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Ek duje ke liye - a doomed love story and an unfortunate series of events

Do films really influence us? If yes how much? Can a film with hypnotic songs and powerful performances convince us to harm ourselves?

Ace cricketer Kapil Dev, during one of his interviews, spoke about his friendship with his 83 World Cup-winning teammate, Roger Binny. Kapil said they were good friends, even though they did not understand each other’s language. Kapil hardly spoke English those days and Roger was not familiar with Hindi.

The interviewer Gaurav Kapur was instantly reminded of the movie Ek Duje Ke Liye. It was a love story between a Tamil boy Vasu and his Hindi-speaking neighbour Sapna and the superhit film ran for months. As the film progressed, one would observe that it was not just the language barrier, the cultural differences, or even the North-South divide that would factor in against the union of the young couple... there would be a slew of other typical filmy villains as well!

Released in 1981, the movie became such a rage that whenever there was even a slight wind of romance or even friendship between two individuals who spoke different languages, the first comment would be: yeh toh Ek Duje Ke Liye story hein (this is the Ek duje ke liye story)! The songs of the film became super hits and remain so even today.

This story of young love was played by Kamal Hassan and Rati Agnihotri in the lead and it was a remake of a Tamil movie by the same director K. Balachander.

In the movie, two neighbouring families squabble over various trivial matters and those are hilariously portrayed. The Tamil family is often referred to as madrassi – a term often used in Bollywood to refer to everyone hailing from Southern India. As the strain between the two families increases, love blossoms between their grown up children, Vasu and Sapna. They go on a lot of secret dates across scenic spots across Goa. Over time they try to learn each other's languages. Vasu is shown reading a book titled Learn Hindi in 30 days and Sapna is also shown picking up Tamil by reading some books. Those were the days with no mobile phones and how I wished they had an Indian Language app like Language Curry to assist them in their language learning journey!

When the families find out about their affair they do not agree to their marriage and make the young couple agree to an agreement. The couple is to prove their love by staying separately and with no communication for a year. If even after a year, they want to, the respective families would consent to the marriage.

Film poster

Vasu and Sapna are thus separated. But they thrive in each other’s thoughts and memories. Both continue their language learning journey. Sapna reads and searches the library for books to learn Tamil. Vasu picks up Hindi quite well and writes letters and poems for Sapna in Hindi! He looks forward to sharing them all with Sapna when they meet again at the end of the forced separation.

When the year of separation got over, and Vasu visits Sapna’s house. She was not at home but Vasu impresses her family with his proficiency in various dialects of Hindi – Brajbhasha, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, and even Urdu! One would expect a happy endingat around this point, but... 

FUN FACT:  the most engaged learners on the Language Curry App are those who are learning for love ❤️ !

The film has the typical 80s Bollywood drama and masala all through and specifically in the climax. There is the jealous man, some goons, a rapist, misunderstandings, and the mandatory fight sequences - all of which completely take over from the initial and far mellower problem of a simple language barrier! After a lot of bizarre and cruel twists and turns, the battered lovers unite atop a cliff by the seaside in Goa. Feeling defeated by their circumstances, they embrace each other and jumped together to their deaths. As the waves slap around their corpses, winds fly Vasu's love letters ominously across the sky.

Sapna and Vasu minutes before their suicide in the film
Sapna and Vasu minutes before their suicide in the film

The narrator's voice then takes over and says, those lovers who win, get married and those who lose, give their lives for one another... and become immortal. If there is one film that captured the imagination of the youth to believe that 'suicide' is a solution, it was this. The film's suicide scene is often listed among the top Bollywood suicide scenes.

Many young lovers, who were unable to marry each other, ended their lives by jumping from the same rock as the leading pair in the movie did! The cliff is known as the Ek Duje Ke Liye Suicide Point in Goa. The gruesome and unfortunate incidences of suicide became so frequent that the ministry had to ask the film director to change the climax of the movie! Which he did. But what remains firmly etched forever in the public memory, even four decades later, is the tragic end of the movie and the doomed love of Sapna and Vasu.



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