Recommended Reading

…. is this post which dissects the new Criminal Law Ordinance 2013 on Sexual Assault in India.

I just want to highlight the one teensy point that beggars belief.

1. Recall that the Indian Rape law specifically contains a clause  that effectively refuses to recognise that marital rape perpetrated by a man on his wife can exist,

2. Combine this with the gender neutrality of the new ordinance, which recognises that women can now be accused of rape by men. Note the absence of any clauses relating specifically to marital circumstances.

And voila! We are left with a mish-mash law which allows husbands to accuse wives of rape while simeltaneously preventing wives from seeking legal recourse for rapes on them by husbands.

I think it will be a while before my eyes stop rolling.

Reel Reflections-4: Deja-vu Dosti

So. Yet another movie about yet another male trio. Kai Po Che may be based on a book, but it’s only the latest in a long line of films with multiple central characters , all of whom happen to be male and twenty-ish. This ‘bromance’ genre has taken off mightly in Bollypur, especially since it seems to garner a lot of box-office moolah.

Off the top of my head, I can think of Dil Chahta Hai (the first and the best), Delhi Belly, 3 Idiots, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara,Pyaar Ka Punchnama and Rock On. Most of them have done exceedingly well- granted they had what it took in terms on plot , but the dynamics of bonding were definitely centrestage.

One reason for the abundance of films in this genre is that the theme is universal and popular.Make a movie about friends,the crowds will come.

Friendship/’dosti’ is seen in India as something purer than even ‘pyaar’/romantic love. This lofty pedestal, however, is reserved only for male friendship, if Bollywood is to believed. 

The only movie I can think of , with some depiction of female friendship was perhaps Aisha, but honestly, the friendship angle was so underdeveloped that it does not even count as a true example.

Image

What gives Bollywood?

How long do I have to wait for THIS movie to be made- the *definitive* female-protagonist driven movie about friendship and coming of age?

You know, where you take three young girls and document their stories- the class bunking,the road-trips, the philosophic conversations in scenic settings , the drunken declarations, the ‘finding’ of themselves (or whatever self-actualisation stunt you want to pull). May be you will have to include the bits about their paths to love, but hopefully you can do that without making them ditch their friends enroute to the altar.

Discomfited with my ‘narration’? If you think we collectively bought into the 80’s and 90’s bharatiya nari BS that you dished out, think again.

I know I am probably biased because I have gone to college with some truly fun female friends in my time, and am a little aggrieved that only boys get to have all the (onscreen) fun.

Anyhow, dear all-of-Bollywood, if you decide that there’s something to this after all, you know whom to hire for the script:)

Reel Reflections-3- The MPDG

So. The Internet introduced me to a new cinematic trope recently-that of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG). In the words of the reviewer who first coined this (very long but accurate) term-

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is an all-or-nothing-proposition

In other words, an MPDG is a female movie character who:

  • has many of these attributes : bubbly, cheerful, crazy, bohemian, spontaneous, unconventional, talkative and
  • exists purely to “help” the male character out of a tough time/depression/loneliness and
  • does not seem to really have a character graph of her own, that is nothing really changes for her /in her life from the start to the end of the movie, apart from maybe the male character falling for her.

A classic example of an MPDG is Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer.

Now, a lot of feminists and reviewers get annoyed by MPDG characters, mostly because they are based on ‘dream’ girls of the scriptwriters (a combination of muse+lover) instead of being based on ‘real’ or ‘ordinary’ women.

Considering Bollywood HARDLY EVER bases ANY characters on normal people(male or female), it’s possibly quite meaningless to think of a Bollywood MPDG, but I did try.

After much research (a.k.a wracking my brain for ten minutes), the only  Indian MPDG I could think of was:Image

Yup, Kareena in Ekk Mein Aur Ekk Tu. Bubbly, carefree girl, who exists solely to improve Imran’s character and make him enjoy life more, with no progression of the story of her own life. Classic MPDG. There MUST be others; but I cannot come up with more.

The other thing I thought of was the sheer abundance of similar characters in the first half of Hindi movies, who ‘change’ in the second half due to the circumstances of the story.While they cannot be called MPDGs (there’s forward progression in their arc, after all), it does seem odd that so many writers first create such delightful creatures and then quite literally, bring them crashing to the ground-think Geet/Jab we Met, Deepika/Break Ke Baad,Cocktail and Preity/pretty much all her movies just to name a few.

Makes you wonder about the psychology of writers when they write these ‘people’. Are they just subliminally envious of these characters, hence seek to bring them down? Or are they just unconsciously telling us a cautionary tale?

Initiative and The Indian Man

Disclaimer: This post is a verbal hand-wringing on my part on the general lack of initiative on the part of the ‘young twenty-something Indian man’. It is not a rant. Also, I daresay that a lot of what I will now say can equally be applied to a young Indian woman; and I will not dispute that. To reiterate, this is not criticism.

Dear Young Indian Guy,

Let me first say that I do value the good things about you.

