Qarib Qarib Single – Refreshing and realistic

The name of the movie is Qarib Qarib Singlle. I thought it was Qarib Qarib Single Single. I enjoyed the movie in the first half thoroughly. Few good laughs. In the second half, I felt the movie lost its plot. Nonetheless, it was better than most Bollywood movies.

Yogi and Jaya meet through a dating website. Jaya is a 35-year-old widow. Yogi must be older. What is the romantic life like for a single woman in her mid-30’s in India? What is dating like through these mediums?

In a pro- nepotism industry where most love stories revolve around good-looking college students who magically fall in love over a series of songs shot across foreign locations, a realistic romantic plot revolving average people, in mid-30’s is a breath of fresh air. I will overlook all other parts of the movie which I could not relate to (like how come Yogi was rich!)

Here is what worked for me:

  • Jaya’s single life

The casting song captures Jaya’s lonely, uneventful, painfully boring life brilliantly. The highlights of her day are her skype chats with her brother. Doing well in her career, confident at work and hesitant about relationships. She spends time outside of work babysitting her friends’ kid, cats and paying for their shopping too. Her friends seem to be taking advantage of her.

I remember an episode of Sex and the city if which one of Carrie’s married friend with kids had shamed her for buying very expensive shoes. Her friend told her that she has a very lavish lifestyle, something which was a luxury for her – a woman with a family. Carrie counted how much money she has spent on her and her family so far – Wedding gifts, children’s birthday gifts etc. Story of all financially comfortable, single women. Little (big) things we buy for our friends and their kids are always measured against our “lack of real responsibilities” in life. I had written an article on this but never published it. I do not wish to get boycotted by all my married friends! 🙂

  • No efforts towards relationships

Jaya seems to have accepted her single status. She does not seem to be doing anything about meeting people until one of her friends reminds her that she might “regain her virginity”. This phase also comes in the lives of single women. Where they give up on men completely!

  • Dating sites

Jaya is hesitant to put her picture on the site. The moment her profile becomes active, she starts receiving all kinds on creepy messages.  It reinforces her belief that probably she should not have done anything! Something that has probably happened to all of us!

  • First meeting between Yogi and Jaya

Yogi looks extremely objectionable the first time Jaya sees him. It reminds me of the movie, ‘Life in a metro’, in which Konkana’ s character meets Irrfan’s character for the first time. She rejects him because he stares at her chest (something he later tries to justify to her)! In both these movies, Irrfan Khan looked weird to the women, and the audience the first time. However, as the story progresses the women saw the better side of him. Does that happen in real life too? Someone who we meet through a dating / matrimonial site is given second chances? What would happen if instead of being judgmental we would give them a chance?

  • The ex- factor

Both Yogi and Jaya seem hung on their exes. However, they don’t realize this about themselves, as much as they realize about each other. This for me is the number one biggest turn-off in a man!! A deal breaker!

  • Ex-lover turns into Mamaji

Yogi lives under the misconception that his exes are destroyed because of the break-up! He meets one of his exes, who is now happily married with her family. She introduces him to his children as “mamaji”. Yogi explains this happens in small-towns.

I know this is true. Non-lovers were put into “rakhi brother” categories, before the “friend-zone” was invented!

  • Good acting and zero songs!

Irrfan is perfect. We know that already. But I had never seen Parvathi before. She was very good too. Reminded me of another actress, Madhu from Roja. Nice to see a character of a hindi film heroine who was just being herself. Not young, not wearing skimpy clothes and not dancing to vulgar lyrics, not even in a dream sequence. This itself is an achievement!

Go for it! Better than most movies we spend our money on.

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Hrithik Breaks His Dignified Silence on Kangana

Hrithik Roshan recently tweeted his response to the controversy with Kangana. You could read it here.

It was so well-written. It is difficult to find anything wrong with it. It was so dignified, graceful and respectful.

I do not know Hrithik or Kangana personally so it would be stupid of me to say who is right or wrong in this.   I also do not plan to be Sherlock Holmes and refute each and every statement made by Hrithik with evidence available on the public domain, like KRK did recently against Kangana.

Had I seen Kangana’s interview on ‘Aap ki Adalat’ or read this tweet of Hrithik’s few years back, my views would have been very different.  I had not met so many people in life. I had not seen as much as I have seen now. I was far behind in the dating scene myself and had had far less interactions with the opposite gender.

