What would our favorite Bollywood love stories be like without our favorite onscreen couples? Sometimes the actors and actresses themselves help turn even the simplest of stories into the most impressive onscreen sagas. And sometimes our favorite couples can help us get through even the most ridiculous of films. Let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable filmy jodis.
1. Raj Kapoor & Nargis
Co-starring in 16 films together from 1948 to 1956, these acting legends were the original Bollywood sweethearts. Some of their most popular films included Shree 420, Awara, and Barsaat. Interestingly enough, these two also reportedly shared an off-screen affair that ended when Raj Kapoor refused to divorce his wife for Nargis. This onscreen/offscreen overlap appeared to be something of a recurring pattern I noticed while researching this piece (as you’ll see if you read on)…
2. Madhuri Dixit & Salman Khan
First seen together in the 1991 film Saajan, Madhuri Dixit and Salman Khan reunited two more times in the 1990s with Dil Tera Aashiq and Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. The 2002 dud of a film Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam featured the two as childhood friends who shared a sibling-like affection for one another, and I’m still waiting for their big onscreen reunion….maybe in Sooraj Barjatya’s next film?
3. Amitabh Bachchan & Jaya Bhaduri
Having co-starred in close to 10 films together since 1973’s Zanjeer, this reel-life turned real-life couple celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in June 2013. Whatever Bollywood drama may have plagued Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan’s early marriage, their popular onscreen jodi produced such classics as Abhimaan, Mili, Sholay, Silsila, Chupke Chupke, and more recently, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.
4. Deepika Padukone & Ranbir Kapoor
First seen together as the winning couple in the 2008 film Bachna Ae Haseeno, Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone reunited with huge success in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani in 2013 despite their real-life breakup in 2009. And best of all — they’re slated to star together again in Imtiaz Ali’s next film. I’m. So. Excited.
5. Akshay Kumar & Katrina Kaif
First seen onscreen in the 2006 movie Humko Deewane Kar Gaye, Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif went on to star in six other movies together — most recently director Farah Khan’s 2010 masala flick Tees Maar Khan. Their most successful films together have been Namastey London, Welcome, and Singh is Kinng. No films for this leading couple are on the horizon in the near future, but maybe we’ll see them together again if the rumored sequel to the 2009 film Blue ever comes to fruition?
6. Rekha & Amitabh Bachchan
Quite possibly one of the most legendary and controversial onscreen duos in Bollywood history, Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha first appeared in a movie together in 1973’s Namak Haraam. But the movie that really gave them fame as a silver screen couple was the 1976 film Do Anjaane, which allegedly is also when their off-screen affair began. With more than 10 films to their credit from 1976 to 1981, this pair’s real-life affair eerily mirrored the onscreen love triangle depicted between the characters portrayed by Rekha, Amitabh, and Jaya Bhaduri in Yash Chopra’s famed 1981 classic, Silsila. After Silsila, the two never appeared in another movie together, and their love affair allegedly ended around the same time.
Thanks to the the Bachchan family’s careful avoidance of Rekha in public settings, this much-gossiped about duo was mostly left out of the news for the past 30+ years until a recent reunion at a January 2014 awards function.
7. Aamir Khan & Juhi Chawla
Since their first movie together in 1988 — Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla went on to star in six more films together over the course of the 1990s. Their onscreen pairing was featured in a variety of films from the romantic family dramedy Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke to the fantasy romance Tum Mere Ho to the goofy action flick Ishq. I would Love Love Love to see an onscreen reunion of this amazingly talented pair sometime soon.
8. Kajol & Shahrukh Khan
This hit duo that helped make Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge the longest running movie in Bollywood history. They had actually starred in their first movie together two years before the release of DDLJ in the 1993 thriller Baazigar. Shahrukh Khan and Kajol have starred in six movies together over the past two decades, including my personal favorite Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in 1998 and most recently the 2010 drama My Name is Khan.
If we’re lucky, we’ll see these two make cameo appearances in a rumored DDLJ remake, and until then, take a moment to very seriously ponder the video below. Even SRK’s Zorro get-up. You’ll thank me later.
9. Dharmendra & Hema Malini
Yet another silver screen pair that turned into a real-life couple, Dharmendra and Hema Malini reportedly fell in love with each other during the filming of the 1970 movie Tum Haseen Main Jawaan. They would go on to star in over 40 movies together, but they’re likely most remembered for their onscreen pairing as Veeru and Basanti in the classic 1975 film Sholay. Veeru and Basanti aside, the drama surrounding their off-screen relationship and subsequent marriage may be more memorable than any of their filmy jodis.
Dharmendra was married when he met Hema Malini, and when his first wife refused to divorce him the couple converted to Islam to be able to marry each other while also avoiding punishment under the Hindu Marriage Act. And they’re not the only Bollywood bigwigs to have allegedly pulled off such a stunt….ahem, Mahesh Bhatt.
10. Anushka Sharma & Ranveer Singh
It was hard not to love this pair in their first movie together as the frenemies turned business partners turned couple in the 2010 Yash Raj Films production Band Baaja Baaraat. The movie launched Ranveer Singh’s career with a bang, cemented Anushka Sharma’s place as an actress who’s here to stay, and got this duo’s real-life relationship off to a running start. Before they broke up, they starred together in the 2011 YRF dramedy Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl, and it looks like these two are willing to forget the past for the sake of Zoya Akhtar’s recently announced 2015 film.
11. Akshay Kumar & Raveena Tandon
First seen together in the 1994 film Mohra, Akshay Kumar and Raveena Tandon would go on to star in six more movies together, including the successful fourth installment of the Khiladi series, Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi. Their debut chemistry in Mohra didn’t go unnoticed, and the two allegedly started dating shortly after the filming of that movie. They had an on-again-off-again relationship for a few years and were even engaged for a brief period.
Ultimately, my childhood crush’s reported friendliness with too many ladies led to the demise of the relationship and an uncomfortable public avoidance of one another for many years. But given the recent McDowell Indian Derby event in Mumbai this past February, maybe these two are destined for a “Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast” reunion?
12. Neetu Singh & Rishi Kapoor
Ranbir Kapoor’s parents have starred together in over 15 films over the past four decades. From their first film together in 1974, Zehreela Insaan, to their silver screen comeback in Imtiaz Ali’s 2009 film Love Aaj Kal, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh have almost always managed to captivate audiences — barring the disaster that was 2013’s Besharam, of course. And, for a change, this is one reel-life turned real-life couple that had very little scandal associated with their off-screen relationship.
Love or hate the game, you really can’t help but love the players, particularly when they’re partnered up so perfectly. Have a favorite onscreen Bollywood couple that I neglected to include in this list? Let us know!
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Special thanks to my friend, Sana Warsi, for sharing this very helpful link with me.
Farah Naz Khan is an internal medicine resident at Emory University. After graduating from college in Boston, she returned to her Alabama hometown to attend medical school, and was reunited with the mix of Southern hospitality and South Asian flair that had shaped her childhood. Follow her on Twitter @farah287 or read some of her thoughts at farah287.blogspot.com.