Where have all the legendary love stories of Filmistan gone?

Love, lust and all things exciting have always been part of India’s largest dream factory. Through the ages, Bollywood’s extramarital couples have attracted more attention than the married ones.

Director Guru Dutt and his prized discovery Waheeda Rehman were seen together often enough for people to look for one upon spotting the other. Later, when she moved on, the sensitive Dutt ended his life.

Such passionate togetherness wasn’t rare even in the 1940s when Indian cinema was in its infancy. The debonair actor Motilal was invariably spotted in the company of the sophisticated Shobhana Samarth.

Though both were in comfortable marriages and claimed to be just buddies, filmdom looked on Shobhana and Motilal as the perfect match.

Filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi and septuagenarian Bhupen Hazarika were seen sharing an exceptional togetherness, people presume them to be the ideal couple.

The late Lajmi laughed throatily when I had asked pointblank about her relationship with Hazarika. “It isn’t that way at all… Bhupenda has been a father figure and mentor for years and years. I can’t imagine a life without him.”

Though the music composer stayed in Lajmi’s house in Mumbai with her parents, she insists: “We’re everything but lovers.”

Another truly famous couple outside the prescribed sanctity of marriage was filmmaker Chetan Anand and his actress friend Priya Rajvansh.

They had met in the late 1950s as Rajvansh flew down from London when she heard he was looking for a new heroine. Since ‘Haqeeqat’, she had been a permanent part of Anand’s cinema right until his last film ‘Kudrat’.

Until his death, he dropped in to meet Priya Rajvansh at the apartment he bought for her, much to the disapproval of his wife and children.

But creative people move to their own rhythms in life. Bollywood’s most famous couple was Raj Kapoor and Nargis. From the time she starred in ‘Aag’ till their bitter parting at the end of the 1950s after he couldn’t offer her the sanctity of marriage, Nargis was the unofficial hostess at his social gatherings, his muse, confidante and leading lady.

These are the best love stories in Bollywood because they never reached the “natural” marital conclusion. In comparison, the Aishwarya Rai-Salman Khan episode lacked fire. Both were single and eminently eligible. And yet if their passion failed to reach a consummation, the couple has only itself to blame.

But where’s the excitement in the Ranbir-Alia or the Deepika-Ranveer togetherness of Dharmendra and Hema Malini’s runaway wedding when he whisked her away from an impending marriage with another besotted suitor, Jeetendra, and offered her marriage and children in spite of being far from single from beforehand.