I request you to read the following keeping Hrithik Kangana aside. It is NOT a reflection on them. I will come back to them.

When I was growing up, I thought that men do not hide relationships. Women do. Men are considered studs when they are with multiple women. They take pride in it. It boosts their ego. However, women are called names for doing the same. Women are also expected to be more careful, because they have so much more at stake in relationships, physically and emotionally.

At the risk of generalizing, men sometimes get into relationships with women they have no intention of marrying. Women more often than not get attached in relationships. These relationships have to end because one person had no intention of anything ‘serious’ and he knew this from the beginning.  How do such relationships end?  Is it possible to end it amicably? Or would it leave one person bitter, usually the one dumped?

I have seen that men are also very particular about their reputation. They would not want their mothers, parents, sisters etc. to know that they are “sleeping around”. They can be quite secretive when it comes to the girls they are dating, who they are not serious about. They would lie. They would deny. Are they trying to protect the woman? Are they trying to protect themselves? Nobody wants to be the bad guy who hurt and betrayed a woman!

Ending a relationship involves a lot of drama. You have to deal with someone’s emotions, allegations, take the blame, guilt. Denying the relationship on the other hand is very convenient. Defenses such as ‘I never promised to marry you, I never lied” are strategically applied. “Ghosting” is a term very commonly used in the western dating cultures where a person ends a personal relationship with someone abruptly, without offering any explanation and withdrawing all forms of communication.

Men fall in love with their eyes. Women fall in love with ears. Such a cliché! Yes. Some men know how to say all the right things.

I have met men who consider themselves very “ethical”. They claim they have immense “respect for women”.

What he says:

A married man with a child told me that he has had multiple affairs. He said there is nothing wrong with it, as he treats his wife very well. He has never bitched about her to other women. He never projects that he is in an unhappy marriage and therefore needs support. He is honest that he wants to have a good time, and if the woman “consents” then why not! I asked him if it is okay if his wife does the same. He said sure, he is liberal.

Reality:

He does not tell women with whom he has had extra marital affairs that he is married! His wife has no idea what he does! When she does not know, where is the question of being okay with it, or doing the same herself!

What he says:

 Another guy who is a player dates a lot of women. He says that he treats the women very nicely, and has never done anything without their “consent”. He said that he would love to be friends with them even after things end. But it is women who are complicated and don’t like to stay in touch with their exes.

Reality:

He starts dating other women while he is still with someone! By the time the woman realizes this, she is already an ex, without a choice! He tells her that he could still be friends, if she would stop behaving like a needy psycho! How generous of him!

Psycho, clingy, crazy, needy are terms used for women who are attached to a man who no longer wants to be with them.  The guys in the above example consider themselves good and respectful of women because of one reason: They have never violated a woman’s consent. In a country where rape and domestic violence is so high, it is a virtue when a man does not force himself upon a woman, or abuses her.

But if you ask the women they have been with, would they also say they are “good”?

Average, middle-class, single, non-celebrity men try to protect their reputation.  Those with money, power, access to the best lawyers, wife, ex-wife, children can go to even greater extents.

Words can be beautiful. But the actions have to match the words. I would like to say this to all the women who are dating – Do not just fall for the words. See that the actions should match up as well.

Now coming back to Hrithik Roshan,  where is the “dignified silence”?

  • Making a statement, “Ther r more chances of me having had an affair with d Pope dan any of d (Im sure wonderful women d media hs ben naming. Thanks but no thanks!”
  • Sending a legal notice to Kangana for calling him a “silly ex”!
  • Making a statement that “She suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome!” Was she in love with an imposter, or did she imagine it because she is mentally ill? Pick one!!
  • Revealing personal emails?

Does Hrithik have the right to do the above in his defense? Sure. But how is doing the above “silence” or “dignified” as he claims? I also have some other questions:

  • Kangana works with many people (and we know movie starts shoot 24’7), producers, directors, co-stars, teams. Nobody could ever figure out all this while that she is so crazy?
  • Wouldn’t a sensible person block unsolicited emails or would wait for the spammer to send 3000 emails?
  • An actress who has received three national awards would do something like this for publicity?

