Favorite Love Triangles

Started reading Jules et Jim by Henri-Pierre Roch yesterday. It is an interesting read, one I looked forward to upon realizing that it was the inspiration behind a music video for Kiss Me by Six Pence None the Richer, my favorite music group with a female lead vocalist (here's the original video). Jules et Jim is a classic love triangle. Sample this from chapter nine:

'Jim, you listen me! If she only your friend, why she no see you in drawing-room like proper lady? Why bedroom? Me allow in drawing-room, with me. If you want to go up bed-room and me no there, me make scandal straight away, me yell Lucie your mistress, me say me your poor fiancy. Me make big scene. No good reputation Lucie.'

It contains shades of Bollywood too! =)

This made me think of my favorite love triangles in Bollywood. Staying true to the 'tri' in triangle, I'll restrict myself to three selections (in no specific order) and a couple of honorable mentions. Do share your thoughts, favorites and recommendations.

-- Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)
Rani Mukherjee - Shah Rukh Khan - Kajol
Salman Khan - Kajol - Shah Rukh Khan

Shah Rukh has been in his fair share of love triangles. Darr, Dil To Pagal Hai, Devdas, Kal Ho Na Ho, Om Shanti Om, Paheli, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (KANK). All right, so maybe KANK was a 'love square' (did I just coin a term?), but the sum of the angles of two triangles is equal to the sum of the angles of a square, so this works -- and yes, Shah Rukh, I *am* smarter than a fifth grader!

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is one of my favorite love triangles. Who can forget Rani with the guitar, Kajol playing basketball in a saree (and looking mighty stunning at that), Johnny Lever at his best, Salman Khan's role, and Neelam's special appearance? And of course, Shah Rukh playing a somewhat indecisive but always-passionate college student and single father. While Shah Rukh won people over with his dance in Koi Mil Gaya, I struggled to find an administrator to let me perform alongside a female vocalist and sing this song for a music competition at the all-boys high school I attended, only to end up singing a song in English (by Boyzone) in protest. Yes, Boyzone. What was I thinking...?

-- Lagaan (2001)
Gracy Singh - Aamir Khan - Rachel Shelley
Lagaan (to me, the only perfect film ever made -- maybe not, Bhuvan should have had a beard given that Champaner had no water, but that's forgivable) had everything, not the least important of which was the Bhuvan-Ghauri-Elizabeth triangle. While it was not the centerpiece of the plot, this triangle did serve as an important catalyst to the outcome of the cricket game. What would the Lagaan XI be without Elizabeth?

The scene atop the hill, with Bhuvan yelling 'aur maai ko bhi tu hi pasand hai' is immortal, much like the songs Radha Kaise Na Jale and O Ri Chhori are. And Captain Russell yelling, "What's so special about them that makes you go against your own brother?". Classic.

-- Saajan (1991)
Salman Khan - Madhuri Dixit - Sanjay Dutt
Madhuri was at her powerful best. The scene I cannot forget is the one in which she discovers Salman and Sanjay discussing who should be with her. There was a boldness about her response that made it one for the ages. In retrospect, I might not have appreciated the confidence and what seemed like a firm belief in Madhuri's comments in that scene had I not attended this event (Lisa, if you ever read this, thank you).

It was the first time I was in a room full of people where about five percent of the attendees were men and the rest women. While I certainly never complained about being in that situation, it did serve as an eye-opener of what it must be like for women leaders (in just about any industry), especially since the overwhelming majority of corporate leaders are men. The experience made me a better person. Oh, and definitely more appreciative of Madhuri Dixit and her ability to make dialog stick in my head!

Honorable Mention:

-- Andaz (1949)
Raj Kapoor - Nargis - Dilip Kumar
The only reason Andaz is not listed in the top three is that I do not have near the amount of memories associated with it. Suffice it to say that this is an exceptional film that stars some exceptional actors. Tu Kahe Agar by Mukesh is a fantastic song!

-- Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999)
Ajay Devgan - Aishwarya Rai - Salman Khan
There were several excellent bits to this film. The music, plot, performances, and chemistry between Aishwarya Rai and Salman Khan that was sadly never duplicated.


Anonymous said...

I don't usually like love triangles, as my sympathies are usually with the person left out. That said, Lagaan and HDDCS are great examples of love triangles that don't resolve in the way you expect, but are highly satisfying anyways.

The Aamir/Preity/other guy in Dil Chahta Hai is one of my favorite romantic triangles, even if it isn't a main part of the story. And the tragic triangle of Devdas is a great one for leaving everyone unhappy!

And for triangles of power, nothing beats Mughal-e-Azam. The balancing act of love and duty amongst the three leads is so well done.

theBollywoodFan said...

That's a great point about sympathies for the person left out somewhat diluting the fun in love triangle movies. I thought Devdas kind of challenged us who to feel bad for, rather than the obvious third person.

Dil Chahta Hai was classic. Akash and Shalini were fantastic! Thanks for reminding me (it has its share of love triangles...two with Aamir, one with Saif, possibly one with Askhaye toward the end, if you count that). Great movie!

I need to revisit Mughal-e-Azam. It's one of those films I have seen a couple of times over the years, but there's so much to think about when discussing it that I feel a viewing in the recent past would do me some good.

Anonymous said...

Mughal-e-Azam is one of those films you need to devote an entire night to. I felt so emotionally drained after watching it. Madhubala is one of my favorite actresses. It's riveting to watch her and Prithviraj challenge and confront one another, while they both want to protect the Prince. It's an unusual triangle, for sure. Madhubala's number in the mirror room makes me cry every time I watch it. Poor, brave Anarkali...

You're right about Devdas challenging expectations of the triangle. It would be interesting to make a comparison viewing between all the versions.

It would also be interesting to look into the differences between the typical Western triangle romance story and some classic Bollywood ones.

Anonymous said...

Here are 25 films with love triangles. I’ve seen most of them. There are many fantastic films on the list, but that’s not saying all of them are classics.

Barsaat (1949)
Aah (1953)
Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962) - the Bibi and Ghulam have more of a platonic relationship than a romantic one
Sangam (1964)
Rangeela (1995)
Judaai (1997)
Virasat (1997)
Pardes (1997)
1947 Earth (1999)
Taal (1999)
Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke (2001)
Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (2002)
Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai (2002)
Mujhse Dosti Karoge (2002)
Humraaz (2002)
Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam (2002)
Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon (2003)
Mujhse Shaadi Karoge (2004)
Vaada (2005)
Kisna (2005)
Gangster (2006)
Jaan-e-Mann (2006)
Namastey London (2007)
Life in a… Metro (2007)
Saawariya (2007)

When it comes to love triangles, my favorites from this list are from 1947 Earth and Gangster. In 1947 Earth, I was moved by how love not only has the power to bring people together, but also to destroy them. Aamir Khan as Dil Nawaz gave a gut-wrenching performance, and Nandita Das was so subdued yet at the same time powerful with her role.

Anurag Basu brilliantly weaved narratives together in Life in a… Metro, and I found the gray shades of his multidimensional characters in Gangster very refreshing. I agree with you that the strongest love triangle stories aren’t those where there is one couple you’re rooting for and a third person you’re against, but those where you are conflicted in deciding where your sympathies lie.

By the way, have you seen Aamir Khan in Rangeela? There isn’t a review of it on your blog. I haven’t seen the film but have heard he gives a memorable performance. A.R. Rahman composed the music and the hit soundtrack solidified his status as one of Bollywood’s top music directors

theBollywoodFan said...

Great list! I agree about 1947 Earth and Aamir Khan and Nandita Das being fantastic in that. I have seen Rangeela; it is a *great* film but one I have yet to review.

Liked Gangster too, but not as much Life in a Metro.

Filmi Girl: Agree completely with about everything in your comment. Reviewing Mughal-e-Azam would be quite a feat. What a film!