The Valentine spirit is everywhere. From heart-shaped, diamond-studded pendants on special offer, to heart-shaped candy in heart-shaped boxes, and long-stemmed red roses - its hard to escape the “romantic” season. Naturally, that made me think of my filmi Valentine. An exhaustive search down memory lane turned up rather less material than I had hoped for! Most Bollywood heroes are too busy fighting bad guys and making up to their dost and/or Maa, to do more than sing the requisite “eve-teasing” number and romantic duet with their heroines. Any cherishing of the beloved, done in Hindi films, is usually done by the woman. Fortunately for us women, Hindi Cinema does bring us some men of substance and beauty, who take time off from saving the world (and/or bromancing their buddies) to pay attention to their lady-loves. Needless to say, thats where I looked for my filmi Mr. Right. And here they are – all top ten of them, in no particular order:
10. Kumar (Shashi Kapoor) in Kanyadan – The only bright spot in an otherwise annoying film, Kumar is one of those perfectly adorable modern men. He loves his Rekha (Asha Parekh) and the fact that she was a child-bride to someone who is now happily married to someone else, bothers him not a whit. He is perfectly willing for her to commit bigamy and marry him, rather than have her take up her child-marriage where it left off. Sadly for him, his Rekha isnt quite as enlightened as he is – she’d much rather martyr herself, than make everybody (herself included) happy. And much against his modern views, Kumar accepts her decision to go the conventional way. Kumar… Sure you dont want to ditch Rekha for me?
9. Anand (Nasseeruddin Shah) in Woh Saat Din – He is an unselfish hubby who wants his wife to be happy, and will go to the extent of re-uniting her with her true love. But its not just his unselfishness thats so attractive, there is his whole warm and caring aspect – he is so good with his little daughter, loves his mother and is the only man in the film who listens to his reluctant new wife. He is also one of those modern men who believe that ties of love are a whole lot more important than ties of convention, and is willing to break with traditions if they cause undue happiness. Nice may be his middle name, but it certainly does not equal boring!
8. Ravi (Shammi Kapoor) in Andaz – He’s a widower who falls for his daughter’s teacher – a widow herself. When she proves reluctant, instead of taking the I-will-make-a-nuisance-of-myself-until-you-love-me-back approach, he actually takes the effort to woo her. He convinces her that there is room in her life for her past and her present love. Then he finds that she may not be a widow, but an unwed mother (SCANDAL!!!). Does it change anything? Nope! He just goes to battle for her against his own Maa! I saw this film as a kid, but can still remember feeling all soft and mushy when Ravi sings to his Sheetal and she runs into his arms.
7. Girish (Sanjay Dutt) in Parineeta – Unlike the others on this list, Girish is more of a side-hero. He falls for Lolita (Vidya Balan) who never looks beyond her beloved man-child Shekhar (Saif Ali Khan). Poor Girish, he does everything right. From gracefully wooing Lolita to helping her family in every emergency - he is always there for Lolita, unselfishly and wholeheartedly. And his friendship and helpfulness continue unabated, even after he realises her feelings for Shekhar. Sanjay Dutt has never been a favorite actor of mine and I cant say I find him even likable in most of his roles, but his Girish is really a pretty attractive person!
6. Vijay Khanna (Shashi Kapoor) in Kabhi Kabhie: He may be insanely (and gratingly) happy, have no flair for poetry or singing, but he has a heart of gold, and loves his wife absolutely and unconditionally. He’s one of the select few husbands in filmi-land who realises that his wife’s past is just that – past – and it doesnt change their mutual affection in the present. In case you dont think thats remarkable, just remember that almost all filmi hubbies turn on their wives at the first hint of a relationship with any man, even if it was long before marriage. And they dont stop persecuting their wives until the man in question denies any relationship! Vijay Khanna doesnt require any such clarification. Besides, he is a gorgeous dreamboat – something that does add to Vijay Khanna’s good qualities! ;-)
5. Vanraj (Ajay Devgan) in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam – One look at the gorgeous Nandini (Aishwarya Rai) and he is smitten. But its only after their marriage that he gives evidence of his true love. When he finds that Nandini loves someone else and was forced to marry him, he sets out to re-unite her with her first love! He wants to make Nandini happy, no matter what it might cost him in his own unhappiness. Such unselfish love… I must admit that I was half in love with Vanraj myself and hoping that Nandini would realise what a priceless gem of a husband she had!
4. Ravi Varma (Naveen Nischol) in Ek Baar Kaho – He is a man haunted by his own ghosts, yet he looks past the crusty exterior of college-marm Aarti (Shabana Azmi), to see the warm person she really is. He helps her come out of her shell, and lets her help him lay his own ghosts. Not just that, he is probably the only hero in a Hindi film, who lands up with a physically disabled love-interest - a physical disability that does NOT come right at THE END, either. Of course, it doesnt hurt that this man of substance is also very easy on the eye – perfect Mr. Right material!
3. Anoop (Swarup Dutt) in Uphaar – One of my favorite heroes, he never puts a step wrong, ever (he was the creation of a Nobel Laureate brain, after all!). He falls for an immature young girl (Jaya Bhaduri) and is steadfast in his devotion. Unlike Mr. Darcy, no qualms about his own superiority mar his decision. He marries the woman he loves, and accepts her as she is. While the rest of his family is in uproar over her childish behaviour, he calmly goes about getting her what she wants. He gives her space to be herself in, and accepts her decisions, even if they cause him unhappiness. He’s not Mr. Right, he’s Mr. Perfect!
2. Ashok (Balraj Sahni) in Seema – There is something about responsible, caring, grown-up men that even the most attractive man-child cannot compete against. Ashok runs a woman’s remand-home/correctional facility with a firm but compassionate and caring hand. He is one of life’s do-good-ers – always helping everybody. And yet, he finds time to deal with Gauri (Nutan)’s problems with such empathy and warm understanding, that she is understandably smitten. But that isnt all – when he finds that he may not have long to live, his first thought is to arrange for Gauri’s future. If that isnt Mr. Right material, right here, I dont know what is!
1. Ashok (Dharmendra) in Anupama - My personal Mr. Right #1, Ashok is the ideal romantic hero. He loves Uma (Sharmila Tagore), feels for her pain and does his best to bring laughter and joy in her life. Even more importantly, he gives her room to grow as a person, and respects her right to make her own decisions. In one of my favorite scenes, Uma’s friend Annie (Shashikala) tells him that Uma isnt strong enough to take tough decisions and that he must make up Uma’s mind for her. He replies that he wont force his own decisions on her and cripple her mentally! He clearly likes independent women. All this goodness, and Dharmendra’s gorgeousness, too! It gets no better than this.
Well, these are my filmi Mr. Rights and I shall be spending my Valentines day with at least one of them. Who will you spend your Valentine’s Day with?