Like every teenager growing up in a Bollywood-crazy India, I dreamed and fantasized of a love like Raj and Simran’s from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. I wanted to travel across Europe with my friends, meet someone I didn’t get along with and slowly see that hatred transform into something pure and beautiful. I desperately wanted my life to be a Bollywood movie — flying dupatta over corn fields, fighting for my love, and a happy ending.

That never happened, but I did fabricate my version of it.

There was nothing historic or remotely movie-worthy about my first college relationship. Even Ram Gopal Verma wouldn’t have considered turning that experience of mine into a movie.

My first college relationship started with extremely high expectations from my side. I expected red roses, gut-wrenching poems about his love for me, and scorned parents. But I got a warm cup of coffee, a note that said I miss you, and parents who couldn’t care less.

Whatever I dreamed of or hoped would happen, never did. I wanted my relationship to be worthy of a movie, something to inspire the future generations. But all I got was an awkward, pretty basic, and lust-filled relationship. It was nothing like the movies I’d seen on love. There was no Simran running after Raj on a moving train. There was just me waiting for my then boyfriend to show up at the train station.

Obviously, the relationship ended sooner than I expected. That’s when I realized I was living in a bubble, a bubble crafted and meticulously bedazzled by Bollywood.

Bollywood is known for the cult classics it produces, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge being just one of them. Breathtaking exotic locations, memorable performances, and soulful dialogues to make you go weak in the knee — this is what it takes to build a fantasy in impressionable minds. With exaggerated romance and grand gestures, these classic movies change the perception of love in young minds.

I grew up yearning for the reel version of love, not the real version. I wanted a love that would never measure up to reality’s standards. I wanted a love with all the flowers and frills, without the compromises or the maturity to handle a serious commitment. I held the romance portrayed by Bollywood movies in such high regard, I forgot to differentiate between fantasy and reality.

This Bollywood creation made me yearn for a romantic relationship but never a partner — something that shouldn’t affect the future or current generation.