Still on the verge

Caution: Spoilers ahead about Satyaprem Ki Katha.

“Are you a virgin?”

The question causes Amar (Shah Rukh Khan) to nearly choke on his burger. His dimple-cheeked interrogator Preeti (Preity Zinta), whom he is supposed to marry, is trying to break the ice. Having successfully embarrassed Amar, Preeti soldiers on. 

Eighty percent of the girls in college have done “honka ponka ponks” – had sex, she tells Amar. She hasn’t yet indulged in this activity that sounds like a game invented by bored children during an excessively hot summer. Nor has Amar – but he did come close, with the love of his life Meghna (Manisha Koirala).

In Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se (1998), the tragedy underpinning the banter is that Meghna has been raped as a child. It’s one of the reasons she has enrolled in a terrorist sleeper cell. It’s also one of the reasons that Amar and Meghna get physically close only in fantasy song sequences. The memory of childhood brutality prevents Meghna from getting intimate with the man who passionately loves her.

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