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Romantic Bollywood Movie GuideAsk any two experts for their favourites and you'll get more points of disagreement than agreement, so when asked six female Bollywood movie experts for their choice of the most romantic Bollywood movies ever, we were quite surprised by the results. Just as classics like 'Casablanca' and 'Gone With the Wind' top any Hollywood Romantics Movies list, Bollywood classics like Awara, Andaz, Pakeezah and Mugal-e-Azam appeared to be among our experts' favourites. Featuring stars of yester year like Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Nargis, Nutan and Meena Kumari; it is hardly surprising that the early days of Bollywood are seen as the Golden Era of the great romantic movie.

We were equally surprised that war-time love stories like '1942 - A Love Story' with its eminently sing-a-long song ' 'Ek ladki ko dekha to aisa laga' and tear-jerker 'Kabhi Khabie' (1976) did not make our experts list. Screen beauty Waheeda Raman also failed to make the grade in a major role, but most of our movies featured a stunning movie heroine - equal to any that Hollywood has to offer.

Glamour dominated the list with trend-setting films like Kashmir Ki Kali, Mughal-e-Azam, Pakeezah and Zubeidaa all shot in glorious Technicolor. Bollywood goddess Sharmila Tagore makes an appearance twice on your list: first in the 1964 film Kashmir Ki Kali and then in the 1969 film Aradhana opposite heartthrob Rajesh Khanna. The mogul court is mentioned twice with films like Pakeezah and 'Mughal-e-Azam' and the opulence of the era is echoed in films like 'Devdas'. Unrequited love, the classic love triangle and lesbianism are other themes to emerge in our most Romantic Bollywood Movies Top 20.

1. Awara (1951)
2. Andaz (1949)
3. Aradhana (1969)
4. Baghban (2003)
5. Bobby (1973)
6. Bombay (1949)
7. Devdas (1956)
8. Dil (1990)
9. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)
10. Fire (1996)
11. Kal Ho Na Ho (2003)
12. Kashmir Ki Kali (1964)
13. Kuch Na Kaho (2003)
14. Mughal-e-Azam (1960)
15. Naseeb (1981)
16. Pakeezah (1971)
17. Pinjar (2003)
18. Sholay (1975)
19. Tere Ghar ke Saamne (1963)
20. Zubeidaa (2000)


Nasreen Munni KabirNasreen Munni Kabir, who is a documentary filmmaker and author of several, books including 'Guru Dutt- a life in cinema', 'Talking Films with Javed Akhtar' and 'Bollywood, the Indian cinema Story' chose a selection of true classics. Nasreen who works as Channel 4's consultant on Indian cinema is responsible for selecting, translating dialogues and supervising the subtitling of C4's annual twenty-part Indian film season.


Awara poster"My first choice has to be Awara for the intense on screen chemistry between Raj Kapoor and Nargis" she said. "As an audience you feel completely riveted by the emotional connection these two actors emanate on the screen. Kapoor's use of music is unrivalled in romantic films, each song tells the different moods of love."

Nasreen, who is currently serving as governor on the board of the British Film Institute, is in the process of making a 50-minute documentary on Shah Rukh Khan for Channel 4 to be shown in April 2004. Surprisingly though, her second choice is the original 1956 version of 'Devdas' in preference to the 2002 version starring Shah Rukh Khan.


Bimal Roy' s 'Devdas' (1956)"In Devdas, the 1956 Bimal Roy version, the heart of the story is about the complexity of love, and how different characters experience it: the hero loves but cannot act upon it and inner, pining love is what he chooses," Nasreen explained. "Paro loves but finds that the object of her love is unable to match her love, and finally Chandramukhi who trades in "so called" love has to give up the material world in order to win love and this can only ultimately be accepted as the spiritual kind."

For an industry often pilloried for having repetitive storylines, a lack or depth and few meaningful characters, Nasreen highlights Andaz as her third choice.


Andaz poster"Andaz has the best love triangle film ever made in Indian cinema. This powerful melodrama by Mehboob Khan shows the complexity of love and silent longing. Dilip Kumar is absolutely brilliant in this film, which is basically about three people!" Nasreen added, "It is rare today that a film can revolve around three characters, and Andaz is a film captures the imagination totally. This only happens if a film's characters have depth."

Romance in movies, of course, can only come from the pairing of an actor and actress who share on-screen chemistry. For her fourth choice 'Tere Ghar Ke Saamne', Nasreen reminisces about Dev Anand and Nutan.


Tera Ghar Ke Saamne poster"This delightful beautifully written film by Vijay Anand starring Dev Anand and Nutan is romance set in every day life, the couple are modern, the parents full of ego and false pride. The songs are lovely and the dialogue witty. Very little is said about this romantic screen pair but I think Dev Anand and Nutan make as beautiful a romantic pair on screen as Nargis-Raj Kapoor. This film is a gem and isn't talked about enough," stated Nasreen.

