Monday, February 25, 2008

Book Blues

There are some points in literature which make me want to strangle the author.
They make me desperately hope and pray that what I read was a mistake, that there is some way to alter that particular episode in a book. I feel like I could do anything in the world to change that bit of the story, beg and plead with the author to change that bit. It hurts me, the way things turn out. Actually makes me clench my teeth, sometimes cry angry tears of disappointment and betrayal, throw the book and wish away the fact that I've read it.

Jo turning down Laurie's proposal is one of them. It made me near suicidal. I felt like the world had come to an end. And then, when he got married to Amy, I realized that the end had actually come now. Poof..I can't describe how I felt. I wanted to murder the Amy in the book and set the world all right by getting Jo and Lauri married. I read till the end of all the sequels, hoping for some miracle, some chance by which they'd get together. Sigh..none came.

Rhett turning down Scarlett in the end is another. Though they get together in the sequel, it isn't the same thing.

Jenny dying. Sigh. Kept praying for a miracle, though the first line of the book extinguishes the chance of any happening.

Though, I do admit, that these books wouldn't have had the impact they did on me had they been any different.

Except the first, maybe.
Jo and Laurie were meant to be!!!! Come on..

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Good Indian Girl

( is some day for my blog..the third post of the day!)

Funny thing, have you ever noticed that in the first half of a Hindi movie, where the girl is rebellious/evil/stupid/not-in-love-with-the-hero/not-generally-depressed-in-life, she dresses fine- in a t-shirt and jeans, skirts etc.

Come second half- post-interval, her wardrobe undergoes an absolute shift. The poor depressed girl has been spurned in love and trying to get her lover back, or has turned over a new leaf and is no longer plotting to bump off the next member of the family, or has generally sobered down in life, and she starts wearing salwar-kameez. No, seriously, pay attention. The corrected woman, the sensible woman, the repentant woman, the victorious woman- always in an Indian outfit. Some examples I can think of off-hand are Kareena Kapoor in Jab We Met (after she gets dumped by the chap she wanted to marry in Manali, she's dressed in sober, pastel-shaded salwar-kameezes); Urmila Matondkar in Om Jai Jagdish (after she learns her lesson and becomes a good bahu); Preity Zinta in Kya Kehna (after the interval, when she is rejected by Saif and is fighting for her kid- and no, I don't think it has anything to with her being pregnant- hardly even shows in the first 3 months). These are a few I can think of right now. But believe me, it's the case in every single Hindi movie which has this kind of a story. Each and every one, without exception.

Talk about mind-set! It is sad to see that the sushil Indian woman is still defined in such rigid parameters, and a good Indian girl can only be really seen as one if she dresses right.

Read this article today, in which Soha Ali Khan was deemed to be a ‘youth icon’. The poor girl was quoted saying that actors are basically entertainers, and should not be looked upon as a source of exemplary moral behaviour. She was commenting with reference to the stars-seen-smoking fiasco that’s in the air. Shah Rukh Khan has been criticized by the media and groups trying to uphold “Indian morality and values” for smoking publicly, and setting a bad example for people, especially the youth, that hero-worships him. His response was that people don’t pick up smoking just because they see him do it. And if the youth has to pick up habits from him, why not pick up his inclination to work hard.

Personally, I don’t even think we should go into the subjective depths of this critique. What I cannot understand is how we have, as a country, permitted media and morality-touting groups to become so interfering. How can someone object to the habits of another, supporting it with rubbishy claims like the youth being influenced (yeah, by virtue of your freedom of speech you are free to go scream and object, but pressurize the actor to quit?!). If the youth of your country is stupid and gullible enough (and I know it is, I know people may pick up smoking after having seen SRK do it), I think there is a pressing need for you to start some kind of awareness classes for your youth. To teach them to take their own decisions, to direct them to not get affected by the actions of some poor chap who wants to smoke, and is even abstaining from doing the same on screen so that their choices aren’t influenced by his style. I can go as far as to agree that perhaps actors shouldn’t be shown smoking on screen, because movies have a social responsibility. Which isn’t to say actors don’t, and I even concede that their responsibility is much greater than that of the average man, for they’re unfortunately given an iconic status in this country. But this does not give anyone the right to pressurize them or in any way influence their personal choices, claiming social responsibility and the youth getting affected as a reason.

It is his choice whether he wants to smoke or not. It is his life he is putting at stake. It is his decision entirely. I don’t see how anyone can try and interfere with the choice. Yeah, you pay a price for being famous, but that mean you stop living as per your own choices. If you’ve got a problem, try and effect a change in the mentality of people, who look upon actors as a source of instruction on how to live their lives.

Live and let live, really.

Something cool I read..

"Niceness is over-rated. It is how a man gets his way when he hasn't the guts to be tough or the class to be brilliant."

(FN: Shreya Aren's status msg on Gtalk..She doesn't remember where it is from)

Niceness= Mediocrity

There Is No Alternative (TINA). Hehehe.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chee..whine whine whine all day!
I will write an intellectually stimulating, politically opinionated entry next. Err..will just grab the newspaper and see what's going on first.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Feeling "defeated" currently (refer: tag line of the title of my blog).

