Sunday, March 25, 2018

Call Me By Your Name—The Anatomy of Desire

Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name is a beautiful film about beautiful people falling in love with beautiful people in beautiful places. Set "Somewhere in Northern Italy" in 1983, the film is the story of a summer romance between Elio (Timothée Chalamet), a seventeen-year-old Italian, and Oliver (Armie Hammer), a twenty-four-year-old American who comes to work as an assistant to Elio's father Dr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg). Adapted by James Ivory from André Aciman's book of the same name, the film explores themes of first love, desire, and heartbreak. The film is the final part of Luca Guadagnino's trilogy based on desire after I Am Love (2009) and A Bigger Splash (2015).
Call Me By Your Name opens with the pictures of naked male sculptures belonging to the Hellenistic period. These sculptures were the research subject of Dr. Perlman. He explains to Oliver that these sensual statues are more Hellenistic than the fifth-century Athenian, and were most likely crafted under the influence of the great sculptor Praxiteles. Their muscles are firm, yet there is not a straight body in these statues. They are impossibly curved and have some kind of an ageless ambiguity as if they are daring you to desire them. Dr. Perlman adds that one of the male statues was recast as a particularly voluptuous Venus, making the point that the same male sculpture can be reoriented into a female sculpture alluding to their ambiguity. Praxiteles, one of the greatest sculptors in history, implemented a new pose called the Praxitlean curve that influenced the art of sculpture during the Hellenistic period. The curve is so called as the figure's body is depicted as a sinuous or serpentine 'S', exhibiting an erotic modeling of the body with an unmistakable gaze. The characteristics of the sculptures—ambiguity, curvaceousness, and desire—summarize the themes of Call Me By Your Name. The straightness can be interpreted as a reference to heterosexuality. Elio and Oliver are not straight or gay per se. Their sexual orientation can be said to veer towards queer on the homosexual-heterosexual continuum as they have sexual intercourse with both men and women. All through the film, there are other references to ambiguity and desire in different forms. Like the sculpture of the naked male bodies, Elio and Oliver are often shown naked in the film where they exhibit similar characteristics as that of the sculptures. Hence, these sculptures play a significant part in the film's narrative. 
The ambiguity that Dr. Perlman talks about manifests itself in not just the sculptures, but it is also present in varied forms in the film. At one point in the film, before the peach scene, Elio is reading the book Heart of Darkness, which was written by Joseph Conrad. The novel is often rated as one of the best novels ever written and has a theme of ambiguity in it. The central character in the novel, Charles Marlow, is sexually ambiguous, who displays both homosexual and heterosexual tendencies, just like Elio and Oliver. The ambiguity that the film talks about is also present in the fluidity of the different identities of its characters. Elio, his mother, and his father don't restrict themselves to one identity. In fact, Elio tells Oliver that they are "Jews of discretion", but they are also English, American, Italian, and French. Elio speaks English but he also comfortably switches between other languages, such as Italian, German, and French. He embraces multiple identities. Elio can easily play one musical tune in different versions (Bach, Liszt, and Busoni) as if that tune also has multiple identities having the same underlying core. The film even avoids naming the exact location where it is based and only tells us that is based somewhere in Northern Italy, again, an ambiguous subtext. This is, perhaps, why I feel it would be a little disingenuous to Call Me By Your Name a gay film. The film avoids mentioning any specific labels to its characters or places; hence, giving a label as such goes against its grain. 
As earlier mentioned, the film is interspersed with many symbols of desire in addition to the statues. At one stage, Elio puts Oliver's shorts on his head when he starts craving him. We see shots of Oliver's swimming trunks, lying in the bathroom. Elio keeps the door of his room open so that he can see Oliver peeing. There are multiple sequences where Elio watches Oliver eating a soft-boiled egg. At many places in the film, there is this buzzing of flies and bees that can be heard. For instance, when Elio is in his room trying to touch himself, flies can be seen near him. Another instance is when Elio and Oliver are lying down near the pond after their bike ride, the buzzing of the bees can be heard. Having flies and bees in an orchard is only natural, but if one observes, the film makes a conscious point to make their sound heard. Slate has called these flies to be a symbol of the ephemeral nature of the romance between the Elio and Oliver, but I felt these flies and bees are yet another representation of desire as these insects only go to those places where they are attracted to different substances.
