Will a Hindu-Muslim love story work?

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 02, 2004 10:41 hrs

Discuss: An overdose of Hindu-Muslim love stories in Bollywood these days?

A week after the sound and fury of the eagerly awaited LOC has quietened down, it’s time for the silence to be broken by another kind of gunfire.

In today’s release Ishq Hai Tumse, Dino Morea and Bipasha Basu playing a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl do the unthinkable. They fall in love!

Hindi cinema has always been wary of crossing the sensitive religious divide. 45 years ago when Yash Chopra attempted a Hindu-Muslim love story in Dharmputra riots were reported from various parts of the country.

In 1995 when Mani Rathnam cast Manisha Koirala as a Muslim girl who bites into the forbidden fruit and marries her Brahmin beau, fundamentalists threatened to burn theatres which "dared" to screen this film on a taboo topic.

But Ishq Hai Tumse is a separate case. The reputed producer Telugu producer G.A. Seshagiri Rao and director G. Krishna are quick to stress that the religious divide has little bearing on the central romance. What makes Ishq Hai Tumse interesting is that two of Bollywood’s most cosmpolitan stars appear in thoroughly conventional parts in a film that dares to tread into forbidden territory.

That the lead pair Dino Morea and Bipasha Basu were romantically involved earlier is a fact that adds a tantalizing lustre to on-screen drama. Together or separately Morea and Basu have so far been seen doing only upmarket city-motivated films like Ajnabee, Raaz, Gunaah and Sssshhh.

To both the actors it seems eminently challenging to play the conventional courtship game.

Curiously, audiences love to watch real-life couples after they’ve separated. Madhubala and Dilip Kumar had their biggest success together Mughal-e-Azam after they had separated. Dilip Kumar and Vyjanthimala had drifted so far apart during Sanghursh in the 1960s that they didn’t exchange a single word off-camera. And Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia had long before left their Bobby-bonding behind when in Ramesh Sippy’s Sagar they sizzled like very few other real-life couples.

On the other hand, real-life pairs who insist on doing a never-ending series of films (predominantly to spend time together) end up boring the audience. Dharmendra-Hema Malini, Rishi Kapoor-Neetu Singh and Akshay Kumar-Raveena Tandon are three real-life pairs who featured in one too many flops during the course of their companionship.

What is it about separated real-life lovers doing a romantic film together after their breakup that makes them more attractive to audiences than the same couple when they’re involved? Perhaps it’s the opportunity to look back at an alliance that’s ended in real life.

In Ishq Hai Tumse Dino Morea and Bipasha Basu play lovers long after personally, their days of wine and roses are over. That they do what’s conventionally considered a "forbidden" Hindu-Muslim romance makes them all the more inviting.

Will the duo dent the boxoffice with Ishq Hai Tumse and disprove the widely-held belief that films released during the first week of a new year don’t do well?

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