jab we met diwale dulhana taker: love & marriage

Should there be love in marriage? Do you need love to be successful in marriage? Must you have love to get married? Should that love be for each other? These are all questions cultures of peoples have pondered and I’m not sure well agree yet, and DDLJ and Jab We Met bring up a couple of these issues. Though the films are set in the same culture, it’s interesting that viewpoints and ideas are different, yet the end result the same.

If the train a symbolic vehicle, then marriage is a topic. I wouldn’t say that either movie sets out to lead both or any couple to marriage (per se) but they definitely make a couple points on the subject.

DDLJ and JWM relay the stories of two couples who meet, find love and marry but their emotional journeys as couples are quite different, where in one, the issue is family and tradition and the other personal hangups and ideologies. When JWM begins, Aditya is in a conference room of screaming attorneys battling over his father’s company, left to him, but snatched from his mother, who we later find out ditched her family for another man. The reason: Love. Disillusioned and visibly drained, he walks to his girlfriend’s wedding whom he lost, most likely to familial obligation in the form of an arranged marriage.

The stigma of arranged marriage hits Aditya as a character harder than any character in either film (and especially any viewer far removed from the practice) because it’s permanently nebulous in his world. He’s been hurt by it’s practice not only as a child lacking a mother’s love but also as an adult in a love relationship. This makes Aditya a man who has issues with both sides of the spectrum, love and marriage, for to him, the two don’t intertwine. Nor do they work or lead to happiness.

In DDLJ, however, Simran views love in marriage, even if arranged, as a possibility. All of her life, she’d been tentatively engaged to a kid back in India but growing up in England, it had slipped her mind. Therefore, she had given way to the fantasy of finding her soulmate and was crushed when she got news this wasn’t going to be the case. But though she was detoured, she wasn’t blocked and felt love could bloom after marriage.

Raj and Geet, on the other hand, are the progressive thinkers in these films. However, their views based on the fact neither has had to truly deal with the pang of reality: heartbreak. Unlike their counterparts, Raj and Geet have the luxury of flights of fancy concerning love. Raj, like Simran grew up in the West. Simran had a very austere, immovable father, where Raj lived greatly influenced by  a father who never pressured him to do anything beyond his own heart. Similarly, Geet is a well loved, spunky young woman who has never truly had any opposition or resistance from her family, therefore, when these halves meet, there’s a mangling of taboos, stubborn views and plain– naivete.

One thing is pretty certain, the majority of these individuals were birthed from parents who were bound by an arranged marriage. If taken into account the ages of their parents and the world they lived in (without dialogue evidence) it can be easily assumed. What is interesting is that the negatives of arranged marriage truly only rear it’s head in Aditya’s case. Simran’s parents were placed together as well but she never felt disgruntled by her parents’ union. This is shown through her initial compliance to her own marital woes. She wasn’t against the idea of marrying someone she didn’t know, for the simple fact she trusted her parents, she accepted their wisdom, through their own experiences and most especially through her experience with them.

Likewise, Geet had a very close knit traditional and loving family. But unlike Simran, her family’s structure nurtured within her a blithe spirit, that when coupled with the climate of her time, made her basic ideas different from all these characters. For she believed, love somehow satisfies all discrepancies.

While arranged marriage (tradition) was more the overarching issue in DDLJ, religion (ideologies/ideals) pops up in JWM. Geet had found a man she loved but he was Muslim, not a Punjabi Sikh. The film doesn’t harp on the religious aspects (though their are plenty problems with that) because ultimately the problem was isolated; Geet’s misguidance or misinterpretation and her view of her family and their ideals.

Marriage is a big deal and should never be taken lightly. When finding a partner, commonalities are key. Whether we want to admit it or not, if the core values of our lives don’t mesh, someone’s got to give or the marriage won’t last. This ultimately is why parents(society) oppose certain aspects of marital partners. Of course, prejudice can play a part but most objections come from a place of genuine forethought, knowledge, good intent and experience. This is something that Geet didn’t take into consideration. She truly believed that love is all you need (which simply isn’t true). Geet was under the misconception that all is fair in love, therefore, leaving and lying to her family in pursuit of of it, was forgivable. But should love be regarded as the only valuable commodity in marriage?

Interesting enough, both films hint around this idea and though both answer the question in similar ways, JWM answers it definitively. Somehow, in JWM, the focus becomes more on how one deals with the world, and how one’s past colors and crafts their personal issues with love and marriage, over the reality, existence and pursuit of love, that DDLJ addresses. Where Raj and Simran were different in familial background, they were similar in their thoughts on the topic, however Geet and Aditya were divided in thoughts. Geet and Aditya are characters that view the world(people) differently, therefore how they approach love is different as well. Geet is boisterous and abandoned, Aditya is a cautious and cynical. The idea of all being fair in love wafts throughout the film as some sort of life lesson and though it’s not true at face value, the sentiment is true at it’s core. For, if there is love–all is fair.

Love and marriage within the current generation seems to be a world of opposites. Marriage is an institutional commitment of a lifetime, where love ebbs in and out of life and is revered as something one gets limited chances to experience, like happenstance or kismet. What both movies do well, is point out that there are plenty of ways to be prosperous in marriage, as well as view love.

Though the films aren’t teaching tools on the “do’s and dont’s,” they make great strides in reflecting and denouncing childish whimsy. There is more to both than feelings and fantasy. The themes of the films are very similar but the motivation of the times is present in the overall thinking of it’s characters.

I think I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll repeat it here, DDLJ and JWM are films made over 10 years apart. This span in time shows the growth of ideas and viewpoints on several topics but what it does better is magnify how much everything stays the same. Both films speak on several of the hiccups of marriage: social class, religion, parental opposition and personal baggage. No matter where you are or who raised you, these issues are the same everywhere and sometimes these problems are so big, marriage is beyond imagination. Though both films arm the audience with information on the topics, I don’t believe, however, they denounce the idea that love in marriage is important, regardless of the stage it appears.

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