The Dum Laga Ke Haisha race as a metaphor for sexual love

Posted: March 1, 2015 by moifightclub in bollywood, cinema, film review, Movie Recco
Tags: ,


After a long time, a sexy love story.
I wish to share the joy I felt seeing The Dum Laga Ke Haisha race as a metaphor for sexual love.

Of course throughout the film, sex has been spoken about – real sex, real problems and some harsh realities.
Hurtful things have been said, like
“Let alone making love, I do not even feel like touching her, a man who had to be in the same bed as her would know what hell means.”
The narrative allows her to give him a (well-deserved) slap.
He has said hurtful things and she has borne the rejection.
There can be nothing worse for a woman to hear that the man she loves has spoken so derogatorily about her.
She has been hurt and angry.
She has slapped him in anger.
He has slapped her back in anger, in retaliation.
In guilt?
In love?

What love, we may ask
“S&M?”                                                                                                                                                                                     We may sneer with the shallow labelling that people who think they know all about sex fall back upon?
Yes, we know the terms and we throw them around in our endless conversations about sex, which we are so busy having that we have forgotten how once, just in the way that is contained in those two slaps, we felt hate and love all mixed up.
We fight for the right to depict sex in our films, our writing.
We think of twisted narratives, and explicit scenes which will prove us bold.

And while we sexualize every story, every argument, a seemingly simple story not only speaks bravely about sex without using a single expletive, and without vulgar visuals, in an evocative way makes us feel the sexual love.
Kya aisi hi filmein hai jisse kranti aayegi?

I congratulate (and envy) the writer of Dum Laga Ke Haisha.

To the race.
It is flagged off by a singer whose fan Prem has been all his life.
Unsuccessful, loser Prem.
Taunted and laughed at for his one obsession.
All he did was listen to the voice of a distant singer.

Today, when for once, he has dared to take on a challenge, when he needs it most, his idol is there.
Not any machine here, but Prem’s Deus himself- in person.
But that is another story, another one of those many nice things in this film.
The race- yes, first they have to be convinced to participate.
Bua knocks on the door.
Come in, they answer- of course –for they are not together- that is emphasized.
Bua enters the room.
Nain Tara Bua has something to say.
Death has forced her to leave behind, finally, a dead marriage.
The one-sided marriage that she had bitterly kept alive, and yet not lived.
She comes to the couple not with advice from someone who has made partnerships a success, but as someone who knows what it is to be alone.
She has been alone, and perhaps that is why she knows the importance of being together.
She comes as a person who has nothing.
Perhaps that is why she says -When you have nothing to lose, why not dosomething which is not aimed at winning?
For its own sake.
Why not do something together?
For each other? She asks.
From this point the Dum Laga Ke Haisha race is a metaphor for sexual love.
Beautiful sexual love. Beautiful it is and am not going to spoil the subtlety of it by drawing parallels to any acts so to speak.
Let us just go through the various stages of the race and feel it in our hearts.
The race begins. This couple has not, unlike the others practiced.
She encourages him, tries to erase his fears – why are you so afraid, she asks.
Initially, they are awkward, a little slower than the rest.  Then slowly, establishing comfort with each other, they dare to go faster.
She knows his weaknesses and advises him accordingly.

While the other couples are making a beeline for the finish, we see Sandhya gently instructing him.
Not to rush over the obstacles. Put both feet in one tyre, then taking time, go to the next one. This takes longer, but he obeys her gentle instructions and sure enough, even as others stumble and fall, our couple makes their way across.

Finally what makes them eligible to compete for the last lap is the fall in a muddy puddle.
The competitor couple falls too. The competitor couple who roughly pick themselves up, in a hurry to make a beeline again.
Sandhya and Prem take the time to look at each other, even laugh at each other first, then at each of their own selves, and finally at themselves as Us.
Most important is the fact that we see that of the competing pair, the girl is injured, but paying no heed to this, her husband pulls her and literally drags her to achieving the end.

Prem on the other hand has asked Sandhya whether she is okay – her well being is more important to him than setting the record.

They are concerned about each other, laugh together and then run together. We already know who will win.
The screenplay too has won – has succeeded in being sensual while telling a simple story, has succeeded in being feminist while telling ‘just a ‘ love story.

The most beautiful , triumphant finale comes while they have to come out of this fall, this puddle.
She emerges stronger – as she has in the narrative.
She is stronger and holds out her hand.
Again, as I said, let us not disturb the subtlety of this fine writing, so I am not mentioning their earlier discussion on prepositions.

