“Aap actor ho kya, naatak wale? Nahi toh inke jaisi ladki… aapke saath? (Are you an actor, from the theatres or something? Otherwise a girl like her, with you?),” comments the taxi driver as he observes just how much of a ‘misfit’ his passengers are.
Cautionary note: If you don’t know what I’m referring to, leave everything behind and watch the recently released trailer of Ritesh Batra’s Photograph and you’ll know what I’m getting at.
Starring the oh-so-interesting pairing of Sanya Malhotra and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, what strikes the taxi driver — and probably most of us – is the utter unlikeliness of the situation where two people so different, seemingly seek to find themselves in one another. And that’s probably what makes the trailer stand out the way it does.
Taking a cue from it, we decided to look back to five such ‘misfits’ who fit inside the cine-goers’ hearts rather perfectly.
Rahul Bose and Mallika Sherawat in Pyaar Ke Side Effects
For me, it was these two who started it all in the Pritish Nandy rom-com. Nobody saw this pairing coming, and when they did, it was an absolute riot! Before this film, they were pretty much labelled as actors. On one hand, you had Mr. Intellectual (Rahul) and on the other, you had Ms. Diva (Mallika). Nandy, very smartly, hit an ace with the casting and gave us a film that not just brought the never-ending Delhi vs. Mumbai fight to life but also some sizzling chemistry worth remembering.
Amitabh Bachchan and Tabu in Cheeni Kum
Who would’ve known? Brilliant actors, yes we know. But a love story? Really? R Balki’s story about a 64-year-old chef falling in love with a 34-year-old software engineer was all heart. Right from the time they first met at his restaurant, to the time they fell for each other and the time they dealt with Tabu’s father (Paresh Rawal) — who was in fact younger than Bachchan, the film was full of beautiful moments and an unexpected yet subtle spark between the two leads that left an everlasting impression. Can we have a sequel, already?
Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur in The Lunchbox
Imagine a love story in which the leads never even meet and yet share an inexplicable bond that reflects on-screen as well. Can’t? Then you must have missed out on Batra’s first film, starring Irrfan Khan, a widower, and Nimrat Kaur, a young housewife, and their innocent interactions through a misplaced lunchbox. The bittersweet conversations takes us back to a time when there were no mobiles, no Tinder, and all we had to profess our feelings were simple chits and letters.
Ayushmann Khurana and Bhumi Pednekar in Dum Laga Ke Haisha
When a 10th fail – but judgmental – Ayushmann is forced to get married to the well-educated Bhumi in Dum Laga Ke Haisha, all he notices is her body and instantly decides that she is not worthy of him. She is sweet, caring and talented, but as she realizes what she married into, she decides to take a stand, refusing to give in to family pressure and fighting for her self respect. How these two fall in love is a story for another time to tell but Bhumi and Ayushmann’s presence lights up the screen each time the two fight through Kumar Sanu and Sadhana Sargam songs, and each time they show they care. The story was always supposed to be about an unlikely couple, in terms of stereotypes as well as education ‘standards’, but what it gave us fans were two people perfectly in sync by the end, a lot like their on-screen characters.
Irrfan Khan and Deepika Padukone in Piku
This one is the pick of the lot for me. Irrfan and Deepika’s chemistry in Piku was something I didn’t expect. They were naturals, gelling together with such ease that it was difficult to not see the level of comfort that was brewing between the two characters. They were like chalk and cheese, Irrfan being the chilled-out, funny guy with a good heart and Deepika being the angry young woman, burdened yet lightened by her responsibilities towards her ageing father. They were both so relatable, so effortless together that I can understand exactly why Vishal Bhardwaj wanted to cast them together for his next.