The ’90s were an era where romance was on the rise. The industry was inundated with good looking men and women, composers like Nadeem Shravan and Anand Milind were churning out some of their best work and films were being shot at exotic locations abroad to add that extra bit of glamour. One of the trends of the ’90s were the NRI specific films carrying a strange mix of pop patriotism and shuddh desi values.
The love stories films were all about pure love. There was a hint of intimacy but so overt display of sex because we are Hindustani and don’t believe in all those Western values. Nevertheless, these romances are great fun to watch. Presenting a list of the
’90s romances which are sure to offer you an escape route amidst this lockdown…
1. Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin (1991)
Director: Mahesh Bhatt
Cast: Aamir Khan, Pooja Bhatt, Anupam Kher
It was hugely inspired by the Hollywood hit It Happened One Night (1934) and the Raj Kapoor-Nargis hit Chori Chori (1956). The film was pure fluff and the sparkling chemistry between the two leads made for a compelling watch. It was Pooja Bhatt’s second film but she was confidence personified against an established star Aamir Khan. Pooja plays a rich heiress who runs away when her father objects to her getting married to her boyfriend, a rakish filmstar. She meets a scoop-hungry reporter, played by Aamir on the way. He helps her because he wants a good story and during the road trip to Bangalore, the two have a set of misadventures and begin to like each other. Whether it’s an on-the-road attraction or real love forms the crux of the film. The title song was hugely catchy and is still popular today.
2. Saajan (1991)
Director: Lawrence D’Souza
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit
Two macho stars hellbent on sacrificing their love for the leading lady to prove their friendship to each other might look like an overtly dramatic premise today. However, Hindi cinema has been brought up on the bros-before-hoes tradition like nobody’s business. The film was said to be inspired by the play Cyrano de Bergerac. Sanjay Dutt’s character is a handicapped orphan brought up by Salman Khan’s parents. The two grow up as brothers and would readily die for each other. While the former has a reserved personality, the latter is a playboy of sorts. Sanjay Dutt writes poetry under a pseudonym and a popular singer, played by Madhuri, sings them at her shows and is smitten by him. He likes her but when he hears that his best friend too pines for her, he lets Salman borrow his pen-name and pretend to be a poet. Whether the singer loves just the lines or the actual man behind them is the dilemma offered by the musical. Songs like Mera dil bhi kitna paagal hai, Bahut pyar karte hain, and Dekha hai pehli baar are still a hit.
3. Lamhe (1991)
Director: Yash Chopra
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Sridevi
Yash Chopra was known for his bold takes on romance but he really pushed the envelope with this one by showcasing the blossoming of love between a young girl and a man old enough to be her father. Viren (Anil Kapoor) is in love with Pallavi (Sridevi), daughter of a family friend. She, however, has hots for another. She marries her lover after the sudden death of her father and a distraught Viren leaves for London to set up a business there. One year later, it’s heard that Pallavi and her husband have died in an accident, leaving behind an infant daughter Pooja who is brought up by Daijaan (Waheeda Rehman), who had brought up Viren as well. When she grows up, she visits Viren in London and he’s struck by her uncanny resemblance to her mother, whom he hadn’t forgotten. She has been in love with him since childhood and it blossoms further. Viren has to stop living in the past in order to love her and the film sensitively portrays the different aspects of this delicate affair. Composers Shiv-Hari were at their melodic best and gave us tunes like Kabhi main kahoon, Yeh lamhe, and Chudiyan khanak gayee in the film.
4. Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (1994)
Director: Sooraj Barjatya
Cast: Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Renuka Shahane, Mohnish Bahl
This one was a multi-hued marriage video disguised as a film. The film, in general, reminded the viewers what a big-fat-Indian-wedding looks like and popularised the tradition of stealing the groom’s shoes in the remotest parts of India. The film gave us a flowchart about how an arranged marriage takes place. First, the parents have a get-together, then the engagement takes place and the various ancillary ceremonies culminating in the D-Day. It showed romance blossoming between the groom’s brother and the bride’s sister and then dived deep into melodrama when the elder sister dies and the younger is compelled to marry her brother-in-law for the sake of their newborn kid. Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit’s chemistry was palpable indeed and made us believe in sanskari love. They came across as real people despite the OTT display of emotions. Composer Raamlaxman reached a musical high with this one, what with every song, be it Didi tera devar deewana, Pehla pehla pyar hai, or the title song proving to be hugely popular.
5. Dilwale Dulhaiya Le Jayenge (1995)
Director: Aditya Chopra
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Amrish Puri, Anupam Kher
This is easily the biggest romantic hit in India. Both Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol would still be considered superstars if they had retired after this. It had elements of road-trip movies, boy-girl meet-cute romances, was peppered with Indian values and has a smattering of patriotism as well. What more would anyone want, really. Raj (SRK) fancies himself as a player till he meets with Simran (Kajol) on a European trip and is smitten by her. Circumstances bring them close together and they end up falling in love. But Simran is an Indian lass at heart despite being brought up in England and won’t go against her Bauji’s wishes. So the family sets off to Punjab to see him married to the son of an old family friend. Raj too travels there on his father’s advice to patao her entire khandaan. The father does have a change of heart in the end, what with Amrish Puri speaking one of the most quoted dialogues in ages — Ja Simran ja…jee le apni zindagi, leading to the famous train chase sequence. Jatin-Lalit’s OST, comprising songs like Mehndi laga ke rakhna, Tujhe dekha to yeh jaana sanam, and Ho gaya hai tujhko to pyar sajna is still a favourite.