I am not supporting Kangana because she is a woman. I do not support having an affair with a married man either. I support her because what she has been saying makes sense to me.  I like her brutal honesty and lack of tact.  People who oppose her from the industry have little credibility. Like a certain older man whose son has been responsible for a young  woman’s alleged suicide and whose wife supports her cheating husband, and even worse son unconditionally. Or another young man and his father who allege that she is a “witch” and performs black magic!!

Hrithik’s tweets were beautiful. Politically correct. Kangana’s words;

“Mere birthday party pe floor par lot lot kar kyun naachta tha woh?”

Such words cannot be planned, rehearsed and made up!!!

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She Deserved it!

I think like me most of you knew even before Anamika Majumdar started playing Kaun Banega Crorepati, that she is the contestant who would be winning Rs 1 crore, thanks to news and previews of the episode. Anamika Majumdar was the first contestant of this season to win Rs 1 crore. She is a homemaker from Jamshedpur who runs an NGO called ‘Faith in India’ which uplifts children and women through arts and social awareness. It was not clear to me whether she educates or employs them, but it seemed like she gives them a direction in life by engaging the children in dance, and the women in bhajans while teaching them about personal hygiene. I will update this article once I find out more about her NGO.

I have been writing a lot on KBC episodes lately. People who come on this show are ordinary people like you and me and they reflect societal attitudes. I also feel guilty because these are not celebrities and they are not putting themselves out there to be judged. Therefore, I do not want to make this article about attacking her husband. But here is what happened:

Mr. Bachchan asked Ms. Majumdar’s husband how he feels about her NGO work. He said that it is okay as long as she is able to manage her household work. He added that if he comes home, and she is not there then it may not be so great. Mr. Bachchan asked Ms. Majumdar something like who needs her more, her own kids or the NGO kids. It was a strange thing to ask, and I felt that his only intention was to get the response from her, that she manages both well.

Would a male contestant ever be questioned on how he spends his time and justify how much of it is worth spending on other than his family?

Then there was an audio visual where the lady went on to explain how she finishes all her work of home, and then only she goes to the NGO. She added that initially the kids may not have been used to not having her own around but they soon understood that their needs are being taken care of. Her mother who by the way was very intelligent herself, and answered one of the ‘jodidar’ lifeline questions correctly, supported her daughter.

Ms. Majumdar was beautiful. She had such a sweet voice. She knew the answers. She had great general knowledge. She was so smart that even when she did not know the answer for sure, she could make an educative guess through the process of elimination. She was confident. She was kind-hearted. She cares about children and women who are not her own, and she wants to do something for them. I could not stop admiring her.

I know a lot of women like Ms. Majumdar. They are almost perfect. But forget about being admired, they are made to feel undervalued. They are made to feel guilty and worthless. Often, by a person who has vowed to support them for life.

She said on the show that at one point she had felt hopeless in life, and would speak to a tree for guidance. I do not know this couple personally so I would not like to blow all of this out of proportion and impose my assumptions.

Keeping them aside, I would like to say something to the women reading this:

You are much more than what you may be given credit for. Don’t let anyone define your self-worth. Do what gives you happiness. People will always be unhappy no matter what you do. Might as well do what makes you happy.

And to all men, please value your wife. She is probably doing the best she can. A little empathy and support from you could you make all the difference.

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The Real Men

Friday night I had gone to a Durga Puja pandal. Yesterday I went for dandiya. Today is a relaxed day at home, so I thought of catching up on the ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ episode that I had missed.

All the guests who are invited to play for the ‘Nayi Chaah Nayi Raah’ segment are fascinating. One guest I remember was from Patna who conducts IIT coaching free of cost for children who cannot afford tuitions.  His mother even cooks for those children. In this one lifetime, some people manage to find something so meaningful and selfless, and then there are others for whom there is no end to greed.

Friday’s guest contestant was Mumbai-based lawyer Afroz Shah, who has been honoured by the United Nations, for his environmental initiative of leading the clean-up of Mumbai’s Versova Beach. The next visuals were of Afroz and his volunteers removing the garbage from the beach with their hands, wearing gloves. On the show, he said that the garbage gets buried under the sand, and it requires a lot of strength for them to pull it out. Would I be able to do that? Who knows what kind of garbage would come out! In a country where people don’t even bother cleaning up after their own garbage, and civic sense is uncommon, this was an unusual sight.

