The one scene that I really liked in ‘Love in Simla‘ (1960) is the one with Sonia’s temper tantrum when she’s had enough of her aunt and her cousin Sheela pulling her down, and dismissing her looks and her ability to ever find someone to love her. She flings herself around, she cries, she screams though ineffectively, while the others laugh at her. It was so much like a typical teenage tantrum in any house.
Even though Sonia is treated badly by her aunt and cousin, she is indulged by her uncle and grandmother, and so though she lacks confidence, she doesn’t really have low self-esteem. It was refreshing to see a heroine like that, not too hung up on proprieties or sacrifice, and quite willing to fight to win her bet that she will get Sheela’s fiance Dev to fall in love with her. When she woos Dev, she is teasing, demanding, and mischievous.
Even when she does a turn-around and agrees to stop meeting Dev, to allow Sheela to win him back, she does not make you cringe, but is believable as an essentially honorable girl. There are two scenes where each of the girl begs for her love. Sheela touches Sonia’s feet, saying she has lost, and asking her to give her back Dev. Sonia touches Dev’s feet, asking him to forget her, and go back to Sheela. R K Nayyer choses to film both the scenes in a room with the lights off, hiding their humiliation not only from the other, but also from us, the audience.
But what makes the film belie the independent spirit of Sonia is Dev’s vacillation between the two cousins. He is Sheela’s fiance, but loses no time in starting a flirtation with Sonia, and for a long time, two times the girls rather obviously. This however invites no reprimands from either the girls or their elders. The girls don’t question him at all on his cheating, only fight with each other to win him. A little sad, that!