Valentine's Week of Sex: Humare Dil Aapke Paas Hai, a Cheerful Family Friendly Rape Romance with No Sex

This is “sex week”, and this movie fits the theme because it is so extremely NOT about sex. In a good way. It’s a movie about how sex is a fact of life, but it is also something you can just choose not to have in your life and that is okay too. I mean, that’s not officially what it is about, officially it is about rape and societal judgement, but it’s also about a rape survivor going on to have a totally chaste romance. Consider that your “trigger warning”, but it’s also a pretty well-known plot twist to this film, so it’s not a spoiler exactly. Speaking of spoils, this is a very 2000s movie so it won’t be for all of you. If you aren’t planning to watch it, please spoil yourself! The plot is insane!!!

Well, this is an insane movie! And insanely progressive. Therefore, I’m not really surprised to learn it is a Telugu remake. This kind of “throw it all at the wall and leave it on the floor” approach to movies, in a way that extends to breaking all the rules for how heroes and heroines are supposed to act, that’s something Hindi film has been too scared to try for a long long time. Maybe “scared” isn’t the word, maybe “cautious” is better. Hindi film has to strike a balance, push the limits enough to have something alive in the film but not so much that the national and international attention they garner leads to pushback. But the southern industries, with their steady unbreakable audience and steady unbreakable political power can go a bit more extreme. And then their push of the limits became so popular that they inspired some guts in the other industries, and this same wacky off the wall crazily progressive film was remade in Tamil, Bengali, Hindi, and Kannada within three years.

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The Hindi remake is the only time Anil Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai co-starred. They turn out to have lovely chemistry, but then I should have known that. Anil worked with Sridevi, lettiner her shine while he smiled. And then he moved on to Madhuri. And now Aish. The kind of amazing beautiful graceful photogenic actresses who can’t possibly be equaled by their co-stars, are perfect for Anil to play off of. He is such a gentleman, he steps back and takes the weaker part in every way (less importance in the narrative, worse camera angles, fewer songs, etc. etc.), and his amazing female co-stars end up shining even more.

Thank goodness for the good casting, otherwise this movie would be so over the top odd it would never hang together. It’s still pretty darn odd, but Aish can perfectly play the fragile heroine who is unbelievably naive (lots of “I love him, he must never know” in this plot), and Anil can perfectly play the hero who is so Woke he doesn’t even realize the rest of the world is still asleep and thinks he is a bit weird.

Add on Sonali Bendre as a charming late entry character, and two adorable children, a fun soundtrack, some wacky comic hijinks that are thematically connected but really can just be fastforwarded, and TWO big engagement party fight scenes, and you have perhaps the perfect turn of the century Hindi film.

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This movie is TWIST on TWIST on TWIST in a very whiplash inducing way. Let me see if I can layer them up in the right order. First we see Aish and Anil as a happy couple raising two children. And then we get the twist reveal that, actually, they aren’t married. They live together, and work together, and their kids call them “Mom” and “Dad”, but they are just friends. See, a year ago Aish was a witness in a murder case. In retribution, the killer’s brother kidnapped and raped her. Aish’s father was “shamed” by this and threw her out. Anil Kapoor, Decent Man and Neighbor, saw her and gave her a ride in his car, taking her back to his mansion when he learned she had nowhere else to go. He encouraged his kids to bond with her in order to get her out of her shell, and gave her a job at his company. Now she is all happy again, and he is happy because he has this nice woman as a co-parent and to make him tea in the morning and stuff, and neither of them is thinking of romance at all in this whole set up.

And then, TWIST! Just as they find Aish’s rapist (coincidentally, he is the groom at her best friend’s wedding, Anil drags him from the wedding fire and beats him up, police arrest him, all finished with that plot), Sonali Bendre arrives! Childhood friend of Anil, and understood to be his future fiancee although she has been living in America and they haven’t seen her for years. I was a bit confused by this, why was she so close to Anil’s mother, where were her parents in all this, and so on. But hey, Telugu remake! In Hindi she is a “family friend” and it doesn’t make sense, but I assume in the original she was Anil’s maternal cousin, thus the closeness with his mother and assumption they would get married. Anyway, Sonali immediately starts going after Anil HARD. Meanwhile, Anil’s co-worker says something about people at the office having a hard time understanding his relationship with Aish which makes Anil go “hey! I could marry her! Yes, I think I am actually in love!” Only when he proposes, Aish assumes it is pity since no one else will marry her and nothing else and turns him down, breaking his heart. Yes, from a film about a rape survivor rebuilding her life, we have now turned into a love triangle in which the central couple love each other but each think the other one doesn’t care, and the third person is right there to get in between them.

But don’t worry, more crazy twists coming! We finally get a flashback explanation for why Anil broke from his family. See, years ago he rushed to the hospital because his father’s long time faithful secretary was dying (of what? Never specified. Something fatal I guess?). With her dying breath, she tells Anil that she wasn’t just his father’s secretary, but also his mistress. And he they had CHILDREN! Who are now stuck in an orphanage while she dies. Thus her need to talk to Anil and get them saved from the orphanage. Anil of course promptly goes to the orphanage and signs out the two babies like he is checking out a library book, and then takes them to the factory floor to throw them in his father’s face. Who responds with “eh, who’s to say they are mine? Take ’em back to the orphanage”. Thus Anil, Decent Man, promptly adopting the two babies and moving out of his family home because his Dad is gross.

