This is a discussion that came up from the comments, we divided enemies-to-lovers romances into two categories and then couldn’t decide which was better.
Option One, No Real Reason for Hatred:
No real reason, the enemies obsession is clearly thwarted love. For example, Fidaa. Maybe the personalities clash between the two, but instead of just backing away and letting the personalities clash, they keep drawing each other together into more and more arguments.
I personally really like this style, particularly within the Indian film dynamic. It’s a society that discourages normal romantic interaction between young men and women. So when you feel those things, you try to tamp them down and put them in an acceptable box. When done well, the way they clash shows their intimacy and the struggle they have to accept each other and accept their feelings for each other. It brings out their individual characters, heightens the tension as their inevitable coming together gets closer, and is a radical statement against the way men and women are separated in Indian society so that these feelings cannot blossom naturally.
I was thinking about recent romances and we haven’t really had one like that in the past few years, at least not big mainstream ones. I think that might be a sign of the shift in the film audience. Something like Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, instead of having the hero and heroine react with hatred because they are afraid to be friends, they react with curiosity and find common ground and then give in to their feelings.
Anyway, I like this version! I like the tension and the reveal of feelings over time and the subtle argument against gender segregation. Of course, I only like it when done well, when done poorly it can be really terrible, makes it look like our hero and heroine change their minds and fall in love for no reason at all.
Enemies to Lovers for a Good Reason:
This is where one is a thief and one is a cop. Or they work for rival companies. Or their families are ancient enemies. For example, Ishaqzaade
The advantage to this version is that it makes the hero and heroine not-Idiots. We get all the “I feel feelings but I also hate you” stuff without wanting to shout at the screen “well, why don’t you just give in! There’s no reason not to!” because there actually is a reason.
In American rom-coms, this is my preference. But in Indian, not. Because in Indian society you don’t need a special reason to avoid falling in love, having an extra reason is just, well, extra! And too often it goes too far, the hero does something truly awful and eventually the heroine just forgives him. Or vice versa.
Okay, that’s all I’ve got! Which are your preferences? And what movies can you think of that did either version well?