If there is one symbol that Call Me By Your Name will be remembered for, it is the peaches. When Oliver arrives at Elio's house, he asks about the orchard in the house. Elio's mother Annella (Amira Casar) tells him that their orchard has trees of apricots, cherries, peaches, and pomegranates. Later, the film shows many scenes of peach trees. Elio and Oliver also pluck some peaches from the tree at some stage. Mafalda (Vanda Capriolo), the house help, regularly brings apricot juice for them to drink. And, in what could be called the film's most iconic scene, Elio masturbates using a peach. Moments later, Oliver walks into the room and eats the same peach that Elio had used to please himself. Elio is embarrassed and starts crying thinking he is some kind of a freak, but Oliver calms him down. The scene is toned down from what is in the book, but it is still such a tender moment to see two lovers embracing each other's intimate fetishes and desires. The film's focus on these fruits, particularly peaches, again, points to its theme of desire as all these fruits are well-known aphrodisiacs—substances that stimulate sexual desire. 
The implicit question that Dr. Perlman asks Oliver is also based on the etymology of one of the aforementioned fruits—the apricot. In order to test Oliver, Dr. Perlman makes an incorrect statement on the origin of the word apricot. Oliver knows the correct answer and explains to Dr. Perlman that the word apricot originates from the Latin word praecoquum, from pre-coquere (to precook, to ripen early) as in precocious, meaning premature. The Byzantines borrowed praecox, and it became prekokkia or berikokki, which is how the Arabs must have inherited it as al-barquq. He uses the word precocious and note how this word perfectly describes Elio. Almost all commentators have described Elio to be precocious. He is some kind of a whiz kid. He knew almost everything prompting Oliver to remark, "Is there anything you don’t know?" At some point, we see Elio shaving his non-existent moustache, and playing with his underarm hair, like a prepubescent kid fascinated with growing up. Even though Elio might be physically too young, his thinking is far ahead for someone of his age. Like an apricot, Elio is has ripened early—precocious. No wonder Oliver gulps down a glass of apricot (Elio) juice in seconds. 
One of the other themes prevalent in the film is that of hiddenness. It seems everyone is trying to hide something. Elio and Oliver try to hide their feelings of desire from each other. Many a time, Elio is almost caught when he is hiding his feelings from Oliver. Dr. Perlman takes Elio and Oliver to the site where sculptures are found and tells them, "Nothing is being dug up. It’s what has been brought up, out of the water." The sculptures are brought up to the surface, giving another indication of the hiddenness of desire. Elio's parents are perceptive enough to see that Elio is hiding something from them. We find out that even Oliver was also hiding his feelings from Elio. When Elio asks him as to why did he not give him a sign that he liked him earlier, Oliver replies that he did when he massaged his back. The thesis that Oliver is writing is again on hiddenness. At some later point, Marzia (Esther Garrel) asks Elio his reason for reading books as she believes that those who read books hide as to who they really are. Elio asks her if she is also hiding something from him.
