9 Real Love Stories That Broke All Barriers To Love

Suruchi Patwary , 16 Oct 2019

Soha Ali Khan And Kunal Khemu

Throughout our life, we constantly make decisions. Be it subconscious ones like doing everyday chores to heavy, important decisions like choosing a career. While we make these decisions based on our better judgement, when it comes to love, relationships and marriages in India – the choice isn’t as simple. Love is plagued by unreasonable expectations of a society that hasn’t moved past barriers. Which is why, Closeup came up with a heart-touching movement that is closely related to this topic—the #FreeToLove movement. The aim of this movement is to champion all kinds of closeness and build a future where we all have the freedom to love the one we want.

Age, gender, caste, religion and a few other factors play a major role in our society in deciding whether the relationship is ‘conventional’ enough. And couples whose pairing falls outside the lines of what the society defines as ‘appropriate’ often experience demeaning treatment, face oppression and feel less accepted. A survey by Closeup revealed that although most young people yearn for a world where everyone can be free to love the person they want to love, fewer than 3 in 5 believe they have the freedom of attraction.

To support this thoughtful and much-needed movement by Closeup, many well-known celebrities and influencer couples came forward with their own #FreeToLove stories, where they talk about their relationship and the barriers they crossed to finally be together. Some were lucky enough to find support from their friends and family, while some had to face a lot of backlash for loving and being with their soulmate. Nevertheless, they bare it all while talking about their love story in the hopes that their journey inspires others who’re going through the same and also find the courage to stand up for their love.

Scroll down to check them all out. Who knows, maybe you could find a story that resonates with your own!

1. Soha Ali Khan

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I first met Kunal on the sets of Dhoondte Reh Jaaoge but I didn’t have the slightest inkling that we might even be friends one day, forget about being husband and wife. We hardly spoke to each other back then. But, of course, life went on and we met again on the sets of the film 99 and that s when we really forged a connection. I respected him for the self made man that he was and found his stories both entertaining and inspirational. It never mattered that we had different upbringings, religious backgrounds or life experiences – in fact the differences made our connection all the more rich and interesting. It’s only when I came upon @CloseUpIndia’s #FreeToLove campaign that aims at breaking down these barriers did I really start to think about the fact that many people are not able to so freely live and love. The #FreeToLove survey, made me understand how closeted the youth really are when it comes to freely expressing their love for someone. Among other interesting insights, I found out that although 3 out of 4 youths in India have pursued unconventional relationships, yet 1 out of 2 of those youths hid their relationships for fear of discrimination, judgement, and public shame. Aren’t those hard-hitting numbers? If you wish to read more about this #FreeToLove campaign and extend your support, visit their site here: http://freetolove.close-up.com/IN/

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2. Kunal Khemu

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When Soha and I first met she was sitting on set writing an article for Oxford University, her alma mater and I thought to myself, “This is serious stuff. I better think before I start a random conversation with her.” But like with most good things, everything just flowed organically. We started talking and would exchange wildly different stories thanks to our very different upbringing, and ultimately that’s what made getting to know her so interesting. It’s sometimes hard for love to emerge victorious when there are so many barriers like age, caste, gender, religion and so on; a fact that has gotten further highlighted through @CloseUpIndia. Their #FreeToLove movement champions closeness of all kinds by breaking down these societal barriers. Reading through it, I found out that 53% of our youth are afraid of discrimination, judgement or public shame when it comes to being with the one they love. Imagine sacrificing your own happiness for the sake of a societal barrier. Read more about the #FreeToLove movement by visiting the site here: http://freetolove.close-up.com/IN/ and show your support!

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3. Malini Agarwal

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You know, our love story is so magical, I can’t help but thank the universe for making it happen. We both grew up in completely different parts of the world and met each other in Mumbai in 2007 very randomly. Nowshad had a promising career in the US but had left it all to find new adventures just a few months before we bumped into each other. I think the stars aligned perfectly for us to finally meet each other. Although it never really mattered to us that I was a Hindu and 31 and he was a Muslim and 27, it raised quite a few eyebrows around us. And if that wasn’t enough, he had to leave for Harvard Business School for 2 years. We survived through the long-distance and finally got to put a ring on it in February 2012. Not just that, we also launched a company together in the very next month. We’ve been through all the highs and lows, and if you ask me, I wouldn’t have it any other way! He’s the best decision I’ve ever made. @nrizwanu 🥰 In India we face, many prejudices when it comes to choosing a partner from a different caste, religion or gender and @closeupIndia’s latest #FreeToLove movement addresses all such barriers to champion closeness of all kinds. The movement highlights the fact that although 9 out of 10 people wish for a world with the freedom to love whoever you want, fewer than 3 out of 5 people actually believe we have that freedom. Read more about the movement on http://freetolove.close-up.com/IN/ and support @closeupindia in building a future where everyone is #FreeToLove

