And they lived happily ever after?

Bollywood seems to be experimenting with the not so happy side of romance, writes Arindam Chatterjee.

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The first meeting…the two in-laws…the 100th kiss… the squabbles…the first child…the inherent dynamics post marriage were waiting to be explored.

But mainstream Bollywood, apart from a couple of not-so-frequent instances like Abhimaan, Koshish, Saathiya and Chalte Chalte, never quite thought of exploring the post-marriage scenario further.

The Bollywood juggernaut has suddenly woken up to the fact that the pros and cons of romance also exist between married couples. So even before the hue and cry over Karan Johar’s Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna has settled down, two women filmmakers, Reema Kagti and Meghna Gulzar, have decided to test the strengths of the nuptial bond.

Kagti’s Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd depicts six married couples on a honeymoon tour. “In an urban context, there is more pressure on the married couple living in the city. The expectations and agendas are different,” she says.

However Kagti stresses that her debut film does not concentrate on the post-marriage syndrome. “I have used the marital status of individual characters as a vehicle to communicate ideas. Relationships excite me and my film is all about that,” she adds.

Her words find an echo in Meghna Gulzar, whose film Just Married, starring Fardeen Khan and Esha Deol, starts where most films end.

“The post-marriage situation is not a new subject for me since I explored it to some extent in Filhaal. So for my next film I thought that the arranged marriage scenario would be an interesting choice since very few filmmakers have tapped into it earlier,” she says.

Gulzar has put together two strangers bound by wedlock who embark upon a five-day honeymoon to Ooty. “There are innumerable possibilities of drama in the first couple of days in a marriage,” she adds.

Filmmaker Leena Yadav, who directed Sanjay Dutt and Aishwarya Rai in Shabd, yet another film that shows a-life-after-marriage-situation, believes that modern marriages present a dynamic situation yearning to be filmed.

“Love stories happen after marriage also. I have friends who have experienced the good, bad and the ugly in marriages,” she says. Bollywood, it seems, have hit upon the trend now with films like Bas Ek Pal and Ankahee (with its depiction of marital excesses) portraying a post-marital buffet which the candyfloss viewer may not find quite palatable.

But then humour, available in large doses in both Honeymoon… and Just Married, has its own way of smoothening out the rough edges. Meghna Gulzar, for example, has weaved in the delectable combination of an edgy, jittery bride with the suave and sensitive bridegroom.

“The prospects are all the more dramatic for the wife since she has to start life afresh with a stranger, the in-laws, make adjustments along the way. An arranged marriage is the beginning of an anticipated romance,” says Gulzar.

However she does not agree that a woman director brings a fresh perspective to a storyline. “My father also directed some beautiful films which included married couples. Sanjay Leela Bhansali makes such great emotional, melodic films. Everything depends on how creative you are,” says Gulzar.

The creativity factor works for actors as well. “Fardeen has been married for a year but he was always asking questions, trying to understand the nuances of his character during shoots. Of course, he also pitched in his own inputs which we incorporated with pleasure,” signs off Gulzar.

First Published: Feb 26, 2007 11:21 IST