But Anil never told his mother any of this, meaning she thinks it is some shallow argument and if only Sonali can win Anil over, they can all be a family again. In fact, she assumes it is AISH who somehow is keeping them all apart. Which seems shaky logic since Aish is a recent arrival into this debate, but whatever, it keeps the drama going. Anil’s mother goes to talk to Aish and beg her to release Anil and send him back home. Aish agrees, but explains everything to her best friend and Sonali overhears. Leading to Sonali arranging a swap at the engagement, and stepping aside so Aish, who really loves Anil and who Anil really loves, can take her place. Oh, and also Anil’s Mom finds out the truth about her husband’s love children and manages to handle it. HAPPY ENDING.

Along with all these crazy twists and flashbacks in the main storyline, there’s also a running comedy track about the wacky neighbors who represent more sexual/societal dysfunction. The cheating wife and the husband she is cheating with, the crazy man who drags his wife along with ihs crazy ideas, it’s comic but the idea is that everyone has their own crazy hidden thing and yet innocent Aishwarya (and Anil’s adopted love children) are the ones being judged.

What I find really interesting is that, in this film, sex is either comic or evil. Our central couple, Anil and Aishwarya, are completely non-physical. I don’t mean chaste, I mean there is absolutely no physical chemistry between them and I don’t think there is supposed to be. There is no moment of “his hand brushes her hand and they feel something”, it’s all standing on opposite sides of the room smiling at each other.

Sonali is sexually attracted to Anil, and dresses in short skirts and causes men around her to look twice, and Anil finds that amusing. And then there is Anil’s father who destroyed the life of his poor secretary with his sexual needs. And Aish’s rapist who, setting aside the rape which has nothing to do with sex, was looking at marrying her poor friend and later even suggests marrying Aish himself to redeem her “honor”, and in both cases seems to have a scary sexy feeling about the woman.

The ideal world, this film seems to argue, is one with no sex at all. Anil and Aish and their happy non-sexual partnership, the neighbors who eventually resolve to forget their affairs and just be happy in their (non-sexual) marriages, and so on. It’s not making that argument in a judgemental way, like sex is “evil”, but more in an evolved way. The truly mature person understands that sex is an immature base urge. Unless you can be sure you aren’t hurting anyone else, or making a fool of yourself, it’s just not worth it. So presumably once Anil and Aish get married, they will have sex on occasion. And Anil would have made himself dutifully have sex with Sonali if they had married. The film isn’t against sex, just argues for a world in which it is okay to set it aside and forget about it if you want to. So I guess, an asexual romance. Which shouldn’t work, but it’s young Anil Kapoor, do we really want it to be sexual?

13 thoughts on “Valentine's Week of Sex: Humare Dil Aapke Paas Hai, a Cheerful Family Friendly Rape Romance with No Sex

    • Ugh, I feel so guilty for not doing original first! I didn’t realize it existed, and now I’ve already seen the Hindi version. It’s a remake of *Pelli Chesukundam*

      On Sat, Feb 8, 2020 at 3:16 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • I forgive you! And anyway, I was far more interested in the Hindi than the Telugu, so that was a lucky escape.

          On Sat, Feb 8, 2020 at 9:37 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • H’mm, starring Anil Kapoor, produced by Boney Kapoor, should have been the give away. 🙂 I don’t know if Boney has ever produced a film that wasn’t a remake of a Southern film.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I mentioned the remake as a comment in your Schedule post – not sure you knew it earlier. https://dontcallitbollywood.com/2020/02/02/valentines-week-2020-final-schedule-sex-sex-sex-sex-sex/#comment-113562

        I watched both Telugu and Hindi versions – I would say the Hindi was a poor remake – direction and acting were botched up lot of scenes where drama/sentiment was needed. Telugu director was famous for sentiment movies, and he struck the right balance to ensure sentiment is not OTT which Satish couldn’t reproduce and Aish was no match for Soundarya. Soundarya’s life story had lot of things in it and worth a DCB 101.

        BTW, this movie was a Second hit from the combination of Hero (Venkatesh) – Heroine (Soundarya) – Story writer (Bhupati) – Director (Mutyala Subbaiah) and Producers. Their first movie in the combination “Pavitra Bandham” (Pure relationship) was also ahead of times story – dealing with “Contract Marriage of 1 year” . This movie was remade by Anil Kapoor-Kajol (Kajol won Filmfare) as Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain – please do watch and review. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hum_Aapke_Dil_Mein_Rehte_Hain

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          • Thank you! that explains why I always mix up the two movies, the producers wanted me to confuse them and named them the same thing.

            On Mon, Feb 10, 2020 at 12:49 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  1. I just looked up Pelli Chesukundam, and it might be worth your while to check it out. It has a stellar cast. And you were right about the Sonali character, she was his cousin. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahh, it all makes so much more sense now. I stumbled on the Tamil version of it and remember thinking how progressive it was. I feel like most Tamil movies in the 80s and 90s either married the rape victim to her rapist or killed her off entirely (or married her off to her rapist who then killed her – yikes!). This movie was like a breath of fresh air. I didn’t realize the remake history behind it.

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    • Yep! Full credit to the Tamil industry for actually giving a super progressive rape story.

      On Sun, Feb 9, 2020 at 8:00 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Errr…I think I worded my initial comment poorly. I meant that the 80s and 90s were a really bad period for Tamil films in terms of how rape victims were portrayed. So when I saw a progressive film from that era I should have realized it was a remake. Apologies!

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