Meenakshi (Rani Mukherjee) in Aiyyaa has a penchant for melodrama and Hindi films. She dreams in Technicolor. She hams in front of her mirror, mocks her own performances during the ‘girl-seeing’ ceremonies of arranged marriages. She is nearly thirty years old but has no negative body images; she does not want to get married because of her biological clock or the fear of being an old maid. She quite simply wants romance – a full-fledged, multi-coloured, all stops out Hindi film romance.

And she falls into at work, a romance filled with mystique and mystery, when an over enhanced sense of smell leads her to an art student whose body seems to give out a fragrance that entrances her. She does not mind that he is dark-skinned, or of a different language. She sets out to find out more about him. She learns Tamil, disguises herself as a Tamilian and visits his home, she wants to know what kind of bahu, his mother would want.

At home, however, the parents have finally got a positive answer from the numerous boys who had come to ‘see’ her. Her engagement is announced and she is bewildered by the practical, middle of the road cinema hero who loves Farooque Shiekh films when she really yearns for a Masala man.

She does not turn up for her own engagment – she is busy in pursuit for her man –  she solves the mystery of his fragrance; he works nights at an agarbatti factory! He catches her spying on him – all is revealed, he too is in love with her, she is just the girl his mother wants as his bride, he says shyly.

Meenakshi is an intriguing character, she has declared herself the heroine of her life and despite her so-called flights into Bollywood fancy, is quite sure of what she wants and she goes about and makes it happen. One is hard-pressed to find such a character in Hindi cinema. Strike that, it is hard-pressed to find such a protagonist in a Hindi rom-com.


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