You work hard. Shoved onto the tracks of the rat-race since birth, you had no choice but run it. You picked a career that some may dismiss as ‘safe’, but growing up in the land of cut-throat competition, you decided to be safe rather than sorry. Along the way , you may have grown to love what you do (or not, but it’s up to you to make peace with that). Whatever else you are, you’re no slacker-I’ll give you that.

You also have embraced new ideas, about the world in general and women in particular, ideas that were dismissed as ‘feminist nonsense’ by your fathers and uncles. It must not have been easy to question the old ways but you have done it, and I commend you for that.

You have left college behind, entered the working world and have finally ‘made it’ by the yardsticks of our capitalist culture.You are the darling of the media, the market, the movies and your mummy. Life should have been perfect.

But it’s not, is it? Romantic success evades you, the exhilaration of a paycheck has worn off, a little voice in the back of your head commends you for being the perfect robot all your life and you wonder-What the f***  am I missing?

The answer to that question can be summed up in one phrase- lack of initiative.

If you think that this is something you violently disagree with, stop reading now. The rest of this post is devoted to an examination of your lack of initiative in three areas personal independence, personality, and love.

Personal Independence:

I’d like to draw your attention to the simple fact that most Indian men continue to live with their parents their whole lives despite being financially independent. Now, I’m not a stranger to Indian culture, but let us examine the pitfalls of this arrangement.

First, most parents will refuse to see you as an adult so living with them forever is pretty much like being Peter Pan- while you may get the ‘benefits’ of an extended childhood, chances are you will be granted entry into adulthood only when you get yourself a wife (and sometimes, not even then).

Second, if you are the kind of guy who has a great adult relationship with your parents, more power to you- but if you are capable of even a little empathy, put yourself into my ‘girl’ shoes.Is it fair that I must live with your parents, just to be with you? Before you throw the all encompassing excuse of ‘customs’ at me, pause and reflect on the huge number of ‘customs’ that we, as a society, have now stopped practicing- why can’t this one be relegated to the history books as well?

I know that sometimes, you WANT to go on living with your parents, even after you are married. Convenience/economics maybe, or maybe just love. Fair enough, it’s your choice- just make it clear to the girl you will be with. If you find a girl who says ‘yes’ to moving into your family home, consider yourself lucky.Appreciate what she’s willing to do for you.

If living in with your parents is NOT your choice, but you still find yourself there – gather some INITIATIVE and do something about it. Honestly, I know you’ve been conditioned for the last 20 years or so to behave like the good Indian son, and going against the status-quo unsettles you a LOT -but these excuse are valid at 18, not anymore.

Personality:

Some of the most interesting people I know personally , are men. Overall ,however, I find my women friends to be more well-rounded . Yes I know, life’s a bitch and who has time to be interesting when there’s SO much work and so on-but here’s the thing- nearly everyone  has a good personality, it’s just that some let it shine through, and some let it out only amongst their closest friends and family. Take the initiative to be the ‘real you’ -the funny/witty/chatty/sentimental you -everywhere and with everyone, not just at 2 am on the terrace after downing a whole lot of Old Monk with your friends.

Also,I know it sounds cliched to say ‘get a life’ but I will say it anyway. There is a world out there away from your workplace.A lot of people are happy for you to forget that and that’s why you must remember it. Work is an aspect of life, NOT life.

(Note that a lot of people confuse ‘life’ with the party scene and being the coolest version of you that you can possibly be. This is not what I mean, though.)

Take the initiative to strike a balance between your two worlds, it will help you develop a better perspective of your own life.

Love:

I hear the splutters of indignation. But this is not about taking the initiative to fall in love, it’s about having the mental strength to see a relationship through , despite the odds. For this land of ours spares no opportunities to present us with odds – but I’m confident that a lot of those who ‘dare’ to love these days do find a way to make it work.

The other way to find love, of course, is arranged marriage. I know it sounds heretical to say that love can be formed by arrangement, but it does happen. If you want to find a lasting relationship this way, you need to take the initiative of being at the forefront of the process. Do not outsource it to a family member.

Yes, there’s a lot of celebration these days, of the ‘new’ arranged marriage, which is basically serial dating of parentally approved people. I’m afraid it’s a lot of BS, mostly because the filters in this system (caste,religion, income and language) have been set by someone other than yourself. If you don’t personally care about those filters, take the initiative and set your own.

A lot of the ‘evils’ of arranged marriage are caused by two different generations (with two different sets of value systems and expectations) operating within the same system. Getting rid of one generation (preferably the one that isn’t looking to get married) , and giving control of the system -from the get-go-to the marrying generation , will lead to more egalitarianism and better compatibility, thus better matching. And a shot at love.

That’s all I have to say.

.

.

.

Why I thought this post should be written: In my experience, Indian girls are subjected to different, more explicit cultural c**p from such a young age that many wise up real quick. They then take the initiative to take control of their lives as soon as they possibly can-if they can get away with it. Indian guys however, are more or less sweetly brain-washed in many ways, and hence have a tougher time recognizing how important it is to think and act for yourself.