I was especially impressed by this gentleman, and this episode made me very happy. Few things I saw touched me. This is an exceptional human being, and the qualities he exhibited show what being a good man really means. There are some stereotypes of being “masculine” which I feel are absolute rubbish and damaging for men. The false sense of “masculinity” has ruined many lives – including men who are expected to conform to them, and women who have to live with such men:

Men were born to be dirty. Cleaning is a woman’s job!

Here is a man who has been honoured by the United Stations for ……….. Cleaning! Cleanliness and hygiene has nothing to do with genders! It is a personality trait!

Men should not cry!

Another rubbish! Men should not make others cry. Afroz got emotional when his mother spoke about him on the show.

Men should not be emotional!

  • Afroz said that he is very attached to all his volunteers! I thought it was such a sweet thing to say!
  1. Men should not be hugging each other! That’s a girly thing!
  2. When Mr. Bachchan gave Afroz a key to a tractor and an excavator, he was overwhelmed. He asked Mr. Bachchan for a hug! 

Yes, these are the real men. The good men. Who care about the society. Who care about other people. Who are making a difference. They should be the role model for young boys. It is probably too late for old boys to learn but I will take a shot anyway. Being emotionally distant, saying ‘boys will be boys’, and not showing emotions are not “macho” qualities. Being sensitive, kind and expressive is. Integrity and goodness will always be the most endearing virtues in a man!

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Simran: Kangana Impresses Yet Again

I know the movie has just released. So, I will not give a synopsis and ruin it.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Simran. The script may be “flawed” according to some elite reviewers but then again it is based on a true story. Yes. Truth is stranger than fiction.

What worked for me?

  1. Female protagonist. 30-year-old divorced woman. She cleans hotels for a living. She is not rich and does not wear expensive dresses. Her make-up, and clothes match her character. There is no hero. There is a “love interest”, who she is not really interested in. She is quite okay rather content with her single status.

2. No unnecessary songs. And no, the heroine does not transform to look gorgeous in the songs. Her look in the songs is as real and natural as in the rest of the movie.

3. In one of the scenes, Praful (Kangana)’s grandmother speaks to her (Praful’s) love interest who admits that he has been heart-broken before. She says that it does not matter if the relationship is the first. What matters is that it should be the last. Bollywood is finally getting over the “pehla pyaar, pehla nasha, pehla khumar”, becoming more practical and mature.

4. Praful asks her arranged marriage guy – What if she has some character flaws? He responds that he is a very progressive man. He wants his wife to be loyal to him after marriage but it does not matter to him if she has had previous or current (?) boyfriends. Praful tells him that is not what she means by character flaws! “Ladko ko patana to art hai!” By character flaws she means what if she is into gambling, or stealing!

A 30 plus man telling a 30-year-old woman that he is progressive because he does not have a problem with her having prior relationships!! That too in the context of “character”! The woman correcting him and showing him his place. Thank you Bollywood!

How many of us have met such “progressive” men?

The song ‘Single Rehne De’ is already being considered an anthem for single women.

Hafte mein chaar bekaar

Aise ristey lekar aate ho

Jaise daily mall mein

Window shopping karne jaate ho

Phir laakhon mein ek aisa sample dhoondh ke laaoge

Aur bina meri marzi us’se shaadi bhi karvaoge…

Can single women relate?

 

 

 

 

 

Shubh Mangal Savdhan – A good Start But Not Impressive

Finally I got a chance to watch Shubh Mangal Savdhan.

I was disappointed! If you have seen the trailer of the of movie, you know what the movie is about. When I watched the movie, I felt that it was nothing beyond its trailer. Bhumi’s last movie – Toilet Ek Prem Katha, and Ayushman’s last movie Bareily ki Barfi had raised the expectations. And ofcourse we cannot forget that their first movie together, Dum Laga ke Haisa was surprisingly refreshing.

