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From Kuch Kuch Hota Hai to Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani: Toxic onscreen couples in Bollywood that we love to romanticise
Devki Nehra
Oct 11, 2021
Tamasha photo 1

Bollywood has always sold a grand idea of romance, one that's life changing, life-affirming, something that's just difficult to encapsulate in words (which is why you need a medley of songs with 15 outfit changes). It's supposed to be a battlefield, a tough, arduous trek that requires you to give up on everything. This idea is so far removed from reality, but we still want to consume it. However, enjoying films from a detached perspective, without realising that they may have real life consequences on the psyche of the people is impossible. Media has an intense sway over how we think, how we behave, and how we view things. So here's looking at some popular on screen romances, that we have relished, but in retrospect are simply toxic.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
6.9OTTplay Rating
In hindsight, Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) and Naina (Deepika Padukone) in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani were not the epitome of romance. Throughout the film, Bunny was nothing but self-absorbed, unable to find a balance between just about anything in his life. While we can let that slide for a second, it's not like he treated Naina the way she deserved to be treated. When they meet years after their brief frisson on the trip, Bunny behaves like he possesses Naina and her affection, and he's instantly condescending towards her new love interest Vikram (Rana Daggubati). Naina though seems passive to all of this, not as resistant as we would have liked her to be. And in the end they do have a "happily ever after", but how long that lasted is something we will never know.
Ranbir Kapoor once again plays a man-child, very convincingly, in this Imitiaz Ali romantic drama. His character Ved has the toxicity that should typically make a run for it, but not Tara. She's insistent on "fixing him", and he constantly treats her like she's just disposable. The tense scenes where they have a meltdown each are well-acted, but this dynamic can be termed nothing but toxic.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
7.8OTTplay Rating
Like many films from the '90s and 2000s, this one too has not aged well. Anjali (Kajol) is not at all subtle about her affection for Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan), who sees her as just one of the boys. Her character is shown as someone unworthy of any love and attention from the popular boy just because she does not conform to conventional norms of femininity. It's only when years later she's grown her hair out, and only dresses in sarees does Rahul really see her. Why was this ever permissible and why did we ever glorify this film?
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi
7.3OTTplay Rating
Firstly, the massive age gap between Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma is uncomfortable. Bollywood just does not seem to let go off this imbalanced casting, it's a practice we've seen in newer films like Housefull 4, Toofaan, even Kabir Singh. Then there's the supposed love story that Aditya Chopra tried to sell the audience — who indulged in it too — about a man who dupes his wife. Taani (Sharma) not recognising her husband Surinder (Khan) just because he wore tight jeans, gelled his hair and shaved off his moustache is also something only Bollywood can pull off.
8OTTplay Rating
Equating stalking to romance is also something Hindi films adore. It's lazy, it's toxic and it justifies that consent is immaterial when you truly love someone. Kundan's (Dhanush) fixation with Zoya (Sonam Kapoor) is initially innocuous, but soon takes a scary turn when he slits his wrist so she concedes to his affections. His friend casually encourages his behaviour, telling him — Subha se shaam peechha karo, ghar ke baahar, school ke baahar, bazaar mein, sadko pe, cycle pe, ricksha mein, tempo mein, ro do, khana khaana chhod do, wazan ghatalo, aur ladki ko itna thaka do ke woh thak ke haan bol de (Follow her from morning to night, follow her around relentlessly so she's exhausted and agrees to be with you).

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