6. Raja Hindustani (1996)
Director: Dharmesh Darshan
Cast: Aamir Khan, Karisma Kapoor
It was a modern-day remake of the Shashi Kapoor-Nanda starrer Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965) and confirmed to the ages-old movie trope of a rich girl falling for a poor boy. Aarti (Karisma) is a superrich heiress who falls for a lowly guide and driver, Raja (Aamir). There’s a huge class difference between them and her father warns her of that when she wants to marry him. She goes ahead and predictably, differences offer when her rich relatives try to meddle. He rejects an offer of a new house and is distraught when he’s falsely informed she wants a divorce. He goes to the extent of kidnapping his own child but thankfully, their differences get reconciled leading to a happy ending. Both Aamir and Karisma showed palpable chemistry together. It’s one of the finest performances by the actress. Pardesi pardesi remains one of the most popular numbers till now.
7. Dil To Pagal Hai (1997)
Director: Yash Chopra
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Karisma Kapoor
Yash Chopra showed he’s still at the top of his game by giving us a proper musical beautifully choreographed by Shiamak Davar. Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) and Nisha (Karisma Kapoor) are the best of friends and perform dance-based plays along with their troupe. Pooja (Madhuri Dixit) is a classically trained dancer and is hopelessly romantic. Their paths cross when Nisha injures her leg during rehearsals and Rahul has to cast for someone new to play the lead in his new play Maya. Nisha, who is secretly in love with Rahul, is jealous of Pooja taking her place. The jealousy deepens when she becomes aware that Rahul is falling for Pooja. Ajay (Akshay Kumar), Pooja’s fiance, arrives at this stage. Rahul is devastated but the film gears towards a happy ending when Ajay sacrifices his love upon finding out Pooja’s and Rahul’s true feelings for each other. The film featured a dance playoff between Nisha and Pooja, with Nisha not caring for her injury in order to go one up on Pooja. Madhuri and SRK make you believe in their characters and you do sympathise with Nisha’s angst as well. Unheralded composer Uttam Singh got the biggest hit of his life with the film and songs like the title track, Le gayi le gayi, Koi ladki hai and more still resonate with us today.
8. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)
Director: Karan Johar
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Rani Mukerji
Designer togs, cool collegians and a love triangle to boot, Karan Johar arrived with on the movie-making scene with a bang with this film. Rahul (SRK), Anjali (Kajol) and Tina (Rani) study together in college. While the tomboyish Anajli is his best friend, he develops serious hots for new girl Tina, whose wardrobe consists of just mini skirts. He marries her and becomes a successful businessman. Tragedy strikes when she passes away soon after giving birth to a daughter. When the daughter turns eight, she reads a letter written for her explaining the love triangle. It was her mother’s dying wish to reunite Rahul and Anjali. How she does so with the help of her grandmother (Farida Jalal) forms the crux of the film. The film had a lovely cameo by Salman Khan who plays Anjali’s fiance. SRK and Kajol have an incredible camaraderie which was very much evident on-screen. Rani’s oomph added an X factor to the proceedings. The entire album composed by Jatin-Lalit sounds fresh and vibrant still.
9. Pyar To Hona Hi Tha (1998)
Director: Anees Bazmee
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Kajol
It was an unofficial remake of the hit Hollywood film, French Kiss starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline and starred real-life sweethearts Ajay and Kajol. Sanjana (Kajol) lives in Paris and has a fear of flying, When she learns that her fiance, Rahul (Bijay Anand) is falling for someone else, she plans to fly to India to get him back. She meets Shekhar (Ajay Devgn) on the plane and sparks fly. Shekhar is a thief who is flying a diamond necklace home. To escape the attention of the police he hides it in her luggage. Circumstances force them to take a road trip together, during the course of which the attraction turns to love. He’s still a thief, however, and whether he’ll reform for love forms the crux of the film. Aaj hai sagai and the title song from the film are still popular.
10. Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999)
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast: Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Ajay Devgn
The rumours of Salman and Aishwarya Rai’s affair were at the peak when the film was released. It was said to be inspired by Woh Saat Din (1983), starring Naseeruddin Shah, Anil Kapoor and Padmini Kolhapure. Nandini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) is the daughter of Pandit Darbar (Vikram Gokhale), a respected name in the Indian classical field. Sameer (Salman Khan), an NRI comes to learn classical vocals from him and falls for Nandini. Meanwhile, her father arranges for Nandini to be married to Vanraj (Ajay Devgn). She’s heartbroken when Sameer leaves at her father’s insistence and reluctantly marries Vanraj. He’s initially enraged when he learns she loves another but later vows to unite them together. However, seeing his caring attitude she begins loving him and goes back to him even after finding Sameer in Europe. Salman and Aishwarya looked like a made for each other couple in the film and Ajay’s brooding presence was the icing on the cake. Ismail Darbar made a fine album containing folk tunes which remains hugely popular even now.