But since this movie was an attempt on something different and bold, few parts deserve appreciation:

    • Sugandha always wanted a love story but the arranged marriage proposal ruined the opportunity for her. Still, she tries to create romance before her wedding. Without giving too many spoilers, let us just say that she does not hesitate in making a move.
  • Seema Bhargava has mastered the role of a worrying yet modern, middle-class mother of a grown-up daughter. I loved her role in Bareily ki Barfi also. (I enjoyed watching that movie but could not find anything in it to write about).
  • There was no non-sense about the girl’s “izzat”. Her father was more than happy to call off the wedding unless the boy resolves his “gents problem”. He genuinely cared about his daughter’s happiness.
  • Towards the end, Mudit gives a speech on patriarchy. “Mard woh nahi hai jisko dard nahi hota, mard woh hai jo dard nahi deta.” Patriarchy ruins men as much as it ruins women.
  • In a guest appearance, Jimmy Shergil tells Mudit that if the girl he is running after refuses him, he should simply come back. He better not be the “acid attack” types. First Mr. Bachchan. Now Jimmy Sherfill. Bollywood which has loved stalking, and ‘Ladki ki naa mein haan hai’ is finally spreading the message, ‘No means no’.

In this movie, Mudit was a sweet guy. He never got abusive with Sugandha, in an attempt to prove his “masculinity”. He defined masculinity as being good to your female partner. Sugandha is supportive of him too.

In reality does this happen?

Maybe not. But this is a movie. And it is trying to give a positive message. I won’t complain.

 

 

Kangana Ranaut on Aap ki Adalat- Refreshingly Original And Honest

I have been a fan of Kangana Ranaut. Not after Fashion. Or Queen. Or Tanu weds Manu 2. I have been a fan of her since I saw her in Gangster, when I was in college. Her acting was unbelievable for a first movie. People would say, ‘What! She is a nobody!’

Her beauty was unconventional. So was her story. A nobody from Himachal Pradesh. Very beautiful. Very talented. But she could not speak English. She was not a star kid. Nothing unusual about that. There are examples of non-star kids who have done well in Bollywood. The unusual part was that she did not care to be in the good books of the star kids and their parents!

Today, after watching her in ‘Aap ki adalat’ with Rajat Sharma, I am more in awe of her than ever. There are parts of interview that I just loved:

1. Nepotism

All famous and non-famous people have shared their views on her remark in Koffee with Karan that Karan Johar is “the flagbearer of nepotism”. People said that so many non-star kids have also done well. Sure! Ultimately talent matters. But do we really believe that people who are not from the filmy background get equal opportunities as the star kids? Star kids get a lavish launch with the best directors. They have friends and contacts from the industry. Even if their movies flop, they can always get re-launched with a home production. They are from the industry. Yes, there may be more expectations from them, more comparisons with their successful parents, and more pressure. But does that compare to the struggle of a 17-year-old girl who leaves her home in Himachal Pradesh with no connections in Bollywood? Someone who makes through an audition only because of talent, while supporting herself in an expensive city like Mumbai? Are star kids really on the same level as the millions of nobodies who go to Mumbai every day to try their luck? At the least they are financially secure, and have their parents to offer them guidance and second chances.

2. Her stand on fairness creams and item numbers

She does not endorse fairness products. She does not act in the raunchy item numbers that objectify women. It is remarkable for a country where even men advertise for fairness creams and do not care about its impact on society.

3. Controversy with Hrithik Roshan

At some point in the show Kangana said that Hrithik promised to marry her, but did not. Because of him, she ended up not marrying somebody else either who was willing. Now she is 30 and still single! Even celebrities think like this? I thought this was a very middle class feeling.

She said a lot on the show about the controversy involving Hrithik Roshan. I do not want to comment on it. Relationships are complicated even for ordinary, middle class people. It would be beyond complicated when famous people are involved, where the man is married / getting divorced, there is a legal notice with emails accusing the girl of being a psycho, and the whole world having an opinion on it.

But, assuming she was saying the truth, the letters she had written to her lover at that point were released in the public domain. She was threatened that her private pictures and videos would be released as well. I don’t know in what context such an invasion of privacy can be justified. She had filed a complaint in the Women’s Commission who also did not bother because the other party was more powerful. If a successful, rich, famous woman also does not get help in such situations, I don’t want to imagine the plight of the common woman.

Kangana said that she loved Hrithik at that point of time. He had initially told her he would never marry her, because he was already married then. But after his divorce, he did consider it.