Modern-day romantic figures like Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol do appear in Nasreen's final choice 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge'.


Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge"This marvellous film depends on the fabulous energy and intensity between Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol who like the earlier films understand how to make the love seem real on the screen. They are delightful and the film has great lyrics by Anand Bakshi. Aditya Chopra creates a flowing mood managing to tackle the objecting parent in a fresh and novel way. Wonderfully romantic of course."


Behroze GandhyAnother documentary film make and expert on Indian Cinema - Behroze Gandhy - who curated the 'Other Indias Film Festival' at The WhiteChapel Gallery last year, also chose early classics.


Madhubala in the 1960 film Mughal-e-Azam"Mughal-e-Azam has the most sexy moment in Indian cinema history as Dilip Kumar makes love to Madhubala by stroking her face with a white feather!" The film has been digitally remastered and was re-released by the Bfi as part of the 2002 ImagineAsia festival. First seen in 1960, Bollywood classic Mughal-E-Azam is the tale of an explosive confrontation between forbidden love and the iron laws of the state. An all-star cast including Dilip Kumar, Madhubala and Prithviraj Kapoor, give powerful performances in sumptuous settings; fabulous Mughal palaces, breathtaking battle scenes and romantic bedchambers.


Kashmir Ki Kali poster"Kashmir Ki Kali was Sharmila Tagore's first Bollywood movie and she looks ravishing as a flower seller approaching Shammi Kapoor," explained Behroze. Although the film had a run-of-the-mill plot, the film has a touching air of innocence, and most importantly, songs that are now considered the great classics of Hindi film music.


Bobby posterBobby is a real 1970's kitschy choice. 18-year old Raj Nath (Rishi Kapoor), son of a wealthy businessman, has a romance with 16-year old Bobby (Dimple Kapadia), daughter of a humble fisherman while their respective fathers wage a class war. "The song which imagines Dimple Kapadia (Bobby) and Rishi Kapoor locked in a room together with the key thrown away is truly romantic." This song 'Hum tum ek kamre mein band ho' sung by Shailendra Singh and Lata Mangeskar became the hit song of its day and the movie also included other hits like 'Mujhe kuch kehna hai' and 'Main shayer to nahin'.


Pakeezah posterMeena Kumari's best-known 1971 classic 'Pakeezah' rated a number of mentions. The plot is a classic courtesan tale set in Lucknow at the turn of the last century. Dancer and courtesan Nargis (Meena Kumari) dreams of escaping her dishonourable life but is rejected by the family of her husband and dies giving birth to a daughter. The daughter, Sahibjaan (also played by Kumari), repeats her mother's life cycle. "Ashok Kumar gazing at Meena Kumari's feet in the train is such a tender thought," said Behroze "it is romance in the true sense of the word". The cinematography is colourful and lavish and Pakeezah features Sahibjaan dancing at her lover's wedding on shards of glass before it all dramatically comes to a close.


"Mani Rathnam's 1995 film Bombay is one my favourites because Aravind Swamy the hero pursues his beloved to a small village in south India after spotting her at a wedding. He even has to cover himself in a burkha in order to woo her!" laughed Behroze. Set in the 1993 Bombay riots following the destruction of the Babri Masjid, the tale is of a Hindu Shekhar (Swamy) falling in love for a Muslim woman Shehla Bano (Manisha Koirala). A love story spanning two religions.


Lucky DissanayakeSri Lankan, Lucky Dissanayake, who has 17 years experience in media including magazines, newspapers and television and holds an MBA from Ashridge Management College, founded Dakini books in 2000. Dakini published the hardback 'Bollywood - Popular Indian Cinema' that has since become the most beloved title on the subject.


Zubeidaa"One of my favourites is Zubeidaa: Although ending in tragedy, the true love story represented in this film is unforgettable. Karisma Kapoor is remarkably cast." Lucky stated. Married young and divorced, Zubeidaa falls in love with a Hindu prince from Rajasthan but finds she is a misfit in his code-bound royal life. The forsaken son Riyaz traces his mother's story through her diaries and interviews with the royal family members in Jaipur. Zubeidaa echoes the theme of a woman searching for identity. Whizz-kid AR Rahman's music and big production values made Zubeidaa reach out to a much larger audience.

Like Behroze Gandhy, Lucky chose Mughal-e-Azam as another. "The singing and dancing in this story are my favourite out of all the Bollywood films. They perfectly highlight this legendary romance." Lucky added.

Meena Kumari in PakeezahLucky also chose 'Bobby' as an iconic story of young love and Pakeezah. "There are a few scenes in Pakeezah, especially the one with the song 'Chalo Dildar Chalo', that capture romanticism at its best." If you can instantly remember the lilting music to this terrific song than you're likely to agree with Lucky's choice.


