Affair and Cheating

The Silsila syndrome: When reel life affairs are unacceptable to Indians

Despite having a rumoured real-life triangle playing the leads, Silsila failed to do well at the box office when it was released. This review analyses some of the reasons
Painting Movie Silsila

Extramarital affairs are as old as marriage itself. Since fiction reflects facts, it is only natural that films as mass media will depict them from time to time. Released in 1981, Silsila was a turning point in this genre. First, because it focused more on the affair. Second, Yash Chopra managed quite a coup when he convinced Rekha and especially Jaya Bhaduri to act in the film with Amitabh Bachchan, when in real life Amitabh was rumoured to be having an affair with Rekha while married to Jaya.

The Indian film hero can be a robber or a killer or a smuggler, but he can’t be a rapist or a child killer or adulterer. Hence an extramarital affair by the lead, especially if played by the silver screen god Amitabh, needs solid backing. InSilsila, Amit’s (Amitabh) affair is justified for more than an hour before the real plot unfolds. Amit loves his girlfriend Chandni (Rekha) and his brother Shekhar (Shashi Kapoor) equally. Sadly for him these two loves conflict at a point. Shekhar dies, leaving his fiancée Shobha (Jaya) pregnant. Being an unmarried mother in India is unthinkable, and unlike real life, in films no one has discreet abortions. To rescue her from shame Amit has to marry her, while still in love with Chandni.

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