Its been exactly 40 years and 40 days since ‘Love Story’ was first published. The publication of this novel was more of an afterthought than a piece of original literary work. The movie ‘Love Story’ whose screenplay was written by Erich Segal, was later adapted it into a novel which would serve as a pre-cursor to the movie and help in promoting the film. Hence, the novel came out on 14th Feb, 1970 while the movie released later, in December of the same year.
The book went on to become a best-seller and the movie too was a huge hit, and some lines from the movie have achieved so much popularity that they are oft repeated in quotes and romantic write-ups, one of them being ‘Love means never having to say sorry’. Although Erich Segal went on to write quite a few novels like ‘Oliver’s Story’ [which was a sequel to ‘Love Story’], ‘Class’ and ‘Doctors’ ; but none of them could match upto the success and fame of ‘Love Story’. This is a book for keeps, the romance is so beautifully portrayed and with so much innocence and honesty.
As most of us have read the book or know the story, I shall not delve much into it. I would just like to pay a small tribute to writer, Erich Segal, who passed away earlier this year, on 17th Jan. It was a huge loss to the literary world. And people who have been affected by the book, directly or indirectly, must have sent a small wish up there; may his soul rest in peace.
Coming back to the post, when Rajshri Films decided to adapt the book into movie, Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se was born. Keeping the tradition of family entertainers, this movie too matched the innocence and honest depiction of love. Sachin and Ranjeeta in lead roles excelled. And so did Madan Puri in a small cameo as Arun’s dad. But the movie truly belonged to Sachin and Ravindra Jain; Sachin for his mature performance and Ravindra Jain for his wonderful music and lyrics.
With the backdrop of a college, the movie starts with a tiff/competition between Arun and Lily. This went on to become a formula for a whole lot of movies, where the guy-gal are up in arms against each other in first half hour and then coyly in love soon after they get to know each other well. Even to this day, movies have this formulaic approach.
Anyways, Arun is an extrovert guy with playful nature, and he is smart and intelligent. He happens to be rich and that also brings in a bit of arrogance. While Lily is a girl from a modest family, and they live with limited resources. When Lily tops the class, it hurts Arun’s ego as he was the previous topper and now stands second in class; and this ego leads to the boy-gang ragging Lily with reference to her Christian background and lack of knowledge in Hindi literature.
Arun pushes her into a contest of sorts, in Hindi; that’s when Lily matches wits with him in a doha duel where she chants dohas of Kabir and Rahim. The war of words, or should I say dohas is perfectly pitched where Lily makes Arun realise that arrogance is not a good quality and Arun ends the contest by saying that she should accept his friendship in all humility.
But this is just the beginning of the love story. Everything runs smoothly until the couple decide to marry. Arun informs his rich dad about his love interest, which has to now surmount cultural and religious differences. When Madan Puri visits Lily’s house, I was scared it would be a repeat of the ‘Bobby’ scene of Pran embarrassing Premnath by talking of his riches, social status and cultural barriers. But this movie being a Rajshri Films, no such drama happens.
This is one of the most crucial and differentiating turning point in the novel ‘Love Story’. While In the novel, Oliver’s dad does not approve of the marriage ; Arun’s dad is more than happy to go with his son’s choice. This juncture also marks the difference between the book and the movie. In the book, Oliver’s dad disowns him. Oliver and Jennifer get married and settle down. But their days of hardship have just begun. When they decide to start a family and are unable to, they visit a doc who diagnoses Jennifer’s condition.
But in the movie, when all things are running smoothly Lily suddenly takes to bed. She had fallen ill before too, but no one knew the severity of her suffering. She is finally diagnosed of blood cancer and she has very less time left. This concept was later picked up in many a movie, with variations in screenplay. Most memorable being Hrishi da’s Mili and Mani Ratnam’s Gitanjali. And Erich Segal should be credited with this sensitive love progression in which one of the partners is terminally ill. The true test of love is when we can accept someone for who they are and stay with them despite their inadequacies; take them ‘in illness and in health’; and be with them till the end of their lives. The movie epitomises the sacrificial nature of love and shows what selfless love is all about.
Arun’s dad is very supportive of him, but Lily does not wish Arun to go through the trauma when she learns of her own illness. This is where the movie was a welcome change from the novel. In the novel, Oliver and Jennifer are strapped for cash and so he requests financial assisstance from his dad for her treatment; he still does not mention to his dad about her illness.
How Arun and Oliver deal with this situation forms rest of the story. How they unselfishly decide to show happy and fulfilling days to their loved-ones, despite knowing their condition and how they cope-up with life is not just romantic but tear-jerkingly sweet.
While the book explores the heartlessness of a person, Oliver’s dad; it also shows to what extent a person in love can go, Oliver. Its a beautiful story of love and difficult times that it can make us go through. But its all worth it, if love is all a person seeks. Its better to live a short life filled with love, than a long one without it.