Throwback Thursday: Veer-Zaara Completed 16 Years Today And It Reminds Us Of What Love Used To Be
Please don’t ask me why I watched such emotional movies as a child but 16 years ago when Veer-Zaara released, I had gone with my family to the theatre for it. And I have cried my eyes, heart and soul out watching it. Honestly, I didn’t have the courage to watch it in all these years because I was of the opinion that I should save the sniffly nose and swollen eyes for my heart breaks. And then I did, today.
Veer-Zaara, a romantic drama filled with intense emotions and powerful performances, induces catharsis in the audiences. This is probably why it connected so well to our hearts. The plot of the film evokes strong emotions in us which usually don’t get engage with otherwise and provides a good release to them. You know how you need to work your muscles to remain fit, kind of the same thing in theory.
The movie begins with Shah Rukh Khan swaying in sarso fields in turtle necks which btw, nobody can pull off better than king khan! Veer Pratap Singh was a vivacious man in the defence forces and had the charm of well, SRK! Cut to another time, he became a prisoner of his fate and in Pakistan – one where nobody calls by his name. He is old, ragged and silent – a clear distinction from his previous persona. Something happened, something so intense that it turned his life around and he couldn’t go through it unaltered.
His case intrigues Saamiya, a human rights lawyer in Pakistan who goes to the jail to speak to Singh. And there begins our story. In his tale, we also get introduced to Zaara, and she too initially is ironically singing “hum toh bhai jaise hain waise rahenge”. Wow, watching it again and knowing what lies ahead in their fate makes me think just how unpredictable life can be.
Veer and Zaara’s worlds collide when she goes to India to disperse her grandmother’s ashes. Her bus meets with an accident and he rescues her. They spend some beautiful moments together as she accompanies him to his village, joining him and his family in the celebrations of Lohri. They bond and Veer starts falling in love with her. When he goes to drop her at the train station, he confesses his love but realises she has a fiancé.
Back home, she realises that she too is in love for him and begins to question the solidarity of her engagement. Zaara questions her mother if she thinks her husband can risk his life for her but her mother explains that she has no such expectations from him. But that gets her wondering if she should give up on a man who actually loves her wholeheartedly for a shallow relationship.
These are two lovers separated by a border and society and yet, they would do anything to be together. Veer leaves his job and heads to Pakistan to take Zaara away before they get her married. But her fiancé gets him imprisoned under false charges of being an Indian spy. But Zaara is under the impression that he was returning to India in a bus and what she hears of its crash, she believes he died.
Meanwhile, Veer hasn’t revealed a word of this story to protect Zaara’s honour in an orthodox society. Such love, Veer-Zaara! So he lived in a prison, giving up his identity and becoming known as prisoner no 786. He is known in Pakistan as Rajesh Rathore, a spy and they refuse to accept his identity as Veer Pratap Singh, an Indian Air Force pilot.
Motivated, Saamiya goes on to apply for reviving the case and fighting for Veer’s freedom. She is one woman standing in a courtroom full of men, fiercely and more determined than ever. Meanwhile, when Veer walks into the court, suited up and tidied, he is just happy to have stepped out of the prison and wearing something other than his prison uniform. The pride and joy in his eyes really explains the enormity of his sacrifice, so huge that even getting a trial is bringing him happiness.
22 years later, he is fighting just for the dignity of his name, his true identity. Of course, it was a losing battle and Saamiya herself goes to India to dig more. And that’s when we realise along with her that Zaara didn’t get married. She actually started living in Veer’s village, fulfilling his dream of running a girl’s school.
Eventually, Zaara comes to the court to give her milestone testimony and they meet. They meet, after 22 years and yet the love remains unchanged. Their lives were turned around. But Veer-Zaara remained one, and loved each other selflessly through decades.
I know this is not something we can find in real life. Maybe there are people who love so strongly but I don’t know them. Millennial way of loving is so different from this. We give up the moment it gets difficult. Of course, this is a drama, it is exaggerated. But can we not have love that is inconvenient, that we have to fight for but it is lasting and worth it?
Veer-Zaara’s love story makes me believe we’ve come so far away from such kind of love. What are we doing with all that love and commitment phobia?