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When Bollywood reeled real-life doomed love stories

A love story, when adapted for the big screen, automatically attains immortality. And if the protagonists in question are for real, then there’s very little left to imagination as too much is build on actual memories.

However, sometimes the couples showcased in a movie aren’t meant to be together -- thus adding a veneer of melodrama to the tale. With Farhan Akhtar all set to portray Sahir Ludhianvi, one can’t help but wonder how his upcoming film will handle the celebrated poet’s unfulfilled affection for Amrita Pritam, rumoured to be played by Kareena Kapoor.

There have been instances in the past when harsh world realities not only cut short blooming romances but also eventually inspired Hindi cinema...

Silsila (1981)
Silsila
Director:
Yash Chopra
Angle: The film is said to be loosely based on the alleged love triangle of Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan and Rekha. Open to speculation, nobody confirmed it though. Interestingly, on his last birthday, Yash Chopra revealed that he originally wanted to cast Parveen Babi and Smita Patil opposite Big B, but after consulting him, he chose to cast Jaya and Rekha in their respective roles.

Arth (1982)
Arth
Director:
Mahesh Bhatt
Angle: Very few filmmakers in Bollywood have effectively translated personal experiences into films as much as Bhatt. This semi-autobiographical film was written by the director himself and is said to have explored his extramarital relationship with Parveen Babi. While Kulbhushan Kharbanda played a character based on Bhatt, Shabana Azmi portrayed the suffering wife and Smita Patil essayed the ‘other woman’.

Zakhm (1998)
Zakhm
Director:
Mahesh Bhatt
Angle: One of the finest films on religious divisions to ever come out of Bollywood had its roots in real life events. Based on Mahesh Bhatt’s own travails, it explored the troubled relationship his Kashmiri Pandit father shared with his Muslim mother and the impact that it left on him as a kid. Intriguingly enough, the filmmaker has often gone on record claiming to be a bastard child.

Gangster (2006)
Gangster
Director:
Anurag Basu
Angle: Gangsters can’t keep themselves from inspiring film scripts. Especially when there’s a tricky love story involved. This aptly-titled film was rumored to be based on the lives of mobster Abu Salem (essayed by Shiney Ahuja) and former actress Monica Bedi (essayed by Kangna Ranaut). Basu refuted the claims though. Unrelated: As fate would have it, Salem and Shiney went on to share a cell later.

Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (2010)
Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai
Director:
Milan Luthria
Angle: A love story involving a gangster and an actress might be a recipe for disaster but it certainly makes a good yarn. This film based itself in the rise of then Bombay underworld. It is believed to be based on the lives of real-life mobster Dawood Ibrahim (played by Ajay Devgn) and his love interest (played by Kangna Ranaut) is said to be inspired by the late-’80s Bollywood actress Mandakini.

The Dirty Picture (2011)
The Dirty Picture
Director:
Milan Luthria
Angle: An actress who was very popular in south India but ultimately ended up leading a life full of heartbreaks. Known for her dare-bare acts, Silk Smitha was convincingly played by Vidya Balan in this acclaimed film. Heavily inspired by true events, the story systematically breaks down the myth surrounding her fame and the personal setbacks she received through all the love affairs she was part of.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Director:
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Angle: Though Farhan Akhtar’s Milkha Singh twice falls in love twice in this biopic, it’s his romance with Sonam Kapoor’s Biro that manages to change his life for good. Despite the fact that the two characters don’t end up together as she gets married in his absence, it’s unclear whether Biro as a person ever existed. Even the director didn’t confirm her actual existence, adding enigma to the romantic subplot. 

Unhappy endings
In the West as well, there have been films that featured stories based on real-life personalities who were set apart by circumstances...

>> In Sean Penn’s Into the Wild (2007), Emile Hirsch’s Christopher McCandless deserts Kristen Stewart’s Tracy Tatro only to reach Alaska and die young.

>>
Control (2007) saw singer Ian Curtis (played by Sam Riley) betraying Debbie Woodruff (played by Samantha Morton), before committing suicide.

>>
Jane Campion’s Bright Star (2007) starring Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw showcased the doomed love story of poet John Keats and his muse Fanny Brawne.

>> Michelle Williams portrayed Marilyn Monroe and her week-long one-sided affair with Colin Clark in My Week with Marilyn (2011).

>> The Social Network (2010) featured Jesse Eisenberg in the role of Mark Zuckerberg who hasn’t really gotten over his ex-girlfriend. 

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