#ThrowbackThursday: Was It Fate Or Did Their Love Get Poisoned By Misogyny? Here’s Revisiting Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
I was eight when Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam released and I didn’t watch it in the theatre but I remember my sisters and I stayed up till late, trying our best to finish the movie. It’s not like I didn’t enjoy it – but as a kid, I was never interested in the second half of films. In fact, they felt like a scam to me. The first half is all fun, romance and jokes and then some catastrophe happens and you’re stuck spiralling down into a well of melancholy. I would have said ocean but I was a kid, I didn’t feel that deeply. Having said that, like everybody else, I cried when Sameer doesn’t get Nandini. I cried when he broke down and thinks of his father because what kind of a heartless human do you have to be to not feel pain watching someone cry so much?
Back then, I felt terrible for Sameer, so obviously, I didn’t want Vanraj to be the hero. When I grew up a little, from my half-baked intelligence, I switched parties and blamed Sameer for abandoning Nandini. And now, when I watched the movie again, at 29 – my takeaway from the film is completely different.
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, like any of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films combines spectacular visuals, larger than life sets, great music and mindblowing performances. Not for one moment will you be able to separate the character from the actor. Steeped in culture, you will see Gujarati dances, classical singing, traditional games and outfits in HDDCS. However, if you manage to wipe your tears off and think about the characters and not just the plot as a whole, you will realise that each character is highly flawed, even the very advertised-as-a-saint Vanraj.
So how does this all begin? Nandini’s father, a veteran singer was expecting a Shagird from Italy, Sameer. All that is okay, but really, why was he walking through a desert to get to his palatial abode? Like really, he could have taken a cab from the airport. After conversing with his omnipresent father, he finally finds his way to the haveli, without the help of Maps. From ending up in a pool to wishing “merry Diwali” to barging in rooms, without permission – seems like the prodigy left his trunk full of manners back home. But sooner or later, everyone falls in love with his innocence and charm, even Nandini.
But slowly you realise that Sameer is nothing more than a manchild. I mean, firstly, he is like groping her and all that in public, with her family around. Her reflex action is to slap him, understandably. But instead of admitting his mistake, he says she isn’t worth his love. Like what the hell even? Later his ego gets hurt over something and he chews up several green chillies. He must be really bright at school. On top of this, the entire blame is on Nandini for not handling his delicate ego well and she goes there, with all her nurturing instincts and feeds him honey. Congratulations, aapko baccha hua hai.
Speaking of which, this movie highlights the issue of lack of sex ed in our country. How? Nandini, a grown-up woman thought you can get pregnant by kissing. I mean, I know she must be a virgin, but seriously?
Then we have Vanraj, who is just the dullest human being on earth. He goes to a party and falls for the most beautiful woman there and decides he wants to marry her. Shallow, eh? Her beauty is enough for him and he doesn’t even bother to meet her before marriage. Imagine, having to sleep next to a complete stranger. And he starts touching her because beauty is all he knows of her. He even wakes her up by randomly starting to kiss her bod, not catching on the cues that she isn’t consenting and just “tolerating”. When she pushes him off, he is like hello I am the husband. And when she tells him this is all he wants, he is like marriage is a union of souls. So, tell me, why the fuck were you kissing her body before she even has the chance to know you?
Sameer waited but left eventually since he got no response to his letters – which were carefully hidden by Vitthal kaka, which btw is the same Vitthal Kaka in Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai. Not like it’s a crucial detail, but you’ll should know. When Vanraj sees Nandini, reading the letters, he drags her out of her room. He pulls at her arm as she falls to the ground and is dragged out and into the car. For what? A man who uses physical aggression in anger is no good for me.
Meanwhile, the entire film is made from dialogues that are so cringey, you feel like detaching your ears temporarily. Nandini’s father, while dismissing a daughter, who got beaten up at her in-laws, from the house, says, “Beti ki shaadi pita ki marzi se hoti hai. Shaadi ke baad pati hi aurat ka sab kuch hota hai.” On a different occasion, her mother says that women are like kites, before marriage she flies around on her terrace and after marriage, her husband controls her. Waah! Of course, her parents had that mindset. Firstly, you don’t even care to know your daughter’s choice before fixing her marriage and then you go on to say she is the disappointing one for falling in love. Secondly, what kind of a father takes a daughter’s attempt to commit suicide or self-harm lightly? She had a total breakdown but he would rather see that than let his “izzat” get hurt.
Then someone at her in-laws’ says, “Karva chauth rakhne se hi aurat sada suhaagan rehti hai. Pati ke sukh se badha aur koi sukh hai duniya mein?” I bet these are women who fake orgasms in bed.
Also, let me tell you, Vanraj the big mouth goes and tells his father of his wife’s lover and how he intends to make them meet. Like kuch toh privacy rakho! And his brilliant dad reminds him that since he is a “Rajput” and a “mard”, he should be able to control a woman. Kya baat!
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The Italy trip turns out to be more of a honeymoon rather than a find Sameer mission. Nandini ruins his debut concert by fucking with his head right before it. Why? Because suddenly, she wants to be with Vanraj, who taught her how to love selflessly and because he is her husband. I mean, she could have waited until after the concert. No? Also, damn woman, make up your mind.