by Aysha Qamar
Indian cinema is known for its romantic classics. From “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge” to “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” to “Jab We Met,” we’re familiar with these films and their iconic couples.
However, with Bollywood’s tendency to release an inane number of films, some truly good romantic-comedies get buried in the pile. We picked some of the best of those that didn’t get the popularity and acclaim they deserve. These genre films make for the perfect fall movie binge session.
1. “Love Per Square Foot”
Starring: Vicky Kaushal, Angira Dhar, Alankrita Sahai
In Netflix India’s first original film, Sanjay and Karina work in the same company and after a chance meeting at a party, they befriend one another. Unable to afford their own place, the two enter a contract marriage to secure an apartment for couples only. Things get complicated when they (obviously!) fall for each other. To make it work, they have to navigate their families, differences in religion, and the relationships they’re currently involved in. “Love Per Square Foot” is a light-hearted, sweet film set against Mumbai’s dynamic metropolis. It works because it remains true to its genre, and Kaushal and Dhar sell us on their chemistry.
2. “Bareilly Ki Barfi”
Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Kriti Sanon, Rajkummar Rao
Set in the small town of Bareilly, the story revolves around the care-free and rebellious Bitti Mishra. She has always been reluctant to get married because she thinks no one appreciates her true personality. That all changes when Bitti reads author Pritam Vidrohi’s book “Bareilly Ki Barfi,” which she thinks is about herself. Now identifying with the lead character of the book, she sets out to find this author. She seeks the help Chirag Mishra, the owner of printing press which printed the book, not knowing he’s the actual author. This romantic-comedy is full of life, thanks to excellent acting by all three leads. The cinematography and music are also two big selling points of this film.
3. “Qarib Qarib Single”
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Parvathy, Bajrangbali Singh
Yogi and Jaya are polar opposites who connect through an online dating app. Yogi, an outspoken man who loves wearing bright colors, falls for Jaya. She’s a widow who threw herself into her work and is just now opening up to the idea of love. Together, both of them travel unexpectedly to meet each of their exes, in turn realizing their own feelings. “Qarib Qarib Singlle” didn’t get it’s due but trust us, it will leave you with a smile on your face as the credits roll.
4. “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan”
Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Bhumi Pednekar, Seema Bhargava
Indian cinema is finally incorporating the taboo topic of sex into its stories in meaningful ways. “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan” is a movie about a couple ready to get married, but things get complicated when the groom discovers he suffers from erectile dysfunction. With both families knowing this truth and getting involved to fix this, the film goes in place we haven’t seen maintream Bollywood go before. A remake of the Tamil hit “Kalyana Samayal Saadham,” this film breaks cultural and patriarchal norms of masculinity. Mudit must face this issue and fight the stigma and shame associated with sex not only his love Sugandha but also their families.
5. “Dum Laga Ke Haisha”
Starring: Aayushman Khurana, Bhumi Pednekar
Prem, terrified of his father, marries a girl of his choosing in an arranged marriage. While he struggles to speak English, his new bride Sandhya is educated but deemed “too fat” for his liking. The two struggle to bond but realize they’re badly mismatched and file for a divorce. However, the court order forces them to live together and genuinely get to know one another before moving forward with this proceeding. In this journey, Prem and Sandhya find themselves partaking in a race that changes their relationship forever. “Dum Laga Ke Kaisha” is a comedic twist on the traditional arranged marriage trope and challenges how South Asian societies view the idea of ‘beauty.’
6. “The Lunchbox”
Ila, a bored housewife, tries to spice up her marriage by cooking up new recipes with hopes of getting some reactions from her neglectful husband. She makes a special lunchbox and delivers it to his office but mistakenly, it gets delivered to his colleague without her knowledge. Ila’s lunchbox is delivered to Saajan, a lonely man on the verge of retirement. Eager for a reaction from her husband, Ila puts a note in the next day’s lunchbox, which leads to a series of lunchbox notes between Saajan and Ila.This anonymous communication evolves into an unexpected friendship. The film has exactly the right amount of heart to make you fall in love with it.
7. “MP3: Mera Pehla Pehla Pyaar”
Starring: Ruslaan Mumtaz, Hazel Crowney, Kunwaljit Singh
With this film, Bollywood finally gave us a teen rom-com we can get on board with. As the name suggests, it’s the timeless tale of first loves, set in a New Delhi high school. Dreamy bad boy Rohan falls for the sweet, innocent Ayesha. Their first few dates go great and then the typical fights and jealousy tropes set in. Ayesha travels to Paris to get away from it all, which is when Rohan realizes just how much he loves her. Rohan decides to follow her but has to go through his illegal and unethical means to do it, including but not limited to stealing and misusing his dad’s credit card and being detained by the Indian Embassy. In the end, it’s a perfectly wrapped love story that’s perfect for a rainy weekend binge.
8. “Cheeni Kum”
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Tabu, Paresh Rawal
64 year-old chef Buddhadev falls for Nina, a woman 30 years younger than him. Buddha has devoted his life to running the most famous Indian restaurant in London. He’s a grump who put his professional life before everything. He has only two close friends; his mother and a young girl suffering from a terminal illness. After he falls for Nina, things take a turn for the better. They decide to marry but face troubles from Nina’s father, who refuses their match. “Cheeni Kum” is a humorous, hearty take on the dreaded age gaps in relationships.
9. “Monsoon Wedding”
Starring: Naseeruddin Shah, Lillete Dubey, Shefali Shah
Here’s a universal truth: desi weddings are stressful! “Monsoon Wedding” capitalizes on that to give us a great film. Lalit Verma is a wealthy father whose stress comes from wanting his daughter Aditi’s wedding to go perfectly. Aditi, who has agreed to an arranged marriage with Hemant, gets cold feet and returns to her former love Vikram, who is almost twice her age. Aditi’s cousins also have some shocking revelations of their own. It all sums up to give us a film that was probably ahead of its time.
Aysha Qamar is a Pakistani-American feminist and self-proclaimed chef, born and raised in New Jersey. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Political Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Journalism Media Studies and Political Science from Rutgers University. As a poet and freelance writer, Aysha has been published in various publications including Brown Girl Magazine, Blue Minaret, the Huffington Post, The Muslim Observer, and the New York Post’s Decider. In her free time, Aysha likes to binge watch movies and read Superhero comics.