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Valentine's Week special: Top 10 screen couples of Indian cinema

Celebrating the festival of love, we look at some of the enduring silver-screen couples of Indian cinema, from the 1950s to the early 2000s.

The Cinestaan Team

Apart from the epics, India has always celebrated love stories. And the emotion quickly wormed its way into Indian cinema through every porthole it could find. A film might be a revenge drama, a comedy caper, an action thriller or a horror tale, and yet it would be considered incomplete without a love story in the subplot.

Romance quickly became the staple fare of films, whether in Hindi, Bengali, Marathi or Tamil.

With the love stories came pairs of leading men and ladies who complemented one another to such an extent on screen that audiences would throng to theatres just to see them sing, dance, laugh and cry together. Raj Kapoor and Nargis, MGR and Saroja Devi, Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen, Ramesh and Seema Deo, every film industry had its iconic on-screen pair. For some the reel reationship even became real, while others went their separate ways.

Celebrating Valentine's Week, we look at some of the evergreen silver screen couples of Indian cinema, from the 1950s to the early 2000s.

1. Raj Kapoor and Nargis

When it comes to the best on-screen couples of Hindi cinema, every list begins with Raj Kapoor and Nargis. The song 'Pyaar Hua Ikraar Hua' from Shree 420 (1955) remains etched in our collective memory. But not many may remember that the scene preceding the song had the man proposing to his lady love at a 'footpath restaurant'.

In real life, however, no such proposal came through. While Raj Kapoor and Nargis starred together in 17 films, beginning with Barsaat (1949) — an iconic pose from the film even became the logo for RK Films, Kapoor's production house — and they were seen by fans as a couple, Kapoor was already a married man with children.

Eventually the pair broke up and Nargis signed on for the title role in Mehboob Khan's magnum opus Mother India (1957), a film that she was to become synonymous with. Their last screen appearance together came in RK Films' Jagte Raho, in which Nargis had a cameo with the song 'Jaago Mohan Pyare' at the very end.

2. MG Ramachandran and Saroja Devi

Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran aka MGR and Saroja Devi worked together in at least 27 films, each of which became a success at the box office. Though it was another of his leading ladies, J Jayalalithaa, who followed MGR into politics and became his heir, it was his pairing with Saroja Devi that remains one of the most iconic in Tamil cinema. Among their best-known films was Anbe Vaa (1966), a romantic comedy that was the first film produced by AVM to be shot in Eastmancolor and which ran in theatres for over 23 weeks. Click here to read more...

3. Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen

Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen formed the golden pair of Bengali cinema. Their beautiful on-screen chemistry is visible in the famous love song, 'Tumi Je Amar Ogo' from Harano Sur (1957). Romancing under a moonlit night wearing garlands, the duo seemed like a pair made in heaven. While there have been several popular and successful pairs in Bengali cinema since, Uttam-Suchitra remains the ultimate. Click here to read more...

4. Ramesh and Seema Deo

As in Bengali cinema, there have been many popular on-screen pairs in Marathi cinema as well, but the one that usually springs first to mind is the real-life pair of Ramesh and Seema Deo. The couple probably acted in more Hindi than Marathi films, but both got their first breaks in Marathi cinema and that was also where both got leading rather than supporting roles. The couple's turn in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic Anand (1971) is remembered even today. Interestingly, Ramesh Deo was often cast as a doctor and Seema as a nurse, though not always in the same film. Click here to read more...

5. Sachin and Supriya Pilgaonkar

The comedy couple of Marathi cinema fell in love while shooting for the superhit Navri Mile Navryala (1984). It was Sachin's second film as director and Supriya's first as an actress. At 27, Sachin was already a veteran of the film industry, having started out as a child artiste at the age of 3, while Supriya Sabnis, a decade younger than him, was a newcomer. Naturally, Supriya thought Sachin was already married. The actor-filmmaker had to first clear that doubt before they got married in 1985. They went on to star in several other hits in the 1980s and 1990s. Click here to read more...

6. Prabhu and Khushboo

Any list of top screen pairings has to include the successful pair of Prabhu and Khushboo from Tamil cinema of the 1990s. The pairing became a rage with P Vasu's Chinna Thambi (1991), which smashed all records at the box office. The film was remade in Hindi as Anari (1993) with Venkatesh and Karisma Kapoor and also became a hit. Prabhu and Khushboo worked together in several other hits, but this is the film that defines the couple that was even rumoured to be in love at the time. Click here to read more...

7. Karthik and Revathy

The charming Tamil star Karthik was paired with the one of the most versatile actresses to emerge from the South, Revathy, in half-a-dozen films in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their most famous film together is the romantic Mani Ratnam drama Mouna Ragam (1986), which was also dubbed in Telugu. Click here to read more...

8. Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit

Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit became one of Hindi cinema's most popular lead pairs with their second film together, Tezaab (1988). The film not only gave a boost to their individual careers, but it also brought them to the limelight as a romantic pair. Click here to read more...

9. Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol

Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol need no introduction to the current generation of cine-goers. After working together in blockbusters like Baazigar (1993), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (2001), Khan certainly realized the lady is a lucky charm. No wonder he got her to make special appearances in many of his films even after she took a sabbatical from acting to become a wife and mother, in films like Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006), Om Shanti Om (2007) and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008). Click here to read more...

10. Suriya and Jyothika

The first few films with Suriya and Jyothika in the lead did not set the box office on fire. Then came Kaakha Kaakha (2003), a film for which Jyothika recommended her good friend for the lead role, and the tide turned. The film became a blockbuster, Suriya became a bona fide star, and he and Jyothika became one of the most feted couples of Tamil cinema. Who says there are no fairy tales in real life? Click here to read more....