With the season of chocolates, wine, roses, pink heart filters, excessive PDA and long Instagram bios booming passionately, it is only normal to feel confused without your "The One”. Has this celebration of love meant only one thing - a hunt for the ideal partner or is there more?
Well the Greeks sure believed that there was more to it! Seven more to be precise. Exploring the many categories of love was fun but what made it more exciting was exploring the contribution of cinema in elevating the several types of this one emotion. So, here’s a list of films that talk about love not restricted to the “boy meet girl and falls in love” trope, that I think everyone must watch!
Eros / Erotic Love
The first kind of love represents the idea of sexual passion and desire and 'Call Me by Your Name' is my favourite film under this category. The reason I really liked this film is because not only does it talk about sexual desire but it also beautifully addresses other serious topics such as confusion, adolescence, first love and homosexuality.
Eros is an idealistic type that talks about the purity of physical bonds. However, when misguided, Eros can be misused leading to impulsive acts and broken hearts. Characters like VC from Kaatru Veliyidai and Inbasekar from Aayutha Ezhuthu shed light on the tormentous effect such a relationship can have on the people around them.
Philia / Affectionate Love
The second type of love is Philia, or friendship. The love between equals, that is considered as the more important one of the two. While a lot of films talk about this relation through the Hero’s friend commonly referred to as the sidekick who is usually there for comic relief, there are ones that base its core on such relations.
One such film being the Shawshank Redemption. Although the base of the film is a prison break essence, it is beautifully narrated through Ellis’s perspective of his developing friendship with Andy. If I were to find friendship of this sort in prison, then I sure wouldn’t mind committing a crime or two.
Female friendships is one of the most powerful bonds to have ever existed and yet it’s depiction in cinema is restricted to niche content. A film that portrays this bond while making bold statements on feminism and inspiring a generation of women with their iconic characters, is Thelma and Louise. A film about two women on an adventure when their harmless little fishing trip goes haywire? I don’t think you should miss this one!
Storge, a more natural form of this emotion, is expressed within family or close friends. The familiarity in this case comes in with a certain level of comfort and trust. Indian Cinema has been focusing on the values of a family right from the beginning of time, but there are some films that create magic out of these bonds.
So effortlessly is this familiarity portrayed in Bangalore Days that you’d almost feel like you are Arjun, Divya and Kuttan’s invisible cousin. Everything about this movie makes you wanna fall in love - the city, the characters, their journey and family!
Yes, family obviously means getting pampered alongside abundant love but there is more to it. The little fights, disagreements, sacrifices and responsibilities. A film that shows us how these nuances are probably what makes this bond so precious and a film that you shouldn’t miss for its warm and cozy portrayal of film is Piku.
Ludus/ Playful love
This is probably my favourite category of Love. A little bit of Eros and a lot more of the excitement, playfulness, childish innocence and flirting. Almost every other film I watch falls under this category and so it’s difficult to pick a select few films. Nevertheless, one definite choice would be Before Sunrise.
Obviously the trilogy is one of the most successful love series to have ever been told but Before Sunrise in particular struck a chord with me. It could’ve been the set up, the characters Jesse and Celine or just the beauty of Vienna. But two strangers who fall in love on a train where they have until sunrise the next day to say goodbyes to each other, sure gets me excited every single time!
If poetry is for you, have you ever tried watching Aisha and Vinod's love story? Thattathin Marayathu is a musical delight that you must watch whether you are a hopeless romantic or not. There is a dialogue in the film where the hero describes Aisha’s immortal beauty as she moves from the dark to the light in the empty college corridor and... Ende Saare! With this film, one can’t help but fall in love with falling in love.
Obviously the first thing that comes to our mind when we talk about playful love is an image of young lovers romancing under the breezy sun. Lunchbox breaks this stereotype by portraying the excitement of budding romance between a middle-aged couple who bond over food, loneliness and the desire to break the monotony of their lives. Thus making this a must-watch film about Ludus!
Mania / Obsessive Love
This is that extreme sort of love that drives a partner into a type of madness or obsessiveness. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a film that addresses Mania in a very relatable manner. The protagonist Joel wants to love and be loved to find a sense of self value. Love in such situations tends to become a survival instinct. ESOSM shows this destruction in an artistically brilliant manner that hits you every time you watch it. It’s one of those films that grows with you every time you revisit it!
Guna, one of Tamil Cinema’s cult classics, has also addressed this obsession through the story of a mentally disturbed man’s undying fondness for his lady love.
While everybody else considered his obsession absurd, to him it is the purest kind. This can be seen in the lyrics of the song Kanmani Anbodu where he goes on to say that mortals will never understand the purity of his love as it’s beyond them.
Pragma / Enduring Love
Pragma is that state of consciousness where love has surpassed being a physical feeling and transcended to a more mature emotion developed over a period of time. Every other cute thatha-paati that make us drool over their relationship, fall under this category. This kind of relationship really stays with you! For instance, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when I say “Up”? It must be a cute little shot of old Carl and Ellie sipping a hot cup of tea or holding hands. See what I mean?
In an era where we spend so much of time finding love that we spend so little maintaining it, Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton give us some serious relationship goals as Ruth and Alex - an elderly couple trying to sell their house of forty years in the film 5 Flights Up.
Probably the better love story of Gen Z’s favourite Tamil romantic film would be Bhavani Aunty and Ganapathy uncle’s over Adi and Tara’s. O Kadhal Kanmani stands testament to the fact that love can withstand time, hardships and pretty much anything else life throws at you.
Philautia/ Self Love
Slowly but steadily Cinema is addressing more of this love through its characters.
Philautia talks about how in order to take care of others, one must learn to care for themselves. A hero’s journey post a heartbreak leans towards this angle of love where acceptance and self compassion can be seen as key elements.
Margarita with a Straw is the story of a rebellious young woman with cerebral palsy as she explores sexuality, love, life and acceptance. Laila’s (Kalki Koechlin) journey of self compassion is very powerfully portrayed. The film will leave you more hopeful with an aftertaste that you’d want to linger around for longer.
Agape / Selfless Love
The Greeks believed that unconditional love holds the highest place in the society as it is about universal loving kindness. The iconic Anbe Sivam talks extensively about Agape throughout instances of Nalla Sivam and Anbarasu’s conversation about god, human and love.
Charlie the nomad, who keeps moving from one place to another, constantly working towards making the lives of the people around him better is another great example of Agape. This handsome gypsy teaches us how not conforming to society can be liberating and how one must try to find happiness in the little things around them.
Apart from overly sexualized professors or dimwits, educational institutions portrayed in films don’t have too many notable characters playing the faculty. That is if you were naive enough to see through Professor John Keating. Dead Poets Society talks about Agape through Professor John who goes on to teach his boys the true beauty of art, poetry, love, compassion and free spiritedness.
Like Robin Willams rightly says in the movie - Carpe Diem! Seize the day and make your lives extraordinary! But before that ask yourself one little question - Have you ever fallen in love?