I do not understand why so many women date married men. It is not good for the man’s marriage. It may never turn into a marriage for the women either. It may happen for celebrities because they have a lot of money. But ordinary men do not prefer to divorce their wives, leave their children, pay alimony and child support to their ex-wives and marry the woman they were dating with no serious intentions. They let the affair go on till the time that the woman is not demanding commitment. When she does, things go wrong. Yes, some may decide to end their marriage. But it is really the best choice to make as a woman when it results in breaking a family? Because love just happens? Great! If you believe in love, then there is hope. Go make it happen with a single man. (Of course I am not blaming the woman solely. It is the man who is committing adultery, but since I am writing from a woman’s point of view here).

I would like to believe that Kangana is telling the truth. But it does not matter what I think. We do not know what really happened. I wish people would stop maligning her by calling her “drama-queen” “cheap”, “attention hungry” “crazy” etc. Let us give the benefit of doubt to both of them!

How come people are so easily accusing her of lying for publicity? Do they know her personally? Because she is a woman? Because she is not part of the “cream” of Bollywood? Because she is outspoken? Or because she is successful in spite of all this? Famous people probably do not support her because they do not want to mess with the big people she speaks against. Ironically the same people get upset when she talks about Bollywood’s nepotism and favoritism!

Kangana, you are fearless. You speak your mind. It is not easy to speak up against people who run the industry in which you work. But you do it anyway! For every 10 people who like to demean you, there would be one woman like me who looks at you and says, “Wow! Finally somebody who is original, and honest!” You must continue to be yourself for the millions of women like me. Not every woman works in movies. Yet, she must have gone through something similar:

The one who has left her hometown for employment but is on the verge of giving up and packing herself back.

The one who has a job but does not know how to deal with group-ism and sexism at work.

The one who was in a relationship that was later denied by the man.

The one who has been called psycho by ex/current boyfriend because he could not find a better reason to dump her.

For all the women who may not have supportive parents, good relationships, money, great contacts or friends but only their work, and their conviction in themselves to become somebody from a nobody. We may not quite there yet, but we have started our journey.

And we need more women role models like you because we have no reference to deal with these situations.

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Mera Kuchh Samaan

Mera kuch samaan tumhare paas pada hai…

I don’t know what made me want to watch Izaajat now. Maybe because all the songs from the movie are on my pen drive, and I listen to them on my drive to work every day. Or maybe attending Gulzar Sahab’s poetry session at the Poetry Festival recently. After the session, I had looked at some of his books. There was one book that had the lyrics of all his songs. I could just read that book forever.

I knew the story of the movie though, despite not having watched it earlier. I usually do not like knowing anything about a movie before I watch it. But it is hard to not know the story of a classic movie that was made three decades ago. I had even read the story online few years back, probably in the context of ‘mature cinema’. I already knew that Rekha’s character was already remarried, and her husband would show up in the last scene. I also knew that Anuradha Patel’s character would be dead. How? Because every time a motorcycle song scene comes on television, my father says,

“Woh kaun si film thi, jismein heroine ka dupatta gale mein fas jata hai, bike pe?”

And my mother responds for the nth time, “Ijaazat!”

Woh shakh gira do, mera woh sama lauta do

I loved Hindi songs even as a child. My knowledge of old Hindi songs was much better than my peers. One time I was playing Antakshari with a friend. I must be nine, she would be around seven.

“Shuru karo Antakshari lekar Hari ka naam, Ma,”
she emphasized pointing to me.

“Mera kuch samaan”, I started singing, but was interrupted by her laughter.

“This is not a song!” she said.

“It is a famous one! You have not heard!!”

“But how can it start like that?”


“It does! I have seen it too! A lady leaves some of her stuff at a man’s house. So, she is asking him to send it all back!”

“Okay. Funny song! Why can’t she just pick it up herself? Why sing a song?”

“She has a long list of things. That’s why.”

Weren’t those years blissful when that was all these songs meant to us?

Patjhad hai kuchh… hai na

But a few days back, when I started watching the movie late night, I could not watch beyond the song. I was in tears, and had to stop. After a couple of days, I continued from where I left off.

The movie is poetry on screen. I cannot think of any other movie that has handled a love triangle so beautifully. I sympathized with all three of them, though Naseeruddin Shah’s character probably only in the last scene when he looks like a lost, lonely child. All three characters were respectful of each other. Sudha (Rekha) was a self-respecting woman who would not tolerate her husband’s adultery. Maya (Anuradha Patel) was passionate, independent and impulsive. She never really got over Mahendar (Naseeruddeen Shah).

