Usually when we think of romantic comedies, it is Hollywood films that first come to mind — be it When Harry Met Sally, Bridget Jones’s Diary or Pretty Woman. If you have watched these movies too many times to count (because why not?), this list of fun Indian rom-coms is what you need right now.
These films are in languages ranging from Hindi to Malayalam to Tamil, and may just make Nivin Pauly your new crush.
1. Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012)
Perhaps Dharma’s first film that fully embraced an indie sensibility while still operating within a mainstream framework, Ek Main aur Ekk Tu is the kind of rom-com that you never imagined Bollywood would get right. And yet, this anti feel-good romance sparkles with understated wit, an unconventional narrative and charming performances. It also dared to subvert the romantic template that Bollywood was operating with at the time and still continues to peddle. Imran Khan and Kareena Kapoor, who played unlikely lovers who get accidentally married in Vegas, shared a natural chemistry and made the complexities of their relationship believable and, for most millennials, relatable. Among other things, the film also marked the debut of Shakun Batra, who would himself come of age in his more mature, sobering take on dysfunctional families in Kapoor and Sons.
Watch it on Netflix
— Ankur Pathak
2. Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000)
Jane Austen’s novels have been adapted hundreds of times, but I guarantee you this is one of the best—Sense and Sensibility set in Tamil Nadu at the turn of the millennium. Director Rajiv Menon scored a stellar star cast—Aishwarya Rai, Tabu, Mammootty and Ajith— for this warm, colourful film that features one of A.R. Rahman’s best ever albums (the title song is my personal favourite). Aishwarya Rai’s Meenakshi—the romantic, impetuous Marianne Dashwood from the book—is a revelation as she loves, loses and learns to love again. The scenes featuring Ajith’s movie shooting may make you cringe a little now, but otherwise, this film is a delight.
Watch it on YouTube
— Sharanya Hrishikesh
3. Ohm Shanti Oshana (2014)
This is the first movie that comes to my mind when someone asks for a rom-com recommendation. Starring Nazriya Nazim and Nivin Pauly, this film won my heart from the beginning, when our heroine Pooja tells the dramatic narrator firmly that “this is my story. I will narrate it”. And so we get this fun, funny movie told entirely through the woman’s gaze, from the time she falls in love to when she finally gets her man. Particular delights: the hero’s entry scene, where he slides down a water chute at a theme park, and Pooja’s open, loving relationship with her progressive parents.
Watch it on Hotstar
— Sharanya Hrishikesh
4. Basanta Bilap (1973)
This Aparna Sen and Soumitra Chatterjee-starrer is considered one of the classic comedies of its times. It follows the dispute between the residents of a women’s hostel called Basant Bipal and a group of four boys. The two groups have a special hatred for each other and keep trying to one-up each other with pranks, until a few of them begin to fall in love. Sen is feisty as Anuradha, who takes on Shyam (Chatterjee) and his friends. The film comes with the tropes of its times, but is a breezy watch. The songs are funny too, and were big hits when the film released.
Watch it on Hoichoi.com
— Rohini Chatterji
5. Bangalore Days (2014)
This film is three rom-coms combined. Cousins Divya, Kuttan and Arjun move to the big city for various reasons — marriage, a new job and general rebellion. Divya is stuck in an unhappy arranged marriage, Kuttan has never been in love and Arjun doesn’t quite know what he’s doing with his life. The three go through their own journeys of love and heartbreak and dealing with complicated family dynamics as they experience a new city together. Directed by Anjali Menon, the film has a star cast of Nazriya Nazim, Nivin Pauly, Dulquer Salmaan, Fahadh Faasil and Parvathy Thiruvothu. Bangalore Days also delves into tradition vs modernity in womanhood, although I wouldn’t say it is successful in drawing out this complexity. It’s still a light and fun watch.
Watch it on Hotstar
— Meryl Sebastian
6. Meri Pyaari Bindu (2017)
A cutesy rom-com that is perfect to watch or re-watch at this time. The film doesn’t offer much, except for a few funny and “awww” moments. I watched it last week when I wanted a break from the coronavirus updates and was looking for something light to distract myself. There are certain problems with the movie, like how Abhimanyu (Ayushmann Khurrana) is the narrator and we only know Bindu (Parineeti Chopra) through his narration. Chopra and Khurrana share an awkward chemistry, but watch the film for some hilarious scenes and corny dialogues.
Watch it on Amazon Prime Video
— Akshita Jain