21 years ago when Mohabbatein released and Raj Aryan Malhotra waltzed into Gurukul, teaching men the art of falling in love, and apparently music, I was mildly surprised but mostly enamored.
Because let's be honest, it was the age where we hated any and every authority figure. And Narayan Shankar has to be the prime example of an authoritarian figure.
But it's time to face the facts, and let the truth out in the open - Raj was not a good teacher. In fact, he was definitely not fit to be a teacher. And Narayan Shankar was just doing his job.
Now before I give you my in-depth explanation of why I feel this way, let's make it clear. This is not about Narayan Shankar as a father, because he was the poster child of toxic masculinity and that's a discussion for another time.
This is simply about Raj Aryan and Narayan Shankar as teachers. And here's a point-by-point analysis of why, when it came to actual teaching (love is not a subject, you know), Raj deserved an F:
1. Raj Aryan was hired as a music teacher. But did that mean he could just play the violin, whenever he feels like it? Imagine if a maths teacher made you solve equations, whenever you bumped into him?
This is one of the two times, in the entire film, that he hosts a class.
Also, how convenient of him to just assume that his students already knew how to read music sheets?
2. He actively encourages his students to break the rules.
Yes sure, break open the gates, run away, for a woman you think you love!
At this point, except for Sameer, none of these boys had met the girls they dreamed about more than once. But let's call infatuation love and talk young men into breaking rules!
You like a girl? Sure, I'll teach you enough about playing piano in a few hours that you can pass for a reasonable piano teacher for her nephew! (Guess this makes Karan the only student who actually learned).
Yes, sneak in at odd hours. So what if Narayan Shankar catches you? I'll save you with my lies.
Expecting kids to stay inside the college campus, to return at designated hours, etc. is part of life at boarding school. Yes, kids may break these rules, but should teachers actively encourage that? Or teach them that there are no repercussions to breaking rules? Because in real life, there are repercussions to rule-breaking.
3. Personal boundaries? What are those?
So what if they are students? I shall, of course, tell them about my dead girlfriend who I am still in love with. Nothing wrong with that!
Do these look like the faces of three students who are okay with knowing their professor is in love with a ghost?
He also displayed peak extrovert behavior, not understanding the concept of personal space. Or peace and quiet.
4. He literally hosts a party in a college for his birthday! And then invites girls even when he was expressly denied permission for it.
You do not risk getting kids expelled, all because you want to 'spread love' or celebrate your birthday.
Was he a teacher? Or a man-child reliving his teenage life because he was robbed of it the first time?
5. He also taught his students to 'convince' a girl, rather than deal with rejection. And do we really need to spell out why that is wrong?
His explicit advise to Sameer was: Don't move on.
6. Oh, also, what about all the young souls who didn't fall in love? Way to make them feel left out!
*Yes, this observation was perhaps a little too personal*
7. Also did a single kid, even one, actually, learn music? A skill that could benefit them in life?
Literally every kid after learning music from Raj Aryan:
The movie lasted 3 hours and 35 minutes. And Raj Aryan did not teach music for more than 30 minutes. All he talked about was his love story. And giving up everything for love is never good advice.
Why celebrate Children's Day or Teacher's Day, when you can spend Valentine's Day?
8. Raj painted Narayan Shankar as an evil person when in reality, he was just doing his job. And was far more reasonable than Raj.
Firstly, Narayan Shankar was willing to change, it was Raj who could not let go of the past. Yes, it was a lot to process, and yes, Narayan Shankar was wrong.
But as the principal of Gurukul, Narayan Shankar gave Raj an interview and a fair chance.
He agreed to let students play Holi, as long as it was off-campus.
He even allowed Raj to host a party, and Raj still broke the rules.
And he was willing to give both, Raj, and the students, a chance despite knowing they had broken the rules.
Raj, on the other hand, did not give anyone a back-up plan, in case they were rusticated. Hell, he did not even teach them enough about music, that they could go on to become musicians, and/or music teachers. So really, who was the bad guy here?
9. Also, last, but not least, the guy was literally in love with a ghost he kept hallucinating about. How is that okay?
Ultimately, Narayan Shankar turned into a better person. Raj Aryan, however, continued to remain an overgrown teenager with a broken heart.
All images are screenshots from the movie on Prime Video, unless specified otherwise.