I think I write best when I'm furious. Such a pity my hands shake too much for me to type enough. Pity pity. Aunt Pittypat.

One more thing..

I don't understand why One puts on weight when One eats nice things. One has so much trouble in life. Sigh..poor One!

Aah..prawns..Oh Calcutta! Get chicken into business quickly though!
I realized recently just how bitter a person I have become. I don't know when I became like this old naggy woman who finds fault in everyone but herself, and criticizes everything around her, has no tolerance and voices loud, bitter, irritated opinions to anyone and everyone who is listening (or not). I've lost my enthusiam, my general air of happiness, and tolerance (to the point of indifference- now I think only core-level indifference remains). Worst thing, though it might superficial and trivial, is the change in speech. I sound so bitter now. I use harsh language, for friends, relatives, people in general, regardless of whether or not they've even said or done something to me.

I am also doing a lot of this. Skimming through life quickly, counting hours, minutes, simply waiting for things, days, weeks to get over. And get where? Reach at what? It's like living on the surface, refusing to settle into anything, just racing to get somewhere (I don't know where).

I've become really shady, I say.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Love in Hindi Cinema

First of all, I apologize for the rather ordinary title to this post. I’d much rather have put up something funkier and more eye-catching, but I am very sleepy, at work and rather brain-dead. So I’ll let the mundane prevail.

This is something that occurred to me while I was going to work one morning. I listen to the radio while going and coming back, and flip through channels rather swiftly (much to the agony of my driver- should I say chauffeur or ‘the person who controls my vehicle’ for the benefit of all the Marxist-Socialist-politically correct-opposed to demeaning terms like driver and servant- types?- anyhow you get the point, for he is rather possessive about the music system in the car). And I realized that the sound track of the movie ‘Taare Zameen Par’ is very, very popular. No matter how much I surf, it’s playing on one station or the other. It got me thinking about how refreshing a non-love theme in a movie can be. And how nice it is once in a while to not hear a song praising the lips or hair or eyes of some woman, or making promises of undying, faithful afflictions.

As a disclaimer, I am not trying to eulogize movies which address socially sensitive concepts, or ‘arty-farty’ movies. In fact, I don’t consider myself much of an authority on the subject of movies in the first place. For that, you should talk to some of my friends, who can spend hours painstakingly educating you on anything and everything about movies. I just enjoy watching movies for the time that I am watching them, like them or dislike them, and in all probability forget salient features about the movie, no matter how much I’ve liked pretty soon. All I am commenting on is that it is simply so fresh and new to see something other than the standard love story on celluloid.

I have been wondering why the concept of love is so popular with Hindi Cinema. Every movie, almost, in the commercial stream has a love-story at its centre. Even movies which are working on another them have an ancillary love story. It seems like Indian film-makers don’t have much else to talk about, or are aware that nothing else will sell as much. You have the poor boy falling for the rich girl, fighting social odds and evens, overcoming all possible problems and goons her father sends, and finally, managing to marry her. Or you have the rich guy fooling around with the poor girl, dumping her, and coming back to her at the end of three hours. A preliminary question I want to raise about the depiction of love in these movies is, how do the actors know it’s “love”? How can they be so sure after a chance meeting on the train, or a sighting from the balcony or a bit of a fight in a shopping mall? From the little experience that I’ve had with love or its cousins, I don’t think it is so easy to determine when it is the right thing- when it is ‘that’ which is worth eloping for. Anyhow, like I said, this is simply a preliminary query, and I digress from the main focus of this post. Coming back, why is it that there’s a love story at the heart or on the surface, or (most often) all through a Hindi movie?

I’m not sure it is the correct answer, but I think the monotony of the theme can be linked to the fact that ours is not a particularly permissive society. Harmless flirting, serious courting, falling in love, marrying someone of your choice, telling your parents you’re in ‘love’ are all things which most Indian families would (or did, hopefully!) regard as bordering blasphemous. Maybe an era of restrictive society, backdoor romances, sly courtings, rare elopings gave rise to a population which seeks solace in love and romance being portrayed on the big screen, in being given hope that despite their own boring, middle-class existence where they go home to the same wife and whining, there is spring and beauty and blossoms in this world. Perhaps, Indian cinema with its focus on the theme of love has given room and image to the imagination of thousands of Indians who never dared to think outside the arranged marriage regime. Most of all, I think it presents an escape route into a world of dream-girls who are otherwise unattainable, and whose existence is in fact, not even taken too seriously; into a world very different from theirs, where even a 9 to 5 office-going clerk can have splashes of colour thrown in by some pretty damsel on the bus stop.

That’s the reason I can think of for the obsessive-compulsive love filmmaking we have. Can you think of something else? But filmmakers, a plea to you- it does get boring and monotonous after a while. Please do a rethink, while our parents are (again hopefully :)) doing one.

This isn't the promised post on 'Love'. That'll come up soon.