• The Feminist Times

How Bollywood Shaped my Understanding of Love and Romance



Like most Indian girls, I grew up watching and obsessing over Bollywood movies. Shah Rukh Khan has always been my favorite, and you can imagine what that meant for my expectations of my love life. He taught my 10-year-old self that “pyaar sirf ek baar hota hai” and I took it pretty seriously. I was convinced that once I found the perfect guy and fell in love, my life would be complete. So there I was, a fifth-grader, looking for “my hero”. As I went to a co-ed school, I saw many people around me in relationships. Even though I barely knew about said relationships and the people in them, I romanticized the hell

out of them and desperately wanted that for myself. Then one day, I heard a rumor. It was about this guy who apparently liked me, and everyone was teasing both of us about it. The teasing grew so much in the next few years that it manipulated me into believing that I actually liked that guy! Once I figured out I liked him, I was overjoyed! Finding a guy was the first step to the perfect Bollywood life! For step two, I had to fall in love with him. I did, pretty soon. We talked every day on Facebook and shyly smiled at each other in school. He would stare at me, blush when I was around, but then I used to hear rumors of him seeing some other girl.

If I had any prior experience, I would have taken these mixed signals as a no and moved

on. But I was blinded by Bollywood, a crazy-in-love teenager, and the rumors did not do any good for me. I was still daydreaming like Taylor Swift in the music video of You Belong With Me while he was out there dating as many girls as he could. His actions had awful effects on me as I had made him my entire world without any reciprocation from him. I was sad all the time, I doubted myself, my self-esteem was lower than ever, and yet, I could not move on. I refused to give up on him because I had put him on the

pedestal of being the one. He was my hero, and we had to be together because that was what Bollywood had told me.  When school was over, and I saw him with his 20th girlfriend, I finally got sick of it and decided to move on. I met another guy, fell in love with

him as I was still my Bollywood-obsessed self, and got heartbroken by him as well. But there is a catch. Not long after that, you-know-who got in touch with me again, and this time we ended up dating! I was happier than I had ever been in my entire life. I was dating my hero! This was it. I finally felt like I was in a Bollywood movie, and everything was perfect until - he ghosted me. He was gone without any explanation, without

even a breakup.  For the first few days, I was in denial and was trying to make sense of what was going on. If he was the one, how could he do this to me? 

It took me countless heartbreaks and being treated like crap for ten years by the same

person to realize that Bollywood movies are full of BS. Maybe not BS, but they are for

entertainment, and I can not base my life on them. There will be no perfect guy who will turn my life around. It’s not just me, there are so many girls in toxic relationships refusing to leave because of the idea that “true love only happens once” Bollywood has put in their heads. Every classic Bollywood movie only has women playing a side character, a mere love interest. Every single movie has a romantic plotline. Everyone has a perfect happy ending. Naturally, it will mess with people’s heads. But it is dumb and unbelievably naïve of me and so many other girls that we compare our lives with a 3-hour movie. Our lives are not a rom-com movie, it is a long sitcom, and we are probably on the 2nd season. There is so much more to life than a toxic guy you are blindly in love with! We will meet so many people, and they will love us so much. We need to make

room for such people by letting go of the toxic ones.

I'm happy to announce that my search for my hero has finally come to an end. My ten-year-long struggle comes down to a single lesson. I needed to understand that the main character of my life is me. I'm still obsessed with Bollywood movies and music, but I will no longer let people mistreat me just because I believe they are "the one" for me. I love myself the most and will prioritize myself over everything and everyone because as it turns out, I am my hero.


-Anushka Tripathi

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