Let me be honest, I was almost tempted to write, will update this list when Bollywood stops glamorizing stalking as a response to rejection. But, I dug deep into the history of Bollywood, and finally, found movies where the hero is rejected by his love interest, but he behaves ‘like a man’ i.e. he accepts the rejection, does not harass the woman to no end, and tries to move on.
These Hindi-language movies are not ideal, but they are still better than most when it comes to showcasing heroes handling rejection:
1. Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa
One of the finer romantic dramas to come out of Bollywood, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa gave us a leading hero who was flawed but relatable. And more importantly, one who learned that love can not be forced. He may have tried to woo back his lady love through underhanded techniques, but his actions were not rewarded by love and his journey resulted in his own growth. Now that’s progressive.
2. Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu
A love story that talked about one-sided love without theatrics or melodrama, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu found the perfect lead, in Rahul (yes there exists a non-problematic male lead in a Bollywood movie named Rahul). Rahul understood that Riana could not reciprocate his feelings and thus he accepted his place as her friend, without guilting her into changing her mind. Hell, there wasn’t even a tragic song.
While Ankush’s fate does leave you heartbroken, he also stands as a reminder that even if you turn your whole life around to impress a girl, she does not owe you anything in return. Because the decision to change your life was yours, and not hers.
Yes, yes I know, Karan ultimately gets together with Romila. But, he, and thus the film, make it to the list because of how he deals with Romila dumping him. He does not lash out or blame her. But rather, decides to grow up and make something of his life. Simply put, he realizes that he can no longer be a man-child. And when he gives up on rekindling a relationship with Romila, because he is still bitter about the way things ended, he does not blame her for moving on or takes out his frustration on another woman. He deals with a broken heart with maturity – something often found missing in Bollywood’s heroes.
Rohena Gera’s romantic drama gifted us a hero who had none of the ‘macho’ afflictions that Bollywood’s leading men seem to have trademarked. Ashwin did not face rejection because Ratna loved him, but rather, in spite of it. She knew love had to take a backseat to her dreams. And Ashwin understood and respected her choice enough to give her the space to grow without forcing her to choose.
Yes, Barfi ultimately found love in Jhilmil. But he also faced his first heartbreak with Shruti. And yet, that did not turn him into a hardened soul who drowned in drinks and debauchery (here’s looking at you, Kabir Singh). Rather he made peace with the fact that Shruti chose a different life, and continued to care for, and ultimately fall for, Jhilmil. Because “not all men” turn to self-destruction after heartbreak.
7. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Trust me, when I first thought about it, this entry surprised me too. But if you see what happens with Aman in the movie, you will agree with me. He may not be the leading hero, but he *is* left at the altar, literally. And yet, he accepts it, because he knows his wife-to-be is not really in love with him. Was it melodramatic? Hell yeah. Did the movie have other issues? Double yes. But, Aman showed us that it’s not okay to force someone to marry you if they don’t love you – irrespective of how you feel.
8. Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai
Anjali chooses Rohit to be her life partner, and he even has her parent’s approval. And yet, he is left at the altar. And while he makes a strong case for characters who deserved better, what we can’t deny is that his response to rejection is the only right response. You don’t “conquer” women, you love them, and if they don’t love you back, you accept it.
Is there a movie you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below.