Welcome to Thought Experiment Thursdays, where we think important thoughts about important things.
Since the decision to write this piece, I’ve been asked this multiple times: “How will YOU judge live-in relationships?” Yes, sure, I haven’t been in one. Because no one loves me. But I, like you, go to the theatre to live another life, to steady my wayward dreamboat. And sometimes, we are treated to kerfuffles of poop swirling in a newly flushable toilet, IE the real life equivalent to Katti Batti , starring Imran Khan, Kanagana Ranaut and multiple cancers. But that doesn’t mean we stop aspiring to be part of something greater than ourselves. And to achieve that, we have to find the purest, sexiest and most functionable live-in relationship to vicariously see out our days.
That’s why this exercise is important. It’s why we’re alive. Welcome to Thought Experiment Thursdays where we dare to fucking dream. #ApnaTimeAayega
We start simply: By finding out which Bollywood movies have live-in couples. The most comprehensive list is at FarnazFever, an extremely pious internet site. Humour me for a second, but I fucking adore listicles. Like, how else will we find all the live-in relationships portrayed in Bollywood, or moviestar tattoos? Would a library have books on these subjects in the pre-listicle era? Sure, intellectuals hate them, and listicles have dumbed down our discourse and destroyed long-form writing, but… like, they’re super efficient. They’re important to the culture in a Saawariya dark-but-interesting sort of way.
The good folks at Farnaz Fever list 12 Hindi films that have featured live-in relationships— Arth, Salaam Namaste, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Wake Up Sid, Cocktail, Shuddh Desi Romance, Fashion, Aashiqui 2, Katti Batti, Pyaar Ka Punchnama, Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2, Befikre. But for a modern comparative analysis, I, with some help from a few colleagues who are also weird-film-shit-connoisseurs, made some tough decisions:
- Arth is out because it’s too fucking old.
- Salaam Namaste is in because it’s the OG modern live-in relationship.
- Bachna Ae Haseeno is out because Ranbir and Bipasha live in for like ten minutes.
- Wake up Sid is out because Ranbir and Konkana aren’t romantically fucking while living together.
- Cocktail is in because it’s goddamn amazing.
- Shuddh Desi Romance is out because it’s a poor man’s Cocktail.
- Fashion is out because the live-in has no jalwa. Like, I don’t even remember the name of the dude PC was fucking in the film.
- Aashiqui 2 is out because it’s really messed up in a very silly way, and I don’t want any of us to go through that again.
- Katti Batti is out because it’s in the top-5 worst Bollywood films of all time. It’s an artistic disgrace which rightfully ended Imran Khan’s career.
- Pyar Ka Punchnama is out because the live-in is a clear super side plot and we don’t see any actual relationship behaviour in the film.
- Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 is also out because it’s Pyaar Ka Punchnama 1 minus the acting, writing, songs, and the film.
- Befikre is out because like Wake Up Sid, Ranveer and Vaani aren’t fucking while living together.
- I have a 13th contender, an underappreciated live-in relationship in recent bollywood history, OK Jaanu. It’s a super weird film, but it indulges the vagaries of a live-in relationship unlike any other film, and that’s honourable, and we honour honour.
So the finalists are: Salaam Namaste, Cocktail and OK Jaanu. And the most efficient way to judge them, the only way really, is through an analysis of instances from the movie, using complex scientific metrics like quality of sex, housework, arguments, level of love, and if they give a fuck about the Indian truism of “log kya kahenge (what will people say)?”. Each category is given 25% weight, and to quote Heath Ledger’s immortal Joker from the The Dark Knight, “Here we go”:
Good Sex or Bad Sex?
Sex is an important component of life. It’s a beautiful marriage of dick and vagina which ideally should lead to magic for both parties. But IRL, some people are selfish, others are giving. Sometimes one of the parties is okay with being giving, sometimes they’re not. It’s very sweet.
In Salaam Namaste, Saif and Preity fuck a lot, but only through one song. It happens in the bed, in the shower, and in a park under a mosquito net. All of it happens during one song, but the song is used to fast forward time, and because the only thing they’re doing through that time is sex, we can safely extrapolate they fucked a lot. Which is good. We can’t judge the quality of the sex though, as we don’t get many shots of expressions. Although their deviation from the missionary position, read sex in the shower, is meant to display their inclination to experiment, which is quite admirable for India 2005.
This movie-fucking-live-in technique stands out, especially when put next to OK Jaanu, where Shraddha and Aditya only actually fuck once. We don’t even get that sex scene to check out quality of fucking, because the camera shits itself.