The hiddenness is also seen in the short story that Elio's mother Annella reads from the Heptaméron, a collection of tales written in French by Marguerite of Navarre. Most of the stories in Heptaméron deal with love, lust, infidelity, and sex. With Elio's head in her lap, Annella tells him the story of a knight in love with a princess. She narrates, "A handsome young knight is madly in love with a princess. She, too, is in love with him though she seems not to be entirely aware of it. Despite the friendship that blossoms between them, or perhaps, because of that very friendship, the young knight finds himself so humbled and speechless that he is totally unable to bring up the subject of his love. One day, he asks the princess point-blank, is it better to speak or die?" It is easy to observe the parallels between the story of the knight and the princess, and that of Elio and Oliver. Elio is the knight and Oliver is the princess. Elio has strong feelings for Oliver, who, as we later find out, was also desiring Elio from the beginning. The next day, Elio and Oliver are in the pool, and Elio tells him the story of the knight. Later, they ride to the city and stop in front of a World War I memorial, which comprises a statue of a soldier commemorating the people who died in the Battle of Piave. Elio, in an implicit way, goes on to tell Oliver about his feelings for him at the memorial. He says, "You know what things. By now, you of all people should know." He never uses the word love but still manages to convey what he wanted to say to Oliver. I think it is one of the best scenes in the movie that is fabulously shot. Elio and Oliver walk on to the opposite sides of the memorial and meet each other halfway at the other side (as if implying both of them had feelings). After Elio stops speaking, the camera pans to the soldier on the memorial. This is, again, a pointer to Elio being the knight, and this is his is it better to speak or die moment. When his mother was narrating the story, he had told his parents that he would never have the courage to ask such a question in his life, but somehow, he musters the courage to let Oliver know about his feelings. I think that is what Call Me By Your Name was trying to tell us. It is better to speak about your feelings and desires and not try to hide them. We get only one life to live so better speak up. "Remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once."
I have always believed that the cultural props that are seen in films help us understand the motivations of the characters better. In Call Me By Your Name as well, the books that the characters are seen reading, in some way or the other, mirror their own life. As earlier mentioned, Elio was reading Heart of Darkness whose main character is also sexually ambiguous. In another instance, Oliver is seen holding a copy of the novel Armance by Stendhal. The novel makes an appearance in André Aciman's book as well. Armance is the story of Octave who falls in love with his cousin Armance. This book, like the film's theme, deals with ambiguity. The two central characters do not seem to be aware of what he or she feels for the other. In addition, they are constantly misreading each other’s signals. Octave is rendered impotent due to a severe accident. Many commentators have hypothesized that Octave's impotence was only a cover of his homosexuality. The book Armance was inspired by two controversial novels called Olivier (one by Duchess Claire de Duras; second by Hyacinthe Latouche). In fact, Stendhal had originally named his hero Olivier, but he changed it after his publisher advised him to change the name to avoid any rekindling of the controversy related to Olivier. André Aciman has written that Armance is one of his favorite stories. The similarity of not just the names, but also the lives of Octave (Olivier) and Oliver signify the novel's significance in the movie. Moreover, in the film, Oliver is seen holding the book after he spends a night with Elio when he is unsure of how Elio felt and is wondering if he misread Elio. Tommaso Mozzati, in an article on Call Me By Your Name, says, "The hero of the book, Octave, is described by Stendhal as an impotent, from both the point of view of his temper (he is a man without any self-control) and of his sexual impuissance. Therefore, the presence of Armance in the movie can be considered a counterpoint for (sic) the chaste erotic scenes that precede its appearance, throwing a different light on them."
There are quite a few references to the philosopher Heraclitus in the film. Oliver's research work is on Heraclitus and his paradoxes. Oliver reads a passage to Elio from his manuscript, which is actually from a real research paper on Heraclitus. He says, "For the early Greeks, Heidegger contends, this underlying hiddenness is constitutive of the way beings are, not only in relation to themselves but also to other entities generally. In other words, they do not construe hiddenness merely or primarily in terms of entities' relation to human beings." And, then, later, Oliver is seen reading The Cosmic Fragments by Heraclitus. The book is a collection of epigrams and short sayings, each of which talks about some paradoxical event. Elio finds Oliver's book and reads a note in it that says, "The meaning of the river flowing is not that all things are changing so that we cannot encounter them twice but that some things stay the same only by changing." It is a thought-provoking saying which makes complete sense if one thinks about it. The water of the river is constantly flowing, so, one cannot step into the same river twice as the water has changed. If the river stops flowing, it will not be a river. It will become a lake. As with other references in the film, Heraclitus' sayings relate to the story of Elio and Oliver, in the context of the hiddenness of desire and the fluidity of the sexuality. As Oliver says that one cannot step in the same river twice, a person is not the same person that he was a moment ago. He has changed even in that one moment by adding a second to his life. Elio and Oliver might fall in love with other men and women and change in the future, and that is nature of life itself. 
