A scientific look at on-screen chemistry in Bollywood films

Here's a look at the daring, yet truthful, onscreen chemistries of a different variety

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed,” said CG Jung. Obviously, Jung had not seen any of the films mentioned in this list, but it’s the best way to begin a discourse on them. In these films the makers have made an effort to introduce the audience to a “meeting of two personalities” and present a transformation that gives a more palpable sense of the transformation. Here is hitlist’s lowdown on the films that managed to augment our imagination aided by ingenuity.


Film: Highway
Chemical reaction: Unadulterated amounts of compound V (Veera) are exposed in different environments. A gradual change in viscosity points at a probable interaction with chemical M (Mahabir).
Conclusion: Imtiaz Ali, with his brand of cinema, like few Bollywood filmmakers, gives a much-needed twist to the fact that our industry is run by the ‘star actors’. Thanks to a few directors, including him, a film becomes appealing because of ‘star directors’ too. Metaphorically, the film is about a bird’s journey from its cage or, better still, as Kafka said, “I am a cage, in search of a bird.” Since we’ve already pulled Kafka into this, the less said the better; the chemistry between the bird (Mahabir) and the cage (Veera) is why this film makes it to this list.

Dum Laga Ke Haisha

Film: Dum Laga Ke Haisha
Chemical reaction: Spunky girl heated till visible effervescence by backward in-laws, parents and husband until molecules re-bond to stability.
Conclusion: Yash Raj Films has, through the years, given us good and bad love advice. At the helm of the business of spreading love was Yash Chopra and now the baton has been handed over to Aditya Chopra who made a great choice by picking an unconventional tale penned by Sharat Kataria. The film lets us in on a current issue faced by many women that was divulged in a hilarious manner. It would have been a blunder — the pairing of the two leads — if Ayushmann Khurana and Bhumi Pednekar were not talented enough to build up their chemistry the way they have.


Film: Haider
Chemical reaction: Vengeful atoms are stored at freezing point (in Kashmir) and allowed to interact freely with other atoms. Giving birth to a new compound called Haider which is as inflammable as hydrogen.
Conclusion: Although this film takes inspiration from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as a film in recent times there are aspects of it that lean towards the unconventional. Instead of roping in the audience by depicting the chemistry shared between girl and boy, Vishal Bharadwaj works rather intricately in pruning a mother-son relationship. While parents of ICSE students would have been happier if Vishal Bhardwaj made Julius Caesar more interesting for their children, there was much to take from this film and its nuanced elements.

The Lunchbox

Film: The Lunchbox
Chemical reaction: Food cooked by housewives is allowed to interact freely with NaCl (salt) to arouse a reaction with a lonely accountant.
Conclusion: While they say anything is possible in India, who would have imagined that love letters could still overpower in the age of emails? This simple narrative was taken to another level by talented actors like Nimrat Kaur and Irrfan; most probably, even managing to make many men uncomfortable in their multiplex seats, if they were guilty of housewife-ing their better halves.

Mary Kom

Film: Mary Kom
Chemical reaction: Even after being placed over a Bunsen burner the stubborn compound MK (Mary Kom) remains unaltered.  
Conclusion: In the farther reaches of the human psyche, we’ve found that this film runs parallel to Queen. The reason for it is because the film released in the same year and both added to the ongoing dialogue on women empowerment. Also, the two have competed with each other at the various award functions. While Queen was more about a maiden journey, the film Mary Kom was a happy voyage away from the typical. Saiwyn Quadras who penned the story of Mary Kom deserves credit for keeping in mind our weak digestive systems, because he leaves us with the amount food for thought that is not excessively profound.

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