Ek sau solah chand ki ratein, ek tumhare kandhe kaa til

No amount of sex scenes in our contemporary movies can show love and passion the way this movie did without showing anything. It made me cringe all the more at the current movies, which do not put any thought into the characters. In Ijaazat, it is very difficult to blame any of the characters. They were all so well defined and developed. I felt for all of them.

The songs are absolutely mesmerizing. Katra katra, Chhoti si kahani se, Khali haath sham aayi hai, are all awesome though Mera kuch samaan is arguably the best.

Mera woh sama lauta do

Ultimately that is what life comes down to. Time passes. Relationships end. The only thing that is left is memories. Cruel, stubborn memories that are like a disease that refuses to go. I don’t know how a haunting song like this can bring pain and comfort at the same time. But it does.

It is magic.

Toilet Ek Prem Katha – Don’t expect women to “adjust” to crap!

Watched ‘Toilet – Ek Prem Katha’ yesterday. In the interval, I told my mother,

“They should have ended it here! Very effective message!”

Story so far:

Not so educated boy meets brilliant girl. Gets attracted because she is interesting. Marries her but then expects her to adjust for the most disgusting reasons. Why couldn’t he just marry a like-minded woman (read no mind woman). What is this need to marry a smart, progressive woman and then expect her to transform to a couple of centuries back? She leaves him. Great story!

“How can they end it here!”
Mother said. “He should be given a chance to improve things!’

So there it was. In the second half of the movie, our lover boy tries to convince his father and society and does everything possible to educate people on the issue, and ofcourse get his wife back.

Here are things that worked very well for me:

1. Yes, the issue was sanitation. But there was more. It was about changing the mentality of society. Understanding that the culture card is used for the most convenient, selfish and hypocritical reasons. “It is not about shauch, but soch!”

2. Women have accepted patriarchy. They do not speak up. They are themselves responsible for their state.

3. Jaya (Bhumi) says that she has lived a certain way all her life. Why should she change now after marriage? Don’t expect women to “adjust” especially to crap! (Pun intended)!

4. In one of the scenes, Akshay Kumar says (forgot his character’s name!) that if they do not build a toilet in their homes, no woman would survive in their families. All men would remain unmarried. Great message. I am glad that this was the message highlighted. It was a breath of fresh air for a society that always talks about women remaining unmarried if they don’t do this, do that.

5. Best point of the movie – We must first acknowledge that there is a problem! Change, reform is all secondary. We are so complacent, blissfully living in filth in our environment, and our minds.

6. For all those upset that this is a propaganda movie – Yes, a certain government had initiated the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. It is one of the best things that happened to India. Why are we complaining if the movie is giving credit to them for their work?

And lastly, women one advice on a lighter note:

Before you marry a man, please make sure you go check out his house.

Lipstick Under My Burkha – Just Let The Women Be!

I finally watched the “lady oriented” movie, ‘Lipstick under my Burkha’. For those of you who do not know, a copy of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) letter to the film’s producer Prakash Jha had stated as follows:

“The story is lady oriented, their fantasy about life. There are continuous sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused.”

Needless to say, there was an outrage. How can a movie be refused for being “lady oriented”, when movies such as Grand Masti, Kya Supercool hain hum and other rubbish that is male oriented and objectifies women is normalized?

I had shared an article on this sometime in February. The response was mixed. One gentleman has directed a question at me:

“Tanvi Sinha, would you show porn to your children, if not then how can you support a movie like this?”

I may not show porn to my future children.  But that does not mean that they would not watch it themselves eventually. Speaking of children…

Recently, I was trying to watch a movie on Netflix with my sister, 9 year old niece and mother. Father was also around in the living room, but busy on his laptop. I checked the parent guide for a particular Hollywood movie, and confirmed that it did not have any nudity.

The movie started. A woman took a home pregnancy test. She told her boyfriend she was pregnant. Ten minutes into the movie, my mother felt uncomfortable. This was Netflix, uncensored. Who knows what would come next? I was strategically reminded that ‘Dhishoom’ was coming on Star Gold.

