Old Lovers Internet

I am an NRI, translated into: no-real Indian. I follow Indian cinema in my quest to find only one million original films before humanity as we know it disappears. I will use the term Indian cinema sparingly because I only have access to Hindi films, not Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati and other languages.

Films and novels define romance as love at first sight, with no previous experience of loving anybody. Romance demands that a woman should be a virgin literally. The man is not and has left his mark on other women who provided a waiting room until he met the love of his life. The reality is that the slate is seldom clean. There were other people in your life before you meet the so-called soul mate.

Hopeless love
Ijaazat, directed by Gulzar is one of the films I’ve dropped in my shopping cart for the one million original films because it doesn’t have a happy ending. Ma used to cry in movies because the old Hollywood used to make films such as Madame X and My Lover My Son. Ijaazat demonstrates that the person you fall in love with loved someone somewhere before he or she met you.

In this film, Mahinder (Naseeruddin Shah) loved Maya (Anuradha Patel), before he got married to Sudha (Rekha). Mahinder’s grandfather (Shashi Kapoor) arranged the marriage but Mahinder was honest enough to tell Sudha about Maya and that they were practically living together. Sudha agrees to the marriage and Mahinder seems to be enjoying the tender loving care he gets from his wife until Maya tries to kill herself and Mahinder rushes to her.

She survives but has a lot of drama such as writing love poems on Mahinder’s handkerchiefs and calling the house, saying she wants to speak to Sudha. It came to a point where Sudha could not take it anymore and left Mahinder.

The film begins in a waiting room years later, where Mahinder and Sudha are wating for their respective trains. It is raining cats and dogs and the waiter makes the mistake of bringing tea for two instead of one that Mahinder ordered. Sudha pours the tea and Mahinder explains why he didn’t follow her and try to bring her back.

Ijaazat is your story too. After many years, you meet someone you loved but couldn’t marry for many reasons. You say hallo, what have you been doing for the past twenty years. You don’t regret your life, your children but you get home and let the tears slide when you think of what would have been like, if you had married him or her.

It was an arranged marriage in Ijaazat. In your case, it could have been pregnancy. Maybe your loved one had to do the right thing and marry a pregnant girlfriend. It might have been emigration. Your loved one and her parents moved to another country. It could be a myriad of reasons but it doesn’t make a difference. The pain is always there and worse when you meet again like in Ijaazat.

Lovers meet again
Bewafaa, directed by Dharmesh Darstan also had old lovers who were not destined for each other. Raj (Akshay Kumar) and Anjali (Kareena Kapoor) live in Canada. Aarti, her sister (Sushmita Sen) comes to have a baby in her parents’ house but dies in childbirth. The family convinces Anjali to marry her brother in law (Anil Kapoor) in order to be the mother to Aarti’s twins. She leaves Canada without saying goodbye to Raj. He becomes a famous musician and goes to India for a concert,

Filmmakers seem to like the story line where one of the lovers is not married because he or she still nurses the idea that they will re-unite one day. In Ijaazat, Mahinder’s face lights up when Sudha tells him that her mother had died. “So you are alone?” he asks. The entrance of Sudha’s husband to pick her up from the train station dashes all his hopes of reconciliation. You see, Mahinder never re-married like Raj in Bewaafa.

Raincoat, directed by Ritoparnu Ghosh is even worse. Manoj (Ajay Devgan) is not married. He has come to Calcutta to raise money from his former classmates for a business idea. He uses the trip to look up Niru (Aishwarya Rai), the love of his life who married another man because he had more money.

He finds Niru although it is not clear to me what he hoped to achieve by going to her house. She lives a terrible life of not opening the door and windows because she owes the landlord rent. The toilet is deplorable and there is no place to move in the house because of old furniture, that her husband rents out to film companies. Niru weaves a web of lies about all this, which includes having servants. She takes his raincoat to go and buy food. The landlord comes in and explains the situation to Manoj.

Google old lovers
Destiny! That is how some people explain it. It is the work of some higher force that determines who ends up with who and how. They believe that clinging to the past like Manoj in Raincoat, Mahinder in Ijaazat and Raj in Bewaafa is a waste of time spent baby sitting misery. Cyberspace has aggravated matters because people Google each other and re-connect. And then? What is the whole point of meeting again? Does it change respective destinies?

Nonqaba waka Msimang is the author of Sweetness The Novel.
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