Bollywood’s Love Affair with the Love Triangle

Long before ‘Challengers,’ the formulation has given Hindi cinema some of its biggest hits. What makes it so timeless?

love triangle collage love triangle
Bollywood love triangles (Snigdha Sur and Isha Banerjee for The Juggernaut)

Isha Banerjee


May 20, 2024


10 min

As director Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers hit screens last month, audiences packed theaters, desperate to see how the raunchy love triangle would unfold. Would Tashi (Zendaya) pick the safe and comfortable Art (Mike Faist), the dangerous and arrogant Patrick (Josh O’Connor), or her one true love, tennis? 

But the drama was nothing new for Bollywood fans. We held our breaths during Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) as Aishwarya Rai struggled to choose between her husband (Ajay Devgn) and her on- and off-screen ex (Salman Khan). We watched as Shanaya (Alia Bhatt) grappled with her feelings for hard-working Abhi (Siddharth Malhotra) while dating Rohan (Varun Dhawan) in Student of the Year (2012). And, of course, there’s Dostana (2008), where two men — like Patrick and Art — compete for the affection of Neha (Priyanka Chopra). Long before Hollywood’s recent obsession with love triangles, thanks to Challengers and the inimitable star power of Zendaya, there was always Hindi cinema.

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