When Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani released in 2013, I don't think even the makers or actors envisioned it would one day become the DDLJ of the current generation. But it did.
It has become our go-to film to watch with friends, or when we're alone. To watch on movie nights with bae, or to re-watch because we can't figure anything new to watch.
And after having watched it about a few hundred times, I have realized that while the entire world simps over Naina (and hell yeah, Deepika deserves it), I have always related more to Aditi (Kalki Koechlin).
Let me start off by saying, I am in no way pitting the two women against each other because, contrary to patriarchy's viewpoint of society, this isn't about that.
It's simply about sharing why Aditi was a woman after my own heart, whose life, even the minor bit of it as shown in the movie, became an inspiration for my confused, millennial heart.
Naina's life changed after she opened herself to new adventures, and even love, on an impromptu trip. But, Aditi was the girl who lived her truth right from the start, society be damned.
From wearing what her heart desired, to calling out even the love of her life when he stepped out of line, to experimenting with her passions, Aditi lived her life the way she wanted to.
Remember, all the phases Naina describes? I loved hearing about them. Because it showed that Aditi wasn't shy of experimenting, or failing.
Yes, of course, she had the privilege to do so. But how often do we see women, even those who are privileged, explore life with the same abandon that men do - on-screen, or in real life? Let's admit it, Bunny did not have the monopoly in the movie for chasing his dreams, and Aditi was the perfect example of that.
At the end of it all, when she decided to get married, I did not see her 'glow up' as an effort to change her personality (yes, I am still bitter about Anjali's transformation in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Can't you tell?).
I mean how often have we seen women kick off their heels, and actually enjoy their own engagement? She may have swapped shorts for a little black dress, but her wild spirit remained the same.
The way she wanted to call out Avi for his gambling at her wedding, was the same spirit with which she once wanted to fight the people who attacked her friends in Manali.
Because you can like all kinds of clothes without altering your personality. Because you can be feminine and fierce at the same time. Because you don't have to be just the 'mom' of the group or the 'buddy', you can be yourself and still simply be a friend.
More importantly, unlike Bunny, she did not need to see her old crush to 'grow up'. Yes, at one point, she loved Avi with all her heart because that's how she did everything - with a complete passion.
But, she also decided to give up on unrequited love, a lesson most Bollywood heroes still struggle with and move on. And she did not compromise on her friendship with Avi to do so. Yet another concept our 'heroes' can't grasp. (Here's looking at you, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil)
And while Bunny continued to view not just Naina, but even Aditi from the lens of their old friendship, Aditi stood her ground and let him know, she had grown up, moved on, and loved her husband with all her heart.
Simply put, it was heartening to see that while she had matured, she had not lost her core identity. She still cared for the friends who were like family to her. Hell, her vidaai wasn't complete till she hugged them. But she also changed where it counted.
For someone like yours truly, who dared to take a sabbatical in the middle of her 20s, who valued friendships but learned late about boundaries, who had more 'phases' than degrees, Aditi's journey was a heartening reminder that you can embrace life's adventures and grow up, without losing yourself along the way.
All images are screenshots from Netflix.