Honour killings: The tragic love stories of Ram-Leela, Sairat, Ishaqzaade


Yesterday, the trailer of the Janhvi Kapoor-Ishaan Khatter starrer Dhadak dropped, stirring up interest. When this Dharma production, inspired by the Marathi drama Sairat, releases on July 20, it will be yet another love story that is crushed in the name of honour. In India, where honour killings and clan wars are still a grim reality, Hindi cinema has often dwelt on the topic in mainstream films as well. Here’s revisiting five popular films in which there is no happily-ever-after for the young lovers…

Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela (2013)

Set in a fictional Gujarati village Ranjaar, infamous for its manufacture and sale of arms and ammunition, this Sanjay Leela Bhansali directorial portrays two clans—Rajadi and Sanera—who have been at odds with each other for the past 500 years. As luck would have it, Ram (Ranveer Singh), from the Rajadi family, and Leela (Deepika Padukone), a Sanera, fall in love. A grim turn of events follows when Leela’s brother Kanji accidentally kills Meghji, Ram's brother, and is in turn killed by Ram.

To escape the suffering, Ram and Leela elope and marry but Ram's friends trace them and betray him by inebriating him and informing Leela's family of their location. The lovers are forcibly separated, more violence follows. More twists and turns later, the village is on the brink of war, leading Ram and Leela to take matters into their hands and shoot one another dead. The two clans come together to cremate the bodies of the lovers.

Sohni Mahiwal (1984)

An India-USSR film based on the legendary story of Sohni Mahiwal, this Umesh Mehra and Latif Faiziyev (USSR) directorial told the tale of Shahzada Izzat Beg (Sunny Deol) who comes to India with his caravan and settles in a town in Punjab. Here he falls in love with Sohni (Poonam Dhillon), who keeps a shop in metal pots. The attraction is instant. A scandal arises when Sohni dispenses with her servant and installs Izzat Beg instead.

The lovers are kept apart but continue to meet, with Izzat disguised as a shepherd. However, Noor, from Sohni's village, who desires to marry her, creates a gigantic wall of misunderstanding and obstacles to prevent the two lovers from meeting again. When the pressure threatens to crush their love, the two jointly decide to end their life together in a watery grave.


Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)

Directed by Mansoor Khan, the film was a modern-day take on the classic tragic romance stories. It portrays a love story between Raj (Aamir Khan) and Rashmi (Juhi Chawla), who are unaware initially that they hail from warring families, with a long history of hatred. When Randhir Singh, Rashmi's father, finds out about the affair, he immediately arranges Rashmi's wedding to another man.


The lovers take on their families and elope, dreaming of an idyllic life together. Randhir Singh hires a contract killer to target Raj. After a brief interlude of happiness, the clans step in and in a heated fight, Rashmi is shot dead. A grief-stricken Raj commits suicide with a dagger given to him by Rashmi. As the sun sets behind them, they are together forever.

Ishaqzaade (2012)

Directed by Habib Faisal, the film tells the bloody tale of the Chauhans and the Qureshis, two political families whose mutual rivalry and hatred goes back generations. Parma (Arjun Kapoor) and Zoya (Parineeti Chopra) clash during the local elections and love soon blossoms. They elope; Parma converts to Islam and changes his name to Pervez. After the marriage is consummated, however, Parma informs Zoya that he tricked her to bring shame upon her family. A heartbroken Zoya attempts to shoot Parma but is intercepted by his mother, Parvati, who urges her son to do right by Zoya.

In the melee that ensues, Parma’s mother is killed trying to defend her son and daughter-in-law from the bloodthirsty gang. Parma realizes his mistake and protects Zoya from being murdered by his family. They give love a second chance. However, the families will not accept the marriage and combine forces to kill the couple. An outnumbered Zoya and Parma end up shooting each other in the abdomen willingly and die in each other’s arms.

Sairat (2016)

The film, directed by Nagraj Manjule, follows the love story of Prashant Kale, aka Parshya, a low-caste young boy, and Archana Patil, aka Archi, daughter of a rich upper-caste landlord. However, their romance is discovered by Archi’s family who thrashes Parshya and his friends. After a failed attempt to elope, and a false rape charge, the couple is able to escape the confines of their small town and flee to Hyderabad. A good Samaritan offers them a spare shanty to live in, and two also find employment.

They marry, have a son and are shown to enjoy a better life. After Archi phones her mother, her brother and his relatives arrive, bearing gifts, hinting at a reconciliation. While their child Aakash is out to play at the neighbour’s, Archi and Parshya serve their visitors' tea. The toddler Aakash returns with the neighbour and is left at their doorstep. The child stumbles out later in wordless shock, his bloody footprints telling the unspeakable horror of his parents’ murder…