One of the other fascinating scenes in the film is the scene at the bar when Oliver is dancing with Chiara (Victoire Du Bois). Lady Lady Lady from Flashdance (1983) is playing at that place. Elio experiences pangs of jealousy when he sees them together. He does not say anything as he really cannot do anything about it. Unable to control himself, Elio joins Oliver on the dance floor. And, the song changes to Love My Way by The Psychedelic Furs. The lyrics of this lovely song talk about the protagonist taking a new road and following his mind wherever it goes. If we see, its lyrics are entirely befitting to the story of Elio and Oliver as they are also treading a new path for themselves. Oliver has this crazy streak in him when he dances in this song. The script describes this specific sequence as "At the sound of this song, Oliver changes his way of dancing to a more self-obsessed style. A perfect new-wave style." It highlights the impact of the song on Oliver. It is a new wave. The song makes an appearance for the second time near the end when Elio and Oliver go on a trip to spend a few days together. They hear some people playing the same song in the streets. Oliver runs to them and asks a woman to dance with him. Elio looks at the two of them dancing, reminding of the scene that came earlier in the film when he was dancing with Chiara. Perhaps, in a way, it is also a sign of the things to come when Oliver will choose to get married to a woman, while Elio can only look at him. In the film's original script, the song makes a third appearance at the critical point in their last meeting at the train station. While saying goodbye to Elio, Oliver sings a few lines of Love My Way to him. This ascertains the importance the song played in the lives of Elio and Oliver. In the theatrical version of the film, Elio and Oliver spoke nothing but a solemn silence in their final moments; however, the words of the song can aptly describe their apprehensive state of mind at that point.
Love my way, it's a new road,
I follow where my mind goes, so swallow all your tears, my love,
And put on your new face,
You can never win or lose if you don't run the race.
One of the most remarkable things about the film was the temperament of Elio's parents, Dr. Perlman and Annella. Their liberalism is the stuff of dreams that every child would wish his or her parents also had. Elio is not constrained by them in any aspect. He is absolutely free to do whatever he likes. Even being a teenager, Elio smokes in front of his parents and even talks about his sexual escapades with them (like the time he tells his father that he almost had sex with Marzia). It was Mafalda who objected to some of Elio's activities, while his mother had to tell her to let Elio do his own thing. While Elio and Oliver were struggling to understand and hide their feelings for each other, Elio's parents could perceive what was happening to the two of them with clarity. All through the film, they leave subtle hints that they knew about Elio and Oliver. When Annella narrated the story of the knight and the princess to Elio, Dr. Perlman tells him that he could talk to them about anything. At another instance, Dr. Perlman explains to Oliver the desirability of the sculptures, and Oliver looks at him as if he is giving some indication to him. They even invite a gay couple to their house, perhaps, as another sign to Elio that he has nothing to hide from them. Later, in a conversation, Annella tells Elio that Oliver likes him and she sees that Elio wore the Star of David, just like Oliver did. Also, it was her idea to send Elio and Oliver on a trip for a few days. After Oliver leaves, she picks up an inconsolable Elio from the station. She does not say anything because she knew the reason for Elio's grief. Even Oliver says that Elio's parents treated him as their son-in-law. Dr. Perlman confessed to Elio that he also had a similar desire for someone when he was young, perhaps, that is why he understands the emotional turbulence of Elio and wants his son to have what he could not. The film shows other symbols that could object to the relationship between Elio and Oliver, such as religion and politics. At one point, Elio and Oliver visit a lady's house and they see a picture of Il Duce (the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini). However, these symbols are only mentioned in passing without causing any major discomfort to Elio and Oliver. They are completely protected, at least, in the house of the Perlmans. I am pretty sure the night that Elio and Oliver had sex, everyone in the house knew about it.
