The recent ‘Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar‘ was full of references to works by the team behind the film. Notably, one reference had the leading man, Ranbir Kapoor, call himself ‘ek tarfa ishq ka brand ambassador’ – a nod to his 2016 film, ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’, where he played Ayan, a man who struggles to accept the fact that the object of his affections does not reciprocate them.

While Ayan from ADHM may be the top-of-the-mind example of unrequited love in Hindi Cinema today, owing to it being the film’s central theme, he’s far from the first – and with his rather frustratingly self-victimizing reaction to rejection, most definitely not the best. That superlative belongs to Nisha, Karishma Kapoor’s character in the 1997 hit ‘Dil Toh Paagal Hai‘ – she even had a song for these feelings far before the more famous Tune Jo Na Kaha and Channa Mereya were even conceptualized!

Characters like Akira from ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan‘, Om Prakash Makhija from ‘Om Shanti Om‘, Chandramukhi from ‘Devdas’, Veronica from ‘Cocktail’ and Omar from ‘New York’ have their unwire stories. Their unique heartbreaks – Nisha falls in love with longtime best friend, Rahul, and while waiting for her friends-to-lovers story to manifest, sees him fall for someone else. Omar falls for Maya, who helps him feel at home in a foreign land, only to realize he’s actually the third wheel in their trio of friends. Om is in love with the fantasy of a superstar, and just when she actually seems like she might be within reach, he learns she’s married to someone else. Akira and Chandramukhi both fall for unavailable men, despite knowing they’re committed to their memories of their own ‘one true love’s, and Veronica is heartbroken to learn that the casual hookup who she had developed real feelings for had fallen for her best friend instead.

Each of these characters reacts with human emotions – rage, hurt, disappointment – and traverse their own journeys to acceptance, but all reach that milestone and do it with wonderful and admirable grace and strength of character – a journey that Ayan, arguably, doesn’t complete even as the end credits roll.

Written by Aastha from Nazariya

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