Can Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone turn their past romantic relationship into a remarkable on-screen friendship in Bollywood?

Can Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone turn their past romantic relationship into a remarkable on-screen friendship in Bollywood?

Once again, Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone prove that nobody does “exes to friends” better
It’s heartening to see that Kapoor and Padukone have not only managed to maintain a great professional relationship but also a friendship based on mutual care and admiration

Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

Look, there are no awards being given out for “best exes in Bollywood”, but if there were, Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone would win by a mile. In a carousel of three photos posted by Padukone on Instagram to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013), the two stars—alongside Kalki Koechlin and Aditya Roy Kapur—were seen with their arms around each other, smiling broadly into the camera. Padukone captioned the photo with a quote by her character, Naina Talwar: “Yaadein mithai ke dibbe ki tarah hoti hain… Ek baar khula, toh sirf ek tukda nahi kha paoge” (Memories are like a box of sweets. Once you open it, you cannot stop at one). The comments section abounded with excitement at seeing the cast together once again, with many saying this should be the most-liked post on the internet today. With the picture standing at 2.8 million likes since Padukone posted it six hours ago, it may very well be.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani often appears on “Bollywood’s best comfort watches” list and fans swear that the characters are just as evergreen today as they were when the movie released a decade ago. Many also use it as the linchpin for manifesting a road trip with their friends into existence. Kapoor and Padukone, who played the lead characters Naina Talwar and Bunny Thapar, essayed their roles to such perfection that it was easy to forget that they had been in a very public relationship in the past which also ended very publicly. There was #tattoogate; there was the Verve magazine interview in 2010 where Padukone had said: “The first time he cheated on me, I thought there was something wrong with the relationship, or me. But when someone makes a habit of it, you know the problem lies with him.”

Then came the infamous Koffee with Karan episode in season 3 (2010) where Padukone and Sonam Kapoor (rumouredly another of Kapoor’s exes) had a field day taking digs at their ex-boyfriend. “He is a wonderful friend to have, I think he needs to work on his boyfriend skills a bit,” Padukone had presciently said, which perhaps set in motion the series of events that would one day allow a warm friendship to blossom between them. When they were next seen together in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani three years later, it was all water under the bridge. Bunny and Naina became the rom-com couple that defined love for an entire generation of millennials. When they joined forces again for Tamasha two years later, it resulted in a movie that sparked a discourse on mental illness—both negative and positive—and Kapoor and Padukone once again shone in their characters as Ved and Tara, earning glowing reviews for their on-screen chemistry.

It’s always tough to navigate the tightrope between real and reel, especially when all eyes are on you, and Bollywood doesn’t have too many examples of actors working well together after they’ve separated (Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan haven’t appeared in a movie together since Jab We Met in 2007). So it’s heartening to see that Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone have not only managed to maintain a great professional relationship but also a friendship based on mutual care and admiration. Back in 2015, when Padukone wanted to travel to Delhi for the promotion of Tamasha by train, Kapoor made all the necessary arrangements for it. The actors jubilantly gave interviews from the upper berth, and when director Imtiaz Ali asked Padukone what her feelings for Kapoor were, she giggled and said, “Right now, I just want to pinch his cheeks, so cute!” before proceeding to actually pull his cheeks. The actors were also showstoppers for Manish Malhotra’s Mijwan show in 2018, where Kapoor was seen whispering to Padukone on stage, no doubt extracting valuable runway tips from the former model.

The Gehraiyaan actor also continues to sport the tattoo of Kapoor’s initials she had gotten inked back when they were dating. “It’s something that I thought was correct at the time,” she had said on season 3 of Koffee with Karan. “And I’ve never regretted it. And I’ve never thought about removing it. I know the media is constantly saying ‘She’s taken it off!’ and all kinds of things. It’s very much there and I have no plans of taking it off.” Today, the tattoo perhaps reminds Padukone of all the progress she has made in her personal and professional life since and the truth of the axiom “time heals wounds” (to a certain degree at least).

In an age where Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson break up after giving us enough fodder for a whirlwind romance-based movie (only to be completely at ease in each other’s company when they bumped into each other at the Met Gala last month), and Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck get married after calling off their engagement 18 years ago, one thing is clear: life truly is too short to sever ties completely from someone whom you once loved (and wasn’t abusive). Perhaps Nelly Furtado got it wrong when she sang “Flames to dust, lovers to friends, why do all good things come to an end?” Maybe a breakup is not the end, but the beginning of a new and improved friendship.

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