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4. Nowshad Rizwanullah

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You know how people call their loved ones ‘life partners’? @maliniagarwal made me truly understand and experience that because she’s my partner in everything I do. From braving through two years of long-distance while we were just seven months into our relationship to starting a company together after just a month of getting married, we’ve always been there for each other in every way. But we’ve had our fair share of hurdles along the journey. Me being a Muslim and 3 years younger to her was an unimportant detail for us, but a seemingly insurmountable gulf according to everyone else. And when I got accepted into Harvard Business School, we’d hear people say, “No one survives a 2-year long-distance relationship”, “You’re both just wasting your time, it was never meant to be”. But only true love knows the truth. I moved back to Mumbai for her 2 years later and the magic has only grown stronger ever since In India we face, many prejudices when it comes to choosing a partner from a different caste, religion or gender and @closeupIndia’s #FreeToLove movement addresses all such barriers to champion closeness of all kinds. The movement highlights the fact that although 9 out of 10 people wish for a world with the freedom to love whoever you want, fewer than 3 out of 5 people actually believe we have that freedom. Read more about the movement on http://freetolove.close-up.com/IN/ and support @closeupindia in building a future where everyone is #FreeToLove!

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5. Geeta Phogat

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Although I met Pawan for the first time in 2012, our stars really aligned in 2016, when we were getting rehabilitated in Mumbai after our surgeries. We both had similar knee injuries and were visiting the same doctor, when we met at a wrestling tournament. We fell in love and our relationship blossomed soon after. But when we tried to tell our families that we wanted to be together and tie the knot, they had a concern with the fact that I was older to him and also that they didn’t want us to get married that early and focus on our careers instead. It took time for us to convince our families to bless our union, but thank god we never backed down because he’s such an important part of my life and my heart. When I came across @Closeupindia’s #FreeToLove movement that aims to champion closeness of all kinds and build a future where we all have the freedom to love the one we want, it resonated with me. A study by @Closeupindia also revealed that 9 out of 10 people believe that we should live in a world that’s #FreeToLove whoever they choose. I, too, strongly believe in having the freedom to love, fighting the good fight and standing up for love. Because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be writing my love story with a smile on my face knowing I made the right decision. And that’s why I ask you all to support the movement by visiting @Closeupindia’s website on http://freetolove.close-up.com/IN/

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6. Saina Nehwal

7. Parupalli Kashyap

8. Sucheta Sharma James

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Even though it’s 2019, inter-faith marriages are still so rare that when Harrison and I fell in love, I knew that many people wouldn’t be ready for it. I’m still the only Punjabi kudi in my family to have married a Catholic! Even in this age and time, love beyond religion is many a times frowned upon. But we knew that this was what we wanted and just followed our hearts and when we finally got married, it was a first, of course, but nonetheless, such a happy and joyous wedding. And so, when I saw @Closeupindia’s #FreeToLove campaign that aims at championing closeness of all kinds and building a future where we’re all free to spend our lives with anyone we want, I could resonate with it deeply. Harrison came in my life as a blessing from God. I was a workaholic for whom making money was the only focus of the time. And that kind of constant pressure and fear steals all kinds of happiness from you. I, a socially awkward, introverted, under-confident girl who had no friends whatsoever and no time for love, met a guy who made me realise my worth, taught me how to laugh over silly things, live life to the fullest and not simply exist. Imagine if I let a small societal barrier like religion get in the way of that? I’m so glad Harrison and I chose each other, despite the barriers. So many people don’t get to spend their lives with the one they love, even today, just because of barriers like age, religion, caste, gender. A research by @Closeupindia revealed that 3 out of 5 people don’t feel like they are #FreeToLove who they want to. I hope this stops because what’s life without true love? If you too feel the same way about having the right and freedom to love the one you want, join @Closeupindia’s movement #FreeToLove to extend your support by visiting their website http://freetolove.close-up.com/IN/ ♥️♥️♥️

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9. Harrison James

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Whoever knows Sucheta personally will agree with me that she is someone you instantly like. Well, I think I felt that a bit more intensely and it wasn’t long after I met her at a fashion show that I was madly in love with her. She comes from a Punjabi family, where no one had married a Catholic before. For some people, our love was unusual and somewhat hard to accept. But then, I thought to myself, how many times do you feel this way in a lifetime? How many times do you find a soulmate? I couldn’t risk losing her for anything. And so, we finally got married. Recently, I came across @Closeupindia’s movement that aims at championing all kinds of closeness, building a future where everyone is #FreeToLove. The movement also shed light on the fact that societal barriers like age, caste, religion, and gender have made 53% of Indian youth feel afraid of judgement when it comes to love. To me, that’s heartbreaking because my love for Sucheta has only grown and I wish that nothing stands in the way for anyone who finds such love. We have a mini us now, our wonderful baby boy. Every time I look at both of them, my heart knows I must have done something right to be here with them! Society will always pull us back. We must do things that make us feel happy. I urge everyone to support #FreeToLove movement by visiting @Closeupindia’s website on http://freetolove.close-up.com/IN/, because there is nothing better to stand up for! @closeupindia ♥️♥️♥️

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Love is love and acceptance matters! We build the society around us, so why not stand up for what we believe in and make the world a better place? If you too have gone/are going through such barriers and wish to know more about the campaign, you can visit their website here and extend your support!

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