The 2003 teenage romance Ishq Vishk explored how a new, emerging generation in the post-liberalisation era engaged with love.
The 2003 teenage romance Ishq Vishk explored how a new, emerging generation in the post-liberalisation era engaged with love.

Ishq Vishk rebound: A modern take on teenage love

Rohit Saraf and co-stars reflect on how social media and rapid modern life have transformed love and relationships, contrasting with the simplicity of older generations.

Love is a complex emotion that goes beyond what we feel on the surface. Hiding under its swoony layer are individuals reacting to it in myriad ways. The 2003 teenage romance Ishq Vishk explored how a new, emerging generation in the post-liberalisation era engaged with love. Starring Shahid Kapoor, Amrita Rao and Shenaz Treasurywala in their Hindi film debuts, Ishq Vishk delves into the uncertainties and anxieties that accompany the feeling.

Around twenty years later, Ishq Vishk Rebound speaks of a newer generation of youngsters who are stuck in the middle of situations, casual flings initiated online, and short-lived relationships over text messages. Rohit Saraf headlines the film as a character battling these complexities. Rohit feels that social media has altered the idea of love and relationships; therefore, he says, true love hardly exists. “For me, love is a feeling of being at home, where you can feel safe, and live without any filter,” he says.

He has grown up watching rom-coms and finds it comforting to work in the genre. “Rom-com is my safe space and I like to keep returning to it,” he says. It gives him joy to watch simple love stories, and he credits Kiran Rao’s Laapataa Ladies for championing simplicity in romance. His co-star Jibraan Khan agrees and feels that love should be simple. “I see that it has become rapid these days. There is no stillness left in it,” Jibraan says. “People are running away from simplicity that was seen in our older generation. Everyone is in a hurry and I would rather want it to be simple and sweet.”

Rohit was just 7 when Ishq Vishk was released, and he remembers loving the songs when he watched it some years later. It was also slice-of-life and coming-of-age films that made him want to be an actor. "Wake Up Sid is my favourite film in that genre and it inspired me the most to take up acting seriously,” he reveals. As for Pashmina, who plays one of Rohit's love interests in Ishq Vishk Rebound, it was her cousin brother Hrithik Roshan's 2003 sci-fi adventure, Koi… Mil Gaya made her fall in love with films. “The first time I felt that I wanted to be in films was when I went to the sets of Koi… Mil Gaya,” she says. “I liked being there every day and by the end of it, I didn’t want to go back home.”

Pashmina admits that being part of an influential family has simplified many things for her. “There's no denying that coming from a film family has made things easy for me,” says the actor. She also finds it a privilege to be able to receive feedback from her brother on her craft. “Hrithik has given me plenty of life advice and his honest opinion about my work.”

When she auditioned for Ishq Vishk Rebound, she didn’t hear back from the makers for over 2-3 months. She thought that she got rejected. “But when I finally heard back from them, the feeling was dreamlike. They hadn't yet confirmed me for the role and had just said, ‘It is looking good.’ But even that meant the world to me then,” she said.

Rejections took a huge toll on Naila Grrewal (Maamla Legal Hai) at a nascent stage of her acting career. In her early days, she would send videos for auditions from Delhi where her mother and sister assisted her. “I mostly got rejected and didn’t know how to deal with it,” she reveals. She gradually realised that it is important to learn how to cope with it because, otherwise, "you couldn't deal with success either."

In the trailer of Ishq Vishk Rebound, Naila is seen to be having a fling with the character of Rohit. She feels that her generation is stuck in two worlds when it comes to love. “There is that hyper-romantic element attached to it that is built by the early films starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. On the other hand, social media has propelled us to act a certain way in relationships,” she says. However, Naila is someone who still gravitates towards the old school. “I would still want that dreaminess where I am standing in the mountains with my saari pallu floating in the air while a boy runs towards me in slow motion,” she says with a smile.

Filmmaker Nipun Dharmadhikari's idea of love was shaped for years by films and books. An acclaimed Marathi director, known for making films like Dhappa (2018) and Mi Vasantrao (2022), Nipun makes his Hindi film debut with Ishq Vishk Rebound. According to him, how one experiences love depends from person to person. “When you are 11-12 years old and Shah Rukh Khan says that pyaar ek baar hota hai (love happens only once), you tend to believe that,” he says. “But as you start growing up, you realise that it was just a film line."

About the lack of love stories in Hindi cinema, he says, “But are these stories also disappearing from our lives? After a period, cinema becomes an expression of society."

The New Indian Express