Not only did Elio's parents knew about them all along, even Marzia observed that Elio had something going on with Oliver. After the dance bar scene, Marzia asks Elio if he is angry with Chiara. He wonders as to why he would be mad at her. Then, she says because of Oliver. She had seen Elio getting restless when Oliver was dancing with Chiara. At some other point, she asks him if he is trying to hide something from her, giving another subtle hint. After a grieving Elio comes back from the station, Marzia goes and talks to him. She tells Elio that she is not mad at him and they will be friends always. She knew that Elio and Oliver had something going on. I really admire Marzia and I think she is an absolutely amazing person who could understand hidden feelings of people with clarity. She tells Elio that she read the book of poems by Antonia Pozzi that he had given her. As with other books in the film, this also mirrors the themes in the film. Antonia Pozzi is regarded as one of the finest poets of Italian. She committed suicide at a young age as her father was against the man she loved. Her poems talk about the longing and the desire for her lover, with whom she could not get together. Luca Guadagnino has earlier produced a short film on the same poet titled Antonia (2015), which was directed by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino.
The film's original script written by James Ivory has quite a few interesting things that did not make it to the film's theatrical version. There is a narrator in the script, but it seems the filmmakers decided to take out his role. In the original script, Oliver is reading a book by the philosopher Lucretius. At the bar, the song that Oliver and Chiara dance on is Paris Latino by Bandolero. However, this song is used in the film in the scene when Oliver and others are playing a volleyball game. There is a mention of a footsie game that Elio and Oliver played many times all through the film while sitting at the table. However, the most interesting passage in the film's original script is the one explaining that the color of Oliver's swimming trunks reflected his mood for that particular day. It reads, "Oliver had three personalities depending on which bathing suit he was wearing. Red: for bold, set in his ways, gruff and ill-tempered snappy, dangerous. Yellow: good-humored, funny, but not without barbs, didn’t give in too easily. He didn’t wear his green bathing suit that often. It meant maybe that he was eager to learn, eager to speak, just eager, sunny." In the movie, Oliver's personality actually correlates to these same descriptions when he wears these colors. He even wears a green one in the film.
Call me by your name, and I’ll call you by mine. The film takes its title from this line spoken by Oliver when he and Elio lie in bed together, after a passionate night of lovemaking, with their bodies entangled in each other. They start calling each other using their own name. They see a better person of their own self in the other. Love makes them want to be the other person. They both are Jews and Elio starts wearing a pendant of the Star of David when he sees that Oliver wears one. This kind of mirrorness is seen in their names as well. They sound reverse of each other. Elio is in Oliver. Their rooms are connected by a bathroom. In the first scene of the film, Elio looks down at Oliver from his room. Oliver is wearing a blue shirt. In one of the later scenes, Elio asks Oliver to give his blue shirt to him before he leaves. And, in their last meeting, Elio wears the same blue shirt of Oliver that he had worn in their very first meeting. In another mirror reversal, this time Oliver looks down at the blue-shirt wearing Elio from the train compartment. In these small gestures, the film displays the purest form of eroticism. Summer might change to winter but Elio and Oliver will always remember the time they spent together.