Aradhana posterLucky's final choice was 'Aradhana' which she states is a film that gave Bollywood its first ever superstar in Rajesh Khanna - "he's always been one of my favourite heroes!" With music by S D Burman and lyrics by Anand Bakshi, Aradhana was a musical romance. A seminal film for the 1970's, Aradhana is best remembered for its songs like 'Mere sapnon ke rani' and 'Roop tera mastana' sung by Kishore Kumar. If the mere mention of the last song has you imaging the heroine in a rain-drenched sari succumbing to the advances of her hero ……you too will have agree that Aradhana was a great movie.


Film buff Tejinder Jouhal, who worked on the 'Beyond Bollywood' tour of contemporary South Asian cinema as part of the BFI's ImagineAsia festival, offered a slightly different perspective to list. Tejinder is currently working at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) that recently held its 'Spice' season of contemporary Indian Cinema.

Like others, Tejinder also chose Pakeezah because "that famous emotionally charged dance scene (with the shards of glass) did more to further the narrative than most contemporary Bollywood films ever could."


Shabana Azmi stars in Deepa Mehta's 1996 film Fire.Deepa Mehta's 1996 film 'Fire' for Tejinder was "a sensitive tale of modern love brilliantly acted by both Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das." Written and directed by Mehta, this English language film is an unusual Indian film looking at lesbianism and forbidden desire within a New Delhi household. It caused a storm on its release in India where the main right-wing party in Bombay tried to get it banned. They were unsuccessful and despite the fact that the film is about a lesbian relationship, a subject which is considered taboo in India, it was released uncensored.


Sholay posterNot quite the classic romantic tale, Ramesh Sippy's 1975 tale 'Sholay' was India's answer to the Western. Starring Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini and Jaya Bhaduri, the tale is told in flashbacks where the lead character Jaidev (Amitabh Bachchan) is killed. This allowed the film to adhere to the Hindi cinema norm that the widowed Radha (Jaya Bhaduri) may not marry. Many will recall the classic scene where she closes the window shutters as if closing the doors to her heart forever!


Naseeb Poster1981 film Naseeb featured the song 'Zindagi' "which crossed wires between lovers and friends". Manmohan Desai's most extravagantly plotted film featured a host of stars including Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Lalita Pawar, Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, Mala Sinha, Waheeda Rahman, and Sharmila Tagore and scores for sheer star quality alone!


"For romantic drama nothing can beat 1990 film Dil where Aamir Khan defies his family as he smashes the glass table and creates a wedding fire in the remains." The top Hindi hit of the 1990's Dil is a love story leading to an estrangement between the families of the two lovers played by Aamir Khan and Madhuri Dixit.


Pushpinder Chowdhry (left) and Harvinder Nath (R)The most contemporary selection of romantic Bollywood movies was by Pushpinder Chowdhry and Harvinder Nath, organisers of the Tongues on Fire Asian Women's Festival. Now in its 6th year, Tongues on Fire celebrates the excellence, performances and achievements of Asian women in cinema. Pushpinder & Harvinder chose as their romantic Bollywood movies:


Starring Urmila Matondkar and Manoj Bajpai, the 2003 film Pinjar is a human saga set during the Indo-Pak partition. "We liked this film because the romance flourishes across the culture and religion".


Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai in 'Kuch Na Kaho'.Their second choice 'Kuch Na Kaho' (2003) starring Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan is a light-hearted contemporary romance that breaks with 'cultural stereotypes'. Raj (Abhishek Bachchan) lives in New York with his mother. They are very close and share a great rapport. But there is one issue they can't see eye to eye on: his mother wants him to settle down but Raj won't hear of an arranged marriage.

When Raj visits India for his cousin's wedding, his uncle emotionally blackmails him into agreeing to arrange meetings with eligible girls. To make matters worse, the person his uncle chooses as the matchmaker is the one person Raj has already antagonized in his 24 hours in Mumbai. That person is Namrata (Aishwarya Rai). She is only too happy to put Raj through the torture of finding his one true love!


Although universally panned by film critics, 2003 family saga 'Baghban' starring Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini, gets the ladies vote for proving that when it comes to romance "age is no bar".


Kal Ho Naa HoKal Ho Naa Ho is the story of Aman, Rohit and Naina's journey together - how they discover themselves, find the courage to love and come together to celebrate life. New York, April 2003, the late winter continues...For Naina Kapur (Preity Zinta), life is cold grey and dull - as it has been ever since a family tragedy shook her world. Naina has no time for things like parties, fun... or herself.

She's twenty-three going on fifty. She is serious. She is boring. Enter Aman Mathur (Shah Rukh Khan) - like a whiff of fresh air, he moves into their tiny Indian neighbourhood to take it over. Aman pushes Naina into doing things she would never dream of doing. He conspires with friend Rohit (Saif Ali), an eligible Manhattan bachelor - to help her find happiness. Kal Ho Na Ho "proves to be a classic love triangle with a twist!" according to Pushpinder and Harvinder.


Do you agree with our experts choice or disgaree vehemently? Don't forget to make your choice in our poll.


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