How ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ Changed The Way We Perceived Love In The 90s

Long before ‘Manmarziyan’ – in an era when only the ‘dilwale’ would win over the ‘dulhaniya’, released a film of grandeur, grace and emotional infidelity – that not only made one yearn for a long lost love, if there was one; but also questioned the fundamental premises that build an arranged-marital setup. 

The story of Nandini – played by Aishwarya Rai, Sameer – played by Salman Khan, and Vanraj – played by Ajay DevGn, could be referred to as a love triangle, but with all the to and fro, I’d call it more of an emotional hexagon. The heart wants what it wants, after all.

Sameer’s quest to be a better musician, brings him to the doorstep of renowned Indian classical singer Pundit Darbar, whose fiesty daughter Nandini, also a very talented artiste, he eventually falls in love with. Several family events and super-hit songs later, their lukka-chhuppi love gets caught by Nandini’s father, Pundit Darbar, who is now furious, kyunki Nandini ki shaadi toh pehle hee Vanraj se taye ho chuki hai.

Throwing light on the deep-rooted patriarch of the society, the father gives up on singing, as he feels Nandini ne ghar ki maryaada laang diSameer, of course, is asked to leave the house, because jis thaali mein khana, ussi thaali mein chhed karna is unacceptable to Pundit DarbarNandini is later married off to Vanraj, who tries to consummate their marriage on the first night, but Nandini asks him to back off, without giving him an explanation.

Nandini may have given into her father’s demands, but she has also got his genes. She has already given away her heart and Sameer ne uski aatma ko chhua hai – so there is no way she is letting Vanraj have her. Nandini reads the letters written to her by Sameer, and that’s when Vanraj finds out that she yearns for someone else. At first, Vanraj wants to drop her back to her family, but realises that the right thing to do would be to reunite her with her lover.

And that’s how the search for Sameer, ek hawa ka jhonka begins, as does a whole new angle of love. Yes, events unfold and suddenly Nandini’s journey begins satisfying her more than the thought of finally seeing the love of her life. The bitterly cold Nandini begins warming up to her husband Vanraj. Why is he doing all this for her? What is in it for him – are some questions she poses upon herself.

If you love them, let them go – Vanraj’s character wins hearts, a little with his selfless gesture, but mostly because of the simplicity with which he does it. I mean, here’s a guy, good-looking, well to do, family-approved – in love with a woman, madly enough to let her go back to another man who she thinks is ‘the one’ for her. All of this strung together by holy matrimony, but not restricted by the same.

Nandini and Vanraj finally locate Sameer, in fact they decide to meet on the night of his first concert ever. A big occasion for him – a night when everything may have seemed to fall into place. Well, it all does, only not how we or Sameer may have expected it to. Vanraj has done it, he has brought the lost-lovers together, and he takes off from the location, leaving the two on their own.

But things have changed now, feelings have evolved. Nandini has learnt that the meaning of love is not achievement, but could also be sacrifice. Vanraj let her do what she wanted to do. He respected her feelings and acted like a true companion – despite all odds.

So she apologises to Sameer and tells him that she would rather be with Vanraj – she runs back to him, and they live happily ever after. Sorted in the head, and in love with each other. The kind of relationship that helps you rise rather than make you feel miserable. You see, it’s great to be with a person you desire, but there’s no greater liberation than to be with someone who desires you back.

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam may have been made 20 years ago, but there were lessons in the film that could be carried forward for another 20 years. The first being, hum ek baar jeete hain, ek baar marte hain is true. Shaadi may or may not happen ek baar – and as far as pyaar is concerned – that could definitely happen more than once. And that it’s okay to not end up with the one ‘big love’ in life.

I only wish, however, that ‘Nandini’ would have realised her feelings before meeting ‘Sameer’ in Italy – would have saved him the bummer, especially on the night of his first concert. Sigh.

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