Watching two people coming to terms with the feeling of love is one of my favorite things in the movies, even though I don't understand a thing about love. In the film, Elio and Oliver go on a bike ride through the small towns of Italy. Elio takes Oliver to a water pond and tells him that it is his spot. "This is my spot. All mine. I come here to read. I can’t begin to tell you the number of books I’ve read here. I come here to escape the known world." He adds that the water in the pond comes from the spring in the mountains of Alpi Orobie. It is at this very spot which Elio calls his place that he gets the courage to touch Oliver and be who he wants to be. They lie down on the grass, simply enjoying the feeling of bliss as if they are in heaven. It is what I call the Tamasha feeling, similar to the one that Ved and Tara experienced when they are near the pond in Corsica, far away from the dil and duniya, and are just happy in the moment. Nothing else matters at that point. Towards the end, Elio and Oliver take a trip together and guess which place do they go to escape the known world? They go to the same Alpi Orobie mountains where the spring originates which sends the water down to the pond which Elio called his place. It is again a splendid touch that the two of them escape to a place that marks the beginning of their story. The calm water of the pond has become the gushing water of the mountains, just like the emotional journey of their love story. All through the while when they are the mountains, they keep on calling each other's name. Mystery of Love plays in the background, which again, talks about the time two lovers were together. Oh, to see without my eyes. The first time that you kissed me. The song also talks about Hephaestion, Alexander's male lover, another reference to homosexuality from the Greek culture. The original video of the song is full of Hellenistic sculptures in line with the central theme of the film. It is these beautiful things that make Call Me By Your Name one of the most profound films I have seen in a long time. 
I could not help but get reminded of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam that had a somewhat similar rudimentary plot. Sameer (Salman Khan) comes to learn music from Pundit Durbar (Vikram Gokhale) and falls in love with his daughter Nandini (Aishwarya Rai). Nandini is asked to vacate her room for Sameer and she is not happy about it. In Call Me By Your Name, Oliver comes to spend a summer to work with a professor and falls in love with the professor's son. He also stays in the professor's house and is given Elio's room. In the movie, the first word that Elio uses for Oliver is the usurper as he, like Nandini, is also forced to move out of his room. There are similar scenes in the two films when the teachers test their students. Pandit Durbar asks Sameer to display his musical talent and Dr. Perlman tests Oliver on his knowledge of philology. Elio, initially, thinks Oliver is arrogant, but Annella tells him that he will start liking him. It is the same that happens with Nandini. Nandini and Elio experience the intoxicating desire of first love, but they end up not getting together with their lovers due to different reasons. They would go on to meet other people but the feeling of first love will always remind them of Sameer and Oliver, respectively. And, call it a case of a cosmic connection that Sameer is also from Italy where Call Me By Your Name is based. 
Anything written on the film would feel incomplete without mentioning the stupendous monologue of Dr. Perlman. He says, "How you live your life is your business, just remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. And before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it. Right now, there's sorrow, pain. Don't kill it and with it the joy you've felt." I wish more people in real life were like him and understood the significance of his thinking. Freedom to live your life is no one's business except yours. As Christopher Morley has also said, "There is only one success, to be able to spend your life in your own way.
1. In one scene, the Perlmans are watching a comedy show by Beppe Grillo, an ex-comedian who turned politician in recent years. In the show, he is seen making fun of Bettino Craxi, the prime minister of Italy.
2. The funny couple who visit the Perlmans talk about Luis Buñuel and his surrealist movie The Phantom of Liberty (1974). 

Other Reading:
All references and links are highlighted in the above text. Additional reading links below:
1. The original script of Call Me By Your NameLink
2. The screenplay of Call Me By Your NameLink
3. On the sanitized intimacy of the film—Link
4. On the deeper meanings in the movie—Link
5. On the language of touch in the movie—Link
6. On the masculinity in the film—Link
7. On the antique fantasies of the film—Link
8. On the musical references in the film—Link

Dialogue of the Day:
"When you least expect it, Nature has cunning ways of finding our weakest spot."
—Dr. Perlman, Call Me By Your Name

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Picture The Home—Songs On Dream Of A House

In Anand Tiwari's Love Per Square Foot, a movie on a couple's tribulations for owning a house in the perpetually space-starved Bombay, there is a song called Aashiyana. The song is a dream sequence that depicts Sanjay (Vicky Kaushal) and Karina (Angira Dhar) setting up their home in an apartment. They are completely at bliss in this song. There is a particular sequence where they see a shot of Mumbai from the night sky, and the lyrics say, "Hon door itne, us zameen se, yun lagey aise. Haan! Jugnuon se, jaltey bhujtey, log ho jaise." They will be so far away from the land that people will look like fireflies. It is like they are sitting in their own heaven and can see everyone from the top.
