Old is gold when it comes to Bollywood romances, according to a recent survey.

A project titled Love Aaj Kal: Romantic Couples of Bollywood, by the Indian Institute of Human Brands, surveyed 3,802 respondents about their favourite on-screen couples in Hindi cinema. The pairing of Raj Kapoor and Nargis received the most votes, followed by Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol and Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha.

The survey was conducted online. The respondents were asked to choose their favourite couple from each decade, starting from the 1950s. Respondents who were not familiar with the films of a certain decade did not vote for that time period. The largest number of respondents were from the 46-55 age group.

The top couple of the ’50s was Raj Kapoor and Nargis, who were voted number one by 46% of the respondents. Another 18% rated them as number two and 24% as rank three, taking their aggregate score to 86%. The duo have worked together on 16 films, including Barsaat (1949), Awara (1951) and Shree 420 (1955).

The runners-up were Madhubala and Dilip Kumar, who received an aggregate vote (across ranks one to three) of 95%. However, only 18% of the respondents rated them at the top, putting them in second place overall because rank one scores were valued higher than ranks two and three. In third place were Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman, with an aggregate score of 77%.

Raj Kapoor and Nargis in Awara (1951).

In the ’60s, Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman came out on top, with an aggregate of 70%. Their films together include Pyaasa (1957), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) and Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960). In second and third place respectively were Dev Anand and Madhubala (63%) and Dev Anand and Nutan (46%).

Waqt Ne Kiya, Kaagaz Ke Phool (1957).

Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha topped the list in the ’70s, with 56% respondents putting them in the number one spot. Their aggregate score across ranks one to three was 78%. Their joint projects include Do Anjaane (1976), Mr Natwarlal (1979) and Silsila (1981).

In second place were Hema Malini and Dharmendra, with 21% rank one votes and 79% aggregate votes. Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore came third, with 44% aggregate votes.

Yeh Kahaan Aa Gaye Hum from Silsila (1981).

Bachchan also topped the ’80s, this time for his films with Parveen Babi. The duo received an aggregate score of 73%, followed by Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh (68%) and Anil Kapoor and Sridevi (64%).

Bachchan and Babi were seen together in Deewar (1975), Do Aur Do Paanch (1980) and Shaan (1980).

The list for the ’90s was led by Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, with an aggregate of 81%. Their films together in this decade include Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla were in second place, with 79%, followed by Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit (50%).

Tujhe Dekha Toh from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995).

Leading the pack for the 2000s were Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor, who worked together on such films as Milenge Milenge (2010) and Jab We Met (2007). They received 51% of the aggregate votes, followed by real-life couple Ajay Devgn and Kajol (41%). Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan were in third place, with 40% of the votes.

Tum Se Hi from Jab We Met (2007).

For the ongoing decade, Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor topped the list with a 75% aggregate, followed by Padukone and real-life husband Ranveer Singh (74%). Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt came third, with 49% of the votes. Padukone and Kapoor’s joint credits include Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013) and Tamasha (2015).

Matargashti from Tamasha (2015).

The survey was conducted in May and is an offshoot of an ongoing project about Indian celebrity power couples by the institute. Set up in January 2019 by advertising and media executive Sandeep Goyal, Indian Institute of Human Brands describes itself as a “think tank devoted to celebrity usage in advertising and content”. They recently did a survey on the recall value of celebrities who featured in advertisements during the ongoing cricket World Cup.