Lovers eloping to get married is not a modern phenomenon. There are quite a few such instances in India’s mythology too. The most well-known among these is the one where lord Krishna elopes with his lover Rukmini and marries her. There is another such instance involving His sister Subhadra.
It so happened that Arjuna, the biggest follower and cousin of Krishna, visited him at Dwarka. He was in a self-imposed isolated pilgrimage after he unintentionally broke the breach of privacy when one of the Pandava brothers was spending a private time with their common wife Draupadi. Hence, he was dressed as a sage.
During a celebration at the Raivataka mountain in Dwarka, Arjuna’s eyes fall on Subhadra and he gets smitten by her. Arjuna shows her his real avatar of a prince. Slowly, they both fall in love. As she was Krishna’s sister, she was also Arjuna’s cousin. But, as per the tradition back then, maternal cross cousins were allowed to marry.
Krishna and Subhadra’s elder brother Balarama, however, was against her marriage with Arjuna. He wanted to marry her off to someone else. There is one version which says that Balarama wanted Subhadra to marry the evil Kaurava prince Duryodhana.
To tackle the situation, Krishna came up with a solution of Arjuna eloping with Subhadra. After much deliberation, Arjuna agreed.
Arjuna takes away Subhadra in his chariot and gets it driven in full speed. He dodges the Yadava army, who were following Balrama’s orders, and reaches the outskirts of Dwarka. This is when Krishna explains to Balarama and others that Arjuna and Subhadra eloped at his suggestion and that they both deeply love each other.
Balaram finally relents and gives his permission for Arjuna’s marriage with Subhadra. The two are called back to Dwarka and are married off as per Vedic rituals.
This whole incident is known as Subhadra Haran.
It was featured in the bilingual Hindi and Marathi movie Subhadra Haran way back in 1963. It starred Shahu Modak as Krishna and another yesteryear star Jayshree Gadkar as Subhadra. Interestingly, Modak played the role of Krishna in as many as 29 films in his career, which is a record in itself. Similarly, a Hindi and Kannada bilingual movie of the same name was also made on the same story in 1974.
In the recently released Hindi movie Samrat Prithviraj, the marriage of Prithviraj (Akshay Kumar) and his wife Sanyogita (Manushi Chhillar) is portrayed in the same way. The king elopes with her on a horse in front of everyone when she was about to get married to someone else, while dodging the warriors from Sanygoita’s father king Jaichand’s army.