There is something sadistic and darkly romantic about a kidnapped girl falling in love with her rakish captor! Psychologically this phenomenon is called the Stockholm syndrome in which hostages express sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. This twisted plot has been used several times in Hollywood films, but in Hindi cinema they have been few and far between.
Usually the heroine is threatened and kidnapped at gunpoint, but once she realises that her abductor’s crime is justified, she softens towards him providing the perfect setting for a dangerous and edgy romance.
Rather than a hostage drama, this 1952 film was more like Taming Of The Shrew. Dilip Kumar as the village leader Jai is in love with the haughty princess Rajashree (Nadira), and tries hard to woo her. But the arrogant princess doesn’t give a damn! When everything fails, he kidnaps her and forces her to live like a peasant and do menial chores. Though Nadira rebels initially, it doesn’t take time for her to relent and fall for his cocky charm. The popular song Maan Mera Ehsaan explains the essence of their volatile relationship.
Mujhe Jeene Do
Sunil Dutt is the dashing dacoit Jarnail Singh, who is smitten by the beautiful courtesan Waheeda Rehman (Chameli). Jarnail wants her and the rogue that he is, kidnaps her. But the feisty Chameli spurns his advances and refuses to sing or dance for him. She scars him on the face, slaps him fighting him every step of the way. Despite himself, Jarnail is taken in by Chameli’s gall to fight him, a bandit no less! He then vows to reform his ways just to win her love. Mujhe Jeene Do was one of the biggest grosser of that year and was the official selection at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival. All the songs of this film including Raat Bhi Hai Kuch Bheegi and Nadinaare Na Jao are timeless classics.
Love reforming a goon is a favourite plot of filmmakers. Hero had the tall, handsome Jackie Shroff playing a sidekick of a don Pasha played by Amrish Puri. Pasha wants Jackie to help him out of jail. To achieve that Jackie kidnaps a former cop’s daughter, Radha (Meenakshi Sheshadri) under false pretenses. As they trudge through forests and valleys, Jackie is taken in by her nubile beauty and cheekiness. Radha in turn is impressed by the goon with a golden heart — enough to forgive him when he reveals his true self and agrees to surrender to the police. A big hit, the film launched the careers of both its lead stars. It was remade in Telugu and Tamil and 30 years later is being revisited in Hindi with Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty reprising Jackie and Meenakshi’s roles.
Mr & Mrs 55
A light-hearted love story, the film’s hero, the suave and good-looking Guru Dutt abducts the impishly charming Madhubala because he is in love with her. Preetam (Guru Dutt), a struggling cartoonist, meets the wealthy Anita (Madhubala) at a tennis match. Her aunt Sita (Lalita Pawar) who is a strong influence on Anita is suspicious of men. Even Anita doesn’t trust the opposite sex, but to receive her fortune, she must marry within one month of turning 21. Sita hires Preetam to marry Anita, but he is kept away from her after their marriage. Preetam then kidnaps her in a bid to win her and stay married. Songs of this 1955 film which include Thandi hawa kaali ghata and Yeh sawan rut tum aur hum are evergreen melodies.
Essentially a love story, this launch pad of Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh was about childhood friends who grow apart and meet as youngsters. While the daredevil Sunny is poor, Amrita’s spirited Roma is a rich, spoiled brat. She doesn’t recognise Sunny and spars with him whenever they meet. To teach her a lesson and ignite the spark in her, Sunny forcibly carries her away to his farm. He tries to remind her of their bond in various ways till recognition dawns and on a thunder-driven rainy night, the two love birds come together to the sensuous song Badal yu garajta hai. A superhit, Betaab set the ball rolling for both Sunny and Amrita who went to become big stars. Songs of this 1983 film, Jab hum jawaan honge and Tumne di awaaz were chartbusters.
Hollywood’s tryst with Stockholm syndrome
Hollywood has over 20 films (good, bad, funny, erotic and downright repulsive) on the captive heroine falling for her kidnapper hero. From the 1921 silent film The Sheik (1921) in which the alpha male Rudolph Valentina decides to tame the hoity toity Agnes Ayres by abducting her, to The Running Man (1987), that had Arnold Schwarzenegger holding the heroine hostage, the the Stockholm syndrome has been played out in several movies. There was the hit film In Time (2011) that had Justin Timberlake using Amanda Seyfried to escape arrest and nearly getting her killed! Yet, by the end of it, Amanda herself helps him use her as a weapon and get a ransom from her father! And who can forget the Oscar-winning film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) that was a romance between a bandit and a lady of high birth, whom he kidnaps!