Taking Hum Aapke Hain Koun . . . ! as an example, this article asks whether models that were developed for the analysis of narrative forms and their intended emotional effects in Hollywood cinema can be regarded as universal, and to what extent they may be reasonably applied to commercial Hindi films. The often voiced reproach that Hindi cinema lacks realism, usually accompanied by a critique of the excessive use of emotional cues, arises in part from the fact that scholars tend to view the narrative forms of Western mainstream cinema as the norm from which Hindi cinema deviates. By contrast, this article argues that we need to search for a proper understanding of a cinema whose films follow different rules. In so doing, this article also contributes to the debate on how cognitive models of film reception may be expanded to include culturalist elements of explanation.