Hindi movies have often shown people dreaming about their idyllic home using songs. Sometimes, it is a couple that dreams of living together; sometimes, single people think of owning a home. Words and phrases, such as aashiyana, duniya, and chhota sa ghar, routinely make an appearance in such songs.

In Naukari (1954), Rattan Kumar Choudhury (Kishore Kumar) stays with his widowed mother (Achala Sachdev) and sick sister Uma (Noor) in the village. He is waiting for his college results. He dreams of the day when he has a job, and a house. He narrates his dreams to his beloved sister in the song Chhota Sa Ghar Hoga where he talks about having his own house in the future. 
The song Jhilmil Sitaron Ka Aangan Hoga from Jeevan Mrityu (1970) depicts a dream sequence where a couple imagines their life together as a couple. The song opens with Ashok (Dharmendra) making a small house of sand near the sea. His sand house is surrounded by a garden with a rivulet flowing by that has a boat as well. His lover Deepa (Rakhee) walks with a watering can and puts some water on Ashok. He, then, keeps small figurines of a man and a woman representing the two of them inside his sand house. This is their dream house in which both of them will live together as a married couple. The song, then, moves forward where they can be seen living in this dream home and enjoying their marital bliss. 
The struggle of finding a home in the city is also portrayed splendidly in Gharaonda (1977). The film narrates the story of Sudip (Amol Palekar) and Chhaya (Zarina Wahab) who want to get married as soon as they can a house for themselves. They save money to build a corpus for buying a house. They go house hunting looking for a house that is in their budget. Their struggle is portrayed in the song Do Deewane Shahar Mein. The lyrics of the song say, "Do deewaane shahar mein, raat mein ya dopahar mein, aab-o-danaa dhoondhte hain, ek aashiyaanaa dhoondhte hain." Two people in the city search for a home day and night. Gulzar, who wrote the song, uses the words aab-o-danaa (water and grain) and aashiyana (abode) for the young couple looking for a home in the city. After some events, Chhaya is married to someone else. A second version of the song Ek Akela Is Shahar Mein comes up in the second half of the film that is used to depict Sudip's struggles to find a home for himself. Instead of Do Deewane (two people), he now sings Ek Akela (a single person) as he is now alone. While the first song beautifully shows the search for a physical space, the second version is more about the search for an emotional space.
The national award-winning Tapasya (1976) narrated the story of a sacrificial Indu (Rakhee), the eldest child of Prof Chandrakant Sinha (A.K. Hangal), who takes on the responsibility of bringing up her younger siblings. She falls in love with her family doctor Sagar Verma (Parikshit Sahni) who also helped in the treatment of her father. Indu and Sagar want to get married. One day, Sagar drives Indu to meet his mother. During the ride, they dream of their married life and see themselves in the future in the song Do Panchhi Do Tinke. The song is quite similar to Jhilmil Sitaron Ka Aangan Hoga in its portrayal. The lyrics say, "Do panchhi do tinke kaho le ke chale hai kaha. Ye banaayenge ek aashiya." Like two birds that use straws and twigs to make their nest, Indu and Sagar dream of having their own nest some day.
In Man Pasand (1980), Kamli (Tina Munim) sells neem branches in trains. She earns enough to make a living. One night, she is talking to her friend. Her friend asks Kamli the reason for saving all her money. She replies that she is saving it to have her own koli (house) someday. Her friend, who is getting married the next day, tells Kamli as to why is she worrying about a house. Her future husband should take care of it. Kamli replies that she does not need a man for that and she will make her house with her own money. Thereafter, Rehne Ko Ek Ghar Hoga is shown where Kamli goes in a state of trance and imagines herself in a spacious house of her own. She also sings, "Sare mohalle ki Rani banke, chalungi sadkon pe to main to tan kar. Ek hukum pe mere sab jhuk jayenge." She will walk the streets with pride and have people who will obey all her orders. The song's music and lyrics are adapted from Audrey Hepburn's Wouldn't It Be Loverly from My Fair Lady. In Hepburn's version, the singer talks about having a man who takes care of her. "Someone's head restin' on my knee, warm and tender as he can be. Who takes good care of me." While in Man Pasand, the man is replaced by the mother. This entire song sequence is so remarkable in its conception and depiction, especially, in the sense that it acknowledges the property rights of a woman, and that, too, without a man giving her any financial support. Having a song like this in a film of the eighties is definitely special.

