Monday, 13 February 2012

The problem with Rom-coms

I have a problem  with rom-coms. I have consumed whatever Hollywood and the Indian film industry has churned out in the past, including the current favorite “Ek mein aur ekk tu". 
I do not call myself a discerning critic, but I have my own reservation towards most of these films.

Maybe, I have enjoyed these movies because I have successfully separated these movies from reality. What do I mean, you may ask?
 I mean, I do not know or have come across guys who have won over a women with a grand romantic gesture or have confessed their love at the altar when the girl is getting married to somebody else.
I also do not know of a guy and a girl who keep hating each other for 5 years then get married in the most absurd way.
Not all guys are cute like Imran khan and have abs like Bradley Cooper nor do all women look like Katherine Heigl or Meg Ryan…..

Before I go any further, I ask myself a basic question…… Do romance and comedy go together ? Food for thought.

These rom-coms are adult versions of fairy tales that follow a simple formula – boy meets girl, girl hates boy, they are together, something gets in the way – interval – more things get in the way, boy starts liking girl, boom, and they live happily ever after. Rom – com is probably the most predictable genre of movies one can watch. One look at the 30 sec promo, we know the pot and how the movies gonna end!! This has remained true forever.
Funny thing is that this works. Script-writers across the globe know about the golden rules of coming up with a successful rom–com. The main character must be relatable and appealing, there must be obstacles to their union, and these obstacles must be overcome so that they can get together at the end.

THERE… I have repeated myself in the same paragraph. I feel, all rom-coms have the same plot with maybe a dozen variations that have been around since the invention of motion pictures.

Ok. Let us move over the “plot / story”.  Let us come to the biggest pitfall of this genre. The idea of finding “The one”. “The one” is always presented to be someone who complements the other person, someone who has what they lack and, therefore, can offer it to them. So, you have movies which feature a women who is free spirited, bold and fun while the man is shy and quiet or the man is a Casanova, not willing to settle down, and the women has her mind set on marriage more than anything else. All these variations have shaped all the films that were to come, and are still coming.
It’s the idea that love is about finding “the one,” that it’s all about that chance meeting that happens through that hook up in just the right way and if you could just find the right person, that love would just happen.
Love is everywhere. Love is a mouse-click away or a glass of whisky away. The day our genius script-writers get this right, the sun shall rise from the west.

For years, men have been complaining about their wives and girlfriends forcing them to sit through romantic comedies. If you throw in a couple of fart jokes or make the leading guy a stoner, guys will lap it up. The there is also a new sub-genre that people have come to love these. The BROMANCE genre. I largely hold Farhan Akthar responsible for this. He has smartly got the male audiences in on the romance fest. But is that it? Nope. I do not  spend exorbitant amount of money to watch two people doing the same thing that they have been doing for ages.

Here are some myths that these movies propagate :

Not having number / address is ok. True love shall rule.
You just know he / she is the one.
Change yourself (read cosmetic surgery), he / she will fall head over heels over you.
Love changes him.
Waiting till the girl is almost married and gate-crashing into her wedding works

The rom-coms that I like are the Woody Allen type movies (read Manhattan / Midnight in Paris) or Ek mein aur ekk tu or 500 days of summer. The relationships are complex, exciting, and, most importantly, do not involve only two people who are, somehow, meant to be together. Instead, people break-up, or come together not because they change in some significant way but because they find someone who can stand their  flaws and can live with them. And the ending does not imply that “this is it” for the two characters.
Instead, life goes on as it did when the film started and the protagonists may have been lucky enough to have experienced glimpses of true romance, with its flaws and all, and keep going. That sounds, and seems on film, much more romantic to me than formulaic and predictable plots based on impossible expectations.

It’s bad enough for people to hold up romantic comedies in general as models for their own lives, whether they do it consciously or not. But if they’re basing their romantic expectations on current rom-coms, I fear for the future of our society.


  1. My reading is that romcoms are a source of emotional release for aam janta. The fact that it is a fantasy world and they can live this fantasy world for a few hours is what makes them pay for the ticket.

  2. I think the fantasy bit is taken care by the actioners. With rom-coms, come expectations. My wife does not want me to be Bruce Wayne , but she would want me to be "the guy next door" from every rom-com... sheesh!!