Love and Longing

As I grow older, it’s interesting to see how my little-girl fascination for enduring love stories has shown little signs of fading. Some of my favourite movies and books are still about love – unrequited passion, can’t stay away from each other obsessions, illicit love.

Here are some love stories I have come to love over the years – they are the ones I remember at this point in time and are in no particular order.

• Heathcliff and Catherine in Wuthering Heights: Heathcliff’s obsession with his Catherine proves detrimental to all around him. Yet there is something that is primal and raw and fundamental about his ardour. Bad Love.

• Elizabeth and Darcy in Pride and Prejudice: I like all of Jane Austen, but Darcy and Elizabeth are special and enduring. It is a classic rich guy, not-so-rich girl plot… but Elizabeth is so feisty and Darcy so vulnerable, you cannot help falling in love with them.

• Yuri and Lara in Dr. Zhivago: The novel has other merits – telling a personal story of idealism and courage in a time of great historic change, bringing alive the Russian revolution, capturing the beauty of Russia in a way I have not seen before. But for me the lasting impression is of Yuri and his Lara – doomed love in the time of revolution. Poetry adds that extra bit (so do Omar Sharif and Julie Christie in the movie)

• Vicomte de Valmont and Madame de Tourvel in Dangerous Liaisons: Here I am talking of the movie, not the 18th century epistolary novel on which it is based (and which I have not read). Malkovitch was brilliant as the wolf set to seduce Michelle Pfeiffer, the innocent lamb, and losing his heart and his life in the process. Cruel Intentions, the adaptation set in New York with Ryan Philippe and Reese Witherspoon was not bad as far as adaptations go.

• Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind: Rhett’s famous last words to Scarlett were a heart breaker – ‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn’. Not when Scarlett had just about realized after 600 or so pages that she had feelings for him.

• Cecilia and Robbie in Atonement: Beautiful, tragic, utterly magical.

• Jesse and Celine in Before Sunrise/ Before Sunset: A perfect example of interesting conversations leading to crackling sexual tension. There comes a time when you want them to just shut up and kiss or make love. In those beautiful European cities.

• Arvind Swamy’s Shekhar and Manisha Koirala’s Shaila Bano in Mani Ratnam’s Bombay: Forbidden, inter-religious, impossible love. Mani Ratnam has a special knack for creating achingly beautiful and unusual love stories – Dil Se, Yuva, Mouna Ragam… the list is long.

• Harry and Sally in When Harry met Sally: Another of those postponed love stories; when everyone, but them, knows they are meant for each other.

• Jennifer and Oliver in Erich Segal’s Love Story: After all these years, it can tug at my heartstrings (and make me cry) in a way few books can. ‘What can you say about a 25 year old girl who died? That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me.’ I can still remember those first few lines!

• Karen and Denys in Out of Africa: The beauty of Africa offsets this outsized romance – love out in the wild. Redford and Streep had a chemistry that felt tangibly real.

Each of them has a searingly aching magical quality to it. Some end well, most do not. Which is why, in the case of love stories, I believe the best ones are ones where ‘all is not well’.


UL said…
Being a romantic at heart myself I found many that I loved here -specially segal and austen, wouls like to include Noah and Allie's story in the notebook - Nicholas Sparks brings the lasting quality of a young love that matures with age in the most touching way... and oh...couldnt forget Mira's love for Krishna - it is one of my favorites..
small talk said…
Hey, your comment about Mira brought to mind another love story - Maharaj Kumar and Mira in Kiran Nagarkar's Cuckold. It's a superb novel (ranks among my all-time favourites): about a man terribly in love with his wife - who is in love with a god! How can he compete with a god?? Haunting!

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