It’s that time of the year: Valentine’s Day, when chocolates are passed out and last-minute Hallmark cards fly off the shelves. For every long speech that a Shah Rukh gives to his ladylove, there’s the eye-rolling masses decrying the commerce and schmaltz of the holiday.
Story by Rumnique Nannar
If you’re looking for a quiet night in from the cacophony of PDA, overbooked restaurants and uncertainty, try out some of these devastatingly romantic and anti-Valentine’s Day films.
1. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge: You can call me a sucker or an indoctrinated child of the Yashraj generation, but DDLJ still holds up as it approaches its 20 year anniversary. Whether it’s pining after the maniacal ball of energy named Raj, and learning that Indian girls don’t put out even in small countries like Zurich, DDLJ still teaches us something upon each watch. You can approach the movie as a romantic or a cynic as it’s a field day to poke fun at the plot-holes (seriously, why doesn’t Raj just elope?) or relive the nostalgia through the brilliant songs like “Tujhe Dekha To.” I remember watching this gem with an open-air audience at Stanley Park a few years ago, and it was lovely to see the diversity of reactions to the film. Give this one another whirl, it’s 3.5 hours well spent. Watch online.
2. When Harry Met Sally: Once again this gem will be featured on tons of lists for being the foundationary text for how to do a romcom right. Two sparring leads, witty dialogues by the incomparable Nora Ephron, and a classic soundtrack, When Harry Met Sally truly has it all and makes it work too. The screenplay retains that zing and bite that sets the sexes apart, and their different interpretations of love, friendship and sex. It’s either useless or ingrained that I know half the dialogues to this film. Hey, if it was only that easy to say to someone: “I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich.” (Insert cute quirk or mannerism here!)
3. In The Mood For Love: This Wong Kar-Wai movie is often cited as a romantic classic, and even though it is a devastatingly beautiful heartbreak, I often watch it as my anti-Valentine’s treat. The film, set in 1960s Hong Kong, concerns Mr. Chow (a terrifically handsome Tony Leung) and Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung), two neighbours whose spouses are having an affair with each other. The pair vow never to do the same, so the film is rife full of heavy symbolism of the pair bonding over food, back-alley noodle shops, and martial-arts novels. It’s achingly stunning with cinematography by Christopher Doyle capturing the yearning and lust in slow-mo and the claustrophobic spaces in which the meet. Every single frame is a dream, with Cheung looking luminous in a variety of cheongsams that signify the time shifts from scene-to-scene. If you haven’t seen a Wong Kar-Wai film, make sure this is your first.
4. Qurbani: This is an unexpected choice but who can resist some Bollywood bromance? Featuring the most macho of men, director/actor Feroz Khan perhaps intended for a drama with a sexy Zeenat Aman, guns, explosions, and fierce friendship. What he didn’t expect was creating a very homosocial drama, with Vinod Khanna and Feroz cementing their BFFhood through extreme hugs, singing songs, and looking longingly at each other. The film is pretty hilarious and tons of fun if you look at it through this lens, since Zeenat Aman becomes truly irrelevant when being fought over, since the true romance at the centre is this bromantic team. Here’s hoping that upcoming film Gunday becomes a latter-day version of this gem! Watch online.
5. Sabrina: If you want to swoon heavily and wish to have eyebrows and Givenchy style as on-point as Audrey Hepburn, then this is the best film to watch on Valentine’s Day. This classic film is a pure confection, with the Larrabee brothers, playboy David (William Holden) and crusty Linus (Humphrey Bogart), volleying for the ugly-duckling turned swan Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn). It’s got your usual cliches of a Cinderella story and wish-fulfillment – I know wished I could go to Paris to cooking school and hear La Vie En Rose playing from my perfect window-view of the Eiffel Tower. The film has a sparkling and witty screenplay by Billy Wilder and Ernest Lehman who make this an elegant film worth revisiting every year.
It’s an eclectic list of classics, anti-Valentines, and bromance, so skip the pomp and fanfare and break out the wine and cheese with these five diverse and brilliant gems!
Story By: Rumnique Nannar