He is still struggling and she holds out her hand , and with an expression of utter pleasure – pride and pleasure on his face, Prem allows himself to be supported out of the obstacle .
And they are off on their way.
Together now, but for that crucial moment, much to his happiness, she has clearly, been on top.

Nadi Palshikar

(An MBBS doctor by training, Nadi has done screenplay writing course at FTII, is currently doing Gender Studies at Pune University, and is a published author. Sutak is her first novel.)

  1. Reblogged this on calvinstrikes's Blog and commented:
    A highly recommended movie after long.

  2. nadi says:

    Like all excellent films, this talks about Cinema too.
    Dum Lagaake Haisha is set at an exact moment in the history of Indian popular culture.
    Cassettes are making way for CDs.
    The way in which India will consume (and pirate) cinema and music is changing..

  3. This is the kind of article that breathes life into works of art long after they have been watched. Brilliant subtext spotting. And some people are saying that may be the director/writer himself had not thought about this ‘reading’ of the sequence but i think any film’s reading is a mix of how the writer sees it and how the viewer interprets it.

    And to give your perspective even more weight, the song lyrics playing in the background when they win the race are:

    “Ye duniya behta paani, bas prem katha rah jaani
    Ye likh ke aaja, ab toh todein kalam kalam…”

    A climactic assertion of love-making.

    – varun

  4. nadi says:

    Thank you, Varun.
    The writer has always thought of everything- maybe at the unconscious level, maybe he does not know he thought of it.
    But you are right about the interpretation- The site of meaning is the mind of the spectator.

    “…Yeh likh ke aaja, ab toh todein kalam kalam..” excellent lines those

  5. shivani says:

    So its a good movie and not copy of agadbam- a marathi movie?

    • nadi says:

      Shivani, I have not seen Agadbam.
      And do not know the writers or anyone else to ask them.
      But yes, I liked Dum Lagaake Haisha

      • shivani says:

        Hey, i have not seen dum laga ke haisha so i asked.. The plot seemed similar.. Arrange marriage to an overweight person,the guy not liking his bride,eventually falling in love with her.. It’s a comedy movie starring makarand anaspure.. Will watch dum laga ke haisha..

  6. Paresh says:

    I don’t know if my comment is relevant to this post. But, I feel I’ve lots of things to share about this film. This is only the 2nd film that I’ve seen in multiplex (the 1st one being Ship of Theseus) without any professional reason, and it cost me a bomb in the real sense, paying a 3 figure amount for me and my help’s ticket, the cab cost me at least 5 times more of the ticket value. Yet, I don’t regret it a bit. Any one who attained adulthood in the cusp of 90s would have a lot to take away from this film, especially the music.🙂

    The story of DLKH feels like ‘Devdas in reverse’ if we think about it, what if he was forced to marry Paro without really liking her, he’d have still ended up being a drunkard. But, as our Prem is a modern day hero there is a positive twist to his tale.

    There are a few more things tickling me. So, I better compile them in my own blog.😛


  7. […] In a nutshell, it is a love story in which the man (Ayushmann Khurana ) slowly falls in love with his overweight wife (Bhumi Pednekar), who he was initially repulsed by. But what brought the film alive was the pulsating reality of small town life. The frustration of ill-educated misdirected young men who are consigned to a life of boredom working in petty family businesses. Of girls, who despite being educated and self-confident, are expected to fit the stereotype of the well brought up, docile girl in order to work the marriage market. Of lower middle class families, struggling to eke out an existence, steeped deep into identities of class and caste that shape their lives and interactions. Of young people in conservative small town India, whose perform their little dramas of life in front of the extended parivaar (family), gali (street) and mohalla (neighbourhood). Others have written about its unique treatment of the theme of sexual love. […]

  8. Roshni Devi says:

    Wow, what an analogy
    and so beautifully written!

  9. Mohit says:

    Watched the movie and loved it due to many factors – Simplicity, dialogues, the real feel of the movie and the characters and above all, I was able to co-relate to it as like so many of us, I also grew up in 80s and 90s. Lyrics by Varun were another highlight of the movie. Loved your article on the movie. I’m also definitely planning to write more about the movie on my blog. Just trying to find some time to sit down and write🙂

  10. nadi says:

    yes Mohit, the simplicity.
    Only very good work achieves that

  11. Eva says:

    What a superb write up on this fabulous film! Thank you!

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