Cocktail, despite being a semi-cool film, is even worse, where Saif is in two kinda-sorta legit live-in relationships, but we see no fucking. I wondered if that’s why the movie gets so sad so soon—too many hormones, too little fucking.
Salaam Namaste: 10/25
OK Jaanu: 5/25
Division of Labour
To ascertain if a live-in relationship is healthy, one has to understand that both parties have to do work to keep the house running. We envision “happily ever after” as lovers riding off into sunset in a carriage. But then, who will pay the carriage guy? Who will carry the suitcases after getting down from said carriage, and put away the clothes in the cupboard? What if they want to pee and the flush isn’t working? Who forgot to call the plumber? Whoever did, they’re getting fucked in an argument.
This shit is important, and it’s a pleasant surprise to see some films actually engaging with the logistics of a live-in. In Salaam Namaste, Saif and Preity fight a lot because Preity is a clutz and Saif is a neat freak. He keeps picking up after her, which pisses him off, and he eventually explodes, adding fuel to an already heated argument. That’s sub-optimal behaviour from both—from Preity for not doing her part, and from Saif for not communicating that it bothered him.
Cocktail, once again, doesn’t indulge this at all. I’m now rethinking including Cocktail, especially upon rewatching when I realise that most of the film is just people crying, songs, people crying in songs, Deepika in a club, and Dimple Kapadia saddled with the worst representation of a Punjabi mother this side of Tarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashma.
OK Jaanu looks at logistics from an emotional, rather than tangible, sense. Shraddha and Aditya’s friends help them pack and move in, and when homely going gets tough—exhibited in this instance by the medical issues of their landlord’s wife—the couple comes together and powers through. It’s not a broken flush, but a more inquisitive take on live-in logistics IE how do we behave with people/objects in the life of the person we’re living in with? OK Jaanu surprisingly kills it in this category.
Salaam Namaste: 15/50
OK Jaanu: 15/50
Level of Arguments
There are two kinds of arguments in a relationship: The real ones and the fake ones. The fake ones are about which Batman movie is the best, and the real ones are about having an accidental baby.
Salaam Namaste crushes in this category, because the second half of the film is basically one giant argument. Even Saif’s sidekick, Arshad Warsi, argues with his wife throughout the film. This is not great guys.
Shit’s a little twisted in Cocktail too, where no one actually confronts their feelings. So we have a few arguments, like which D the lovely Saif wants to bang, but because of the emotional immaturity of the characters, and really bad writing, the arguments are never fully actualised.
OK Jaanu arguments are about decision-making—whether to go make money or continue to live with each other. It’s the age-old pyaar vs paisa conundrum, heightened here by the characters’ indecision. But it’s coming from a good place, and both care deeply for each other. This is good people shit, and it might not have happened to most of us, but it’s something we can get behind and reward.
I’m not crying, you are.
Even More Updated Score:
OK Jaanu: 25/75
Salaam Namaste: 15/75
Kya Yahi Pyaar hai (Is this Love)?
This might seem silly, but like, do people really love each other in our movies or just want to bone? In most peak Shah Rukh Khan movies (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kal Ho Na Ho, Veer Zaara), what’s shown as love on screen is actually the anticipation of it. Like, the entire movie SRK is jerking himself off, and all of us cum together with tears.
Call me a '90s kid listicle, but in a perfect live-in (unless it’s just about boning), we expect a massive measure of romance. We know from the previous category that Aditya and Shraddha are legit into each other. It’s very endearing.
Cocktail actually fucking sucks. I’m sorry for putting you through this. No one loves anyone in that movie, and the only respectable relationship is Randeep Hooda’s towards misogyny.
But there is more to love than commitment, and it’s where Salaam Namaste bests OK Jaanu. I rewatched the movie, and was pretty shocked to see how much Saif and Preity cared for each other. She was willing to put up with his OCD shit and continue with a shit job for rent. He was willing to wait out his dream of owning a restaurant, and overcame his great fear of fathering humans. Near the end, they start enjoying each other's quirks. It’s truly admirable.
OK Jaanu: 30/100
Salaam Namaste: 25/100
This feels surreal, but according to this completely objective and scientific analysis, OK Jaanu is the most accurate, aspirational depiction of a live-in relationship in Hindi movies. It’s the wayward dreamboat to our doomed personhood, the heart emoji at the end of a dark dream.
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