Kalank released yesterday to a mixed response from the audience. While the technical finesse of the film has bowled over the public, many are complaining that the love story between a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy is a done-to-death concept. The interreligious romance is however not the issue of contention in the film, which is set in pre-Partition India. Many people have quickly dismissed Kalank as just another love story. If we take a closer look, then pure love stories seem to be a fading concept in Bollywood. The quality of writing in the industry is getting better, resulting in layered narratives that go beyond ‘Saccha Pyaar’. But there are fewer timeless romances being written. We have combinations like romance/action, romance/drama and romance/comedy being experimented with, the last one seems to work the best if peppered with great one-liners and a solid star cast.
The concept of timeless love or the tale of all-consuming affection is a thing of the past. Today, relationships range from friends with benefits to live-in associations and moving on from heartbreak never seemed easier. Ironically it was Karan Johar who green-lit the millennial ‘break-up song’ and is also the producer of this passionate love saga. It is difficult for stories talking about love, pain, passion and heartbreak to survive in this scenario. In fact, if we look closely, then 2013 was the last year when we saw maximum romances doing well, right from Aashiqui 2 to Ram Leela: Goliyon Ki Rasleela and Raanjhnaa to Shuddh Desi Romance, to name a few. Post that, we are struggling to name any except Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Last year, we had romantic films like Manmarziyaan, Zero and Kedarnath. Manmarziyaan, a commercial failure starring Vicky Kaushal, Taapsee Pannu and Abhishek Bachchan got a lot of applause for its realistic portrayal of love in current times while Kedarnath worked due to the fab chemistry between Sushant Singh Rajput and Sara Ali Khan and its climax was loaded with VFX. It made some money too! So, romance is not totally over yet.
For decades, Bollywood has fed us love stories between rich girls and poor boys, star-crossed lovers and triangles between best buddies. This happened in the pre-Tinder era when millions lived their dream of falling in love through films. Modern India is changing and it’s cool to be open about the fact that you want to date only for hook-ups! So, what standing do stories of true love have? Many will argue that metro cities are not the yardstick to judge the emotional core of true India, and we agree to that! Tales of love from small-town India like Sairat (2016) or Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017) have charmed one and all. Sanjay Leela Bhansali seems to have aced the combination of royalty, true love and sweeping drama with his projects. Will Bollywood buffs re-discover their passion for love stories? Love is too powerful an emotion to be ignored. Also, the recall value of such tales is fabulous. We still go gaga over DDLJ. However, it looks certain that pure love is not as saleable as it was before.
Kalank, though too grandiose and picture perfect for its own good, has those emotionally charged moments that make us think what life would be without love. And it might just be one of the last big sweeping love stories to come from the industry.