The desire for a house is expressed beautifully in another song Logon Ke Ghar Me Rehta Hu from Griha Pravesh (1979). The film is about a married couple Amar (Sanjeev Kumar) and Mansi (Sharmila Tagore). They live as frugally as possible so that they can buy their own flat. The song is written by Gulzar, where the protagonist talks about the houses of his relatives at different places in the city, but he is wondering when will he be able to have his own home. Logo ke ghar me rahta hu, kab apna koi ghar hoga. He stays in someone else's house. When will he have his own home? He adds, "Mauje pahne rahta hu, nange paanv aangan me kab baithunga." He says that he is always wearing socks in others' homes, but he wishes to sit bare feet in the courtyard of his own home. It is a typical Gulzar-esque song where socks are used to depict the wish for a house.
In Ahsaas (1979), Raju (Parvez) is in love with Anu (Dina). They plan to marry each other. Their parents are not in favor of their relationship; however, they secretly get married but continue to live separately. Due to some confusion, Anu thinks Raju is betraying her with some other girl. Raju, then, reminds her of their dream house in the song Sapno Ke Shahar Ham Banayenge Ghar. Sung by Kishore Kumar, the song reminds them of their dream house. Mausam hanse, gulshan hanse, ghar par mere angan hanse. Ro raha dil mera, sapno ke shahar, ham banayenge ghar. Similarly, in Love Story (1981), Bunty (Kumar Gaurav) and Pinky (Vijeta Pandit) fall in love with each other after they run from their respective homes. When they are in hiding, they sing Dekho Maine Dekha Hai Ek Sapna in which they talk about their dream of living together in a house located in a city of flowers surrounded by the mountains. Kitna hasin hai yeh ek sapana, phulo ke shehar me hai ghar apana
A celebrated army officer Ajit Singh (Vinod Khanna) is jailed as he kills the men who sexually assaulted his wife Chanchal (Zeba Bakhtiar) in Muqadma (1996). While in jail, Ajit reminisces about the life with Chanchal in the song Chota Sa Ek Ghar where they talk about the life in their little home. In Mission Kashmir (2000), a terrorist Altaaf (Hrithik Roshan) visits his childhood friend Sufiyana (Preity Zinta). He sees a painting in her house which reminds him of the time they spent together as kids. In the song Socho Ke Jheelon Ka Sheher Ho, Altaaf and Sufiyana think about their idyllic life in the heavenly lands of Kashmir, where they dreamt of having a house over the waters of the lake. Leheron pe apna ek ghar ho. The song is shot in an artificial setting and proves yet again that nothing can match the picturesque beauty of Kashmir.
While the above instances portray the dreams of a house, there have been many songs that depict a couple living in their home together. Some of these include Chhota Sa Ghar Apna from Charitraheen (1974), Humne Ghar Chhoda Hai from Dil (1990), Darwaza Band Karlo from Darr (1993), and Aashiyana from Barfi! (2012).
In a country where millions continue to live in poverty, owning a house is, truly, a dream for many. With growth in the economy, here's hoping that many people get the opportunity to fulfil their dreams so that they can go on to dream about even bigger things.

Other Reading:
1. On Love Per Square FootLink
2. On Jhilmil Sitaron Ka Aangan HogaLink

Dialogue of the Day:
"Mauje pahne rahta hu, nange paanv aangan me kab baithunga."
Griha Pravesh