Planet Bollywood
Reel and Real Life Couples
- Shahid Khan           Let us know what you think about this feature article

This month there are two Bollywood love stories releasing to big hype: Samir Karnik´s "Kyun! Ho Gaya Na..." and Ken Ghosh´s "Fida". As part of the pre-release promotion, both of the movies are focusing on the fact that two celebrity couples Vivek Oberoi-Aishwarya Rai (KHGN) and Shahid Kapoor-Kareena Kapoor ("Fida") will be seen onscreen together for the first time. This has aroused the audience´s curiosity to a certain extent and many are keen to check out whether the affection and love that the two couples share in real life will translate to sizzling onscreen chemistry.

Aishwarya Rai has been down this road before. Sanjay Leela Bhansali´s "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" was the first film to showcase her pairing with her then lover, Salman Khan (and this film would be the last if not for her special appearance in K.S. Adiyaman’s "Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam"). At the time, gossip columns were abuzz with reports regarding the two stars´ heady romance. Audiences flocked to the cinemas to see for themselves the passion between Salman and Aishwarya.No matter, how professional stars try to be, whatever is happening in their real life will always seep into their reel life. It is no surprise then Salman and Aishwarya set the screen alight with their onscreen chemistry in "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam". This is surely one pairing that everyone would have loved to see again. Unfortunately, their very public fall-out dimmed any hope that one had of seeing the two onscreen together once more.

Many other real-life couples have become successful onscreen jodis. The most famous example is probably Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri. They did not need to act out their love for each other in their films, it came naturally. Their adoring looks into each other´s eyes added an extra special something to their love stories in Hrishikesh Mukherjee´s "Abhimaan", Prakash Mehra´s "Zanjeer" and Ramesh Sippy´s "Sholay". Their pairing worked a treat at the box office. Rumours of an affair with AB made Rekha a serious rival to Jaya. With these rumours, the star pair of Amitabh and Rekha became a huge hit. These rumours may have been true or false but there was definitely something there in terms of onscreen jaadu. Watch the two in the song "Salaam-e-Ishq" (from Prakash Mehra´s "Muqaddar Ka Sikandar") and Rekha´s infatuation for her co-star seems to come genuinely from within. It is this sweet tenderness that made them very popular with the audiences.

There are a lot of examples of stars who have fallen in love with each other whilst working on the same films. Some have blossomed into marriage. Neetu Singh and Rishi Kapoor showed an endearing onscreen rapport with each other in films such as Ravi Tandon´s "Khel Khel Mein", Ramesh Talwar’s "Doosra Aadmi" and Yash Chopra´s "Kabhi Kabhie". Judging from their natural and sparky camaraderie in these films, it was no surprise when they caught the love bug and decided to get married. Sadly, not all celebrity couples are fortunate to have a happy ending like this one. Legends such as Guru Dutt-Waheeda Rehman (M. Sadiq´s "Chaudhvin Ka Chaand"), Dilip Kumar-Madhubala (K. Asif´s "Mughal-e-Azam") and Raj Kapoor-Nargis (Raj Kapoor´s "Awara"), Meena Kumari-Dharmendra (OP Ralhan´s "Phool Aur Patthar") have been dealt the cruel hands of fate. All of these star couples were deeply in love but somehow they were not fortunate enough to enjoy long-lasting relationships or marriages.

Films with popular real-life lovebirds often do well, which is why some producers cynically cash in on this aspect. When a film nears release, rumours abound regarding the two leads in the film. A recent example is Neeraj Pathak´s yet-to-release "Gumnaam". Mahima Chaudhary and Dino Morea may deny allegations of an affair till they are blue in the face but all this publicity definitely won´t harm the box office chances of this film in the long run. Rumours of Govinda´s affairs with Neelam Kothari and Karisma Kapoor resulted in some box office hits. Although, when it came to Rani Mukherjee´s and Raveena Tandon´s turn to be linked with Govinda, most of their films with the actor flopped hence suggesting that the audience were tired of this contemptuous marketing ploy. Priyanka Chopra and Akshay Kumar have also had to deny suggestions of an affair between them. However, it is no coincidence that their two films together, Raj Kanwar´s "Andaaz" and David Dhawan´s "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi" have made financial profits.

Audiences will be curious enough to go and see two lovebirds acting in their first film together. But there have been disappointments. Two stars can be involved in an affair but that it is not always a true indication of what their onscreen chemistry will be like. Zilch chemistry between Karisma Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan (who were once engaged to be married) in Dharmesh Darshan´s "Haan... Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya" made the film a non-starter from day one. Watching the two interact onscreen, one could not believe that this couple were actually romantically involved for real. Less embarrassing is the Kajol-Ajay Devgan pair. Their pairing is patchy and has never really struck fire. Although Anees Bazmee´s "Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha" is the only film that does show a hint of chemistry between the two.

It just proves that not all star relationships automatically result in successful on-screen jodis. It will be interesting then to see what is the audience´s reaction to Shahid- Kareena and Vivek-Ash. If "Fida" and "Kyun! Ho Gaya Na..." prove successful, then these star couples will most likely appear in many more movies. After all, it makes economic sense.


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