Trust popular cinema to anticipate events decades before they happen.

Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu’s advice on Tuesday to non-Hindi speaking members of the Rajya Sabha that they should “speak in Hindi without the fear of making grammatical mistakes” was expressed as early as 1981: K Balachander’s Ek Duuje Ke Liye featured Kamal Haasan and Rati Agnihotri, several hit songs, a double suicide and the message that language politics never ends nicely.

The language divide is the main villain in Ek Duuje Ke Liye, a remake of the director’s Telugu movie Maro Charitra 1978). Vasu (Haasan) and Sapna (Agnihotri) fall for each other despite his terrible Hindi and her ignorance of Tamil. Their parents hate each other, naturally, and go to great lengths to drive the couple apart. The mutual passion between the lovers only grows, resulting in songs both joyous (Mere Jeevan Saathi, whose lyrics are made up of Hindi film titles) and woebegone (Tere Mere Beech Mein).

The masterstroke in Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s soundtrack is the selection of SP Balasubrahmanyam to sing Vasu’s bits. Balasubrahmanyam’s unmistakable Southern accent might have inspired many parodies, but it sits well with Vasu’s attempts to communicate his love to Sapna. In Mere Jeevan Saathi, which is inventively filmed in a stalled elevator, Vasu impresses Sapna with his vast knowledge of Hindi cinema. In Hum Bane Tum Bane, English serves as the bridge language between Vasu and Sapna, as it is in the real world between the North and the rest of India.

In Hum Bane Tum Bane, Sapna and Vasu are still at the stage of communicating mostly through sign language. Hey, I don’t know what you say, Vasu tells Sapna when she informs him that they are fated to be together forever. Bakshi’s irreverent lyrics throw the rules of sentence formation out of the window: I don’t know what you say, but I want to dance and play… Don’t stop, let the whole world know, come fast, come fast, don’t be slow!”

Who needs language (or grammar) when you have love? The message is forcefully delivered over the bodies of the lovers in the final scene.

Hum Bane Tum Bane, Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981).