As Indian cinema turns 100 today, we bring you seven on-screen star couples, whose electric romances have transformed viewers into strong subscribers of love.
The breathless urgency of their love spans the 14 films Raj-Nargis did together. They seemed to inhabit a hermetically sealed world that had room for just the two of them.
In Barsaat (1949), Raj plaintively plays the violin till Nargis comes running and swoons in his arms. That moment was later captured in the RK logo, one of the most vivid in film history. In Aawara (1951), when Nargis cautions the raffish Raj against coming too close on a rocking boat, before saying Doob Jaane Do, her eyes depict the sheer abandonment so intrinsic to true love. In Shri 420, they share an umbrella singing Hum Na Rahenge, Tum Na Rahoge, Phir Bhi Rahengi Nisahaaniyan. This pair's passion play has bequeathed Hindi cinema with some of its most resonant images of romance.
As a courtship ritual, Dilip caressing Madhubala's euphoric face with a feather in Mughal-e-Azam (1960) to the backdrop of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan's Prem Jogan Banke is the epitome of soul-deep sensuality.
The Dilip-Madhubala's pair became synonymous with l'amour after this classic. Your hair stands on end when Salim (Dilip) watches the gorgeous Anarkali (Madhubala) defy a mighty Mughal emperor, singing Chhup Na Sakega Ishq Hamara, Chaaron Taraf Hai Unka Nazara', as the palace mirrors reflect hundreds of her images and the omnipresence of love.
Dev Anand - Nutan
Nutan's understated nonchalance perfectly complemented Dev's stylish hyperventilation. They made a sophisticated couple in four effervescent love stories that breathed old-world romance.
In Tere Ghar Ke Saamne (1963), when they are accosted by tourists while romancing on the steps of the Qutub Minar, Nutan hides her face in Dev's jacket, making you smile involuntarily. In an age of charm and chivalry, they were proud possessors of two of the most infectious smiles ever.
Rajesh Khanna-Sharmila Tagore
A towel-clad Sharmila and a bare-chested Rajesh defined a new eroticism in cinema as their chemistry blazed brighter than the fireplace behind them in the Aradhana (1969) chartbuster Roop Tera Mastana. But this superhit pair (with their penchant for quirky mannerisms) could also work a sweet serenade in Mere Sapnon Ki Rani Kab Aayegi Tu and, in films like Amar Prem (1972) and Daag (1973), convey love based on emotional succor that transcended plain physicality.
Long held up as gorgeous exemplars of their genders, alpha male Dharamendra and dream girl Hema were bound to send off incendiary sparks when paired together. Over an incredible 28 films and double-digit successes, they captured the romantic imagination of a generation.
Their love doesn't find a happily-ever-after in their best films -- Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978), Do Anjaane (1976), Silsila (1981) -- but Amitabh-Rekha could set hearts thumping with the fervor of his ardour and her smouldering sensuality. Their liaison had a special throb and poetry. In Silsila, when Amitabh recites shaayri in his baritone, Rekha responds like a tulip to the sun. And in Muqaddar Ka Sikander's famous Salaam-e-Ishq Meri Jaan, they posit an eternal salute to a love that heals but also hurts.
In their six hits together, Shah Rukh-Kajol inhabit the cusp of the traditional and the modern; and this has always filled seats because they reflect the themes and dreams of post-liberalisation Indian couples. In youth epics like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1997), their romantic scenes project a casual vibe, but both stars are also master at projecting an undertow of pure, intense emotion beneath the oh-so-casual air.
In DDLJ, when Shah Rukh bids Kajol goodbye but can't help himself from mentally pleading Palat, the scene distills the emotion to its essence.