Live-in relationships, flavour of the season?

Last Updated: Thu, Sep 08, 2005 05:33 hrs

Trust Bollywood to latch on to any formula that might have a see-able lining. Last week’s film Pyaar Mein Twist had the unorthodox pair of parents Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia running away together.

Nothing wrong with that. Except that the two parents aren’t married to each other. This, in the context of `Hindustani sabhyata` might seem sacrilegious except for the fact that the dialogues repeatedly stress the fact that the aging pair seek nothing but companionship. And that their joint escape route is nothing like the Dimple-Rishi elopement in Bobby 30 years ago.

Oh damn! And to think a decade ago eyebrows shot up when Sridevi played a besotted teenager in Yash Chopra’s Lamhe who has a crush on her guardian-angel Anil Kapoor.

“How can you want to marry a man who lives under the same roof?” the prudes whined.

But look at the irony. Three years earlier in Maine Pyar Kiya we had the ultra-conservative Sooraj Barjatya allowing his totally traditional heroine to stay in the house of the hero. Though the rapport shared between Bhagyashree and Salman Khan was totally platonic the pair did, technically, share a live-in relationship.

With Pyaar Mein Twist live-in relationships seem to have come of age, in more ways than one. While the elderly couple in the film live together, away from their respective homes, there’s more counter-conservative accommodation in store in debutant director Sidharth Raj Anand’s Salaam Namaste which opens this week.

In this eagerly awaited film Preity Zinta and Saif Ali Khan share more than songs and barbs as they come together to play a couple who after a flash-courtship, decide to move in together, fall in love and fall out … all done under the same roof.

This, in a society and a film industry that still believe in the coy balladry of `Kal ki haseen mulaqat ke liye aaj raat ke liye hum tum juda ho jaate haain achcha chalo so jaate hain…` That’s the love duet from Ramanand Sagar’s Charas 30 years ago which still defines the early-to-bed-and-alone-to-rise demure duo’s dictum for the shared sexual space between couples.

How would audiences react to two people actually living-in together to gauge the levl of compatibility between them?

This is precisely what Rishi and Dimple do in Pyaar Mein Twist. And now Saif and Preity are even more funkily bohemian in their attitute to love and sex.

Coming from the characteristically adventurous Yashraj Films banner who’ve earlier done radically experimental subjects and formats including a Hindu-Mulsim love story (Dharmputra), unwed motherhood (Dhool Ka Phool), a song-less courtroom drama (Kanoon), the leading lady as a murderess (Ittefaq), a ménage a trois Daag), marital infidelity (Silsila) and a generation-crossing love story (Lahme) the ostensible audacity of the live-in situation in Salaam Namaste should come as no surprise.

The film’s leading man Saif Ali Khan for one, finds the film’s domestic arrangement “pretty cool….live-in relationships are quite prevalent in the metros, and cinema should reflect a reality that goes beyond just social sanction. I find the whole subject, theme and treatment in Salaam Namaste very refreshing.”

Whether subjects like Pyar Mein Twist which co-incidentally featured Saif’s sister Soha and Salaam Namaste (Saif) strike a chord beyond the prime target of urban audiences remains to be seen.

Fact is, we’re living in a rapidly mutating milieu. These films reflect that reality.

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