Salman Khan shot to fame with Sooraj Barjatya’s Maine Pyar Kiya that emerged as a tremendous commercial success of 1989. The love story gave us the phrase ‘Dosti Ka Ek Usool Hai Madam, No sorry No Thank You.” The film gave us an actor who continues to rule millions of hearts across the globe. But wait, here’s a catch. The blockbuster film also has a dialogue that will force you to think twice.” Ek ladka aur ek ladki kabhi dost nahi ho sakte (A boy and a girl can never be just friends). Really?
Although Mohnish Behl said this dialogue expressing contempt towards on-screen lovebirds Prem (Salman) and Suman (Bhagyashree), he was simply stating what Bollywood had been propagating this since ages. In other words, filmy convention says that a boy and girl might start off as friends but they will end up as a couple. For example, Karan Johar’s directorial debut Kuch Kuch Hota Hai turned out to be one of the biggest blockbusters of 1997. Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) and Anjali (Kajol) used to be college friends. Whenever they fought, the batchmates advised them to patch up citing only one reason,”He/she is your best friend yaar.” While Rahul fell for the new girl in town Tina (Rani Mukerji), Anjali ended up in friend zone and left the duo to get married.
Eight years later, Rahul and Anjali bumped into each other at a summer camp.
But within no time, the widower Rahul realizes his love for Anjali and after intense drama marries her. And mind you, he followed the policy of “Hum Ek Baar Jeete Hain, Ek Baar Marte Hain. Shaadi Bhi Ek Baar Hoti Hai'”
But Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is not to be squarely blamed for the flawed concept that our Hindi film industry has been practicing since ages. Aamir Khan played a taxi driver who befriends, falls in love and then marries a rich girl Aarti (Karisma Kapoor) in Raja Hindustani, a blockbuster of the 90s.
Similarly, SRK again crossed the lines of friendship when he wooed Rani Mukerji in Karan Johar’s Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. The film centred around extra-marital relationships created a furore in India. Exactly 10 years later, the filmmaker left everyone teary-eyed in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil when Ranbir Kapoor struggled to woo his best friend Alizeh (Anushka Sharma).
But it is unfair to blame Karan Johar for all the bad things happening in Bollywood. The concept of friendship between a man and a woman in films has not been without a romantic angle. If we start collecting examples, this heartfelt piece might never end. If Kundan from Raanjhana could not digest the fact that Zoya will never reciprocate his feelings about her, Madhav played by Arjun Kapoor in Chetan Bhagat’s cinematic adaptation of Half Girlfriend travelled all over to US for his on-screen love Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor) because the author had predicted the duo to end up being happily married.
If we go by Bollywood’s logic of a girl and a boy being more than just friends, the tinsel town would see more broken marriages than it is today. Shah Rukh and Kajol might have dated, so would Salman and Karisma Kapoor.