I complied and disconnected Netflix. We started watching safe Bollywood. A pretty girl appears in a bikini. Varun Dhawan’ character is lusting at her, trying hard to look at her face while admiring her breasts.  There are some cheap jokes. There is a song “Janeeman AAh, Gale lag jaah” with some weird moves.

Everybody is comfortable now.  Good old Star Gold.  We are assured that there would be no nudity. We are watching what we have watched for years and normalized. Objectification of women, women fantasized from the man’s point of view, women not having any mind of their own, cheap jokes with double  entendre. Yes, all this is acceptable to show our children.

Coming back to the A rated, lady oriented movie – I completely enjoyed watching it. The script was crisp. The performances were outstanding.  Here is what worked for me:

  1. Ratna Pathak as Buaji is awesome. In an effective scene, a woman talks about looking for a bride for an old, widowed man. “35-40 saal ki ladki bhi chalegi!” Men obviously have needs. They can remarry at any age, to any age. But how can a 55-year-old women possibly have any desires?

2. The youngest female character in the movie, leaves home in a burkha only to change to jeans, in college with bright red lipstick. How many women do we know who did that in college? I even know older women living with parents who leave their homes completely covered , and end up changing into short clothes at pubs / friends places.

3. Konakana Sen’s character gets raped every night. Her husband is abusive, chauvinistic and a philanderer who is least bothered about her health. He has never heard of foreplay and does not believe in protected sex. However, she catches him romancing another woman. Seems he does know how to make a woman feel good! Just that the wife is his property, someone who does not deserve that affection.

4. The fourth character was the one I could not relate to at all. She runs a beauty parlour, and plans to start a business with her photographer boyfriend while being engaged to a stable, nice and boring arranged marriage guy. I did not like her character, and her scenes in the movie.

Now, coming back to the things that people have raised objections to:

  • Ample smoking scenes including the one at the end.
  • A confused woman cheating on her fiancé with her boyfriend
  • Some graphic scenes that may not be the most tasteful
  • Audio pornography?

Every time a movie like this is made, people attack feminism. Women empowerment is not about having sex, smoking, and getting pregnant before marriage. Okay!! I do not support adultery, cheating and smoking. But who said this movie was about how women should behave? Maybe it was just meant to be watched as a story from a woman’s point of view? Did we not see the warning, Smoking kills?

Another point of criticism was the ending. The women do not really do anything drastic to change their circumstances. They in fact seem to have conformed to patriarchy. In the last scene, they just all get together to express their disappointment about how dreams remain dreams. Reality is so different. But doesn’t it make it more realistic? Do we not do that in our daily life? With all our problems, shattered dreams, and unfulfilled desires, we share our feelings with our girlfriends and get a moment of relief.

What other movies have dealt with women’s emotions and desires, maybe with lesser visuals and more ‘seriousness’?

  • Remember that speech of Tabu’s character in the movie Astitva?
  • Nafisa Ali’s track with Dharmendra in Life in a Metro

What could have been a different ending:

  • Konkana divorcing her husband?
  • Ratna Pathak giving a speech on widows’ happiness like in movies such as Baabul?

Maybe. But no, this was not that kind of a movie. Every movie is differently made. Maybe in two hours, that’s all they wanted to convey.  Maybe it would have been boring if it went on and on with an ‘empowering victory’ for every character. Maybe they just wanted the women to be. The characters were real, and they were doing what they could in their own capacity to empower themselves. There was no conclusion. There was no preaching.  It was meant to be more entertaining, and I did enjoy it. Most people I know who watched it liked it too. Why can’t we accept it for what it was?

Maybe if we had 100 movies like this, “lady oriented” we would not have put so much pressure on it to be necessarily empowered. But we don’t. We have very few, and when we do we somehow want to justify it was worth so much of rebellion with the CBFC. It should earn its place with something useful for women like  – employment, voting rights, driving rights, rising against domestic violence?

Do we put so much thought into our regular ‘normalized’ , senseless Bollywood rubbish? Why did Badrinath gag his would be Dulhaniya in the trunk of his car? Why do our heroes smoke? Why is it cool for them to have multiple girlfriends?  No! it is just a movie, after all. If we do attack these movies, we are told: Why do feminists have to get so serious about everything? Where is their sense of humour?

So there. Women need not be fantasized. Women need not be idealized. They are regular human beings. Just let them be….

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