of all shapes and sizes. If the bill for your wedding is super high, then Hindi cinema is most likely to blame. Most weddings on the Bollywood big screen have a larger-than-life feel and kind of opulence most can only dream of, but many do try recreating it in real life. X is for X Factor: That unique X factor is added to onscreen weddings with the colourful dances, big musical names, opulent settings, amazing outfits and a spirit of togetherness. Y is for Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani: Friends play a massively important part in a wedding and will especially come to be at the forefront when it is party time as it’s almost like a final farewell. This was perfectly illustrated in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani when Ranbir Kapoor’s character makes a surprise appearance at his friend’s reception and sings. Z is for Zubeida: You probably thought we would go through the list without a proper mention of the mehndi ceremony. Well, you were wrong. Bollywood has delivered superb moments connected to this ritual, including the wonderful song Mehndi Hai Rachne Vali from Zubeida, which is a perfect combination of music, lyrics and meaning.