Movie Club: Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam Discussion

How did everyone enjoy my favorite romance?

I first saw this movie about five or six years ago and it completely stole my heart. I’ve watched it again and again and used it to test my Hindi knowledge by watching without subtitles. At first I could understand one word in about twenty-five. Now I can understand about one word in three! One thing I still can’t get is an idiom. The subtitles translate Nandini’s aunt yelling at her father as “Look first to your own house” but she’s actually saying something about water.

Spoilers ahead!

My favorite thing about it is how it shows the maturity of love. When we’re teenagers, we often have these wild emotions that are entirely out of control. We have hormones going nuts inside of us and we’re feeling everything bigger and more intense than ever before. In that state, we think we are in love.

This movie beautifully illustrates how true love is more steady than that.

Vanraj  is an amazing character. He reminds me of my own husband. Kind, compassionate, and stunningly selfless. This man understands the meaning of love: wanting the other person’s happiness more than your own. He even stands for that principle when his own family is worried he’s being humiliated. His pride is not as important to him as doing everything in his power to make Nandini happy.

Nandini behaves pretty rottenly to him, but I think it’s understandable since she’s frustrated at being so out of control of her own life. In this case her parents really did know what was best for her, but it was impossible for her to see that at the time.

Nandini herself grows and matures so much as she spends time with Vanraj that when we finally see Sameer again he suddenly comes across as disturbingly childish and not the potential husband he had seemed at first.

Arranged marriages don’t always work out this well, but they can. I think the most important thing in an arranged marriage is that the parents are truly acting in the best interest of their children and not getting swayed by promises of prestige, better social position, what the neighbors will say, etc.

I love that the movie throws us such a curveball. After we spend so much of the movie getting to know Sameer and getting attached to him and Nandini getting to be together and the quest she goes on to get back to him, most movies would have her ditch her husband just as she planned.


For next week, we’ll watch Barfi (which is available on Netflix streaming). I’ve had it recommended to me here, on Twitter, on FB, all over the place! I don’t know very much about it, but here is the trailer:

The only Barfi I know is the yummy dessert 🙂

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  • IaMJ

    Try The Lunchbox its very good movie

    • Ambaa

      Oh, the previews for that look so good!

  • Swati Hegde

    Hi, Ambaa! This is Swati, from Fluent In 3 Months! 🙂
    I saw Dil De Chuke Sanam when I was very young, so I don’t remember much about it although I loved the music.
    I saw Barfi in theatres and loved it! It’s very funny and sweet. 🙂

    If I can recommend some of my favourite Bollywood films which use the more ‘informal’ city Hindi, here they are: Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. Namastey London, Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl, Kal Ho Naa Ho. 🙂

    • Ambaa

      Thanks for the recommendations! 🙂

  • Sabina

    I also loved that movie when I first saw it! The entire movie is spectacular- sets, costumes, songs, etc. It was also the first time I saw Aishwarya Rai in anything.

    Someone posted a synopsis for the movie explaining Nandini’s decision to stay with her husband as her “understanding her duty as a woman and choosing that over true love.” I felt sad because the person who wrote that missed the point of the entire movie and seemed to fetishize the oppression of women in the name of “tradition.” I’d always understood the movie as her slowly falling in love with Vanraj as she got to know him, and realizing he was a better person for her than Sameer. I’m glad you also interpreted it this way! I loved the moment in the movie when he was telling a funny story about a court case and she laughed uncontrollably.

    • Ambaa

      Wow. I am amazed that someone would see what she had with Sameer as “true love”! I can imagine the kind of bickering and petty arguments they would get into if they tried to build a life together!