Amar Varma, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold Indian journalist, investigates a terrorist group in a part of North-Eastern India aflame with insurgency and meets the Troubled, but Cute Meghna with a Dark and Troubled Past at a railway station. He falls in love with her and is persistent in chasing her even after her repeated rebuffs. Two men who travelled with her beat him down senseless, though that makes him become obsessively enamored of her. The two get stranded after their bus breaks down and they slowly start to fall in love. Meghna leaves Amar one night and is not heard of again. She visits him in Delhi, however, when she hears about his engagement with Preeti. When she comes, Amar discovers that Meghna is a Broken Bird who is part of a terrorist group planning on carrying out a suicide attack on the Prime Minister.
Released in 1998, Dil Se (From the Heart) is the third movie of Mani Ratnam's trilogy that deals with India's War on Terror, Culture Clash and its concerns on terrorism and domestic instability. In contrast to the first two movies of his trilogy, it is first and foremost a love story. It is known mostly for fantastic songs from A.R. Rahman, including Chaiya Chaiya and features an Troperrific number of Tropes.
Its soundtrack, of course, mainly comprises Filmi Music.
Dil Se provides examples of:
- Arranged Marriage: Amar Varma planned to wed his sweetheart Preeti.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: The whole premise of Dil Se.
- Bittersweet Ending: The terrorist plot is averted... at the cost of Amar and Meghna's lives.
- Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Just before he is arrested by Secret Service, Amar meets with Preeti, who realizes that he only has eyes for one girl, and it's not her. So she tells him to Race for Your Love. And then Amar and Meghna die together at the end, sealing the love triangle for good.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Meghna, which is why she joined the insurgents. She lost her family in traumatizing ways due to the government's policies against them and was even raped by an Indian soldier as an adolescent.
- Everything Sounds Sexier in Malayalam: "Jiya Jale". Justified since Preeti is from Kerala.
- Fetishized Abuser: Amar aggressively assaults Meghna when he is alone with her in the desert. She gets an anxiety attack as she rebuffs him. Yet, he's the hero of the story.
- Freudian Excuse: Meghna's people have been persecuted since India's independence. She watched her parents die during a pogrom, witnessed her sister being raped by a soldier, and to top it off, she herself was also raped by a soldier.
- Informed Deformity: Meghna is said to have small eyes and high cheekbones by Amar. Manisha Koirala, while Nepalese, does not have small eyes, except by perhaps stringent Indian criteria◊.
- Instant Knots: In the song and dance number, Satrangi Re, Amar throws out his long black scarf, which whips around the waist of Meghna so he can reel her in. Awesome coolness.
- Internal Reveal: In the climax, Amar finally discovers Meghna's participation in the Liberations group, something that the audience already learned in the second act.
- The Item Number: The song Chaiyaa Chaiyaa, where the protagonist dances on a moving train with excellent cinematography.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
- Meghna when she attends Amar's engagement. But he is not willing to let her go.
- Preeti's final meeting with Amar is a downplayed example. She is not willing to let him go, but if he insists on chasing Meghna, then there is nothing she can do to stop him.
- Love Makes You Crazy: Amar is so infatuated with Meghna that he will stop at nothing to get her, not traveling across India, not a beatdown by a bunch of people, not arrest by the Secret Service, and the last but not least, not death.
- Love Redeems: Played With. Amar dissuades Meghna from initiating the terrorist attack twice. She rejects it the first time, but she hesitates in the second long enough until they both become the attack's only casualties, making it ambiguous as to whether she is really redeemed by love.
- Meaningful Name: Meghna means storm. Amar means eternal. Preeti sounds like Preity, the actress who plays the part.
- Mysterious Waif: Meghna. Ethereally beautiful, out-of-there, seldom talks, and hides a dark secret.
- Naked First Impression: Megha bathes with the door open.
- The Promise: When Meghna's comrade senses her going soft after she attends Amar's engagement party, Meghna is asked to recite her pledge to rededicate her life to avenge her family.
- Romantic Runner-Up: Preeti, oh so much. For the record, Amar's romantic life (at by the end, literal life) would be much better if he settles for her.
- Shout-Out: The Item Number "Chaiya Chaiya" is based off an Urdu poem, and even the lyric "Her words are like Urdu poetry" is a reference to this.
- Race for Your Love: Amar keeps chasing Meghna all over India.
- Rescue Romance: Subverted. Amar wants to rescue Meghna from the insurgent agenda and convince her to start a new life with him, but she does not want to be rescued, and later fears she has come too far. Pursuing her destroys them both.
- Taking You with Me: Inverted. Before they die from Meghna's suicide vest, Amar asks her to take him with her.
- Together in Death: Amar hugs Meghna, who at that time is wearing a suicide vest that explodes on contact. Guess what happens.
- Troubled Backstory Flashback: Meghna's childhood is shown while she launches into a Motive Rant to Amar in the climax, tuning the film firmly into Gray-and-Grey Morality.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The terrorists/insurgents are shown ambiguously. On the one hand, they are shown to have legitimate grievances. On the other hand, they use violence and suicidal methods that harm themselves and the people around them.